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Op-ed: A Cannabis Manifesto: The Positive Effects of Legalization

A deep dive into my long and complicated relationship with cannabis.

by Audrey Livingston

by Audrey Livingston

There were many things I learned after smoking legal cannabis. Growing up in Texas, the availability was close to impossible unless you knew a guy who knew a guy who knew that guy's brother.

I had a few connects in high school and would ride on back-country roads smoking with friends. Our choice of a smoking pad was always someone’s car. A physical place seemed too risky.

In a small Texan town, possession of marijuana could mean serious jail time (Texas cops don’t mess around). I remember spending summer days wiping watermelon juice from my face with lake water and nights driving through the humid Texas air, skunky smoke streaming out of the limousine-tinted windows.

Since high school, I moved to Colorado where things have changed. I’ve grown up and growing up comes with understanding the meaning of responsibility and the severity of certain words such as low-income housing and food stamps.

I had always associated smoking weed with being unproductive. Since moving to Colorado, I still don’t smoke every day or even every other day because my workload is full up and leaves no room for taking a mind vacation.

Back in high school, boredom was my sole motivation for smoking. It was something to do and it broke up the monotony of ordinary life.

However, when I smoke now, there’s a substantial reason. It’s not because I’m bored or because it’s there (like ordering drinks at every restaurant the first year of turning 21), it’s because I’ve had an extremely stressful day, or find myself feeling particularly apathetic. Or perhaps may feel that I need to slow down or that I’m in need of some inspiration.

In Texas, the grass I smoked in high school was clearly the complete opposite of what I can legally buy here in Colorado. Texas weed, likely imported from Mexico, seemed almost chemical.

It was dry, dense and looked like as if it had been stuffed back into the cushions of a dusty couch, between the dust bunnies and that two-year-old Cheeto everyone has lurking in the deep down under.

I’d smoke this in a blunt or joint or whatever was available and I’d feel…uncommon. Side effects included paranoia, agitation, and restlessness. The worst was feeling uncomfortable around the people I called friends. It completely altered my mind.

When I moved to Colorado, I was hesitant to start smoking again. Living in a new space can be difficult at the beginning. You hardly know anyone, the area is completely new and you feel somewhat out of place. I didn’t want cannabis to be another reason to feel weird, so I stayed away from dispensaries.

However, after a few months and many stressful days later, I decided to give it a try. What I learned changed my entire perspective on the plant. Things like creativity, patience, loneliness and tranquility are all beneficial side effects I had no idea marijuana carried.

The most noticeable difference was the effect it had on patience. I have always been a fast-paced person; I’m always on time, I’m very organized, and I get things done faster than expected 90% of the time.

When I decided to give cannabis another chance, everything slowed down. I was able to allow thoughts to enter my mind, actually take the time to think about them, and then move on.

Every thought and every action came to me at half speed. This would completely lighten my mood. Showers lasted 10 minutes longer, food tasted better and time spent alone was much more enjoyable than I had ever experienced.

The legalization of marijuana allowed my perspective to change. Instead of feeling weird and uncomfortable about the drug, I’m now an advocate for it and its benefits. I may not be a full-on medical user, but I’ve seen the difference recreational marijuana has made in my life and it’s been for the better.


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Audrey Livingston

A Texas native living in Boulder, Audrey Livingston enjoys writing about the essence of human nature, the developing medicinal cannabis industry and research-focused studies that,to anyone else, would seem extremely boring.



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