Why did a lot of my friends stop enjoying marijuana in their early 30's?
June 22, 2004 2:34 AM   Subscribe

I'm not sure whether this topic is a comfortable or appropriate one for us to discuss and I hope I'm not commiting a faux-pas by asking, but here goes:

I've noticed that a lot of my friends who used to smoke and enjoy marijuana stopped doing so in their early thirties. I've asked them why they stopped and they have said it just doesn't make them feel good anymore. It seems to stop making them feel relaxed and start making them more nervous and paranoid. What are some possible reasons for this?
posted by hazyjane to Society & Culture (47 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I don't have a definite answer but maybe...
I have greater responsibilities now, what with the daughter, the taxman and the ex to support.

When stoned, it's difficult to shake that off, and the thought that I'd overlooked something crucial, due to partying or whatever, just goes round and round my brain. Any untoward effect when I was younger - only I would be affected (whether it be debtors prison, emergency room, whatever). I can't be so free and easy now. I hardly ever spark up, and then don't always enjoy it. Such a shame...

Mind you, I have successfully kicked the evil weed!
posted by dash_slot- at 2:56 AM on June 22, 2004

I second dash_slot's thoughts. Also, some people I know (aged around 50) told me that thay do not tolerate marijuana physically very well anymore.
posted by tcp at 3:13 AM on June 22, 2004

I found it difficult to socialise so eventually stopped smoking.Interestingly on the very rare occasion I ingest some in cake or cookie form it's a lot more like the old days.
posted by johnny7 at 3:27 AM on June 22, 2004

I found it started making me more inward looking than it had in my 20s and became less fun to enjoy with friends as a result. I noticed it did seem to raise odd paranoias in me as well, which it hadn't done before, or I hadn't noticed, and when I gave up tobacco at 30 I decided to pack in weed as well.

There seems to be a bit more debate these days about whether it really is the harmless smoke it's presented as. As a personal observation, I have a couple of of friends in their 30s who smoke a fair bit and who show all the signs of minor psychosis in which I feel certain that marijuana has been a major contributing factor. These are people who I would classify as already having more of a tendency towards mental instability, and marijuana definitely seems to worsen their mental state. Maybe I fall into this group too, and so benefited from giving it up.

I really miss listening to music stoned though...
posted by gravelshoes at 4:05 AM on June 22, 2004

I grew into being bipolar, so I grew out of any mood altering substance altogether- pot, alcohol, etc. I've been charting my moods and they fluctuate like mad as it is, so it just isn't responsible to take drugs any more.

I imagine you'll find that there are as many reasons as there are individuals.

I have been psychotic when severely manic and when severely depressed as symptoms of the disease. Not fun... and weed tended to push me closer to that border when I was feeling "normal".
posted by pissfactory at 4:33 AM on June 22, 2004

I have a theory that the quality of sleep of a marijuana user (or alcohol users, people on downers/sleeping pills etc.) is not as good as that of a non-user. Sleep is the time that our brains have to cement the events of the day into long term memories and absorb the emotional content of the past day. Denying this opportunity results in the fatigue like symtoms of long term use.
The strength of the available marijuana has increased during my lifetime, the amount of THC in the a constant weight has multiplied tenfold, or more (if you are getting the good shit). Even a seasoned smoker has to be ready to hallucinate, get freaked out and paranoid if they are not careful with the volume they are consuming.
Personally, I would rather smoke one super-strength fattie boombattie than a bunch of low strength marijuana cigarettes. However, this tends to destroy conversation in a social setting, but it's good for the cinema!
Most of my long-term smoking friends have cut down or stopped around the age of thirty, for a variety of reasons.
posted by asok at 4:51 AM on June 22, 2004

If it was legal and I could just run down to the liquor-and-marijuana store for a shrink-wrapped, tax-paid pack of blunts, I might still smoke up occasionally. As it is I no longer know any contacts to score from and if I wanted to buy weed I'd have to buy it from a stranger on the street. Which leads to a second point, namely that having to score this way really rubs your nose in what kind of, um, organization you're supporting when you buy drugs.
posted by jfuller at 4:54 AM on June 22, 2004

For me it was three things, and now that you mention it, it was right around when I turned 30...

