About a third of my Facebook feed today is filled with #420 memes and statuses and another third is filled with people who are annoyed by people who are into weed.
For most of my life, I was in the latter group. Most stoners I knew growing up were trashy white boys who listened to Sublime, made jokes about Funyuns, and mocked me for being a straight A student. In my younger brain, I thought pretty much all stoners were lazy, and probably also smelled like skunk. However, after cannabis was legalized in Oregon, it was suggested I use some for my chronic pain, mood disorder, and nausea. So, I tried some. Sure enough, it made me feel a whole lot better.
I had been taking pills for pain, which sometimes made me feel like a zombie (and made my nausea worse). I used to drink booze multiple times a week to help with anxiety, but I’d feel terrible later, and it honestly made me way moodier overall. Discovering the healing that cannabis could offer me, and realizing I had no negative side effects the next day and I didn’t even have to smoke if I didn’t want to (hooray for edibles and oil!) was actually life-changing.
I also discovered other types of weed lovers too — high femmes, successful stoners, chronic pain warriors, cancer survivors, and everyday people who used it to help themselves feel better about their bodies, sex, stress, etc. Yes, there are still plenty of smelly slacker stoners out there, but I’ve grown to appreciate cannabis culture. I love that anywhere I go where people are smoking weed, they’ll invite me into their circle and share both their cannabis and their stories freely.
I love that when I’m high I am in love with myself and my brain and my body (which, when I am sober, I struggle to appreciate). I love that cannabis has helped me work through trauma without shutting down, helped me make new friends easily, and truly helped my career by allowing me to have less pain and anxiety so I can accomplish more. It’s also made me hear songs in brand new ways, taste foods more intensely, and helped me process two back to back heartbreaks that surely would have crushed me a few years ago.
So, yes, I recognize that this “holiday” is completely goofy and maybe even obnoxious to a bunch of folks. But for lots of us, it is a day to celebrate that we have a plant that helps us more easily handle all the bullshit life can throw our way. For me, I use cannabis not as a way to escape, but as a way to become more connected — to myself and to others. I use it to let my overactive and frequently worried mind have some moments of solace. I use it to zone in on relaxing and relieving parts of my body that are chronically tense or in pain. I use it as a social lubricant, a libido booster, and a creativity booster.
I am outraged that so many people, most especially POC, have been sent to prison (or worse) for buying, selling, or possessing weed. I am sad that cannabis is still not legal in many places where I know it would help many members of the population. I’m frustrated by restrictive laws and ridiculous punishments. I know I am lucky to live in Oregon and be able to travel easily to Washington, so that I can enjoy cannabis legally and safely. I wish and hope that one day everyone will have access if they need it. Until then, I’ll keep being a vocal and passionate supporter of cannabis rights, decriminalization, and reparations for communities that have been disproportionately affected by America’s War on Drugs.
To all who celebrate – whether you celebrate sincerely, humorously, with a heavy heart/conscious mind, or every damn day – Happy 420!