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Getting Not-High With CBD Changed My Life

Why cannabinoids are the perfect drug for any occasion

As far as I’m concerned, there are two kinds of people in the world: People who can smoke weed, and people who can’t. I’m one of the unlucky ones: Weed gives me intolerable self-doubt and anxiety, forcing me to play a mental game of whack-a-mole to bludgeon the deep unease that everything I’ve ever thought, said or done is hella weird and wrong. So the fact that weed is now legal to some degree in 46 states and recreationally legal in almost 10 is basically a cruel joke to me. Or at least it was — until I discovered CBD.

Before I wax evangelical about the benefits and wonders of CBD, THC’s less fucked up, but still very cool friend, let me offer a few clear caveats. Opinions on drugs, just like opinions on good bands, must-see TV or best street tacos, are about as useful as a beeper to today’s drug dealer. One man’s high is another man’s horror. The last thing anyone contemplating ingesting a substance should do is listen to anyone, even a trusted friend, much less a complete stranger on the internet, about what’s going to give them the buzz they seek.

That said: thar’s gold in them thar CBD hills.

And not just literal gold — cannabis is a multibillion dollar business that even normies like John Boehner are getting in on — but also happiness gold. By happiness I mean it doesn’t get you high — it gets you not-high by giving you the good, solid, reliable, anxiety and side-effect free sedation of a drug that does the good drug thing without doing the bad drug thing. Think of it this way: this is a drug so effective for what it’s good at, with so few side effects, and so generally well tolerated, that some people give it to their children or use it instead of over-the-counter pain medication. (Quick: name any other drugs you can say that about.)

What if I told you that there is a drug that wouldn’t make you feel tired or sick, or queasy or fucked up, and especially not weird in the head? What if I told you that you could take this drug and also do your job, like all the parts of your job, like even the hard parts (which is probably 95 percent of the parts, let’s be honest)? What if I told you that it might even make you want to do the hard parts? Okay maybe not want, but more willing to endure with a good attitude?

What if I told you that this drug is believed to have medicinal properties, such as “anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, anti-depression, pain-relieving, anti-spasmodic, immune-modulation and immune support, anti-convulsant, and anti-proliferative”? That means it could ease a headache, or quiet muscle or joint pain, and for many people, actively quell anxiety. Would you come over right now and hang out and do some CBD? I think you would, and you don’t even know what bands I like or the sort of home décor I’ve chosen.

But let’s not get carried away here: You should know what CBD is before ingesting it. CBD is short for cannabinoid, which is a compound in cannabis, and cannabis is the same thing as the marijuana plant, or what you know as weed. I repeat: It does not get you high. That’s the job of the other compound in cannabis — THC. THC is the compound that makes your head trip in a good or bad way depending on who you are. It’s more complicated than that, but we’re just talking about getting fucked up, amirite?

No, that was a test. We’re talking about not getting fucked up at all. We’re talking about a drug that feels like nothing, except it feels like everything good. Like a perfect summer day, plus you can stand to be around people, and maybe even enjoy them. Like exactly how it would feel to be still you, only nothing is bad. I know, it’s confusing.

You can buy pure CBD in a variety of forms and ingest it in a variety of ways: You can swallow it in edible gummy or via a few drops of CBD oil, drink it in tea or smoke it via vape. In the fine city of Los Angeles, you can order CBD in your martini, or digest it via a three-course prix fixe CBD Power Lunch if you are the sort of person with $18 for a single cocktail or $37 for a single lunch.

I prefer to take my CBD via edible, because you can buy them in little tins with pineapple and coconut flavored chewables that are 5 mg each. Popping one or two is basically like taking a few ibuprofen, only for your feelings. The tins cost $20 to $40 for 20 chewables. That is $1–2 a piece, which seems pricey, but one lasts for hours. I can’t buy a half a Coors Light for $2 in this crazy town and get a buzz that good for that long, much less without wanting to fall immediately asleep. Plus, a beer is basically a glass of bread, and it fucks up your liver.

I know what you’re thinking: isn’t there a catch? Of course there is. One catch is that the legality of CBD is still weird because of the variation in state laws, and whether the CBD comes from hemp or from marijuana. Hemp-derived CBD is allegedly legal because it has, if any, only trace amounts of THC in it (the FDA disagrees). Another catch: Because it’s unregulated, it’s hard to determine if the CBD is pure and quality, but generally, you can figure this out based on brands and whether they’re up front about that.

The other catch is that all the stuff people go nuts for over CBD in terms of its medicinal benefits (not its feel-good benefits — this is a critical distinction) is usually CBD with a little THC in it. You can get just the pure CBD or CBD with THC in many different ratios. Some experts argue that real — again, medicinal — benefits of CBD are only truly conjured when the two work together — it’s called “the entourage effect”.

But for people who just want the THC demons to be gone, that’s an irrelevant detail, like telling a vegan that everything tastes better with bacon on it. They’d be right, but also fuck them? But even taking the most conservative point of view, western medical doctors agree that all by itself, a little old CBD with no THC in it is still the engine that could, and if nothing else, it creates a feeling of calm and relaxation.

“Taken on its own, CBD has sedative, antioxidant, anti-anxiety, and antidepressant effects on the brain, but does not create any overtly psychoactive high like THC,” Perry Solomon, the chief medical officer at HelloMD, told Leafly.

What else on earth as we know it does that without side effects? Meditation? Sure. Exercise — if done correctly. Sunshine, but not too much, as long as you’re slathered in sunscreen? Maybe.

But you’re reading this because you work in an office, in this modern world, and you’re sitting at a desk, and someone needs you to do something really tedious. Or later, you have to do a work thing and sit around listening to everyone talk about how they feel about their dogs. Or you have postpartum depression. Or you have to get through a family vacation with a toddler. Or you want to get off of year of anti-anxiety meds with bad side effects. Or you want to manage chronic pain without developing a painkiller addiction. Or you just have a little social anxiety and need to take the edge off.

Or, like me, you just want the chill without the pill, the high without the low, the buzz without the ugh. For that, let us celebrate today and forever, or until they figure out how to take it away from us, the glorious, low-key nothing-something power of CBD. Again, you won’t get fucked up! But you also won’t be sorry.