1. I got busy to the point that I rarely had the time for the sort of one-day-high & one-day-hangover that smoking would give me. I started to value my mental acuity above other things.
2. I bought a house at about the same time the government started taking the houses of people who were suspected of posession/dealing/growing/whatever. I like my house more than fighting with Johnny Law.
3. I got into a rather scary drug-related [not pot-related] car accident that left me completely and undeservedly unscathed. Drugs never had quite the same allure afterwards.

Incidentally, when I was renting the house there were hippies living there [rule number one was "Please don't grow pot on the land." but who was I fooling?] who got busted for growing weed on the property. I heard this all second hand from across the country from a neighbor and my first thought was "Oh shit, I hope they don't take my house!" They didn't, just tore up the plants and to this day I have no idea where they were.
posted by jessamyn at 5:06 AM on June 22, 2004 [1 favorite]

Glad to know it's not just me.

A few reasons:

Once I got established in my career and some other groups I realized I didn't really want to put myself in a situation where I might get arrested and find my name in the paper for all my friends, family, and coworkers to see. Even if drug laws are stupid, they're still laws.

I just stopped enjoying it. I'd get high, peeking out the windows the whole time, and ten minutes after finishing smoking I'd be dead tired and unmotivated. Useless for the rest of the day.

When I decided I was going to have a kid I finally stopped for good and tossed out my pipe. I couldn't very well expect to give my kid the "drugs, for the most part, are bad" talk one day if I had a stash that he might stumble upon.

I didn't like the crowd I hung with when I smoked. I personally don't think pot is all that bad but I've never known a dealer I could trust. Pot doesn't make you a loser, but a lot of losers smoke pot. It's hard to get away from losers when you need to score weed and find a like-minded crowd to hang with.

Yes, the paranoia increased to the point where it was overwhelming. I think it's easier to smoke when you're young and have very little in the way of real responsibility. "Sure, I'll hang and get stoned. I can call in sick to work. They'll get someone else to scoop the fries."

I do miss it sometimes, but every time I've stopped for a while and then gotten high "because I missed it' it takes me about five seconds to remember why I stopped in the first place.
posted by bondcliff at 6:30 AM on June 22, 2004

what kind of, um, organization you're supporting when you buy drugs.

President Bush says it's the terrahists!!!

posted by matteo at 6:35 AM on June 22, 2004

I'm 33 and finally cut back on my intake about a year ago. I stopped basically because it wasn't enjoyable anymore, I would pretty much feel the same before smoking as I did after. I have this hope, which may be unrealistic, that after qutting completely two months ago (which was really, really easy to do - I just ran out of weed and didn't buy more and forgot about it after two days) that I could go back to occasionally smoking for "special events" and enjoy it like I did in high school.

In my experience, none of my additional responsibilities (professional, personal, home ownership, etc.) ever suffered because of my smoking.
posted by vito90 at 6:59 AM on June 22, 2004

Just a side note, I'm only 22 and it makes me feel edgy and paranoid, while it didn't do so about five years ago.
posted by angry modem at 7:01 AM on June 22, 2004

There's also a shift in group perspective that happens gradually in your late 20's. The expectation from those around you is that you're supposed to be focusing on other things, so spending energy procuring pot makes you look loserish (which is generally an unfair characterization). Most people will still occasionally accept it if offered, but the fact that people won't go to the trouble of getting it assures that it won't be offered often. So some of it's peer pressure, which is fine. If you like pot that much, you can either hang out with younger people or find people your age who don't subscribe to this.

So I suspect the "it doesn't make them feel good anymore" is because the social settings that made pot enjoyable are largely gone, rather than some chemical change in a 30-year-old's body.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:05 AM on June 22, 2004

There might be a chemical/hormonal change in the body that changes the effect marijuana has on you. When you hit thirty, your dehydroepiandrosterone, testosterone, and oestrogen (both men and women have a combination of testosterone and estrogen) start to dip- women notice these hormone changes more readily because their menses become irregular and eventually stop; men don't really notice it unless they start to lose their hair and start to grow hair in places it wasn't before (inside the ears, etc..)

