This is my 5th attempt to write this. Nearly a memoir in rough drafts. Even with a fully supportive team, I still hesitate at times to discuss my relationship to cannabis and how legislation around cannabis has affected my mental health throughout my life.

What I am realizing now is that after moving to Colorado, where cannabis use is mostly legal and the bias is significantly less, I have had a drastic improvement in my mental health.

The criminalization of something that has always been present in my life caused me to be fairly paranoid. Before you say, “well they say weed can make you paranoid,” mine was caused by the biopsychosocial biases and punishments against cannabis users, not the plant itself.

To me, cannabis is one of the most medicinal plants we’ve discovered. Now, new benefits of cannabis are being found all the time.

When I was a little girl, all of my immediate family members were drug dealers. Mostly just “weed”.

Although my mother was a low level offender, she went to jail when I was 4 and my father had long been out of the picture.

I grew up in and out of foster care and did not meet my father again until around the age 8. At this time I floated between him, juvenile hall, and my ma’s until the age of 12. At the age of 13 is when I left both of them to survive on my own.

Regardless of which parent I lived with, “weed” was always present. Whether it was my mom growing it in coffee cans on the porch, my step father’s greenhouse, or my father flipping weight up and down
I-25. Cannabis was a part of my life.

It was the only “drug” my family partook in that did not turn them into, what seemed to me, anger-filled monsters always hitting and hurting one another.

I loved it when they only smoked weed. Mom would cook and it was a pleasant sense of temporary happiness in a time of high anxiety.

My mother has Dissociative Identity Disorder, several traumatic brain injuries, and suffered from Complex PTSD and addiction. The only time living with her was not a nightmare was when she was stoned.

I learned very young how to turn an investment into a 100% profit margin.

I had started smoking cannabis on my 13th birthday. It helped me not want to kill myself. It also gave me physical relief from the chronic pain I was already living with.

From that day on, I loved it and I found that more men wanted to get high than want to force themselves on a young teenager. I could get out of the most dangerous situations by getting people high. Plus, I made good money as long as I did not smoke my profit margin. I became a teenage drug dealer because I did not want to be a rape victim and forced into sex work more than I already had been.
I ended up locked up for 10 months at the age of 14. Even though I was not locked up for drug possession, the thought of others learning what I did and how I did it left me totally anxious and paranoid.

Throughout my adolescence, I flipped a lot of weight. It was the only life I knew and it was still illegal so in order not to end up in jail like most others I had known, I developed a very controlling personality.

I married very young and moved away from that lifestyle. I still smoked weed though, but it was still illegal. I worked “regular” jobs, tried to become a “regular” person, but was still hiding a part of myself. I felt split.


There was no way I could give cannabis up. It was my happy place. Nothing brought me joy or pain relief the way cannabis did. The more I tried to fit into the working world that held biases against cannabis users, the more my depression consumed me.

My marriage was psychologically abusive. I was often suicidal, and neither of us were in good places. I left after 4 years. Although I was working, I was once again homeless and this time I was struggling with an addiction problem. So, I started running weight again.

This went on for a little under a year. Then, I walked away from everyone I knew. I rented a tiny trailer (without a front door) in the middle of a cow field on a reservation. I got myself a job in healthcare, and got sober from everything … except cannabis.

I was never able to give up cannabis. Luckily for me, the state I was living in soon became a medical state and I quickly got my green card.

Having my green card did not lessen my paranoia though. Legislators still hated cannabis users and cops were still arresting people for it. The Feds regularly came into dispensaries and closed them down. Our industry was under attack and cannabis consumers were still going to jail.

I dated black men in an area where there were few black men. This led to being pulled over a lot and being searched. I could rarely take my medicine with me for fear they’d use the possession of my medicine as a reason to hurt my partner.

The school I was working for as a Social Worker was adamantly against cannabis, but it was totally ok for all my coworkers to get drunk on a Friday night. Goddess Forbid they smell “weed” in my hair. I lived a life of constant fear and paranoia. Fear that the biases against my medicine could cause my life to fall apart, end up homeless, and/or in jail again.

My mental health was not well, and the only thing that gave me any relief could still send me, or my loved one, to prison.

Then, Colorado fully legalized cannabis for people over the age 21. My partner and I made the decision to relocate. We got jobs in the industry and moved to Colorado. Although those initial jobs fell through and we struggled financially for a while, the benefits of living in Colorado outweighed the negatives.

For example, access to cannabis was easier, safer, and it was legal to grow your own which caused me to have much less paranoia about the police busting in, losing everything, and doing a 20 year bid.

We are treated with more respect by the police here. There are still issues, but when we do get pulled over, rarely do we fear for our lives because they might smell “weed.” Cannabis is an integral part of the state’s funding and the state is less aggressive about arresting people for possession. So, our interaction with police has been less frightening.

Most of the community does not openly look down on us for being cannabis consumers, and rarely do people yell racial slurs from their vehicles at us as an interracial couple.

It’s been a few years since I moved here. Years since I started the process of healing from the paranoia, and mental drain, of having to look over my shoulder to partake in the only thing that gave me any physical or mental relief. Years since I started healing that little girl who, despite having grown into a woman with multiple degrees, was still broken inside.

I write this today, free of all substances (including aspirin) except cannabis. I no longer feel suicidal and, overall, I’m pretty happy. I truly believe that my relocation to Colorado, where I am not treated as a pariah for being a cannabis user, has helped my mental health.

The opportunity Git Cannabis has provided me, to write about something I love so much, is encouraging. It has allowed me to fully embrace the resiliency and skill sets I developed as a child, and to become the best me I can be. I hope and pray daily for full cannabis legalization on a national level so others can have the same freedoms I am blessed to now enjoy.