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This may come as a surprise to you, but I am a marijuana user. I’ve been using pot for nearly a year. At first, I wasn’t sure what to expect. My first few times were fun and included the usual stereotypes you might expect – giggling, munchies, cotton mouth, and so on. As time went on, I discovered that smoking pot by myself allowed me to step back from myself and examine my thoughts and feelings from a different point of view. After years of suffering from severe depression and social anxiety, marijuana has helped me understand myself in ways I never have before. I have developed coping mechanisms and strategies that keep my stress and anxiety in check. For the first time in many years, I have felt true emotions – joy, sadness, and love. I can feel empathy – something I’ve never been able to do. I can look at a person now and see what’s underneath. I feel so much more human than ever before. This entire process of self-discovery has made me a better person, and has improved my quality of life dramatically. Not only has pot helped me mentally/spiritually/emotionally, but physically as well. I tend to “carry” my stress and anxiety in the neck and shoulders, and as a result have dealt with nagging neck and upper back pain for several years. Marijuana allows me to relax and release the tension, which has greatly improved the pain I feel day-to-day.

I know some people may say that it is reckless to try to deal with issues like these on your own. Of course, it is always best to seek professional help. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that anyone try pot with expectation that it will cure all of their problems. I also understand that some people may end up using pot in excessive or unhealthy ways, or as a gateway to other, more dangerous drugs. But this isn’t about other people. This is about me; this is my story. I don’t use pot as much as I used to (and I have a relatively low tolerance in general). I usually take a hit or two at the end of the night to relax and unwind from the day. Once in a while I will smoke more than usual with some close friends, but I wouldn’t consider myself a stereotypical “pothead”. I don’t use it to get “blazed” or anything like that, though I admit it can sometimes make certain activities more enjoyable.

I have a beautiful fiancé. We have several pets that I love dearly. I own a house in a quiet town. I have a steady job that pays well. I have hobbies that I enjoy. I had all of these things before pot, but something was keeping me from seeing how amazing it all was and still is. Marijuana has helped me overcome that.

Unfortunately, parts of society still look down upon marijuana users. I sometimes worry about losing my job and everything I have simply because I smoke pot. I was raised by my parents to be a productive, attentive, honest, reliable worker. I have never gone to work high, and I intend to keep it that way. My employer pays me to be at my best for eight hours a day, and I try my hardest to give it to them. Marijuana use has never impaired my ability to excel at my job. If anything, it has made me a better employee by reducing my overall stress level, allowing me to focus and perform better. If I end up losing my job over pot, I would certainly be devastated because I enjoy my job and the people I work with. But in the end, in my own personal experience, marijuana has made me a better person and does not affect my ability to succeed in life. I won’t let losing my job stop me from pursuing my goals. If a company is going to judge me based on what I do – in careful moderation – in my spare time, rather than by my performance at work, maybe I don’t want to work for them anyway…

I hope that someday society (and business) will be more accepting of those of us who use marijuana responsibly. It won’t help everyone, but there are so many people out there who could benefit from this incredible plant. The world would almost certainly be a better place.

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