Your whole body's chemistry changes- things you used to love eating you can't handle anymore, it gets harder to get a full night's sleep, it gets harder to lose weight around the middle, fertility starts to wane (for men and women,) etc.. I imagine that could account for the waning fun levels of smoking marijuana too, since MJ has a chemical effect on the brain, and the brain's chemicals have changed.

Medline on Male Aging

Medline on Female Aging
posted by headspace at 7:06 AM on June 22, 2004 [1 favorite]

I stopped while in my late to mid-20's. I had to due to the intense paranoia I felt - to the point that I was hiding in bushes while cars went by.

As to why it stops feeling good, perhaps there's a physical reason, ie the THC bonds to whatever receptors quicker and stays longer, therefor creating a faster and more lasting impression (I'm surmising here). Or it could be a psychological factor in that constant paranoia simply can't be a good thing.

As mentioned above, the weed simply isn't the same as it was when I first started smoking. Today it's so much stronger! I remember the first time I smoked the pot that is available today and I thought I'd been given some acid. We called it superweed back in the day and today it's the norm.

I've known a few potheads over the years and every single one of them has psychological or social problems. I'm not saying that pot has made them that way or they that they are simply self-medicating, but they've all been damaged in one way or another.
posted by ashbury at 7:15 AM on June 22, 2004

I've always been surprised that someone has not done a rigorous study of this phenomenon. I've noticed the same thing that you have, almost everyone I know quit in their late twenties or early thirties. Many quit for the reasons others have discussed here, such as increased responsibilities, greater fear of arrest, etc, but a significant number, including myself, quit for the reason you raised, it stopped being a pleasant experience, usually all at once, and instead caused what were essentially panic attacks.

It happened to me when I was still a young, irresponsible dead-headed kid. It most definitly was not a repsoibility issue, becasue I still had none for may years after.

l always thought that it was physical, theorizing that it was the development of an allergic reaction. It sure felt that way, my heart rate would shoot up through the roof and I'd start to feel antsy and prickly. It also did not seem to matter how much I smoked or of what quality. I figured the rest of it stemmed from that, nervous and paranoid seems pretty natural when you have those physical symptoms and your stoned.

A woman by the name of Marcelle Clements wrote a brilliant essay on the issue in the mid 1980 for the Rolling Stone entitled The Dog Is Us. It was later collected in a book of her essays by the same name. I tried to find a good link for it, but the book is out of print and the essay does not seem to be anywhere on the web. However, it's well worth looking up.
posted by rtimmel at 7:16 AM on June 22, 2004

Today it's so much stronger!

Isn't this an urban legend / "war on drugs" discredited talking point?
it actually makes no sense -- why sould THC content be higher in nowadays weed? worldwide scale genetic engineering? pollution?
posted by matteo at 7:20 AM on June 22, 2004

Also, I have to say that when I was a pothead, in my 20's (I was a late starter...), I totally did not understand what paranoia was. I never had it, I smoked tons and *tried* to feel bad!

These days I'll maybe toke on a friends joint or pipe before a gig, a film or party, but doubt that that amounts to more than half a dozen times per year.

I guess I would smoke more if the effects were less distressing, but I reckon there may be downsides to that, motivation wise (I hated that speech back in the day, but there you are).

matteo: » Is cannabis getting stronger?
Yes and no. Grass or marijuana is generally stronger thanks to sophisticated plant breeding and cultivation methods. However, hash - which usually only contains about 4 -5 % THC - remains weak and unchanged.
posted by dash_slot- at 7:34 AM on June 22, 2004

why sould THC content be higher in nowadays weed? worldwide scale genetic engineering? pollution?

The market (esp in response to the drug war). In order to produce more weed in less space, and to be able to transport more weed in less space, the intensity of the drug was enhanced through breeding and various other botanic innovations (hydroponics, etc). It's well documented - buds are bigger, leaves are smaller, no one smokes the leaves anymore but that used to be normal... however, I don't know how much it's changed from say 1990 to 2000; I think the big change was more like 1970 to 1990.

