That One Time I Got Stoned

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Here in Iowa marijuana grows wild. It grows in cow fields, along roadways and there’s a shit ton of it mixed in with the flowers surrounding the lake at the State Park. By the end of each summer plants are taller than I am and I’ve witnessed stretches that go on for miles. It’s not a big deal and no one cares.

It grows so wild in Iowa that I was laying in the grass somewhere when I turned my head and snapped the headline image with the camera on my cellphone.

What’s intriguing about weed growing everywhere is that possession and use of marijuana is illegal in Iowa. So there’s the facts, folks. It randomly grows all over the place but if you smoke it or possess it, you’re fucked.

The State of Iowa also limits the use of Medical Marijuana (MMJ). Although we are an MMJ state you must suffer from Epilepsy or another seizure disorder, be a qualifying cancer patient (whatever that means) or diagnosed with a terminal illness that will kill you within one year. Yeah, that’s some dark shit there.

Outside of those terms you won’t be approved for, nor prescribed MMJ.

Can a high fix a low?

This is the question I asked myself when researching the benefits and effects of treating depression with marijuana. I read scholarly journals and periodicals. I watched documentaries and dudes toking blunts on Instagram stories. I endlessly scrolled online forums.

What I discovered is the all around consensus was yes, smoking weed does help and elevate symptoms of depression, specifically physical symptoms.

Anxiety however, not so much.

What I read in forums was roughly 50/50. While some people swore it saved them for the evil clutches of anxiety, others claimed it heightened it and more or less transformed them into a panic monster.

This left me a bit confused. Isn’t anxiety a symptom of depression?

Can a high fix a low?

This is the question I asked my prescriber when I brought up the topic of MMJ at our monthly appointment. I trust her and when it comes to medical science, her knowledge is (or at least should be) more credible than the internet.

While she did agree that MMJ can have certain benefits, she did not recommend smoking weed. The one reason I opted to discuss it with her was the same reason she used against me. She kind of got serious about it. She used educated and technical scientific words.

She wasn’t as chill as I thought she’d be but her two main points were logical.

You should not be using marijuana while taking psych meds.

If smoking weed helps I would stop the meds. I would rather put non-chemicals in my body if it’s an option.

She refuted and thanks to my research I was prepared.

Your diagnosis doesn’t qualify you for a Medical Marijuana prescription.

Technically it does. Suicide is in the top ten leading causes of death in America. According to Iowa law, terminal illness resulting in death within one year qualifies. Depression is a deadly disease with a high death rate.

I won’t be going to Federal Court with you on this one.

Yeah, well. I’m not sure I need you to.

Perhaps I came running out of the gate before the firing pistol went off? Here I was trying to get a MMJ prescription when I hadn’t even smoked pot. I had no idea what type of effect it would have on me.

This is typical behavior for me. I get an idea in my head, skip right past the opening scene and head straight for the grand finale. Not only does my brain function, emotional well-being and moods experience the chemical imbalance of Bipolar Disorder, but so do my actions.

I’m quick to admit my personality flaw of one side to the opposite side of the spectrum. There’s never been a middle ground for me.

What I needed to do was back track and start at step one.

Get stoned.

Someone I know (who shall remain nameless) uses MMJ. I told her my story and said I wanted to try it. So we smoked what I believe was a cannabis oil cartridge in a vape pen.

I took one hit immediately followed by another.

I was turnt. Lit up like Christmas on the 4th of July.

I lost all concept of time. I had no approximation how long I’d been talking or what I was talking about. I probably could’ve pissed myself and not of known.

Being stoned overwhelmed me. I felt nothing like the way the dudes appeared in the Instagram videos. Laughing madly, slit eyes of a smile, heads swaying to the rhythm of the music and referring to one another as bro.

What I felt was a lack of control over myself and unsettled in my environment. A physical place I’d been for 25 years of my life with a person who has been in my life for 25 years. When not stoned, this house and this person are the safest I ever feel.

Shit was whacked and there I was, a panic monster. In the fifty percentile of a truly substandard experience and desperate to get it out of my body.

The nameless person and I walked around the block arm in arm, over and over for who knows how long until I commenced some normalcy. Each step, every turn is a blur of a memory.

Once the effects faded and reality set in I became aware of my physical symptoms of depression again. My stomach churned to the pulse of my migraine and my body ached in flu like pain.

As I look back now, at the least I eased my curiosity. Every individual’s experience is their own and as for mine, I’ll never smoke pot again. Just, no.

More of Erika: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the 30 Days of Depression series.

Newspaper reporter in Eastern Iowa. The views expressed are mine alone.

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