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Does Cannabis Make You More or Less Productive?

It’s a good question, and one that has caused debate among cannabis users and non-users alike. Even some cannabis users have contemplated the question at one time or another. Personally, it makes me more productive. When I’m feeling anxious about a project or I have a pile of work that I’ve been procrastinating about, a few puffs helps me jump in and crush it. Working while high gives me the biggest high. If I’m waking and baking, it’s going to be a kick-ass day. If I’m puffing at night, I’m going to be working till the wee hours of the morning. I get a week’s worth of work done in a day. It is my secret weapon. But, there’s a downside to all that bliss. If I’ve been smoking everyday for a few months, like anything that your body gets used to, the feeling starts to wane. 

Imagine singing like Whitney Houston, and transforming to J-Lo. You’re still winning, but there’s a clear difference. So when I get to a point where I’m not feeling as stimulated creatively, I take breaks. During that time, I reconnect to the simplicity of life, which honestly feels anti-climatic at first, but gets better after a few days. However, it’s true what they say about absence making the heart grow fonder, because after a few months cannabis-free, smoking returns me to a high equivalent to my cherry being popped all over again. Can you dig? I decide to ask my mom, an O.G. smoker, to get her perspective. Now in her 70’s, she smoked most of her life, starting in her late teens. When I was growing up, and knew what the stinky-smelling stuff was that she and her cousin were out on the porch puffing, I judged her. “Why are you laughing like that?” I would ask, in disgust. I just felt like Moms shouldn’t be having that much fun. Today, a mom myself, I laugh at my ignorance. “Smoking gave me the energy to do some of the things I was sitting on, like cooking, cleaning, and doing stuff around the house. I never drove and smoked though,” she shares of her earlier years. It’s the same for my friend Monica, a fifty-something-year-old mom who has been smoking daily for the past 18 years. 

“It helps me get moving,” she says, during one of our monthly smoke-a-thons. “I know some people sit around like couch potatoes, but not me.” I’m reminded of something my ex used to say: Weed makes you more of who you are.” His logic was that if you were an active person, you’d be more active while high. It was interesting because, at the time, I blamed weed for his laziness. Dude didn’t like to do shit but get high and take long ass walks alone. But after he stopped smoking for a year- not a single, solitary puff- and he was still lazy as hell, I was convinced that weed does make you more of who you are. Now admittedly, a lot of my friends are mid-lifers, like me, so perhaps a young perspective could shed more light on the conversation. Enter Fred, 28, tall, handsome, and a small business owner. One of the first times I met him he was smoking on the rooftop of our building, so even though I don’t know him well, I know that he likes to blast. ”I’m a smoker. I LOVE smoking, but I’m a productive man and I don’t like to waste time. So I smoke once I’ve hit my goals. Getting high and relaxing is my reward,” he explains. It sounds pretty mature. Was it always like that? He says that when he was younger, he needed smoke to get his day started, but more so out of habit.

 “I smoked so much that if I didn’t, I wouldn’t feel right. As I got older, I realized that it was counterproductive, so now, work comes first.” Speaking of work, I reach out to my girl J., a 40-something freelancer in the fashion industry who smokes daily and works sporadically. At the risk of sounding judgmental, does weed slow her down? When I ask her if weed makes her more or less productive she begins by telling me that she prefers the word ‘cannabis’ to ‘weed.’ “When I gained more knowledge, and started learning about the medicinal value of cannabis, I stopped calling it weed. Weed is full of stereotypes and doesn’t allow room for a more elevated conversation about the benefits.” She adds that it also disrespects users like her sister-in-law who used it while fighting breast cancer. It helped her manage the pain from chemo and gave her an appetite. She’s so right. I think about cult classics like ‘Friday,’ ‘Next Friday’ and ‘Half Baked.’ Ironically, there was a reason ‘Friday’ star Chris Tucker didn’t do any ‘Friday’ sequels. He told the movie podcast “Flix Talk ” that it was because of the weed. 

“That movie became a phenomenon,” he said, “but I don’t want everybody smokin’ weed.” Hmmm….maybe he would have felt differently had they been talking about ‘cannabis.’ J. tells me that before visiting a dispensary with her sister-in-law, she never really knew what type of cannabis she was getting. “At the dispensary, I learned that there are different types of strains, like indica for relaxing and pain management, and sativa if you want to feel more energized. You can decide what type of high you want.” J. says that smoking at the onset of her day helps her cope with anxiety, the recent passing of her dog, and her emotions overall. “It keeps me from losing my mind, so I guess you can call it a de-stresser.” 

Hearing her talk about how cannabis aids in her mental health makes me question how quick many of us are to limit the conversation to productivity vs. non-productivity when we’re far less judgy with people who take prescription drugs. Lastly, I google the topic, to see how many studies have been done about cannabis and productivity and though there are roughly 200 million people across the globe who use it, research is limited. Perhaps the real question is not whether cannabis makes you more or less productive, but rather, what are you using it for? With so much choice, we no longer have to accept a doctor’s prescription that might lead us to become addicted to an expensive and more harmful drug that makes big pharma billions, and is not always proven to decrease our stress, anxiety or pain management long term. Nor do we have to feed into the stereotypes and propaganda of cannabis as bad, dealers as criminals, and users as losers. It’s time that we shift the narrative, do our own research, and choose to be as productive or ‘non-productive’ as we want to be.

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