Nevhada

I was a stoner during my freshman year at college. I would skip class and stay up ’til four in the morning, getting high with friends, laughing, and eating cookies from Dough Co. delivery. Though my grades suffered and my version of the freshman 15 was more like the freshman 40, I don’t attribute all of that to the weed—I was 18. That first year of learning how to eat, sleep, party, and pay for things on my own was an unbalanced struggle. During sophomore year, I quit weed after discovering how much my new college boyfriend hated it.

When I was on hiatus, I definitely saw some benefits, like saving money and being able to fully focus on my classes. There are always valid reasons for wanting to cut back on weed, especially if you’ve developed a high tolerance or dependency. But the truth is that for nearly five years I deprived myself the ritual of burning one down. I missed having a tool to alleviate my stress and enhance certain pleasures, and I missed the deep talks that would ensue when my friends and I would get high together. Not surprisingly, when I ended that five-year college relationship, I promptly started using cannabis again and never looked back.

While my illogically anti-weed ex was definitely ignorant about the benefits of cannabis, I admit there was some validity in him not wanting his partner to be buying and consuming illegal substances—even if it was just weed. But today? In the age of legalization? Forgetaboutit. Since then, I’ve pretty much become Ilana on Broad City and exclusively date people who consume cannabis at least on occasion. It’s been a pretty easy dating filter to maintain here in Portland—as I imagine it is in other legal parts of the country. There’s even a social networking and dating app for cannabis users and enthusiasts called High There, which seeks to connect likeminded individuals. But sometimes love chooses you, and cannabis isn’t always the top priority.

At the time, I didn’t think quitting weed was a big deal. I justified it to myself in those early stages because I already felt high from all the love fumes. I told myself (and my friends) that I needed to focus on getting good grades and making up for slacking off during my freshman year... even though I had already begun to clean up my act while smoking before dinner in the evenings. Now that I’m older, I see how I was over-compromising. Taking a break from the legal leaf is obviously up to you, but if you’re only going without to appease someone else, it’s likely not going to stick. It also asks the question: What other habits or behaviors are you changing about yourself to meet someone else’s standards?

If you’re with someone who won’t (or can’t) partake, and this is one of the few areas you’re not compatible, you’ve probably already been asked to compromise. But instead of quitting cannabis altogether, consider the hows, whens, wheres, and whys of your cannabis habit, and in what ways it affects your partner. Rather than quitting weed, full stop, I wish I had thought to negotiate; I might have found a way to still use cannabis without it being a strain on my relationship.

So, instead of submitting completely to your partner’s no-weed preference, consider how your cannabis habit can evolve to accommodate your partner. Maybe that means smoking outside, or only in a specific area of the house. Maybe that means vaping instead of smoking, or finding active strains that don’t keep you locked to the couch. Smoking less weed, or only at specific times of day, or when your boo’s not around (as long as you’re not doing it behind their back) also seem like reasonable options.

Of course, some people over-indulge, and maybe you’re on the opposite end of the equation, with valid concerns and irritations about how your partner gets high. If that’s the case, avoid shaming or judging. Instead, open up a conversation about boundaries and expectations—see if they’ll tweak how they go about using cannabis so that it doesn’t impede the two of you getting closer. Communication is key. Is using pot a deal-breaker for you? If you can’t accept that your partner uses weed in any capacity, my advice is that you take a step back and maybe find someone else who shares your views. This particular relationship probably won’t work out according to your standards.

Now, if your partner has an unhealthy relationship with weed—and it’s negatively affecting their personal or professional life—then it’s appropriate to say something. But the fact is that many of us so-called stoners are just fine over here, enjoying the wonders of the cannabis plant in a healthy manner. Using cannabis—medical or recreational—is a valid, significant part of Pacific Northwest life, and a lot of us are done apologizing for it.

After the break-up—and a heated discussion—I convinced my ex-boyfriend-turned-friend to try smoking the completely natural herb he was so opposed to. Not surprisingly, he ended up loving it for a plethora of reasons: enhanced experiences in creativity, sex, art, conversation, and so on. He quickly became obsessed with the heavenly effects of cannabis, and I tried my best not to say, “I told you so” every time he sent me a link to some story about how cannabis is saving the world.

We’re still good friends today and like to partake in a smoke sesh whenever we see each other. The fact of the matter is that cannabis has the ability to improve lots of things, including your relationships. Being high creates a feeling of calmness, openness, fun, and camaraderie. Your inhibitions will be lowered, and you’ll be apt to have deeper conversatiosn, which fosters bonding.

Cannabis also enhances things like food and sex—two things you and your partner are presumably already regularly enjoying together. Though I look back fondly at the years me and my ex spent together, I also look back and think how much more fun we could have had if cannabis had been part of our relationship, as opposed to a behavior I felt I needed to suppress.

I’m in a new relationship now. One of the first things my therapist asked when I told her about it was whether we used cannabis and alcohol at a similar frequency. My therapist, though a cannabis user herself, has expressed her concern with clients who use drugs or alcohol on the daily, and has warned against overuse and emotional dependency.

I, too, am of the opinion that life partners should share a similar view on drugs and alcohol, and that you should be able to enjoy or refrain from the same substances. In my perfect world: a lot of weed, a little alcohol, no cigarettes, no hard drugs, and, once in a while, ’shrooms. With my current serious relationship, it seems I’ve found my weed equal (weedqual?). My partner and I go through a lot of weed together, and it’s great.

I’m older and wiser than my freshman-year self, and I’ve mastered the art of keeping a full plate while simultaneously being an active, functional pot user. I like to wind down from the workday by sparking a joint with my sweetie or being handed a bong with clean, lavender-fresh water. I’m the type of person who wants a Pinterest-grade pot bar at their wedding someday, and my #relationshipgoals are like when Broad City’s Lincoln made a ginger-blunt man for Ilana when she was anxious about a doctor’s appointment. And while it’s a good idea to reflect on how much cannabis I’m consuming—and more importantly, why I’m consuming it—I know that this wondrous plant will always be a part of my life in some capacity.

If smoking weed is something you do, but it’s just not that important to you, then by all means date all the non-users you want. But if you’re a regular user and want to keep it that way, I recommend you interpret any unsupportive attitudes toward your cannabis use as the red flag that it is and go find someone with views that align with your own. Life’s too short.