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I’m hearing a variation of a complaint with increasing frequency, in both my personal and professional life. (Kidding—I have no personal life.) It goes something like this:

“I used to get high back in high school and college, and boy, it was great. I was giggly/creative/happy, and had a great time whether I was with my friends or by myself. Now that I’m older, it seems like things have turned. When I smoke now, instead of being happy/creative, I’m tired/depressed/paranoid/introverted. I want to get high like I did back in the day. What I am doing wrong, and what do I need to do differently?”

(Preemptive disclaimer: If you are under 21, don’t use cannabis—unless you have an OMMP card and are 18. Or have epilepsy or chemo and are under 18. Look, it’s complicated. Stay in school, mind the gap, etc.)

It’s a fantastic question, with lots of potential, multifaceted answers that would exceed the length of this column. But let’s cover some ideas for how to address this. Whether you consume cannabis for medical or psychological issues, or for any reason that qualifies as “recreational,” finding ways to access the effects you’ve gotten in the past should be totally doable, via tools both practical and esoteric.


What Are You Smoking?

Assuming you’re 28 or older, and you started smoking weed more than 10 years ago, what you are smoking now is most likely nothing like what you were then. Different strains, growing methods, and other factors have produced a selection of much stronger and diverse offerings. See if you can recall what you were actually smoking back then. (And answering “really good weed, man” is not helpful. See, this is why you are alone.)

Use some Google and search terms like “Popular weed strains of 20xx” or “19xx.” Anything ring a bell? Great. Then tell your trusted neighborhood dispensary you’re seeking something on par with those.

Inevitably, you’ll be directed to make a counterintuitive choice: a strain with less THC. Don’t be macho about it, just do it—get something with lower THC, because what you used to smoke was most likely lower in THC, too.


What Does Your Lab Report Say?

The information about terpene levels and CBD content is just as important. Certain terpenes lead to certain effects, so if you can sort that out (and yeah, it’s complicated), you might find that those terpene levels and combinations are more important than the THC content or even the strain. Consider a strain with higher CBD than THC.


How Are You Smoking?

Bong, pipe, or joint? Cool, those are fun. Perhaps they aren’t as pleasurable as they once were, for a number of reasons. Smoke is unhealthy. Bongs are smelly (and let’s not get started on the potential for your cat to knock them over). Burn holes suck now that you have possessions you actually care about. And coughing—lord, the coughing. So, maybe try vaping. Lower temperatures can equal a mellower, clearer high and better taste, and controlling the temperature can control the effects, too.


Where Are You Smoking?

Are you hiding from your kids in the garage, burning your thumb tamping out a bowl because you think they may have heard you cough, muttering things like “Goddammit that hurts!” and “Where’s the Febreze?” Ask yourself: Is this how you used to get high, smoking in fear and relegated to, um, less than comfortable conditions? Screw that noise. Get warm, get comfortable, grab your munchies, and you do you. #nocannashame


Check Your Head

Things change, and over time, we can get weighed down, burned and scarred, and have our ass kicked by life. Cannabis is an awesome tool to deal and heal, but when you were smoking before, you probably had less baggage. You can’t go home again, but you can set your intention to counteract the static in your dome. If you want to be giggly, assign that as your goal for your session. Breathe, let go, and have fun, even if you may wonder if you still know how. Which ties into....


Entheogens Do NOT Play

Peyote, mushrooms, ayahuasca, and cannabis are all entheogens—psychoactive substances documented for millennia as being used in shamanic, religious, and spiritual practices. The original Greek for entheogen translates to “generating the divine within,” and doing so can uncover truths we might hide from ourselves. Not every pre-roll will reveal one’s inner cosmos, but if smoking brings up all the feels, perhaps that’s something you need to deal with.