I hated marijuana my whole life, and I hated marijuana smokers.
Potheads. Stoners. Hippies. Burnouts. Junkies. Losers. Any mention of weed and I’d automatically conjure up these images — images of high schoolers lounging around their parents’ basements. Giggling and eating junk food. Doing absolutely nothing to improve themselves or the world around them.
At the time, I was Straight Edge, which meant I had a very hardcore set of beliefs. I was never going to drink alcohol. I was never going to try drugs. I even told myself I was never going to have premarital sex. (That’s hardcore!)
“No booze. No drugs. No sex.” That was my motto.
That was my shitty, shitty motto. I believed that simply trying any of those things would lead to abuse.
I believe everyone should find a belief system that works for them. If you’re happy and you’re not hurting anyone else, believe whatever you want. But if you’re unhappy, then you might want to re-examine your beliefs.
I was unhappy, so I re-examined my beliefs. And I found an insane amount of hypocrisy.
With age comes experience. If you’re living life correctly, your beliefs can (and should) change.
When I made the commitment to never try drugs, I was young and extremely inexperienced. To make a lifelong commitment to ANYTHING at such a young age is unwise. Life is about experience. You need to learn what works for you and what doesn’t.
Repression doesn’t work for me. I’m too curious about the mysteries of life, reality, and consciousness.
So why did I choose to be Straight Edge in the first place?
My reason sucks. The truth is, I was VERY religious at the time, and I believed alcohol, drugs, and premarital sex were sins. When I changed my religious beliefs, I changed my other beliefs too.
I tried alcohol first. The first time I got drunk, I thought, “Wow, this is fun! I should’ve tried this sooner!”
Sex was next. The first time I got laid, I thought, “Wow, this is a lot of fun! I should’ve tried this sooner!”
Psychedelics were third. My first time tripping, I thought, “Wow, this is beyond fun! This is like merging with God and dissolving the shell of my ego so the butterfly within my soul can spread its wings and float on the eternal wind and whim of the Universe! I should’ve tried this sooner!”
You see the pattern. But I still refused to smoke marijuana. The awareness of my hypocrisy forced me to ask a simple question: “Why?”
Why was I okay with trying alcohol and psychedelics, but not marijuana?
I knew the answer, but I didn’t want to admit it. It was too simple. Too embarrassing.
I hated marijuana because of high school.
I cringed when I typed that, but it’s the honest truth. For me, marijuana was forever linked to my teenage years, and I HATED those years. I was shy. I was confused. I was lonely. And I lost all my friends.
Don’t feel bad. It was 100% my fault.
I lost my friends because they chose to smoke weed and I chose not to. It wouldn’t have been a problem if I would have shut the fuck up and let them live their own lives.
But I didn’t do that. I HAD to judge them. I HAD to explain why they were wrong. And because I judged them, I lost them.
I was already a shy and lonely kid, so losing the few friends that I did have… it hurt. It hurt a lot.
Again, don’t feel sorry for me. I was an asshole. I got what I deserved.
I sowed the seeds of judgment, and because of that, I was punished for over a decade.
Even after I learned from my mistake… even after I made new friends in college and stopped being so judgmental… whenever I saw someone lighting up a joint… it still hurt.
I’d subconsciously (and erroneously) blamed marijuana for my loneliness in high school. I felt like if I ever smoked it, it would mean I lost all my high school friends for nothing.
An example from Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion illustrates my bizarre reasoning perfectly:
The author cites a study where two scientists infiltrated a small religious cult that believed the world was coming to an end. They believed God was sending a flood to destroy earth on a specific date, but their group would be saved and beamed aboard a spaceship piloted by Jesus.
I know it’s ridiculous, but bear with me.
The date came, but nothing happened. No flood. No spaceship. No end of the world. Big fucking surprise, right? But, the undercover scientists observed a strange behavior in the cultists.
When the world didn’t end, rather than dismiss their entire belief system, their beliefs actually grew stronger. They now believed their faith was so strong that God chose to spare the world on their behalf.
It sounds crazy, but think about it:
These people lost family, friends, and jobs. They were publicly ridiculed and chastised for their beliefs. If they admitted their belief system was bullshit, it would mean they sacrificed all of these things for nothing.
