Last week I came upon a fork in the road. After pulling it out of my foot, I had to decide to go left and pursue a life of crime, or go right, and continue to be the upstanding, law-abiding citizen that I have been throughout much of my adult life.
I went left. And now I am a criminal. I have violated a federal law that is punishable by up to a year in jail and a thousand dollar fine, for the first offense.
You see, I decided to try marijuana. You know, ganja, grass, weed, hemp, airplane, dope, rope, Mary Jane, 420, broccoli, wacky tabacky . . . everybody is familiar with those terms, right? Even a guy like me who never used the stuff.
I was a marijuana virgin until a week ago. I don’t like to use mind-altering substances. And so I also don’t drink, having given that up about 25 years ago. I think it’s wise to stay clear-minded and sober. This makes it easier for me to beat my impoverished mother at penny-ante poker games.
But I’ve heard so much about the forbidden fruit of marijuana that my curiosity got the best of me, leading to the fork in the road. And the state of California has made it easy to go left and satisfy my curiosity. This year it became legal in our state to sell marijuana to recreational users.
And so, feeling recreational and curious, I headed down to the head shop to buy a baggie.
It’s still a federal offense, so I felt a little bit nervous about this whole process. Turns out I wasn’t the only one. Those who sell it are a bit nervous, too.
The head shop was a suite in a strip mall containing a few other businesses, including a tile and countertop shop. I nervously pulled at the door. But it was locked. Was this the right suite? Then I heard a click and it popped open. Someone from inside had remotely unlocked the door. I stepped into a small, cheaply decorated lobby with two couches. A security guard sat in a booth behind a bulletproof window.
He asked if this was my first time here. Oh god, would he find out I’m a marijuana virgin? How embarrassing. It would look so uncool for a guy as old as me to be a newcomer to grass. But how would he know I hadn’t used this substance before at some other place? So I casually put my hands in my pockets and dismissively remarked, “Yes.”
He asked, “Medical or recreational?”
“Recreational,” I replied, while trying to utter this polysyllabic word in the coolest way possible. I think it came off, “Rehhhhhcreationallll.”
He took my driver’s license and scanned it, for reasons I still haven’t figured out and was afraid to ask. He also had me fill out a form, where I gave my contact information.
Then he told me to wait.
About 10 minutes later my reverie on the couch was broken by a young lady who opened a door and called my name. This formality was just like seeing a doctor.
I followed her into a tiny room that contained marijuana product displayed in glass cases. She and I were the only ones in this tiny room, and it felt a little intimate and uncomfortable. I said nothing, but just stood there trying to look as cool as possible. Finally she asked if there was something she could help me with. I asked, “Do you sell edibles?”
She said, “Sure,” and began reciting a long rundown of all the edibles in stock. I can’t remember all the different names, but when she said, “Brownies,” it rang a bell. Only cool people consume marijuana-laced brownies. Or so I think I’ve heard.
I interrupted her with, “I’ll take the brownies.”
She removed a bag of brownies from a refrigerator behind the cash register. They were professionally packaged, with the brand name, “Kaneh Co.” She said they were $15.00, plus tax.
The tax was extraordinary. Tacked onto the sale was a $2.25 excise tax. Plus a $1.73 city tax. Plus a $1.76 sales tax. Although these figures add up to $20.74, the total on the receipt read $20.73. Don’t ask me what happened to the penny, but hey this was a marijuana outfit I was buying from.
I paid cash. I’ve heard they don’t accept credit cards or checks, due to federal laws, so I didn’t even offer to try those methods of payment.
I left the store a federal lawbreaker, in illegal possession of a Schedule I controlled substance. That’s right, marijuana is right there at the top of the list of drugs that our federal government fears the most. Schedule I drugs are considered by the FDA to have a high potential for abuse and/or physical dependence, with no currently acceptable medical use.
Hello, glaucoma? Hello, chemotherapy relief? Hello, are there any intelligent people working at the FDA?
Other Schedule I drugs besides marijuana are, heroin, LSD, ecstasy, and Quaaludes. Schedule II drugs, considered less dangerous by the FDA, include cocaine and methamphetamine. Yep, the FDA considers cocaine and methamphetamine to be safer than Mary Jane.
On my way home I wasn’t worried about the dangers of marijuana. I was only worried about being stopped by the law. Yeah it’s legal in our state. But no, it’s not really legal, because of federal law. This is a gray area I felt anxious about. And wouldn’t you know, I passed three cops while driving the back roads home, and they all gave me long hard stares. Or so I imagined. And what gives? I hardly ever see cops on those roads. Or so I imagine.
But the most feared cop of all was at my destination. My wife. She hates any drugs, and has told me many times that she would never be married to someone who uses drugs. So I couldn’t let her know what I was doing. I had several half-baked plans swirling in my head on how to get my broccoli brownies past her nose and into a safe hiding spot.
Fortunately the DEA wasn’t home, so I easily smuggled the brownie bag in through the front door. Then I hid my stash beneath a sweater in a dresser drawer and waited.
Close to bedtime, when my wife wasn’t looking, I consumed my very first brownie and lost my marijuana virginity.
