Matt Hackmann


The thoughts and goings-on of some programmer dude.

Stoned - My Experiences With Marijuana

I also considered naming this “The Post My Mother Doesn’t Want to Read”, but that’d be about when I killed that kid in kindergarten. Maybe some other day…

Growing up in a highly conservative Catholic family, it was ingrained into me from an early age that drugs are bad, m’kay. Anybody using or trying to give you these substances were people you generally wanted to avoid. As an interesting aside, alcohol consumers were not subject to the same stigma. But, be that as it was, I carried on through most of my life with a contempt for such things. This feeling didn’t waver, even as I prepared to move to California and the joke running rampant was “huhhuhhuh, you gonna get your weed card?”.

I’m not sure exactly when that sentiment began to change. Through peripheral consumption of various research papers that were being published about the effects of THC on the human body, I knew that marijuana was, in general, less harmful than most recreational drugs and even alcohol. That probably softened the attitude towards the drug itself, but did little to change my view of the consumers and culture built around it. Adding to that, my only knowledge of consumption methods was via burning the leaf. “Less harmful” be damned if you’re still pumping your lungs full of carcinogens.

My perception of the drug and its effect on consumers probably actually changed at about the same time. I began to find out that a lot of the people I held in high regard were consumers, people I never would have suspected were it not pointed out to me. There was, of course, a lot of cognitive dissonance upon hearing this because, in my world view, if you smoke marijuana, you become a couch-bound bum who just smokes and says “duuuuude” a lot. In that same conversation, “edibles” were mentioned, and not the home baked weed brownies. Chocolate bars made by companies who had to adhere to the standards of a government body in order to sell their wares through legal venue.

That, I think, was the tipping point. THC could be made available to me in a form that was easily consumed and easily metered. And so, about a year ago, I tried a very small bit of marijuana laced chocolate just to test the waters. The outcome? Well, I was having trouble determining that through the more immediate feeling of being tipsy that evening. In retrospect, the profound tiredness I felt a couple hours later was the effect of the chocolate.

With the gates having been opened, and at the time thinking I had not felt the effects, I allowed myself a little more experimentation. Of course, this had some upper limits. Absolutely no inhalation of burned weed; being that I have asthma, this would not be good. Also, see above about carcinogens. Really, that left me with a couple of options: try a larger dose of edibles or vaping. And I tried both, with differing effects. Edibles took a very long time to set in and lingered for hours. Vaping was much faster to feel the effects, but shorter lived. I decided that if I wanted to continue using marijuana, these would be the two vehicles of delivery.

In May of last year, I decided to get my card. Or, in my case, I opted to not buy the card and just got the paper. This entailed a visit to a doctor (I want to put quotes, but she was a licensed M.D.) with complaints of some ailment. I said something about migraines, my mother used to have them, had tried herbal something or others, blah and etc. Doctor didn’t blink an eye (she knew I was lying) and, after signing the paper, we spent more time discussing her grandfather who used to live in Bartlesville and had died recently than any topic for why I was there. It was an odd experience for sure.

Thus, through the last year, I’ve been a fairly light user of the product. I eventually gave up on edibles because it basically destroys an entire day. Also, I was beginning to experience bad indigestion, the culmination of which involved me throwing up on a train about a mile from my stop. Of course, that could have also been the dozen-ish drinks I had that night (it was a good birthday). There have been times when I’ve gone without, both due to circumstances or intentional “quitting”. The “quitting” was because I believed that the vape pen I was using was causing the back of my throat to become and stay raw due to heat. I stopped and it went away, so there’s a high potential for correlation (to be fair, that particular pen was later removed from the market). Marijuana is a non-addictive drug, so I never feel like I need it. However, like anything, one can become psychologically addicted to the high itself. I’d be remiss if I said there wasn’t a little bit of that going on.

Today, I treat marijuana in basically the same way I treat alcohol. If I’m to use it, driving and most outside activities are banned. Unlike alcohol, I will use it by myself outside of social situations, but generally only before bed as it helps calm my mind for sleep.

Going forward, I’ve already decided not to renew my card this year. There are a few reasons, the first of which is that I don’t want to have to make another “doctor visit”. Secondly, it’s obviously cheaper to drop this. Granted, because I’m such a light user, the cost of a year’s worth of marijuana is still less than a handful of average nights of bar hopping. I will probably continue to partake in social settings, but I do not feel the need to have it on my person or in my home.

The takeaway from all this is that there are a lot misconceptions and old feelings about marijuana and its users. Becoming stoned will probably not turn a person into a stereotypical stoner unless that person was already susceptible to such things, as can be expected with almost anything. I still don’t like the culture, nor do I like the smell, but I think if one wants to argue about the negatives of using marijuana, one should also consider alcohol and cigarettes, both of which are (mostly) socially acceptable, legal, and much worse for a person’s physical well-being.