I never found pot especially satisfying (have never bought it on my own & once out of college, haven't come across it that often), but my mother still smokes pot regularly, and when I was a kid (when she was in her 30s) used to have pot plants mixed in with the geraniums - so some people do enjoy it as they age. But there definitely seems to be a chemical thing about which drugs work for you - some people don't understand why anyone would enjoy alcohol, eg.
posted by mdn at 7:37 AM on June 22, 2004 [1 favorite]

matteo, maybe not worldwide scale, but certainly selective breeding programs could yield such results easily enough. A higher THC content product would be more desireable and potentially yield higher profits. I remember a guy I knew in college was showing everyone some White Rhino he had obtained in NY: "See those crystals on the buds? That's pure THC!" Clearly if THC is the desired ingredient, the growers will attempt to supply more of it, and the end result is certainly possible with millenia-old agricultural methods.

As a side question, how many people know anyone who started smoking around 30 or later? Not sure how common they are, but it shouldn't be too difficult (well, with enough samples, anyway) to have an idea about whether the cause is aging or some cumulative effect of smoking itself.
posted by whatnotever at 7:38 AM on June 22, 2004

Response by poster: This stuff is fascinating.

rtimmel, I've just ordered the book of essays you mentioned. Thanks for the information.

I'm currently reading the study listed in the footnotes of andrew cooke's link. It can be found here in PDF format. To quote one sentence from the section on quitting: "Those who have quit using were on average around thirty years of age when they did so, with a remarkably similar pattern in the three cities studied."
posted by hazyjane at 8:04 AM on June 22, 2004

how many people know anyone who started smoking around 30 or later

I'd be shocked if there's even one, outside the medicinal crowd.

It seems to stop making them feel relaxed and start making them more nervous and paranoid. What are some possible reasons for this?

They can't get the good stuff anymore.

Also, I know several people who've never stopped, and are well into their 50s now. I think its a matter of lifestyle and desire. People who in their 30s, as responsibility and middle age start to slowly tame their rebellious spirits, probably make themselves paranoid and uncomfortable. As jessamyn pointed out, all he could think about when high was the possibility that the Feds might bust in and take his house. When you're younger, you may have the same thought, but you just don't care.

So I guess my point is that like many psychotropic substances, the herb high is what you make of it. If you are at a place in your life where you would be uncomfortable if other people knew you smoked and a worried that it may be inappropriate for you, then you will probably feel more paranoid and uncomfortable than normal while high. If, however, like the friends I mentioned earlier, everyone you know is aware that you still get high, and you still think it works within your lifestyle, then you will probably feel even more relaxed, content, giggly, and stupid than normal.

"Those who have quit using were on average around thirty years of age when they did so, with a remarkably similar pattern in the three cities studied."

It is difficult to presume that there is a physiological explanation for this. Most likely, as I said, approaching "the big 3-0" brings on psychological changes that change the nature of the high.

This is, by the way, all very, very depressing for someone in his mid-twenties.

I'd also like to take this opprotunity to link to Stanton Peele, who for years has been contradicting the "addiction is a disease" and "addiction is a crime" and "addiction is a moral shortcoming" and "addiction is a spiritual problem" crowds alike by saying "drug use is a lifestyle choice, and the majority of people stop not because of treatment, AA, religion, or medication, but because they simply grow out of it." Widely and roundly criticised in the addiction community, but someone who I personally think raises alot of good points. While intentionally controversial at times ("AA is a cult") much of what he says rings very true for me.
posted by ChasFile at 8:23 AM on June 22, 2004

My experience suggests that the paranoia and other abreactions may be due to infrequency of use. If you stop entirely then have some, the effect is stronger. If you have a daily low dose, the negative affects are minimal or nonexistant.

The strength is stronger, to the point where one may occasionaly miss the smoke! Mind, my tolks are ultra-maxi-sized (swimmer's lungs), but I have to be careful how big 1 tolks is. 2 tolks is always too much.

Also, canabis reacts with caffeine, and some may experience that in a negative way. I've had that a few times. In my 20's, this was what I loved the most (the combo). I was doing the espresso long before it was common, looking for the best jones.

Besides breeding to produce stronger plants, it may also be an issue of freshness. Certainly the good stuff of today has lots more aroma! You can smell it in your pocket as you walk down the street (literaly).

