Part One: My Journey with Cannabis
Updated: Dec 8, 2020
My journey with cannabis began when I was 13. I’m not sure how old I was when I first learned about marjuana/pot/weed/dope/smoke/reefer/devils lettuce, but I do know that I was anti-drug. Being anti-drug, I will forever remember the day that I found out my parents used it. My parents smoked my entire life (they have since quit cigarettes, which I am super proud of), they always had cigarettes and what they referred to as “smoke”, and they usually had them together. My dad had a box, which he eventually locked, that contained all of his cannabis pheraphenial. I grew up thinking this was normal, until I realized that it was cannabis.
Needless to say, I was devastated when I found out that my parents were drug addicts. I cried and refused to speak to them for days. I was so ashamed of them that I didn’t tell anyone for years that my parents smoked pot. I decided early on that I was anti-drugs, especially after watching Through a Blue Lense, which follows the RCMP through Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. I even wrote a paper on how terrible marjuana is for you in my grade 9 psychology class. I was as anti-drug as you could be.
Then I started hanging out with the stoners, skateboarders, and a group of guys that were two years older than me. I never wanted to take part in the drug experiments and thankfully I had a group of friends who never pressured me. Once I was able to accept that my parents smoked pot, it opened up an amazing line of communication between us. They never told me I couldn’t do drugs (because hello, hypocritical much?), but I always felt safe telling them that I was going to be around people that were doing them. I remember when my friends did acid and I told my dad I would be drinking a bit while making sure they didn’t do anything stupid, and his response was if anyone acted weird to take them to the hospital (which was a couple houses down the street). When we would disagree or get into arguments, we would call a timeout while my parents smoked a joint and I calmed down in my room, before finishing the conversation. I also got my way a lot as a teenager; my parents would always have me explain why I wanted to do something, and if I gave solid reasons, I would usually get what I wanted. Looking back, that may have been because they were stoned and anything I said would have sounded good.
I smoked my first joint the summer after I graduated high school. Like some things, the first time wasn’t that amazing, but as I tried it more and more, I grew to enjoy it. When I found out I was pregnant a couple months later, I didn’t feel comfortable continuing to use cannabis, so I stopped until my son was born and I finished nursing. I didn’t really start incorporating it into my life until I experienced my first panic attack while going through a traumatic separation from my son's dad. Cannabis helped calm me down after stressful days of being constantly on edge, working full time, and raising a two year old on my own.
Growing up in an era where cannabis was illegal and labeled as a gateway drug led to a lot of shame. I was ashamed of my parents and ashamed of myself when I started using it. I didn’t tell people I used cannabis for a long, long time, and I only told people who I knew used it as well. Being a young mom, I already felt a lot of judgement from society (and myself if I’m being honest), telling people that I smoked pot wasn’t something I wanted people to know about me (or something I wanted to admit to myself). When I did (and still do) open up to people about using cannabis, it is always met with surprise. Just like when I tell people that I have an 11 year old son, I’m typically met with questions of how old I am because I don’t look like what society tells us I should.
Only recently have I started accepting myself as I am. Accepting that I am a young mom, have a very messy past, and would prefer to smoke a joint than drink a glass of wine. With that acceptance I’ve come up against a lot of that shame I talked about earlier. Shame that is so ingrained in me from being a kid whose parents smoked pot instead of drank, when smoking pot seemed like the worst thing you could do. Cannabis is legal in Canada, I can pick from a dozen dispensaries to buy legal cannabis, and we’re finally talking about the many health benefits that this plant has to offer. I’m determined to change the narrative, to teach my son differently, and to create an environment where smoking a joint is on the same level as having a glass of wine.
Stay tuned, because I’m going to continue sharing my journey to self acceptance and love through cannabis.
I would love to know, do you use cannabis and have you ever felt shame around it?