With the tide of public opinion rapidly turning against the dangers of reefer madness, you’d be hard-pressed to find an Angeleno who considers marijuana to be the deadly gateway drug portrayed in D.A.R.E. class and alarmist after-school specials. And yet there are many people in our fair city who, while they still support the legalization of recreational cannabis, have struggled with addiction to weed.
Last week, Toke caught up with one such person, a 30-year-old creative type we’ll call Jonathan, who began attending Marijuana Anonymous meetings six months ago and hasn’t gotten high since.
Jonathan moved to California a few years ago, and found himself this past spring depressed, in an unhealthy relationship, and smoking pot every day. He never smoked before work, but the “pot hangover” from the previous night would cloud his brain and make him feel fuzzy. Plus, when he was high, he says, he would relentlessly question his goals and his path, judging all he had accomplished and was doing as lame and unworthy.
Since he began attending meetings and stopped smoking, his professional life hasn’t changed but his attitude has.
“I’m doing the same thing that I was doing before, but I’m criticizing it less,” he says. “I’m working more, now, actually, because I’m really actively trying to do a good job, whereas before I was just phoning it in and doing it to get the money.”
Marijuana Anonymous is based on the same 12-step process as Alcoholics Anonymous (acknowledge a higher power, make amends, etc.). Many members consider themselves “cross-addicted” to a combination of substances, but Jonathan says the crowd and the tone is not quite the same. He describes MA meetings as smaller, more casual, and “mellower” than AA meetings he’d been to in the past.
“The rock bottom you hear about in AA always seems so much worse and perilous than the rock bottom than you hear about having brought people to Marijuana Anonymous,” he says. “It’s more just like, I was doing nothing with my life and since I started going to these meetings and quitting pot I’ve been doing a lot with my life.”
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