Weed is good for you. In moderation. It’s known to improve creativity, muscle pain, appreciation for art and our ability to maintain a sense of calm. It can also make you feel sluggish, lazy, stupid and unconcerned, sensations many of us have experienced in the last 12 months whether smoking weed or not.
But inhale: in hell, there’s heaven. With just about everyone’s day-to-day life being challenged one way or another during the pandemic, some have turned to weed.
I interviewed three people who have been using the plant in the past year as a way of helping them get through the mayhem. I asked all of them broadly the same questions: when they started using cannabis, how often they use it now, how it affects them both positively and negatively, how their relationship with weed has changed during the pandemic, and whether they think more people in their field should try it. One interviewee has had their name changed, one has opted for total anonymity, and one has not.
Carrie, freelance writer, 31
I started smoking over the summer just because I was kind of curious? I’d tried weed before but never liked it very much, but I was pretty bored and getting kind of sick of day drinking with people while restrictions were lifted so I gave it another go and I really enjoyed it! From then I was smoking maybe once a week or every two weeks, but at the moment I smoke or take a small edible almost every day once I’m done with work. I find it really hard to disconnect from my freelance brain otherwise.
I take one of these usually, I think they’re like 5mg: they’re just gummy bears. It kind of puts a veneer on things and makes me have thoughts I don’t usually, which is the main reason I do it actually, it helps me think outside the box of stuff I usually do.
I was a bit worried when I fell into it but I feel like right now is just not a great time to be fully engaged with the world. I think bc I’m a relatively new user as well I don’t get paranoid or have bad experiences very often. I think one time my hearing kind of went? But otherwise not really. Again I don’t do very much, just like one gummy or half a joint at most.
But yeah, I’m such a workaholic and it’s a really good way to say to myself that the workday is over. Sometimes I have made that a call a little too early. I think with remote work the day kind of fizzles out around 4 pm sometimes, but then if there’s breaking news unexpectedly, well… you just gotta try and focus. I think things take me a bit longer than they usually would but it gets done pretty accurately and I often get to have a laugh.
But not usually in ways I can use for my work, which is good I think. I do want to keep those things separate as much as possible. Like yesterday I randomly decided to interview my mum, which was fun but I doubt I’ll end up doing much with it. Lol, I probably sound like a maniac. Like I said before I really didn’t do it at all before lockdown 2. Wait no, 1. It was June.
I feel like your reaction to it varies so hugely. I feel like I’d advise people who have anxiety/depression to try it out but not really journalists in general. I don’t think it makes me a better journalist, just a less frazzled one.
Anonymous, corporate IT professional, 42
High-functioning stoner? Yeah yeah, I’ll tell you why…
I would say the first eight to 10 years was weekly, mostly joints. Now it’s monthly. I will only smoke, basically, if I’ve done loads and loads of hard work, or hit a target. I don’t smoke just for the hell of it.
In the last four years, it’s now pretty much 99.9% vape. I’m only gonna burn joints if I’m with someone else. I’m shit at rolling and it’s effort and smelly. Personally, I think it shouldn’t be done a lot because it makes you, overall, energy lower and just a little bit lazier. If I do burn, literally I’ve got everything done for the next day. I coordinate it with a chill day with the whole family. If I’ve got stuff to do, with people or with the kids, I won’t do it.
So this is the only time I got caught out, like eight years ago. I burnt a huge joint, sat down — and remember smoking in my community is really frowned upon — and then I heard a big fall, and my dad fell over and broke his arm. I was the only one home. I had to take him to the hospital, after like a massive, huge spliff — I literally have half of that now in a vape. I don’t think my dad was aware that I was… I just said I was tired. We got there in the waiting room and obviously, you’d sit away from other people right? So we sat, and then one minute later we had five police officers sitting with us. You couldn’t make it up. We were there for a couple of hours and then I came back and I was like wow, that was a good session.
I will always have my phone with me, or voice recorder, cos you just get crazy ideas that you wouldn’t have if you were regular. Even alcohol doesn’t give you those ideas. They’re reviewed the next day — some of them are wildly… crazy, and some are like really good ideas. But out of like 10 ideas, one might be absolutely gold.
It’s also a muscle and body relaxant as well. Aches and pains and stuff, it’s good for that. I feel physically like your body is relaxed and your muscles are so much better. Outside the professional industry, there’s a lot of fitness people who smoke. They’ll smoke weed but they’ll only eat fruit. Cos the other negative is that it makes you really hungry, so you consume — in my case — thousands of calories. You can literally eat your day’s calories in two hours. But I plan for that. If I know I’m burning that night, I’ll eat very lean through the day.
It gets harder to take the older you get, I think. Maybe not. I think I just think that in my brain. That’s my advice to people to stay on the right side of it: as long as you’re linking weed to achieving stuff because that is what weed robs from you. Don’t get me wrong sometimes I’ll just burn… for the hell of it, just enjoy it and switch off. But if you’ve got shit to do, don’t let it rob you of your energy and stuff.
Scott Kenan, blogger, former accountant and restaurateur, 69
I’m totally a public person so do not seek anonymity anywhere. I would be happy to give you how Covid has changed my relationship with Marijuana — mostly, I have limited myself to smoking now late at night. Daily, I smoke bud, I put it in a small metal pipe. I prefer a pipe because it’s less wasteful and I’m cheap.
I smoked a lot of pot in Cape May, and off and on when I lived in Atlanta. I didn’t smoke on my own, maybe just at gatherings or something. But I landed in the hospital with… oh I’ve got arrhythmia, I had water on the lungs, congestive heart failure. But I’m so much better, I’ve been stabilised on the current regimen of drugs for a good half year now and I feel terrific. I’m also kind of amazed I haven’t gotten Covid, because I have all these stress factors… but I don’t go out that much.
I’ve tried every kinda drug at one time or another which you don’t inject. When I was at college I did LSD about 18 times. And in the 80s I was briefly into powder cocaine, but it’s too expensive. I’ve tried smoking crack even. And I went with a shaman in Port of Vallarta to the fields and we picked psychedelic mushrooms and ate them there and hung out with the cows. That was in 2011. Now I don’t have any interest in any other stuff anymore. I’m a trained practitioner in the science of mind, metaphysics, and ah… between the metaphysics and a little pot at night, it really keeps me sane now.
In a certain sense I wish I didn’t do anything, didn’t drink alcohol, didn’t smoke pot… cos I don’t think any of them are really necessary, but they’re here so why not enjoy them? And my life’s been so screwed up I need to relax and that’s what I use them for. But you know alcohol brings out anger in people. Marijuana doesn’t. Marijuana makes everybody wanna order a pizza. You don’t get people fighting on marijuana like you do on alcohol.
In the first maybe 10 years, I could get paranoid if I was not with others also smoking. But I believe that only people who are afraid to confront their true feelings get paranoid on pot.
No medical marijuana here in North Carolina. But all of my doctors know I smoke pot and have no problem with it — but can’t legally prescribe. They do all admit it is helpful for me and others.