Why it's easy to just say no to dope
Being allergic to cannabis
As a younger man I have had much experience, very good and very bad, of taking drugs but one very commonly used substance that I have found it very easy to say no to is cannabis in any form. For me personally it has produced some of the most horrible and embarrassing experiences ever and yet I know very many people enjoy its effects and seem just fine on it.
As a musician I have frequently had to work with
other musicians who claim they need a joint to be at their best. When
recording and rehearsing I have had had no option really, but to just
hope that I wasn't affected by the smoke.
I got started experimenting with drugs at the tail end of the 60s and I admit that cannabis was one of the first illegal substances I ever used but it became more something I would smoke to try to fit in with my peers rather than for any pleasurable effects. It took me years to find out what being "stoned" was about.
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Hallucinogenic drugs cause bad trips
You see, cannabis as resin or as bush/grass was a substance I could never count on. It either did nothing or it produced a horrible experience or one that was just plain weird and would be as strange as any experiences on LSD or other more potent hallucinogenic drugs.
Other times after smoking it I would find I would be making mistakes a lot or losing things. It never improved my life.
Part of my problem was that I kept seeing people enjoying smoking the substance as well as listening to all the reports of how harmless it was and how much healthier it was than many illegal drugs. As a younger man I admit I made efforts to try and be part of a group, even if that group was the alternative society or the hippies and their culture.
There were still things that you were expected to do to show you were such a person. Smoking dope was one such sign of being a hippy.
Cannabis always let me down though. It was like that song with the lyric: "Mama told me not to come, that ain't no way to have fun, son..." That was how it so often struck me and I regretted having smoked or eaten the substance.
I remember once I had been out on the town with some friends and was feeling great until I stupidly accepted a joint from a guy called Bruce. He had a habit of saying "Nice man, nice," to just about anything. Bruce smoked a lot of dope.
On the night in question I had just come out of a club and was about to go home when I ran into him. "Catch some of this," Bruce said, passing me a joint.
Being polite and sociable I accepted and took the joint from him and took a drag on it. As soon as I breathed it in I regretted having done so and as I fell backwards against a wall I had to put my hands and arms out to steady myself. At the same time I lost control of my bowels and I knew I had just shit my pants.
Bruce said: "Nice, man, nice," and it was anything but. I felt a total mess and then had a long walk home to contend with. When I finally got in and got my stinking dirty trousers off I was thinking "why me?"
This was a pattern I had to undergo time after time - saying to myself, why is it doing this to me and everyone else was fine? It took me many horrible experiences to finally say to myself: "Enough is enough, leave the stuff alone, Steve!"
Mama Told Me Not To Come (Live) by Three Dog Night
The Last of the Hippies
In my early twenties, I was mad about a young woman called Philippa and I would have done anything to impress her. As it was I did the very opposite. By that time in my life I had become someone who drank far too much, and also was addicted to barbiturates and other downers.
Philippa knew this and she said to me that I should leave these "bad drugs" alone and "smoke more draw, because it's good for you."
I knew the booze and downers were bad and, as I say I wanted to impress Philippa, and then at a party I thought I had my chance to. Cannabis oil was being smoked and someone passed me a joint of the stuff. Philippa was in the room and I was thinking that she will see me smoking this and think how sensible I am being listening to her advice.
Unfortunately what happened next convinced her I was anything but sensible. I got a ravenous attack of the "munchies" and went into the kitchen where I spied a box of cornflakes.There is actually a brilliant illustration of this incident by Eldad Druks in CJ Stone's Last of the Hippies.
I had my shirt unbuttoned and a very hairy chest and I also had a full beard at the time. As I started cramming the dry cereal flakes into my mouth some of them fell and landed in my beard and chest hair.
As they did so I had a crazy thought, although it made perfect sense to me at the time. I thought that the reason I had so much bodily hair was so I could store food in it and so it could keep me warm. I had read reports of how an ice age was supposed to be happening, and I connected my hairiness and observation with this idea.
I thought that just like a hamster can store food in its cheek pouches or a squirrel can hide nuts under the soil, I could store my food in the hair of my body, which would also help protect me from the cold weather. It was a major realisation and I went back in the other room to share my discovery.
The problem was that no one wanted to know or appeared to understand but were more interested in the records or rolling another joint or snogging one another. I took my shirt off to show them how the cereal could be stored in my chest hair. It was at this point that people were leaving the rooom and showing signs they thought I was crazy.
Eventually, totally depressed about how my realisation had gone down with people at the party I left and feeling demoralised and having a long way to walk home decided I would sleep in the park instead. I ended up crashing out under some bushes down a grassy bank by the lake.
In the morning, I brushed myself down and headed up onto the main road above only to see Philippa, who lived in the area, coming down the road towards me, hand in hand with a guy called Simon.