It’s a classic example of ego vs. truth. A direct quote from one of the members:
“I’ve given up just about everything. I’ve cut every tie. I’ve burned every bridge. I’ve turned my back on the world. I can’t afford to doubt. I have to believe. There isn’t any other truth.”
I use this example for a reason:
I was a member of the “Anti-Marijuana” cult. And despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary — despite the truth — I clung to false beliefs for fear of damaging my ego.
It’s like when you realize you’ve spent X amount of years in a toxic relationship. Your ego doesn’t want to accept the fact that you made a mistake, so you’re given two choices:
- Lie to yourself (protect the ego) and learn nothing.
- Admit your mistake (damage the ego) and start living a better life.
I was in a toxic relationship with my own beliefs for over 10 years. I’m ready to start living a better life.
It sounds so simple. Just smoke some weed. See what happens. No big deal. But for me, it was a HUGE fucking deal. I felt like a Scientologist finally going clear.
Think about the STRONGEST belief you have. It could be about politics, religion, anything. Something you’re extremely passionate about. Something you’re 100% certain about. Really think about it. Feel your passion. Feel your certainty.
Now imagine someone PROVING to you that this belief is bullshit.
It’s impossible, right? You can’t imagine ANY evidence that would change your mind. You’re probably angry at me for even suggesting it, despite the fact I don’t even know what your belief is.
That’s how I felt about marijuana.
When you’re firmly embedded in a belief system, you’re immune to common sense. The ego anchors itself in your emotions, so if you want to change your beliefs, you first need to change your emotions about that belief.
In this case, the easiest way to change my emotions was to finally try marijuana and see what all the fuss was about.
So what’s it like to smoke marijuana for the first time at age 30?
First of all, I’m convinced it’s a much more sublime experience than if you smoke it as a teenager. When you’re young, your life is still fresh. You have no real job. No major responsibilities. Your brain and body are still developing. Even your own consciousness is still relatively new.
At age 30, you have double the life experience. You have a steady job, along with daily responsibilities and monthly bills. You might even have kids and a mortgage payment. By age 30, life starts to get… a little dull.
I’m not going to speak on behalf of anyone else, but in my case, damn did marijuana sharpen things up!
It was like every one of my senses was given a pair of 3-D goggles. When I described my experience to friends —most of whom tried cannabis in their teens — they were both baffled and jealous. None of them seemed to have had an experience as strong as mine (and if they did, they don’t remember it).
When other people described being high to me, they used very generic terms: “Music is awesome.” “Food tastes great.” “Sex is amazing.”
But music is already awesome. Food already tastes great. Sex is already amazing. What’s the big deal? No one ever gave me a good answer. Carl Sagan came close, but his description is a little too… scientific for my taste.
There’s a time to be scientific and a time to speak from the heart. Luckily, the first time I got high, I journaled about the experience while I was still high. Here’s an actual excerpt from that journal:
“I close my eyes and my mouth becomes the universe. Every bite is a galaxy exploding into existence. I just ate a vanilla tootsie roll. I could do more than taste it. I could see it and feel it. I saw a thermal vision version of the tootsie roll changing shape and form with every bite. I could feel the enamel of my teeth pushing through the gooey, tar-like substance as it coagulated and froze into plastic, abstract statues. It was like the death of the T-1000 in Terminator 2, but delicious. With every bite, it melts like honey as the wax figurines fall away and push together like Play-Dough. It’s a claymation video in my mouth. I’m enchanted. This is love.”
I think that’s what they meant by “Food tastes great.” And if that’s how I describe a simple piece of candy, imagine how fucking phenomenal sex feels!
It’s so good I feel like everyone should wait until they’re 30 to smoke weed.
To be clear, I’m not trying to sway anyone’s opinions. If you’re anti-marijuana, you’ll probably stay that way. If you’re pro-marijuana, you’ll almost certainly stay that way. What I’m offering is a tale of personal experience.
I’m no longer going to define anything as “good” or “bad.” I’m only going to define things as “good for me ” or “bad for me.” I don’t know anyone’s experience other than my own, so why waste time judging anyone else?
I’ll let the rest of the world fight over what’s best for society. For now, I’m happy just trying to make myself a better human being.
Marijuana has helped make me a better human being. I used to hate it. Now I love it. I can explain why in just one sentence:
Marijuana has made me more joyful, enthusiastic, and curious about the world around me, and I believe the world needs more joyful, enthusiastic, and curious people.
It seems like a good first step.