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Exclusive: Interview With a Cannabis User

2 comments | 1:53 am | top |
An interview I have taken with a cannabis user who has requested to remain anonymous. There is a great deal of speculation among those who oppose decriminalising marijuana. Many approach the subject with pre-conceptions and with no first-hand, accurate or balanced understanding of the issue. Here is an opportunity to hear first-hand, what someone on "the other side" of the debate has to say on a whole range of aspects of marijuana - from how you use it and how it feels to thoughts on the legal side of the issue.


When did you start using marijuana?
beginning of 2008. Oh no maybe end of 2007.


how were you introduced to using weed?
ok, a family member - we were drinking, and a family member invited me to join them.

were you pressured into it?
no, not really, I just thought I'd give it a go, but I was quite drunk so you know, it probably wouldn't have taken much to pressure me into it anyway. Yeah, it's often the way a lot of people first smoke it, aye - drunk, drinking. They'll be at a party and someone will have some and offer... weed and alcohol is a pretty weird mix. You get real spaced out, aye. It's not something I like doing. I don't even drink alcohol anymore.

so you're saying you wouldn't have begun using it if you weren't drunk?
nah, I probably would have - it just happened to be the way I was introduced to it - on subsequent times smoking it, I wasn't drunk.

how do you use weed?
any number of ways, a spiff which is just a joint rolled with tobacco, or just a straight joint which is just weed rolled in paper, um a bong which is like a water pipe that you draw the smoke through the water, or a buckie where you cut the bottom of a 1.5 liter bottle, put a cone piece in, push it down into the water and then light the weed above the water, then take the cap off and suck it down real quick, or push it back into the water and suck it up that way, or um a lungie where you have a big 1.5 liter coke bottle or something with a bag on the end, a bag taped on the end so it's airtight and you light the cone piece on the top and the weed, then you pull the bag out and then, then it fills up with smoke you know, then you push the bag down and then you take the cap off and suck it in...

far out... what other ways are there?
well there's cones, glass pipes, metal pipes or whatever... oh spots, of course - spots. They're usually done on electric elements or on a, on a gas ring - you put knives to heat up, and then you roll up a little bit of weed and put it on the knife - squeeze it between two knives while someone with a glass bottle with the bottom smashed off it um, draws it up - takes two people to do that, but it's - it's the most efficient way of smoking weed that I've found. Um, there's vapourisers too but I've never used them, they're expensive.

What other ways are there?
There's can cones, where you get a empty coke can or whatever, bourbon can, whatever you've got and you, all you do is you flatten it a bit on the top, stab a couple of holes through it with something small, then stick the weed on top and light it through the holes in the can, sort of drink it through the can. It's a real rangi way and apparently it's bad for you 'cause you get aluminum poisoning or something. I dunno, what other ways are there... Oh you can make cones out of things like apples and stuff, so you smoke weed that way. Or um, light-bulbs. you get a straw and you put the weed in the bulb - take the end off the light-bulb - get a straw on the end of it and you light the weed from underneath and heat up the light-bulb, kinda like a cheap, free vapouriser. Then you just suck the smoke up the straw.

What sort of environment are you in when you are using weed?
Depends. I'm usually just with friends or family or just by myself. just quiet, you know, evenings or whatever.

How often do you use it, or have used it in the past?
At most, like daily - at most like a couple of times a day.

How much would you consume at one time? - can you measure it in grams?
Oh, two cone-packings which might be a quarter of a gram.

How does using weed make you feel?
Relaxed, just quite mellow aye, pretty happy sometimes - depends, the effects are sometimes like - if you just smoke a wee bit, you just feel a bit mellow and stuff - makes you feel tired sometimes. You just fall asleep sometimes. Yeah, just mellow and relaxed, just quite a joyful mood, quite a happy sort of mood, I dunno, you like to talk a bit

Would you say you do things you normally wouldn't do?
Ah, no not really at all aye - just maybe, I do dumb stuff sometimes, like try and trim my beard and it doesn't work. Mostly do what you do normally.

How does it affect things going on around you?
Well it depends what it is - sometimes you look at things, you get a different perspective on things. Yeah sometimes you just look at things a bit differently - a bit more objectively than you do when you're straight. I don't know why that is.

Do you feel that using it could lead you to breaking the law - or offend or hurt people?
No - I mean apart from that I am breaking the law

(laughter)

Yes I guess in that respect - like I don't suddenly get the urge to go out and like, rob an old granny flat or something, or assault a granny or something. I'd rather just listen to music - or play a video game

How do you feel about using it when you know it's against the law?
It doesn't bother me that much.

