Despite the growing move towards legalization, cannabis use is still mired in stigma. Almost 100 years later, the hold of reefer madness misinformation remains strong, meaning the majority of people have no idea what cannabis is or why the people who use it are drawn to it.
In mainstream circles, misconceptions abound about cannabis users. Many are classed as drug addicts only interested in getting wasted. Nothing could be further from the truth. As anyone with experience knows, if you want to get wasted, cannabis is not the drug of choice – it doesn’t block out thoughts, it highlights them.
The job of changing the narrative around cannabis comes down to individuals willing to share their stories, each one nuanced by its particular human experience and circumstance. Not only do those stories bust notions of stoner stereotypes, they illustrate the varied reasons why people use cannabis. In today’s post, in honour of 4/20, I’m sharing some of those stories.
CANNABIS IS FREEDOM: Michael Avery
Michael Avery has three different types of epilepsy and would die without his medication. He spent decades on conventional medication. Five years ago, he made the switch to cannabis flower and the difference was instant. His seizures stopped completely. He dropped all of his other medication.
Before cannabis, he lived in a prison. From a small town outside Atlanta, the closest shops are seven miles away. He rarely left the house, and was constantly told all the things he couldn’t do, couldn’t drive, couldn’t afford a taxi, couldn’t have a partner, couldn’t have a life. Cannabis changed all that.
“Cannabis gave me a chance to experience life the way other people do,” Michael says, explaining that because his seizures have stopped, he’s hoping to learn how to drive this year. Thanks to cannabis, he’s on the move, and a few years ago, he flew to Oregon to check out the cannabis scene there.
He was blown away by what he found, so different from his home state of Georgia where cannabis is still illegal. He loved the customer-focus at the dispensaries and the variety of flower, and was inspired to set up his own cannabis brand, a range of CBD-infused soaps and skincare.
Michael likes a puff in the morning to set him up for the day, and another late at night. This routine has changed his life. He calls his switch to cannabis, “the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.” To Michael, cannabis means freedom.
CANNABIS IS PASSION: Lauren Mundell
Lauren Mundell is the mastermind behind the canna-social media platform, Hi-Curious. She started using cannabis flower in 2017 because of her husband. He started to puff again after he retired from the Navy SEALs, excited to return to his SoCal roots. Her previous experience with cannabis was a panic attack in college, so she wasn’t a big fan.
But she couldn’t help but notice the many positive benefits it had on him. Intrigued, she took a hit and quickly realized her understanding of the plant was all wrong. Today, she doesn’t see it as a drug but a wellness tool. She uses cannabis to help her “feel better in this crazy world.”
However, she now understands that intention matters when it comes to cannabis, and that’s why the biggest benefit it brings to her life is passion. “Cannabis has brought out a passion in me to stand up for what I believe in and not to worry about the opinions of others.” Cannabis has given Lauren a business, a platform and a voice.
CANNABIS IS AUTONOMY: Kelly Wiltshire McQue
To Kelly cannabis is both life-changing and life-saving. When you hear her story, you’ll understand why. Kelly is an author with Random House, and a superb writer, so here’s her mind-blowing story in her own words:
“My first real experience with cannabis was in my second year at university when I began smoking it with friends. I had resisted it because of the negative (and false) government propaganda I’d grown up hearing. But after trying it myself I changed my mind. I liked how it made me feel and unlike alcohol, I didn’t feel out of control or embarrassed the next morning!
I adore smoking or eating cannabis out in nature. It heightens our senses so everything is fresh, bright and poignant when in a beautiful natural setting. I especially love smoking cannabis while I watch the sunrise over the ocean. It’s a truly exquisite way to start my day, it puts me in a great state of mind and allows me to organise my thoughts before my day begins. I usually smoke a local sativa in the morning, which I personally find to be uplifting, stimulating and motivating.
Cannabis has had a profoundly beneficial impact on my life. In 2012 I was diagnosed with breast cancer and I chose to forgo conventional treatments in favour of more natural and holistic methods. I made myself FECO from a locally grown sativa and healed myself within 8 months without surgery, radiation or chemo.
In those 8 months the cannabis also helped me manage symptoms of chronic depression, I lost 20kgs of toxic fat, started yoga and my whole attitude towards myself, my health and my life completely changed – for the better! I continue to take FECO every night before bed for a deep sleep and to manage the symptoms of the depression.
In the past I was plagued with anxiety, feeling scattered, overwhelmed, suicidal, unmotivated and despondent; whereas on cannabis I am positive, productive, organised, motivated and I feel powerful within myself.” How many of us can relate to that last sentence? I certainly can.
CANNABIS IS AUTHENTICITY: Dustin Hoxworth
For Dustin Hoxworth, cannabis is more than a part of his day, it’s a part of him, and no day feels complete without it. He grew up around it, and remembers how back in the 70s everyone smoked, especially in his family. He comes from a military family, his dad and uncles fought in the Vietnam War, and many come home with PTSD.
Even back then, they were aware weed helped with the symptoms though they wouldn’t have thought of their use as medical. They simple knew smoking a few joints made them more tolerant of people around them and life in general. “Life is hard when you’re poor,” says Dustin, “Cannabis makes things suck a bit less.”
He didn’t start consuming on a regular basis till he was twenty-years-old but it quickly became part of his routine. “First thing in the morning is probably my favorite [time to smoke] but I consume all day everyday, multiple times per day, multiple ways. I enjoy a good joint or blunt, bong rips, and always have a bowl around.”
Today, Dustin runs a cannabis-inspired skincare line in partnership with his partner, Cecily, their brand’s namesake. More recently, he’s following the call of his artistic leanings by launching a magazine called Fat Nugs that will be a celebration of cannabis culture, both old-school and new. Dustin thanks cannabis for the inspiration to pursue his creative dreams, saying, “It allows me to be myself. I smoke to be myself.”