by Laura Geftman , LCSW
So I have to be honest. I haven’t always been the biggest fan of cannabis. In fact as an experimental teen/20something, I actually thought I was allergic to it. I had two distinctly horrible experiences aiming pot in college.
The first was my freshman year. My roommate and I invited some friends to come hang out in our room. One showed up with weed. This was the first time I had used but I probably could have counted the number of times on a hand or may two. The roommate had a different disposition about drugs. Her side of the room was covered not only in Red Hot Chilli Peppers posters but also fractals. Ya know those trippy looking images that are all over headshops and such. They always looks like warped colorful patterns. Well that night after smoking pot, all the patterns on her wall were moving and shifting. Then my friend opened my bean bag chair. No this wasn’t in the 70s. I just thought I was being a hip college student buying a bean bag chair from Urban Outfitters in the 90s. If you’ve ever opened a bean bag chair, you know…it’s stuffed with zillions of tiny little styrofoam balls. As each little ball came pouring out of the bag, the floor started to move much like the wall. I started to feel like I was carsick and put an end to the party. Believe it or not, it was a school night.
The second bad experience was kind of the straw that broke the camels back. It was my jr. year in college. I had smoked pot on and off since the night of my styrofoam balls that reappeared in my life everyday since that night. But they were not the problem. I found that every time I smoked weed, I threw up. Every time. EW. I hate throwing up. It scares me. A friend who was allergic to alcohol surmised that I was dealing with the same affliction to a different substance. Could it be true? Could I really be allergic to cannabis? I’d never hear this before (or since) but for a long while I held off using weed while claiming I was allergic until one night… The guy I had a huge crush on finally asked me out. When I say HUGE crush, I mean I had been waiting for this moment for years. So he took me out for sushi. We had a great dinner. We talked about everything while- I should also mention- we ate my favorite meal. There was no eating like a girl for me on this date. I went roll for roll with him. And we tried the chef’s recommendations. We ate a ton. It was a great dinner. Afterwards he mentioned that his roommates were having people over their apartment. So we decided to go check it. And guess what they were doing…smoking weed. And so did I. I don’t know why I didn’t use my preprogrammed excuse of being allergic. It seems a little like high school peer pressure was in the air and I was didn’t want my date to think I was cool with it. Cool I wasn’t when I went running for the bathroom just minutes later and didn’t make it. There wasn’t a second date.
So while I no longer think that I’m allergic to cannabis, I do think I smoke some laced weed my freshman year. The experiences of my college years create a certain fear from me about cannabis. A fear that lasted. There’s a lot to know about cannabis. Many myths to dispel. There are also other products- very harmful products- that are being mistake for cannabis.
Just this week over 70 people in New Haven Connecticut were reported to have overdosed on Spice/K2. If you don’t know what that is- first of all- DON’T USE IT. Spice or K2 is said to be synthetic cannabis but it’s laced plant material that often proved to be much more harmful than cannabis could ever be. The K2 used in New Haven was found to be laced with Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that’s said to be roughly 50 times more potent that heroin. Actually Fentanyl was recently used for the first time in an execution of a inmate sentenced to the dead penalty.
But because Spice/K2 is cheap and easy to obtain people use it. It’s being distributed to gas stations, convenient stores and head/vape shops. It can be purchased for as little as two dollars. It’s also often marked as a safe and legal alternative to cannabis but it’s not. When smoked or vaped, K2 or Spice is thought to be unpredictable, harmful and often deadly. Users experience rapid heart rate, vomiting, increased blood pressure, violent behavior, seizures, psychosis and even death. This is really scary stuff!
So if my college dorm room of moving walls and floors didn’t scare you enough, this incident in New Haven should. What eases my mind about the cannabis products I use is a few things:
1. I now get the majority of my products from a dispensary. Not just any dispensary but a dispensary I know and trust.
2. If I don’t get products from a dispensary, I research them online and often will email the company directly to ask questions. Yes, they will email you back!
3. Numbers 1 & 2 ensure my safety.
Be careful out there. Know what you’re buying and know what you’re using. If you have questions, ASK!!!
About Laura Geftman, LCSW
Laura Geftman, LCSW is the Founder of The Calm, Cool & Collected and a practicing therapist. Beyond all things cannabis and mental health, Laura is passionate about developing greater understanding for kindness and acceptance. In her free time, Laura can be found on her yoga mat, in a kayak or singing karaoke.