Further, lets remember that there are more alkaloids in canabis than THC. Modern breeds may have gotten higher THC content but sacrificed something else, perhaps something more calmative. I have noticed that TOO SMALL a dose can be more uncomfortable than a larger dose.

I miss my space cowboy days, sitting around laughing at how stoned friends were, listening to something awesome on the stereo. ::sigh::
posted by Goofyy at 8:28 AM on June 22, 2004

whatnotever, a good friend of mine started smoking sometime in his 40s. He'll gladly talk your ear off about how his aging process has been greatly enhanced.

Bonus Question: So it seems like 'paranoia' is very, very common -- any care to delve into the specific nature of the paranoia. Paranoid that aliens are after you? Paranoid that you're a worthless person? I don't get it -- fill me in. (Full disclosure: I have terrible paranoia from weed, which I understand pretty well -- just looking for others' stories).
posted by TurkishGolds at 8:41 AM on June 22, 2004

any care to delve into the specific nature of the paranoia

Paranoia that everyone in the entire universe knows that you are stoned and this is a Bad Thing.

Paranoia that my rapid heartbeat is the onset of a heart attack.

Paranoia that the smell of weed will permeate my clothing, skin, breath, and house so that everyone who comes within 40 feet of me for the next week will know I got high recently.

Paranoia that the guy who lives across the street can see through the gap in the windowshade and watch me sparking up.

Paranoia that scarfing down fried chicken so fast will cause me to choke and die.

Paranoia that people who live upstairs can hear the sound of the lighter flicking and they know what I'm up to.

One time, while getting high on an almost empty beach on Cape Cod, I got worried that it was illegal to be flying my kite on the same beach as nesting plovers. This would no doubt lead to my being arrested on drug charges.

Jesus. When I write it all down it makes me wonder why the hell I ever smoked in the first place.

I should add that when I'm not high I'm pretty relaxed and I don't tend to worry about too much.
posted by bondcliff at 8:53 AM on June 22, 2004

I quit smoking pot in my early 20s, amidst a peer group of heavy pot-smokers, due to increased paranoia (on preview: TurkishGolds, it was kind of an internal paranoia that everything I had said or done over the last week or so was somehow misinterpreted by people I knew and they hated me HATED ME plus all that stuff like Bondcliff said, although once I really did think aliens were after me but I suspect that particular bong hit contained more than the kind, nawmean?), circular thinking and overly-critical self-introspection, and a complete inability to function socially because I would just sit and over-analyze everything I and the people I interacted with did to the point of utter paralysis. I was just re-typed as "the one who doesn't smoke" among my dirt bag friends and that was that.

Now my friends and I are in the late-20s, early 30s range (I'm 31) and most of the folks who are married/committed and have or are considering kids don't smoke while most of the single people do. There are exceptions to both rules, and my particular peer group is probably not representative of the general American public, drug-use wise.

I have smoked pot a handful of times since I "gave it up" but that was usually when I was already drunk enough to neither feel the effects nor think through the potential consequences of smoking so nothing bad happened to me.

Every once in a while, when I'm doing something really boring like cleaning or dishes or filing, I will think, "This would be so much more fun if I were high" and I get a little sad. (Note: Even if I didn't have the aforementioned reaction to pot, I probably wouldn't take up the habit again now for the already mentioned practical reasons: I can't afford to lose a day to being stoned and God only knows where I would find any pot. I'm giggling imaging myself sidling up to some kids and asking if they know where to score some grasssssss, maaaaaaan.)
posted by jennyb at 9:05 AM on June 22, 2004

I'm definitely one of those people who just started getting wicked panic attacks one day, and quit about a month after that. I don't think its related to frequency, but maybe the turning point depends on amount; mine came when I was only about 21, and I spent the previous five years smoking *all the time* (I studied high, went to class high, went to work high, etc.). I wonder if that's why I hit my wall sooner.

Chas, thanks for linking to Peele. Besides the weed freakout, I stopped doing other, harder drugs because I grew out of them, plain and simple. They were a fun adventure, then I got bored.
posted by dame at 9:11 AM on June 22, 2004

As a side question, how many people know anyone who started smoking around 30 or later?