Would you say it's not a just law?
Yeah I think so - it's something that grows in the ground. I'm pretty sure that right at the start - God says that we've been given every plant that bears seed, and guess what - it's a plant that bears seed, and I'm pretty sure that overrules any laws in countries. How can you outlaw a herb? It's really like, ridiculous - it's not even consistent with the law in New Zealand. I mean, how come there's an item on Trademe for $20 which with normal household implements can be changed into a class A drug. How does that make sense, and that's legal! Why is that legal?

What is it?
You turn San Pedro cactus into mescaline so like cactus juice - the cactus is legal and you buy foot-long pieces on Trademe for 20 bucks, and a foot just happens to be the right amount - when you cook it up it's just the right amount for a trip - funny that, but it's legal.

Would you say the drug laws in New Zealand are unfair?
Well, I think so because when you look at statistics in New Zealand there are thousands of hospitalisations for alcohol per year. Hundreds and hundreds of deaths caused by alcohol - and when you compare that to the relative effects of other drugs - albeit used by less of the population - it's still a lower ratio, so why is something like alcohol which has known risks - it's considered to have greater health-risks than cannabis, and more addictive, and yet it's legal - that doesn't make sense to me.

How do various substances affect your ability to do things?
Weed can sometimes make you feel a bit lazy because you feel so mellow you don't do anything, but you can still do everything if you put your mind to it you can read and you can study - I did my tax return while I was stoned, you know.

What about driving?
I think I drive fine while I'm stoned. And like, other people being in the car have never commented on any peculiar behaviour about my driving when I've been stoned.

And comparing that with driving when you've had a can of beer?
A can of beer, (laughs) ... I would drive fine. If I was drunk, obviously you can't drive - you do dumb stuff. Like you think it's funny to go 130 down a small side-street - well at least that's my experience of driving drunk.

But you wouldn't do that after using weed?
No - the worst thing that happens is I get a bit lost when I'm driving - it gets a bit confusing about where you are - nah, you're usually - I find I'm a really polite and courteous driver when I'm stoned aye.

How does using weed enhance music and things?
Colours are brighter, more vivid - music just, I dunno - it just seems to come alive, aye and you, your heart starts racing and - I find I feel quite euphoric when I listen to music with headphones on - dark room or something, so you're not distracted, just listening to music - like you do...

Sounds really cool.
Obviously, playing computer games is quite good.

Does it improve your skill?
No, not really aye, sometimes I forget to do things and stuff - I don't play as well probably - it's still good fun. Games that I don't know, I struggle to play when I'm stoned.

I can't watch TV when I'm stoned. When you watch TV when you're stoned you analyse the whole TV show - you look at the plot and you go, man that's a rubbish plot and you go why does the director choose that shot? and you know, you can break down the whole TV show and see you know, you can sort of see through the acting if it's not good, so you can't watch bad movies when you're stoned like you know you've got to watch really well acted ones like um, Pulp Fiction - I enjoyed Pulp Fiction - have you ever seen it?

Yeah - I was freaked out
It's got some pretty bad bits in it, but...

It's got some pretty good actors in it, Samuel L. Jackson...
John Travolta, Bruce Willis, Uma Thurman...

Ok, should weed be made legal?
Yeah I think so. I don't understand why it's illegal.

Would you vote for the Legalise Cannabis party of New Zealand?
Nah, not really.

It's not that much of an issue for you?
Nah, cause the laws are so lax on it in New Zealand anyway - you know, there doesn't seem to be that much risk of being prosecuted.

What about the health risks? Aren't you worried about what it's doing to your lungs or your heart?
You hear such widely-varying stories - so it's hard to really know, but I've read a reasonable bit of research that indicates that smoking through a bong is um, quite good because it eliminates a lot of the tars and harmful chemicals and things that you would normally inhale even in a cigarette and things as well. I'm told that it has less health risks than tobacco - because of all the chemicals that are put on tobacco when it's grown - so you know. Like when I was smoking cigarettes I smoked like you know, 5 or 10 a day or whatever whereas I'm not smoking anywhere near that much weed. So I'm not getting all that smoke...

So smoking weed instead of cigarettes - are you saving money?
I'm not saving all that much money to be honest, but it is a bit cheaper than my tobacco habit.

How much does it cost?
Oh, $250 an ounce. That lasts me 4 - 5 months. That's pretty cheap, you know - I know buy it from a guy who knows a grower - but most people pay about $350.

What do you think about marijuana used for medicinal purposes?
It can be pretty good for pain relief. Some people find it better for pain relief than I do. Some people like it for their back, I don't use it for my back, but I have muscle-aches and that - I find it works rather well. And generally because it relaxes your whole demeanor you feel less stressed out - pain and things. But to be honest, I'd say that I use it more recreationally than medicinally.

