Why such problems with weed?
July 20, 2014 9:52 AM   Subscribe

In the last few months, I have started (maybe once every two weeks or so) smoking weed again, after not doing it since college (I'm now 36). When I smoke now, I feel a lot different than I did back then, and I don't like it. Details:

The first time or two, I had panic attacks (may have been somewhat related to other parts of the situation). A couple of weeks ago, I took a couple of hits, and about five minutes later, I was sitting on the kitchen floor alternating hot and cold, sweaty/clammy, and feeling like I was going to throw up. Then last night, I took one hit, and was pretty much immediately high...I didn't tip over into the unpleasantness, but it just seemed very fast.

So, Mefites, what is up with this? Am I just not able to tolerate pot anymore? Is this strain (which I don't know what it is) just fucked up? My smoking partners have not had this reaction at all.
posted by anonymous to Grab Bag (20 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Am I just not able to tolerate pot anymore?

Could be. The way you handle any kind of drug is going to be pretty different at 36 than it was in your early 20s, especially after a years-long abstinence period (think back to the first few times you got high when you were younger: those were probably not the easiest experiences you had with pot, right?)

Is this strain (which I don't know what it is) just fucked up?

Could be. There's been a kind of arms race for potency in the last few decades, and a lot of people who pick up marijuana again in middle age seem to have the same reaction you do--the effects are much more intense, sometimes very unpleasantly so.
posted by kagredon at 10:21 AM on July 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

It may be a combination of things. Weed is so much stronger now than it used to be. It used to be a quiet, mellow high, one in which you could still attend French class and you'd just giggle a bit more. Now it's cultivated for all sorts of different attributes. The shit is STRONG and it's easy to smoke too much too fast. Sort of like the difference between 4 oz of wine and 4 oz of Everclear.

I suppose you could try just one toke, and then sit back and see if you like it. See if less is better.

But I suspect that for whatever reasons, it's just not your bag anymore. As I've aged I find that I don't metabolize alcohol or pot as well as I used to. Consequently, I don't smoke anymore, and I don't drink anymore. I miss that mellow high, but frankly, I'm okay without it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:22 AM on July 20, 2014 [5 favorites]

In the last few months, I have started (maybe once every two weeks or so) smoking weed again, after not doing it since college (I'm now 36). When I smoke now, I feel a lot different than I did back then, and I don't like it. Details:

Marijuana is much stronger now than it was back then.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:23 AM on July 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

Same here. I really enjoyed a relaxing high when I was 14-16 then didn't touch the stuff for over a decade... Then I smoked A LOT over a small period of months.

And stopped again for a couple years...

I even tried one more time....

I took 2 hits in st. James park in London and it was hell to get the train back home... I was so paranoid!

And it NEVER improved, and I have a hunch that my pot use in 2009-2010 (at age: late twenties) tipped my livable anxiety disorder over into severe.

I would stop now!
posted by misspony at 10:29 AM on July 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Try a vaporizer, such as the Pax Ploom. Vaporizers provide smaller and gentler hits. You can titrate your dosage. It's not surprising that other methods can simply get you too high, even with one hit. Sometimes it's good to just take a couple gentle vaporizer hits and put it away (you're not wasting anything - you can come back to it the next day or whatever.) Everything's way too potent, it helps to be able to titrate.

Strain can have a huge impact on effect and pleasantness for different people. I would consider specifically seeking out a 100% indica strain if you can. For many sativa can lead to paranoia, panic, unpleasant thoughts. Indica is focused primarily on relaxation, stress relief, sleep, etc. Indica via gentle vaporizer hits could really change everything for you.
posted by naju at 10:31 AM on July 20, 2014 [5 favorites]

I stopped smoking when I was about 32 because I realized I wasn't enjoying it any more. People change. There isn't any rule that says you have to do this.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:36 AM on July 20, 2014 [9 favorites]

You might also want to check out this very similar AskMe from a couple of days ago.
posted by phoenixy at 11:07 AM on July 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Weed may be stronger, but the likeliest cause is just that you're older. Me, I get hangovers (from alcohol) much more easily now, after drinking less, and they are worse and longer-lasting than they used to be. Alcohol strength hhas stayed the same - I'm the one who's weaker!
posted by rtha at 11:28 AM on July 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also, I switched from pipe to vaporizer some months ago and have noticed zero difference in ability to titrate or strength/immediacy of onset.
posted by rtha at 11:32 AM on July 20, 2014

Did you move? What they call weed in Europe/ east coast and what they call weed on the west coast of the US are very different. The wine/ everclear comparison is an excellent one.
posted by fshgrl at 12:17 PM on July 20, 2014

Is this strain (which I don't know what it is) just fucked up?

