I had the coolest little bender back in the summer of 2009 when a friend gave me a clump of weed wedged into the corner of a tiny plastic baggie.
I’d hardly been smoking at all at the time, only every now and then with this band I was half part of.
The weed clump (probably about a gram) ended up lasting all that summer. I still have fond memories of just the sheer silliness and innocence of that time.
Later, during the steady peek of my addiction, I’d easily burn through a gram in an afternoon.
By early 2011, I’d put aside $300 in cash to cover my prescription and a starter stash.
My appointment with the medical marijuana doctor was set for February 4th. I remember staying up almost all night on the 3rd researching dispensaries.
The appointment and prescription cost $70.
The doctor also sold me a nice vaporizer for another $70.
Later that day, I had my first dispensary experience. I’ll share in detail somewhere else what it felt like as I gradually made my way passed a series of guards, intercoms, and bolted doors, following a familiar smell to a room filled with more weed than I’d ever imagined.
At the dispensary, I spent about $150 on two eighths, some pre-rolled joints, a canister of THC pills, and a marijuana chocolate bar.
I was psyched about the pills. The bar ended up being incredible. I’d never had edibles or vaporized before.
I was out of weed by June, so I bought couple more grams and another chocolate bar.
Then I started getting high every day for stretches of weeks and months.
In true addict form, I wanted to keep how much I was using (and spending) a secret; so I dipped into a college grant I hadn’t really needed yet. I figured a little off the top wouldn’t hurt.
Then a little more…
A little more…
An eighth of weed here, a quarter there…
The entire grant was gone within a year and a half.
Whenever I spent massive amounts of money on weed, I’d always tell myself, “It’s okay. This is the last time. After this, I know I’ll be keeping how much I use under control, so of course money won’t be a problem.”
I had plans stacked on plans for how I was always just about to start getting high way less. I guess now I see how much those plans were really worth.
In early 2013, I took my first hard look at how much I was actually spending on weed.
I wrote this (while high):
“It looks like I’ve spent about $3,000 in the last twenty-seven months, plus a whole bunch of other money I haven’t even accounted for—the initial $300, plus every cent I’ve ever withdrawn, received, or found anywhere since.
“I need some sort of weed budget.
“I’m burning through precious resources that are supposed to be for my dreams.
“Remember to read this if I’m addicted.”
I find it almost hilarious that I wrote “if I’m addicted”; I was kidding myself to think I had any semblance of control at all by that point.
In fact, here’s another high thought I wrote a few weeks later:
“I’m completely out of control.
“It scares me to think of the huge amounts I keep spending on weed.”
Weeks and months of addictive use all melded together into one perpetual final blowout.
Woven all through my series of failed attempts at control were specific promises I’d make to myself, then break, and then restate in new ways as if the new words would have any more restraining power than those I’d just ignored.
Here’s an example of something I wrote (while high) about a certain $20 bill I was about to take to a dispensary:
“I’ll have $8 left after I spend $12 right now. Then I’ll stop for a month and use the $8 for an edible.
“It’ll be so good because…”
You can probably guess how long that $20 lasted.
But I’m happy to say it’s not all bad news.
Here’s a more positive story (written while high) from sometime in mid-2014:
“Two weeks ago, I went to my new favorite dispensary and bought two grams. I’m not halfway through them yet.
“If I keep going at the rate I’m going now, I’ll only be spending $20 or $30 a month on weed.
“Last year, I was spending at least $75 a month (and that’s conservative).
“I want to keep making progress like this and use even less than I am now.
“Since I started working on this story, I’ve been getting high less and less. Just the actions involved in moving toward going public with my experience have, themselves, empowered me to use a lot less often than I was.
“The more control I gain over my addiction, the less money I spend on it.
“But saving money alone has never been enough of a motivation for me to force myself to cut back.
“I know I’m not where I want to be yet; but it’s encouraging to see, even in these early stages of finding balance, that the progress I’ve made so far has been totally natural and unforced.”
Again, money and other motivations for controlling my addiction haven’t been enough to keep me from getting high at times I’ve told myself I shouldn’t. That’s why it’s especially encouraging to see myself taking natural steps toward balance as I prepare to go public with my story.
Do you spend more than you’d like to on your addiction?
Could you trust yourself with money (say, if you were given a large amount)? How?
Tomorrow: stuck in what feels like an impossibly wide chasm between knowing what to do and actually doing it.