I now smoke regularly: it is one of only three things that has the ability to de-stress my life. I spend my entire day grinding my teeth, feeling anxious, etcetera. With the smallest amount, I finally feel relaxed and happy.

So maybe that's medicinal use.

I am extremely aware of the threat of over-reliance. I also do not partake when I'm responsible for children or going to be socializing in public. It's strictly an evening, staying-at-home, no responsibilities use.

I've yet to feel paranoid, to hallucinate, or to have a "bad trip." But, then, I'm in Canada and could happily walk down the street smoking a joint: it's just not a big deal up here. I also don't take other non-prescription drugs: mixing it with alcohol just ruins it, I can't drink coffee in the evening or I simply will not sleep, I don't take any other drugs, rarely take OTC medicines. Oh, and I don't have to purchase it, so that probably helps wrt feelings of guilt over doing something "illegal."

I could, of course, take anti-anxiety drugs. I don't think that would be any better for me, and quite likely a whole lot worse. What I should probably be doing is finding a minimal-level dosage obtained through eating, such that I'm not impaired but am de-stressed.

THC also counteracts one of the negative side-effects of my anti-depressants, much to the delight of my wife and I.

The other two things that destress me are backpacking and riding motorcycle. They are Zen activities of opposite types: backpacking puts me in a state of no-mind; motorcycling demands full awareness of everything, a state of whole-mind.

Anyway, it works to my advantage at this time. When it doesn't, I'll stop. It's a useful tool when used appropriately, just like any drug.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:50 AM on June 22, 2004 [2 favorites]

I stopped in my early 30's to be a role model for my step-kids, now I get my weed from my step-kids [sorta answers "why have kids"].

Don't get me wrong, I was weed free till the 18+ step-kids wanted to share their high with their mother, I just went along with it to keep the family together. And yes the kids are succesfully employed and one is married.
posted by DBAPaul at 9:58 AM on June 22, 2004

Back in the 70s, most of the good grass was of the Sativa variety: a clear head high. These days, production is more important than quality, and a lot of the grass is Indica variety: a body couch-lock high.

There is a very active underground of experimental breeders, who are looking to adjust the various quantities of psychoactive chemicals. THC is not the only active ingredient, and the quality of high is very dependent on the levels and proportions of the various chemicals. It's kind of like breeding black roses or blue tulips: a lot of experimentation and cross-breeding.

In my experience, it'd be a far better world if marijuana were legal and alcohol illegal.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:00 AM on June 22, 2004 [1 favorite]

When I was in my mid-20s, I became a bit of a gypsy, never staying in one location for very long. Trying to find new sources became more hassle than it was worth. I still smoke when I find it, but I don't actively look for it.

Also, I worked in drug-testing positions requiring clearance for the federal government and federal contractors. Scamming piss tests, lie-detector tests and 'loyalty interrogations' became more stressful with each passing year. (Actually, this latter paragraph is why I quit working for the feds moreso than why I cut back smoking pot.)
posted by mischief at 10:40 AM on June 22, 2004

> President Bush says it's the terrahists!!!

As indeed it is, some of it, but I was thinking also of allied branches of the Family who deal in 14-yr-old hookers and the like. IMHO the customers are just exactly as guilty as the suppliers, and I'd just as soon not be one.
posted by jfuller at 11:15 AM on June 22, 2004

Since moving to the SouthEast, the primary growers/distributors I have known were rednecks who lived on the ubiquitous dirt roads. Buy American, buy homegrown! ;-P
posted by mischief at 12:04 PM on June 22, 2004

38. Still stoned. No paranoia for me. Though I pay more now than I did a few years ago, for better quality. And have since avoided headaches and the dead-tired feeling.
posted by tr33hggr at 12:58 PM on June 22, 2004

42, stopped about 3 years ago, cuz one day shortly after getting high, it occurred to me that it just wasn't the same fun anymore.

Started again 6 mos ago, and for a while it was definately again as fun as when I started as a 14 year old. But now its back to the same old... and I will be stopping again soon.