Do you use it to combat depression or sorrow?
(pause) That's a pretty personal question...

Yeah I know.
Maybe initially, when I was smoking it, like I was in a dark place but um, but yeah you know I was going through a rough patch. You know, at the time when I started smoking I was in a pretty bad place. But since then you know, my life's a lot better than it was so, perhaps back then I smoked it to get away from reality or something, but now I just do it 'cause I enjoy it. I don't feel you know, depressed when I smoke or anything.

What's your thoughts on using a substance like this for, you know, escaping reality for a bit.
You know, when you're - when you start to rely on a drug I think that's when the addiction - that's when you start to get psychologically addicted. So I try not to... If you ever think "Oh I need to have a smoke", that's that's the best time not to have one. I do something else 'cause then you don't become reliant on it.

So you weren't at any stage addicted to weed?
I don't find it addictive at all. The only thing is that if I don't smoke, sometimes I struggle with sleep. It says on the New Zealand Health website - if you stop smoking for 3 weeks, that sort of thing goes away. But it's never concerned me that much.

The two most academically intelligent people I know are both pot smokers aye which is quite funny. One is doing a PhD at University. The girl who's doing the PhD - you know, I've discussed the health risks with her, and she's quite knowledgeable on the subject and she believes the health risks are quite low. She explained the effects of other drugs as well. Like she believes psychedelics are very low health risk.

What do you think - is weed a gateway drug?
I don't know - I disagree with the idea. I think weed and other drugs - especially chemicals - it's a separate issue. I know some people that aren't really interested in doing other drugs that smoke weed, so I think - when you look at the amount of people in New Zealand that smoke weed, compared to that of using other drugs, it's very low - you know, cannabis is a lot higher percentage. It's a separate issue. I can see how being introduced to a drug by someone who sells pot... it can be an easy way to be introduced to a drug - especially if you go to their parties or whatever - so in that respect it can be a gateway drug. It's more about the lifestyle you're living - that will allow you to be... I mean if you just have your pot and have nothing to do with anything else... you do your own thing.

Do you have to be strong-willed about it?
For me, It doesn't really interest me to like, go to parties with people who have got those kind of drugs. You know, I don't lead that kind of life - so it's not really - it doesn't really bother me, so I don't get exposed to any other drugs. I don't know if it's like that for other people. Like I have been when I've been at parties like that.

What other drugs have you tried?
Recreationally, ritalin which was kinda fun, but you know, it's not something I'd ever do again. I just don't like taking chemicals, and it feels like - to me, the chemicals should be illegal. I know that I'm really doing wrong when I'm taking them. You know, there's a reason they're illegal - they're quite dangerous. You know like, ritalin, class B - it has its risks. But other than that, like I've taken a few class C drugs like valium and codeine and stuff. Pretty lame. I tried nutmeg once - it did nothing. It's supposed to make you stoned for like 3 days or something...

(laughter)

But it didn't do anything... it just gave me bad nutmeg burps... I drank heaps of the stuff, like 60 grams of nutmeg - it did nothing. Oh, I've done hash - an extract of weed.

Tell me about hash
I don't know much about hash, only done it once - just got really stoned.

How would you feel if your children were using weed?
I don't have any children.

But if you did?
Depends what age they are.

15?
Nah, they shouldn't be smoking at 15 'cause there's a lot of medical evidence that shows psychological disorders associated with smoking marijuana at a age under 18 - there's a significantly increased risk - at least in research I've read... Like if it was legalised I would never you know, it should be 18+, 21+ or something.

If you were a father, would you tend to steer your children away from drug use? How would you approach that?
I can't say - I'm not a father - too difficult for me to say at this point in my life, like what I would do. I might feel differently about it then. Yeah I can't really say right now.

Would you feel happy if...
Depends if it affected their lives probably - what manner it affected their lives, like because some people you know, don't go to school when they smoke pot and that kind of thing. So obviously that would be bad.

Right, thanks a lot - this has been really interesting.
No worries.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking from experience here: smoking more or less daily will take a toll after a while.

He's only been smoking for a couple of years, so he's probably ok for now. But soon the side effects of depression, lethargy and mood swings may become stronger.

These days I only smoke once every month or two, and I see it as borrowing from the future; I get a temporary increase in awareness and upping in mood, but the day after I feel dumber and sometimes a bit down. Nothing major though.

7:57 pm, September 10, 2009 
Blogger Andy Moore said...

thanks for your comment - that is interesting to know.

12:13 am, September 11, 2009 

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