If you want to continue trying to smoke, I'd recommend finding a dealer with multiple named strains who can explain the differences between them.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:27 PM on July 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

If it's any comfort, I had the same experience a couple months ago. Sudden access to some good stuff broke a years-long abstinence. Two hits later and I was deep into a full-blown panic attack that lasted for hours. Getting older can be a bitch.
posted by Work to Live at 1:03 PM on July 20, 2014

I can't explain it, but that's what ended up happening to me. I loved, loved, LOVED pot in senior year of high school and college, but after a few years of regular smoking, I got to the point where it stopped being fun. I wasn't feeling giggly and good and having fun and all the great feelings I associated with getting baked. I felt anxious and self-conscious and weird when I smoked. Eventually, I had to stop -- if I recall, I was in my last year of college when I had to quit. My sister had this same thing happen to her. It's like we had a threshold of how many times we could enjoy pot before our bodies changed the way it reacted to it. Other siblings of mine did not have that problem, so I think it's just something about our mental health and how we respond to the pot. My sister and I have both dealt with depression/anxiety in the past while our other siblings haven't, so there might be something in there to explain the difference. It didn't have anything to do with the types of pot we smoked or how much.
posted by AppleTurnover at 1:29 PM on July 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I wish you could get heirloom varieties of pot. Today's stuff isn't mellow or relaxing.
posted by spork at 2:01 PM on July 20, 2014

I'd say your reaction had a lot more to do with being totally naive to the drug than it did with any increase in potency over the past 15 years. If you have zero developed tolerance, even very small amounts will knock you on your ass.
posted by killdevil at 2:02 PM on July 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Set and setting may have a lot to do with it.

Are you worried at all about being caught smoking some weed? Are there consequences to getting caught like losing your job, losing your kids, getting sent to bleep-me-in-the-ass-prison?

If you're set on smoking pot again, try taking it slower and stay hydrated. Have a hit or two, snuff out the pipe. Wait a little while. Drink some juice. If you like the feeling and want more, take another couple of tokes. Don't get high after a hot day when you've been running around and dehydrated and borderline heat stroke-y.

Weed hasn't "gotten a LOT stronger"... a lot of the studies compared current fresh weed with stuff that had been sitting in a police evidence locker since the '70s. Also, people used to smoke a lot of leaves and stuff, or mix tobacco in with it.

Yes, there has been a lot of really sophisticated breeding and there are some strains that have much higher THC/cannabinols than most strains in the past. There's a fair difference between indica and sativa strains in THC/cannabinols ratio and produce different effects. Indicas grow better indoors and tend to produce a more "loagy" "stoned" feeling. Sativas, because they grow up more than out, are more suited for outdoor growth (but is also grown indoors) and tend to produce a more uplifting "happy" feeling.

/36, been smoking on/off since I was 15. I take 6 month breaks every so often when I can't be arsed to get any. Starting up after a break makes it more pleasant, then tolerance sets in but I keep smoking it. After the break it might take a couple/three hits to get really high, once tolerance sets in and I can suck down an entire bowl and still be coherent enough to write high quality product literature.
posted by porpoise at 2:38 PM on July 20, 2014

There has been some sort of bizarre space race on the strength of weed. Everyone i know who smokes, or smoked(or well, a lot of people vape now, but you get what i'm saying) agrees with me on this.

Throughout high school i was a pretty much daily smoker into the beginning of college. Then me and a friend got jobs at a dispensary. We didn't have to buy weed anymore, and we were getting the turbo-chronic shit for free or super cheap! awesome, right?

