Cannabis is a genus of flowering plants which includes Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis, all otherwise known as marijuana, amongst many names. The latter variety is unimportant, colloquially known as “ditch weed” because it grows wild beside roads and doesn’t produce much of a high. Sativa and indica are the varieties I will discuss.
Most people don’t think about Cannabis as a psychedelic or hallucinogen, but there is every reason to view it that way. As with other psychedelics, the high that one experiences when smoking Cannabis is completely dependent on set and setting, and using it in an escapist way is next to impossible. Like other psychedelics, Cannabis is not physically addictive, although unlike others, it can be quite psychologically addictive.
I was 17 years old when I first smoked pot. My girlfriend of the time was a heavy smoker, a fact which caused some discord in our relationship, as I of course had my preconceived notions of the plant. Perhaps it was my intellectual curiosity, or more likely peer pressure, but I eventually caved in and smoked for the first time over winter break of my senior year of high school, in a friend’s basement.
Most people do not get high the first time they smoke, an interesting quality of Cannabis. I, however, did. After one hit I felt noticeably different, looser. after ten minutes I took another hit and I was high for the first time. The experience was different than I expected, though looking back I’m not sure what I expected. It wasn’t the world around me that changed, it was how I felt it, how I looked at it. Food tasted somewhat better, but that’s not why I continued to eat far past when I was full. It was a compulsion, a desire to consume which somehow had overridden my feeling of fullness. I was quite frustrated to experience short term memory loss over and over, but soon I learned to simply be amused. Objects appeared exactly as always, yet more vivid, as if their edges had a radiance about them.
I learned many things throughout the first few times I got high. I came to find a new respect for the separateness of environments because of the very real affect they had on my mood. I also came to find a new respect for sensory experience, and came to realize that a sensation such as taste is not felt on the tongue or in the brain, though pleasure seems to flow from the tongue into the brain. Sensation was somehow above the matter that sensed.
The day after I smoked for the first time I was in a daze, unable to concentrate, as if I had just woken up from a lengthy nap all of the time. This feeling dissipated throughout the second day. I will briefly remind you of the point I made on the main “psychedelics” page: a psychedelic experience does not end, it dissipates. As I continued to smoke I became able to wake up in the morning completely refreshed.
Cannabis is a very interesting drug because it is so many drugs. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the most famous and prevalent cannabinoid, and is especially prevalent in sativa varieties, which are known for the “head high” they produce. This high is clear minded and trippy, good for college students who have homework to be done. on the other end of the spectrum is Cannabidiol, or CBD. this is not psychoactive in the way THC is, and is the more prevalent cannabinoid in indica varieties. CBD is what locks a person to a couch for hours. Very few strains are pure sativa or indica, and most are on a sliding scale. While some smokers don’t really care about the type as long as it gets them high, others favor one over the other for various reasons and purposes. Personally I think it’s good to keep both around.
I mentioned that Cannabis is psychologically addictive. I smoke every day now and so I’m quite sure that I would be judged by most to be addicted. However: there are, and always will be people who smoke more than me. I used to be shocked by people who can smoke constantly and still function in life, but then I thought about what non-smokers must think of my habit. It’s all relative.
To me, the word “addiction” does injustice to the relationship I have with this plant. I have often thought of Cannabis as more of a friend or lover than a drug (I realize that only makes me sound more addicted, but I will go on). Am I not addicted to my girlfriend, to my friends, to the internet, to clothes, to everything in life which I deem good? should I avoid all good things for fear of liking them too much? these things add something to my life, something I would rather have than not, and if that’s addiction than I’m an addict and so are all of you. This relationship is a struggle, sometimes more than others, but overall I think it’s worth sticking to this plant because I truly and honestly believe it enriches my life.
You can never have the first high again, for obvious reasons. With some drugs this drives people insane, as the high from drugs like meth, heroin, and nicotine slowly fade into the fulfillment of an addiction. This is not the case with Cannabis. Cannabis is a woman of infinite surprises, a friend who reminds me why I love her every time we spend time together. This is a relationship I intend to maintain.