BUT, the music is just so much larger when I'm stoned... I'll probably be using/not using periodically for the foreseeable future

For those who fixated on the paranoia: It affects everyone that way, more or less, but like LSD, I always felt that while its an uncomfortable process to varying degrees, there is much therapeutic insight to be gleaned from drugs that let you take a peek behind the curtain that is your ego ...
posted by Fupped Duck at 3:21 PM on June 22, 2004

I don't get paranoid at all. But, then, I don't feel I'm doing anything even remotely wrong, shameful, or risky.

I also don't get a "peek behind the curtain," though I do get into intense babbling about nothing. And I don't hallucinate, very much to my disappointment.

But I do feel my muscles all relax and I do feel anxiety just dissipate into nothing. I think that's probably what alcohol does for most people (it doesn't do it very well for me.)

I would love to drop acid, but I won't. First, I don't trust street drugs. Second, I don't trust my brain. Not that I think I'd have a bad trip, but that I worry that something will just go neurologically wrong and I'll end up schizo, bipolar, or whatever. I don't need that in my life.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:20 PM on June 22, 2004

I've never smoked, and I've never wanted to. This past weekend confirmed it yet again. I was on a weekend camping trip with a group of friends I met through school; I'm the token preppie/business major and had helped them set up a student organization so that it wouldn't get shut down by the student government for financial mismanagement.

For the first two days of the 3-day camping trip, it was awesome. We hiked, we swam in the ocean, we threw frisbees around, we did a whole bunch of fun stuff and had some great conversations. The evening of the 2nd day, one of the other guys who couldn't come earlier showed up with a bunch of pot. Everyone 'cept me toked up, and the party went to crap. Suddenly everyone else was having "fun", laughing constantly and very noisy, but it wasn't fun for anyone who wasn't high. I ended up getting up the next morning and heading home, because everyone else

Just remember what smoking looks like to other people around you who may not be high ... it looks pretty stupid, actually. If you're OK with that, smoke on. But people can show up in the weirdest places ... one of the guys camping across the way from the campsite that we'd practically destroyed was a regular customer of the cafe that the student organization runs, and I saw him actively *not* come over to talk to any of us even though he recognized us. I doubt he'll be back when the cafe opens up in the fall.
posted by SpecialK at 7:06 PM on June 22, 2004

SpecialK: lots of people look really stupid when they're dancing, too.

I stopped smoking six or seven years ago, in my late 20s, mainly because I realized that for a couple days after getting high, I couldn't concentrate on a line of code for more than half a second for about two days afterwards. I like working on things that require concentration, so eventually my use just sort of petered off. I don't know if my brain is just broken or what; I've hit it a couple of times over a few week-long vacations in the intervening years, and it was still as fun as ever - over the ten years or so that I smoked, I never got the paranoia or any of the typical bad effects - but it just renders me totally useless for a while. Your mileage, of course, will vary.
posted by majcher at 8:01 PM on June 22, 2004

All of the above, for me, in kind of the following order:

1) I went through a very intense experience (on a different, more potent drug) with a good friend who went through hell on a bad trip. We were both quite experienced, and this was a real wake-up call that you enjoy yourself at a drug's indulgence. It's part of the attraction, but you are not really in control, even with a drug as mild as pot. Past a certain point in your life, that's not as exciting a prospect any more.

2) It totally started to sap my initiative, whether or not I was high at the time. I just muddled through on ability, on a lot of fronts that I knew I could be doing a lot better on (work, personal avocations, personal relationships, etc.)

3) The sleep thing--I noticed that I never _dreamed_ when I had indulged that day, at least not that I could remember. Once in a while wouldn't be bad, but when you haven't had a dream you can remember for months, you know that just can't be good.

4) Finally admitting that unless you grow it in your basement, there's really no "ethical" way to get your hands on it. Every dealer will tell you that his stash is grown by two friendly hippies in their basement--that's crap. The vast majority of dope that gets sold in the US, _especially_ the good stuff, comes in through unsavory, morally dubious channels. If you smoke regularly, there's a certainty that people have been badly exploited for the sake of your indulgence, and a very good chance that someone's beaten or killed in association with a shipment you bought part of. At the very least, the trail from grower to you has crossed paths and compounded the problems of dozens of people whose lives are f---ed up by drugs.

