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How Cannabis Helped Me Learn About Myself

How the plant that was once vilified by marketing campaigns helped me unlock the favorite part about myself.

In my six years as a struggling 20-something, I’ve come up with countless self-soothing techniques, most of which would produce the antithesis to uninterrupted productivity. When feelings run high, and I walk with a dark cloud rumbling over my head, I tend to search for sensory stimulation to match the emotional upset. Most of the time this comes in the form of TV marathons. A close second being blasting Frank Ocean on my gigantic headphones. Oftentimes I douse myself in lotions and oils for the tactile and scent therapy. Until one major discovery brought me to a sacred method I’ve since dubbed The Green Magnifying Glass. All it calls for is me, a cozy, solitary spot to curl up in and…an amethyst crystal pipe stuffed to the brim with Blue Dream.

I was a late bloomer into the cannabis realm. This magical plant first came to me during a rainy night Freshman year on a dock in Boston’s Charles River. Imagine a couple of giddy 18-year-olds huddled underneath an open umbrella trying, with unprecedented fervor, to keep the flame going long enough to light up. We were convinced on our walk back to my dorm that the security guard could read our minds. The rest of the night was a haze of giggles and buffoonery.

But that was one night. I didn’t engage with Cannabis again until Junior year, with my partner at the time. He was white, cis, came from one of the most affluent counties in the US, and dabbled in narcotics. The use of cannabis under this context didn’t appeal to me. In fact, off-kilter conversations about the Great Big Universe with my closest friend proved to be the only real fun I had while smoking, until years later when I began to consume on my own terms. Then my perception of  ‘getting high’ took a complete turn. It was the first time I lived on my own, and this newfound autonomy lent itself to a contemplative solitude I’d never experienced before.

Romina at a Cannabis event in NYC.

On a lonely, melancholy evening my life changed as I laid back and took a hit of Blue Dream flower out of my Amethyst pipe. Staring up at the ceiling of my living room, I came face-to-face with myself, of all people; this wide-eyed and ever-so-inquisitive self, who spoke a mile a minute, could come up with multiple explanations for each of my emotions.

Social conditioning in our society has never placed much emphasis on quality alone time, practicing self-awareness, and regulating your thought patterns. As a result, I’ve seen many of my peers develop mental health problems, toxic relationships to themselves and others, and unhealthy coping mechanisms. Having this new tool illuminate a path to self-analyze and objectively understand my circumstances felt healthy and liberating.

The perspectives she presented to me were more wide-ranging than I’d tapped into before. This high lent me a lightness and objectivity that allowed for detachment from my usual knee-jerk emotional responses, so that I could really sit back and consider the truths about myself that I might otherwise have avoided, with fearless candor.

“When we do take time to be introspective, we must adopt an attitude Siegel describes as curious, open, accepting, and loving (COAL). […] With introspection, there is a sense that you are exploring something, considering new perspectives, and are more aware of feelings.”

Yet, it wasn’t like this every time. Loving Cannabis when you live in a non-legal state subjects you to every whim and limitation brought by the underground market. There have been too many highs to count that triggered paranoia, anxiety, and lethargy in me. These experiences were discouraging and served as a risk to me. However, with the legalization of Industrial Hemp in 2018, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with CBD flower and other mood-boosting smoking herbs, such as Damiana, Lemon Balm, and Nettles, to cultivate a consistent and therapeutic personal experience that soothes my racing thoughts. It’s sure to rocket me to an ideal headspace for introspection. I admit, access to these tools proves to be crucial to my balanced mental health, especially with Psychiatric therapy being so inaccessible and unaffordable to many in the US.

After some time, I found that I was able to capture these crucial bits of insight that Cannabis helped me unearth. It started as voice memos that I’d send my closest friends, narrating my most recent revelation in 10-15-minute recordings. These notes became priceless when I revisited them a day later and fleshed them out into (what I consider to be), the most astute analysis of the human experience I’d ever been able to jot down until that point. I’ve since been able to consistently capture these rambling thoughts and manifest them in the form of full-length podcast episodes that I publish as part of a mental health series. This work is something I am so proud to have produced. The fact that a solitary night with Cannabis grew into this enriching creative process that I can now share with an audience is extraordinary. For anyone who has meaningful thoughts to share but very little clue as to how to express them, Cannabis can be the tool to unlock the creative headspace to whip up some artful magic.

“While cannabis users appear to demonstrate enhanced creativity, these effects are an artifact of their heightened levels of openness to experience.”

I want to be clear that I’m not promoting the use of Cannabis as a one-size-fits-all solution to mental health issues, or even the seasonal blues. For those who are curious enough to try something new, however, it could help to explore and expand their consciousness. All with a healthy dose of caution, of course.

There are many precautions you can take against a negative introspective experience. Try dosing CBD only, consuming with a trusted companion, or letting somebody know to check in with you. It’s also important to be mindful of the thought patterns you’re experiencing at the time of this practice. CBD has been clinically proven to soothe symptoms like anxiety. You know that one friend who always gets too high? Ingesting CBD can help combat that. Please note that a THC- dominant strain may trigger certain symptoms for some. It all depends on your personal dosage and experience with the plant.

It’s true that no one knows us better than ourselves, but early in our adult years, many of us find that we’ve built a wall between our external and internal personas. Cannabis has been useful for knocking down that silo, granting me a path toward understanding my emotional patterns, triggers, and expression. As struggling 20, 30, and every-somethings trying to shape our identity and forge our path, we can all use as much help deciphering ourselves as we can get. To help our minds expand in collaboration with plants is perhaps the purest, most natural avenue for healthy growth. So grab your pipe and try that breathwork exercise, move your body, or take that silky new gel pen for a spin. Let us know: what creative modalities have you explored? What’s your favorite strain for introspection?

And most importantly, what do you see when you examine yourself through The Green Magnifying Glass?

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