❓Does having 4 jobs mean you’re addicted to work❓
It didn’t for me. As a college dropout, I had to patch things together, and after working 3 jobs in the fall of 2014 - afterschool teacher, preschool aide, and restaurant host - that winter I started my fourth as a trimmer for Vermont’s first cannabis dispensary.
At first, this might sound like a strange addition to my education-focused portfolio of part-time gigs. But while studying medical cannabis as a senior in high school I interviewed Shayne Lynn who now, three years later, had opened the Champlain Valley Dispensary.
Also, I wasn’t addicted to work, I was addicted to weed.
Cannabis addiction is not like alcoholism or other types of drug addictions - it is not a physical need your body develops that causes you to have withdrawals if you stop using. Rather, it can be better understood as a mental addiction where the belief that it brings happiness becomes self-reinforcing. Like most addictions, cannabis use has diminishing returns. Your body develops a tolerance to it and you need to use more and more to get a positive effect.
I had developed a dependency on cannabis as a teen. I was depressed, and it was one of the few things that made me feel alive. For the three years since, I had stayed entangled in the habit.
However, empiric and anecdotal evidence showed it could be a medicine and I was determined to learn how to self-administer it properly. I also believed its criminalization was unjust and felt it was important that I myself use it as a medicine if I was advocating for it to be considered one.
With this knowledge and motivation, I started transforming my relationship with the drug. Since oK had burst into my mind and consumed my ambitions, I had also largely forgotten that I previously dreamt of opening a cannabis dispensary.
That changed when I stumbled upon a public event concerning cannabis in Vermont and saw Shayne Lynn speak. I went up to him afterward, re-introduced myself, and 4 months later I was one of the first 10 employees of the dispensary, trimming weed before going home, changing out of my clothes that reeked of reefer, and going to the afterschool program.
For almost three years I worked at the dispensary. Looking back, it could seem like a diversion from my path, but it imparted at least three key lessons:
Transforming suffering into hope. I became the supervisor of the dispensary itself, managing our small storefront and working 1-on-1 with patients as they came looking for relief from chemotherapy, chronic pain, etc. I learned to listen to their experiences, help them find the right medicine, and most importantly, facilitate an experience that gave them hope.
Values can give way to greed. I’m sure Shayne started off with good intentions but by the end of my time at the dispensary, I had nothing but disdain for him. He had political connections he had used to get two of the five licenses the state issued for the first dispensary. His two were in the two biggest markets. He spent money on self-indulgent projects and underpaid his employees. He created a toxic work environment leading to incredibly high turnover. He knowingly sold inferior products. He broke the law.
Cannabis addiction can be cured. The final thing I learned - very slowly - was how to use cannabis as a medicine and break my addiction. One key to ending my dependency on weed was understanding the concept of Flow and realizing there are more powerful forms of medicine that we access just by creating the right conditions.
Flow 🌊 That feeling when you are fully immersed in the moment and completely alive. Actually, it's more addictive then weed, but that's another story.
*No one should use cannabis if they have a family history of psychosis.*