That all being said, it's not like I don't relish the chance to indulge a couple of times a year. My wife is cool enough to understand, and every once in a while we come home from a party with me grinning in the passenger seat, and I stay up and play video games for a couple hours while she heads off to sleep. I never get the paranoia thing really bad, but I do tend to motor-mouth pretty badly if I'm not conscious of it. I just get much more of a moral hangover now when I wake up from my (dreamless) sleep.
posted by LairBob at 8:53 PM on June 22, 2004

I too quit in my mid-30's, because it just wasn't enjoyable anymore. I didn't know if it was me or the herb that changed, but I'd get high for about 15 minutes, then spend the next two hours feeling really low, having munchies, headaches, etc. I have had it a couple of times since, baked in food, and that did bring back a bit of a mellow time but it was not as enjoyable as it used to be for me. I also used to love listening to music stoned with headphones on. Good times....:)
posted by Lynsey at 9:29 PM on June 22, 2004

I'm always surprised there's any sort of drug use in the USA. The laws are so downright vindictive that it's insane. And as a result, the supply chain simply must involve organized crime. Hate to support that sort of shit.

In BC, it's more like the two degrees of Cheech: if you don't know directly know someone who's growing personal amounts (a few plants), you certainly know someone who knows someone who is. (Not to say that you'd necessarily be able to get them to admit it.) Most of our towns and cities (ie. likely all but Vancouver mainland) are being supplied by unorganized small-timers (a few dozen to a few hundred plants). The large ops (several hundreds to thousands of plants) are undoubtedly destined for the USA, as it's incredibly profitable.

I'd like to see us implement a regulated psychoactives industry. For starters, it would decimate the organized crime element, which can only be a very good thing (and is probably the main reason we don't regulate it.) It would also ensure drug quality, which will somewhat reduce the health consequences.

A heroin injection site program down in Vancouver had good success. It was administered by nurses, and a good number of the addicts found it in themselves to seek their help in kicking the habit. Most people, it turns out, don't want to be addicted. But as addicts, they're too busy getting the next fix to be able to find help, or don't know where to find it, or are afraid to go looking for it. Overall, the program did well.

Done right, the profits from taxing the drugs can be used to fund rehab for the more-addictive drugs (alcohol, ciggies, heroin, cocaine, etc) and education programs for all drugs. Win-win situation.

We'll get there eventually. It's the only sane path.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:55 PM on June 22, 2004

Although I am very much in favour of recreational chemistry -- in principle rather than practice, though, for the last decade 'round about -- I never enjoyed the weed much, for the most part. It sounds like the sort of thing that people often start feeling later in their lives is the same sort of thing I felt off the get-go, so there was never a question of quitting per se for me. I never got fired up about it the way I did with other psychoactives.

But that one hashy sunrise in 1983, after the grad gravel-pit party, lying in the hammock beside Shane's parents' cabin, at the beach....man, that was good.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:42 AM on June 23, 2004

Jennyb and dame’s comments really struck a chord with me.

Anecdotally, I parted ways with pot very early into my twenties concerned by hideous, self-castigating paranoia that it created in me. Sitting in a room full of people much cooler than I, hating myself for being a dick was really no fun at all. I’m still getting maybe half a dozen times a year occasional brief panic-attack flashbacks but they don’t cause me more than moment’s pause anymore.

Given my experiences I’m torn by the legalisation arguments. I loathe the idea of drug laws subsidising organised crime but I wouldn’t want people to have gone through what pot does to some who aren’t suited to it. I suppose tight regulation and caveat smoker would be an answer….
posted by dmt at 5:43 AM on June 23, 2004

You don't think the hideous, self-castigating paranoia isn't directly related to it being illegal? I can especially see that happening in the USA, where the education program makes it seem like the worst drug out there.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:42 AM on June 23, 2004

I quit smoking pot to do harder drugs.
posted by corpse at 12:22 PM on June 23, 2004

And now look at you.
posted by ashbury at 7:22 PM on June 23, 2004 [3 favorites]

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