Each brownie was about one-inch square, and according to the packaging, contained 10 mg of THC. THC is the active ingredient of cannabis, and it’s what makes you high. 10 mg of THC is 1/2800 of an ounce. It may not seem like much, because you need much more to get high if you’re smoking pot. But it’s a significant amount when it comes to edible marijuana. I’d learned from research I did beforehand that edibles have a much more potent effect than smokables.
There is no leaf marijuana in edible brownies. Instead the THC comes from an oil called concentrated cannabis, or cannabis extract. The state of California allows you to legally possess 28.5 grams (1 ounce) of leaf marijuana, but only 8 grams (~1/4 oz) of concentrated cannabis. I dug out my calculator, and it seems that with each brownie containing 10 mg of THC, and with 10 mg being 1/100th of a gram, you would have to be in possession of more than 800 brownies to violate California’s legal limit.
My baggie only contained 10 brownies, so I was very safely within the limit.
But healthwise, was I safe to eat even one of those ten brownies? I’ve read that some people have bad trips even with that small amount.
The brownie was sweet and toothsome. It was hard to hold back and not devour more. I truly believe that chocolate and sugar should be included in the list of Schedule I drugs. They are very addictive and very easy to abuse. And they cause cavities.
Nothing happened from this one brownie, at first. But within a half hour I began to perceive a very light, fuzzy feeling. I went to bed soon after, but did not fall asleep for an hour. Who says marijuana helps you to sleep? Nonsense.
About an hour after I finally dropped off to dreamland I awoke feeling even more light and fuzzy. I also felt a little dizzy and nauseous. And there were some small hallucinations going on. After drifting back to sleep I began getting brief, intermittent sensations that a pole made of pure crystal was running through my chest. It was a bit disconcerting, and would repeatedly startle me back awake for about half the night.
I felt glad I only ate one brownie.
The next evening I ate another brownie. The effect was far less pronounced than the night before. It made me feel a little light-headed and fuzzy, but that was the extent of this high. It seemed as if I had quickly developed a tolerance.
So the next evening, just after dinner, I consumed two brownies instead of one. I wanted to play around some more with feeling high.
I got my wish. It took a few hours, but suddenly the full effects of 20 mg of THC kicked in. I began feeling excited, and somewhat unfocused. This worsened, until I was having difficulty concentrating on reading and typing, and anything else. I felt a little dizzy, and staggered when I walked. I glanced in a mirror and noticed that my pupils were a little dilated.
After I went to bed, I awoke several times feeling dizzy. I also felt a scratchy throat. And before this I assumed the scratchy throat that potheads get was from smoking. Now I know better. THC makes your throat scratchy no matter how you ingest it.
I also experienced auditory hallucinations. These included the sound of muffled voices, and the sound of rapid, soft thumping in the distance. But the scariest hallucination was a very vivid splish-splash noise that coincided with my heartbeat. It was as if I could hear the actual sound of my blood striking my heart walls.
This was some trip, and I debated whether it would be safe to travel to this high height again.
I had six brownies left. I didn’t want the bland experience from just one brownie at a time, so I went for it. The next day I consumed two more brownies.
It seems my tolerance had not strengthened any further, because that evening’s high was just as powerful as the high of the night before, with hallucinations and everything.
For the next two nights I continued with two brownies per evening, as a postprandial indulgence, and continued to have strong highs.
But after that my baggie hidden under the sweater was completely empty. And then I had no more brownies, no more THC, and no more highs.
Now I faced the real test. Would I just have to have more cannabis? Would I miss the light fuzzy feeling, the wild hallucinations, the tripping high? Would I be in a hurry to rush back down to the head shop and purchase more brownies?
Or even worse, would this turn out to be a gateway drug, like so many anti-pot zealots have claimed? Would I want to start doing heroin now? Or LSD? Or Quaaludes? What kind of dissipated dope addict might I descend into?
The good news is, I’ve been drug-free for four days now, and have no craving to return to my debauched druggy lifestyle. My self-imposed rehab program is proving successful.
Heck, I’m just not interested in getting high from drugs. The high from marijuana feels unnatural and kind of unpleasant. I’ve experienced much more pleasant highs from doing more natural things. Things such as napping, meditating, and napping while meditating. I may be a nap addict, but I’m not yet a drug addict.
I doubt I’ll ever do marijuana again. Nor will I somehow stumble through a gate and start experimenting with other drugs.
But even if I did, so what? I want everyone to be responsible for their own oblivion. I don’t think we need nannies like Uncle Sam to protect us from ourselves.
I’d like to see all drugs legalized. This was my opinion before using marijuana, and remains my opinion after. It seems like such a waste of human life to throw people in jail, just because they obtained a high through unnatural means. Let them be.
Let everyone be. Let us experiment and pursue our happiness in any way we see fit, as long as we don’t hurt anyone but ourselves.
My experiment has taught me the power of the natural high. The unnatural high from marijuana doesn’t even come close to matching it. But I would not have learned this if it wasn’t for that baggie of brownies.
Thank you, state of California, for allowing me that freedom.