One of the reasons I’m writing this blog under a pseudonym is that I do drugs, which are illegal in the United States. While I doubt the authorities give a fuck about the small-time shit I’m into, I work in an industry where being overt about my drug use could potentially get me in trouble. I’ve never done crack or meth or heroin, but I’m just one of those people who enjoy getting altered.
I’m mostly your run-of-the-mill adult pothead, but I occasionally purchase gram bags of cocaine from a girl who sells it out of her taxidermy shop while a cop who wants to sleep with her is parked in his patrol car outside her building. Coke always leaves me feeling like my very soul is hung over the next day, so I only do it every few months. The last time was with a beautiful gay boy who looked hideous as he ground his teeth and licked the inside of the bag at 6 in the morning. We stayed up all night, wound up in the false intimacy of strangers on drugs, and I spent the next day sitting in my living room in sweatpants with the curtains drawn. Days like that keep my coke use moderate.
With weed, however, I am anything but moderate. The first thing I do when I get home from the office every day is roll a joint, and I continue to smoke until bed. On the weekends, I wake and bake, staying high from around 10am to midnight. Many of my friends are like this, and we generally ignore the fact that marijuana is a Schedule I felony in this country, classified by the federal government as equally as harmful as heroin and even more harmful than cocaine and meth. Yes, we could potentially be arrested for smoking in public, but we do it anyway. We smoke on the streets and behind bars, on our porches and in our cars. I tell myself that if I act like it’s legal, no one will say anything, and for the most part, this has proven true. An oft-repeated mantra in 12-step programs like AA and NA is that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I’ve adopted this wisdom to my own purposes: despite carrying weed on me almost every time I leave my house, I’ve never gotten in trouble with the law, and so I never will. I’m just doing the same thing and expecting the same results. It’s rational. Or it’s the thinking of someone whose blood has more THC than platelets.
It’s possible there are deep psychological reasons that I smoke as much as I do — some people might say I’m addicted, others that I’m trying to escape from something — and maybe those are true, but I look at marijuana as a harm-reducer. Before becoming a daily pot smoker, I was a drinker, and the repercussions to my life — professional, financial, romantic, all of it — were serious. I drank so much that I don’t really remember my 20s, as though I was stuck in a brown-out for a decade. I cheated on my girlfriends, got fired from jobs because I was always hung over, quit other jobs because I was always hung over, and was generally a horrible daughter, sister, friend and partner. And I was miserable. But then I started smoking weed, or as one of my stoner friends puts it, I put down the bottle and picked up the pipe, and life got easier.
The truth is, I didn’t entirely put down the bottle, but I put it down long enough to get my shit together. When I drink now, I still sometimes do it excessively, but I don’t drink on work nights, I don’t drink and drive, and I rarely wake up with regret. So, yes, maybe I am using weed to escape from reality, but so what? Reality is hard — I live in a boring, pre-fab city where all the queer women wear cargo shorts and baseball caps and I haven’t had sex in six months. If the most exciting thing you’ve done recently is buy an artichoke, you also might want an escape from reality.
If I’m going to escape, at least I’m doing it in a way that hurts no one but me. I don’t lie, I don’t cheat, I don’t call in sick to work after vomiting PBR and tequila on a Tuesday night. What I do is smoke. I roll up some weed, make myself some tea and sit on my porch reading The New Yorker and listening to the radio — not exactly happy with my life, but not miserable either.