"Oh my God," she said, "I told you that smoking draw was good for you but I was wrong. If you ever take acid I don't want to be in the same town as you." You can imagine how I felt!
I used to live in the same house as a friend called Adrian and he found dope very unpredictable too but one day we both shared a really pleasurable experience on the stuff. On the day in question, I was out with him in his car when I discovered a small lump of Morroccan resin in some silver paper in the back pocket of my jeans. A friend had given me it saying it wasn't very good dope but I might get a smoke or two out of it. I had forgotten all about it to the degree that the jeans had actually been washed and dried since I had put the stuff in my pocket.
I explained all this to Adrian but he thought we might as well smoke it anyway and so we rolled a joint and did so. In a short time we were both feeling really happy and the world was looking brighter and everything was looking really good. We both said how great we were feeling and realised that for once we had achieved what we had seen so many achieve in the past - we were happily stoned.
Adrian and I decided we must get more dope and did so but the next time we had a smoke nothing happened. It was a real disappointment and we were back to square one having had a taste of what other people like about the substance so much.
On another two very memorable occasions I had overwhelming hallucinatory effects from cannabis. The first of these was when I had gone back with some friends to the flat of a couple who lived in the same part of town as I did. We had some beer and dope and people started "skinning up".
When I was passed the first joint I took just one toke, just one toke, and that was more than enough. I felt like I had left my body and was looking down on everyone and everything. I had a voice asking me why I had come back to somewhere else. At the same time I could see all my companions just acting normally - chatting, laughing, smoking and drinking and changing the records on the player.
Again I was asking myself how they could be doing all that? Then I was back in my body and then in and out and then it got even weirder. I thought I was talking to a friend of mine called Jude but then she wasn't in the room any longer. I asked a girl who was, where the young woman with the long blonde hair had gone, and she didn't know what I was talking about.
Then I saw a silver platter come out of a wall with a phone on it. Someone picked it up and said something into it. Then I saw a doctor come into the room and he said he was going to give me an injection and then everything would be OK.
Then he disappeared and I wanted to be sick. I managed to ask a friend of mine called Michael to help get me to the toilets and he did so. The walls and corridor were all moving about like it can go on LSD. I threw up and asked if I could have a bowl in case I was ill again.
I sat feeling really ill and every now and again I was sick into the bowl and then I felt better but it seemed to me I had been there for many hours. I turned to one of my hosts and apologised for my behaviour and said I was sorry for acting so badly for such a long time. He said "What do you mean, a long time? You haven't been here long!"
"Well, what time is it now?" I asked thinking it would be five or six in the morning at least. It was only 1.30 am. I didn't know what to say or make of that and asked Michael if he would help get me home.
On another occasion I was staying at my parents' house and had found a small amount of Lebanese dope in some silver foil. For some reason I thought I may as well eat it and it would maybe get me more in the mood for going out later on.
What happened was that first of all I got the "munchies" really badly and started making toast on the open coal-fire using a fork. My parents and sister were watching TV and it just looked as if I was very hungry.
But then the room started to look like as if I was tripping on acid and the fire was doing all sorts of strange things and then, as I became overwhelmed with the visual experience, I dropped the fork into the glowing coals and the toast caught fire.
I realised I was tripping and was also in a panic having just dropped the toast. One of my parents asked me what was the matter and if I had taken anything. By then they had discovered that I used drugs and my odd behaviour made them think that this was the problem and they were right.
I made my confession and my father asked if there was anything he could do to help and if a drink would make me feel any better. I said I just wanted fresh air and yes, please get me something strong to drink.
I ended up in the kitchen with the door wide open lying on the floor and looking over the doorstep. It was all swirling around and looked like galaxies forming and reforming. I couldn't move. All plans for going out were totally abandoned and I even felt like I was possibly dying.
I remember drinking whisky or some spirits that my father had in the house and then feeling disorientated but able to function a bit better. I said to my sister could she help me get up to my bedroom and stay with me a while. This she did, and I lay there feeling useless, helpless and just wanting to lose consciousness which eventually I did.
I once had a book on drugs with a list of all the commonly reported effects of cannabis and the rare ones too. Amongst the latter list were vomiting, hallucinations, depression, feelings of isolation, paranoia, agitation and disorientation. It seems to me that I have experienced most of the rare effects and very few of the good or common ones.
I have shared my problems with cannabis with my friend King Arthur Pendragon and he told me he does not get on well with the substance either. In fact, Arthur suggested that we are both "allergic to cannabis."
As a reason why I say no to it, that will have to do for me! And much as I love Bob Marley's work I would make a hopeless rastaman!
© 2009 Steve Andrews
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