A First-Timer’s Journey Into the World of Cannabis

There’s a sweet naïvety about most children, illustrated by their willingness to believe just about anything their parents tell them. That’s how — at age 12 — I became convinced I was intensely allergic to anything weed-related.

I need to clarify: my parents weren’t Orwellian propagandists; they even partook of the devil’s lettuce back in the day. Dad did fine enough to hang with Cheech and Chong. Mom had a different experience. Remember Violet Beauregard from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory? It was that kind of freak scene…plus a doctor saying you’re severely allergic to hemp.

“That means smoking weed is probably out of the question,” Mom announced, in a car ride to Kansas. “I’d hate for anyone to wind up in the hospital.”

My brother heard, “probably,” and bet it all on black. He turned out to be fine. As for me, I wouldn’t call myself the gambling type. I stayed far away from marijuana.

Yet, I remained a firm supporter in legalization (and even got an OMMA card). After all, the benefits alone were enough to overpower any bullshit Reefer Madness schtick. I always wanted to try marijuana, but every time I gathered the courage, I remembered what my mom said on the Kansas trip. What would be the odds that my brother was clear and I’d be the one with allergies bold enough to try to kill me? So I always just put it down. Just say, No. 

That was, until one humid summer night after work. The year was 2019.

My bones ached from a hard day’s work, and my anxiety beat through my body like tribal drums had replaced my heart. I came home, went upstairs and through the door to find my girlfriend and a friend sitting on the couch together. In our friend’s hand was a small, plastic package that she held like a gift.

It was, in fact, half of an edible, marijuana chocolate bar. I found myself zoning out of the conversation, as I focused my attention entirely on the edible. They each took a piece, and I was left alone. I held that naughty chocolate in my hand, staring at it as though it might tell me whether I was going to die from anaphylactic shock or not.

Dangerously, I popped that treat in my mouth. Before I knew it, the chocolate melted onto my tongue. My heart crashed into my ribs. For the first time in a long time, I felt alive.

Then I felt nothing. Literally no side effects were felt at all. I went to bed thinking about what I would do if I woke up and needed to go to the hospital.

I awoke the next morning with nothing but the usual urge for coffee.

The next night, I was ready to take another step off the ledge. This time, with a THC vape pen. After five hits, my body felt ethereal. I panicked. I leapt off the couch, ranting about why I couldn’t breathe and what I should do. I was terrified. My mom was right! I’m allergic! I’m gonna die!

Moments passed and — against all odds — I remained alive. My high felt like rocket fuel up a bug’s ass.

Later that night, I fell into one of the deepest sleeps of my life. Normally, I awake to bottle rockets of anxiety exploding in my head. But when the sun rose on the first day after my first toke on that vape pen, I finally experienced morning as I imagine it was intended to be: vibrant, alive and patient.

And every night since then, I fall into a peaceful sleep after a few hits of a vape pen. I have yet to try smoking actual, old-school marijuana flower, but I’m definitely willing to give it a try. As it turns out, childhood conditioning is a tough nut to crack…but embracing cannabis was well worth the effort.

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