(written February 17th 2020)
As the medicine of marijuana becomes more normalized across the US I can’t help but be concerned of its misuse based on my own experience. I am a huge advocate for the plant and have seen how it has helped me and so many others. However like any medicine it has the potential of abuse and this one doesn’t get talked about enough.
“Hi, my name is Amber and I am addicted to cannabis”
I have quit smoking cigarettes before, I have quit a pharmaceutical drug habit, I quit drinking caffeine, I no longer drink alcohol (unless it’s my family’s homemade brandy and we are talking like 1-2 ounces a year), I can honestly say it has been the biggest struggle of all to abstain from cannabis. Weed is addictive if you have a predisposition, just as addictive as any other substance.
I started smoking when I was 15 and honestly I was kind afraid to take my first puff. I lied about already getting high when I finally did have enough courage to hit the pipe. Mostly I didn’t want it to be a big deal. I have always been able to feel the power behind entheogen and have had a healthy fear and respect for them. Future self sees past self and nods at the intuition of hesitance. It was my drug, it seemed to helped me focus and fit in with a crowd.
I was diagnosed ADHD at age 11 and medicated with Ritalin. Used to be, I was always very engaging and perhaps a distraction to other kids in class as I was a playful, imaginative, creative child. When I was medicated it rendered me withdrawn & depressed. This part of the story seems foundational in understanding why I chose to partake in cannabis at a later age. I was being medicated because “I was to much,” a belief I still often identify with.
Marijuana’s effects dulled me, made me smaller and there by more acceptable by societal standards. It dimmed my sparkle, but hey, people started to ‘get me’ and I wasn’t to much anymore. I was meeting society’s status of staying inline and not disrupting the order of things, I felt accepted and I suppose and sense of belonging. Here you can see the slippery slope how how it became so easy for me to identify as a ‘stoner chick’. I got off Ritalin and started self medicating. I was extremely intrigued by counter culture, art, parties, skateboarding, surfing, music and being high fit in really well with that, plus I have always been a creative and isn’t that what artist do? So this substance and I became entangled. Like many, I always had a feeling of being ‘different’. Ganja protected me, held me, told me it was okay to not feel my deep emotions and it gave me an identity (a huge life theme for me is identifying myself). This is where I take a moment to honor (and bow to) the entity of marijuana. She did those things for me when I needed her, a sort of second mother. In fact I come to identify her energy as a substitute for mother, a warm smokey coddling blanket, soothing and relieving.
Flash forward 20 years, I’m 35 living in Humboldt County, Ca for the past 16. Almost my whole career here has been in the cannabis industry, I have been a horticulturist, farmer and consultant in the field (no pun intended) this whole time, partaking in the ‘medicine’ all the while becoming more identified with a subculture of cannabis farmers.
My consumption at some points, when I was most disconnected to my self or experiencing hardship, was up to 10, 15, 20 bong-loads a day with hash on top, dabs too? Sure! I was a high functioning stoner (more puns, I know, I know), still getting lots accomplished making a good life for myself. I cultivated her and she I. I came to feel as though I was living version of the essence of cannabis, I embody very similar qualities in my demeanor and actions that Mexican Shamans describe as characteristics of the spirit of marijuana.
For the past two years I have known our relationship is coming to a turning point. I feel the long term effects of consuming smoke daily. I can feel the effects on my lymphatic system, hormones and the drying effects smoke is associated with. As I become more in tune with my bodies wisdom I can see how the medicine of ‘mother’ has become over bearing and is creating separation & numbing she so paradoxically helped previously. Two summers ago I quit for three weeks durning some intensive healing work, where I realized I couldn’t even access my heart as it was hidden behind a cloud of smoke!
That clarity gave me a vantage point I had not ever seen from before. It allowed me to feel the energetic signature of cannabis separate from myself and I started to identify her gifts and cautions. A big take away was her ability to aid in creativity, sensuality and imagination when used correctly. Because of the plants subtle effects you don’t really realize how powerful it’s agenda is, she will take you on a ride you don’t even know you are on. Which brings me to how I feel it is best incorporated into a healthy and healing setting.
Intention is everything with herb, well with everything really. Marijuana is teaching me to walk softer and make my life more of a ceremony. She has taught me I don’t need to over consume, anything. Everything thing we interact with, be it food or drug, is powerful in small doses. It’s only after we build a tolerance do we need copious amounts of substance to feel the effects. Because of the power this plant contains within it we need to set strong intentions while working with it. I realize that I don’t get any of its benefit when I am consuming all the time. I am learning how to smoke intentionally and usually it’s alone in nature.
I can feel the interference of cannabis in the guidance work I do with and for others. I never do any formal healing work stoned, It clouds my connection to source, a diversion of power I guess. I am, after all, working on being a clear channel so why would I want to muddy the communication line? I have found it to be a spiritual lubricant of sorts, I channel very readily when I’m high but I don’t receive the download, it doesn’t stick. When I am sober the invitation to channel doesn’t come as often but when is comes it is much more potent for me and the receiver. It shows up much more appropriately in its divine moment.
Yesterday was my fist day of not smoking for at least a month of planned abstinence (its been over a year now of no THC as I edit and up load this post to my blog). Besides some physical side effects of withdraw I am experiencing a sense of feeling lost and lonely. It feels like I am telling a life long friend that is no longer healthy for me that we can’t hang out anymore. There is grief, I feel uneasy about the unknown. Who am I going to be without my perceived identity? It gives me anxiety, not a common feeling for a mellow stoner chick. A part of me is terrified to be seen without this mask. I will be to much again, I will be misunderstood, where is my tribe, I don’t belong here. As I shift my relationship with cannabis I know these things will shift too, but it’s scary right now. I’m afraid I am to big for the life I have been living, that feels shameful to write. I have been keeping myself small and one thing is certain; I am outgrowing my shell. So I am stepping into the unknown of me.
I feel like writing this out has given me more of a reason not to relapse, hold me accountable. I think my community needs to hear this as well as anyone who knows someone who uses or wants to interact with the energy marijuana. I also feel it honors the spirit of the plant to give it a visual identity and characteristics, it does want to be interacted with, but in a more sacred way. As I start my cleansing process I have felt called to share these observations as it is very present in my field.
I’m going to link a website I found particularly helpful in understanding the essence of marijuana written by a Chinese medicine practitioner. He also gives techniques that are helpful in moving though the addiction process.
Below is a piece of writing from when I had my short period of sobriety and was processing the emotions of my situation.
Jelly liver textured compartmentalized
Kicked to the corner of the back of my heart
Golden child hidden in the dark
Simple but to much
Begging for observation
Misunderstood youth seeking truth
Become small so they can’t see
How am I supposed to be?
Made to forget
Moulded into a ‘real’ person
Play with me!
It’s supposed to be fun, not dry, like this
Why do I need to change?
Ashamed of my rainbow vomit
Intellectualizing human nature for excuses
Afraid to comment
I’m different and it’s ok?
Morbid celebratory decay
Hunting for her
Gaged and bound
Clouds of smoke muffle sound
Precious tender full of grace
Hiding her deeper in a safe pace
Protected and rejected
She emerges once more
Shoes missing dress torn
Delicate rose crown of thorns
Eyes reflect beauty
Breath speaks wonder
Depths of nights eternal summer
Thank you for witnessing me friends, please feel free to share with anyone who you think may benefit from this perspective. My hope is to bring awareness, love, compassion and reverence to this powerful plant medicine.
More info on marijuana addiction