Well, basically every time some new strains or a new crop came in it was stronger than the last stuff. I remember like 5 solid months straight of "Remember that shit we got last time? that's fucking nothing compared to this". Pretty quickly it had entered the territory of "more than one hit gets you uncomfortably high, consistently".

And towards the end, and where it is today, it seems to regularly be that one hit in and of itself is too much, even if it's a tiny hit.

This wasn't a tolerance thing either, because right up until this point me and my friends had been smoking assloads of weed.

It's not that you can't still get less strong stuff, but every place puts the "chronic" front and center and might not even carry it since that seems to be what everyone wants. Weed on average may not have gotten stronger, but the popular strains now are. And at least in my city, even the crappy dealers now have at least the mid-grade stuff which is the lowest the dispensaries carry, and WAY stronger than non-medical weed from a random person was say, 8 years ago.

Some people don't care/aren't affected by it or just think it's awesome. But evidently, some people like us are more sensitive to it or something. I really don't think it was just "getting older" either, since i'm 24... and i noticed this all happening and started to get really uncomfortable with smoking when i was around 20-21.

It basically ended with the conclusion of maybe smoking weed isn't for me, which i wish i had realized sooner than i did because wow so much anxiety and shit.
posted by emptythought at 8:38 PM on July 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

"One hit" as a measurement of ingestion is pretty imprecise. Could be a monster bonger or a dainty hit on a pipe. If you wanna keep smoking, I would suggest the following: start with an empty pipe (or bong, but pipe is probably easier). Take the smallest part of a bud you can, which would be called "one bract" or one empty seed pod, tweezers would help. Place it in the pipe and hit that. Shouldn't be too overwhelming, regardless of strength. Personally, I might be inclined to see that small of use being effective as a feature, not a bug.
posted by telstar at 9:25 PM on July 20, 2014

So I, too, have gone through something similar, relatively recently, and I am almost exactly the same age as you. I had only smoked very occasionally (often went years without doing so), but in 2012, and through early 2013, I started smoking much more regularly—sometimes a few nights a week. I enjoyed it a lot.

But then, a little over a year ago, I smoked one time and got terribly paranoid. My mind just started cascading through the most horrible negative thoughts and I couldn't break free until the passage of time started to diminish the strength of the high.

I hate the feeling, but the next time, it happened again. And the next time, and one more time after that. I tried different strains during that time, and probably even tried pipe vs. vape, but the reaction was the same. My "setting" (a helpful term porpoise links above) was unchanged—it was always at home.

However, my "setting" had started to shift. A major and longstanding difference of insurmountable difficulty once again reared its head between me and my wife, and my life at home became very sad. Things were never at all acrimonious, but we ultimately wound up splitting up earlier this year.

I'm pretty convinced, though, that my fragile psychological state was responsible for causing my bad experiences. I have only *very* recently begun to emerge from these emotionally trying times, and I have not yet tried smoking again. I'm honestly still scared to, and I think it will be a while before I do so again.

But unlike what Chocolate Pickle suggested above, it's most definitely not the case that I feel in any way "obligated" to smoke. To the contrary, I simply liked doing it, and I'm disappointed I cannot right now. I know I'll try it again one day, and I hope the results are different. I will let you know when I do. But I would try thinking a lot about what, if anything, might have changed in your "set and setting," because that could very well be the answer. And good luck to you.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 10:33 PM on July 20, 2014

This is just my theory but I believe that pot is a feeling enhancer, so if you're a bit worried about something in your life and it's at the forefront of your mind then pot will make you *more* worried but you won't necessarily be thinking of the actual thing that's worrying you - it may manifest as a general 'oh shit something's not right' feeling, which is never pleasant.

Setting is important, too. If you're smoking alone or if you're with a crowd where you're not quite feeling it then that can lead to paranoia really quickly.

Try just having one small cone with some really good friends whilst doing something fun, something that involves trying to make each other laugh, whether it's a board game or a movie or music - that might make a difference.

I know more than one person who's given up smoking pot in their later years because it just wasn't fun anymore.
posted by h00py at 7:32 AM on July 21, 2014

« Older Help me put together a secular/humanist baby...   |   How to celebrate six months of marriage at a... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.