"John, are you around?"
"Yeah, sure. Do you wanna meet up?"
"How's the park in 10?"
"Good. See you there."
For the past two years of an eight-year chronic pot habit, this conversation was an essential part of my daily routine. As they say, I was going through the green like a lawn mower.
My experience with weed is rather unique. I started at 30 with a university degree under my belt and a seriously demanding professional career.
With $40 a day going up in smoke, I needed to get paid.
Getting high was a team effort. Suzy and I had been together since high school, and our lives changed almost immediately after buying our first bag.
Sex didn't just improve - it exploded, both in frequency and intensity. We became strict vegetarians and dove into nutrition and exercise.
Evening walks were enchanting; a trip to the supermarket was fun; we began to sneak up to her grandparents' cottage in Wasaga Beach at every opportunity. Life was good, and I was flying high - for a while.
Running out of weed was a completely different story. A cold, dark, empty feeling would begin to seep in within hours of smoking our last joint, followed by some of the most troubling arguments. By day four, the screaming and yelling would get the better of us - our 15-year relationship always on the line.
Neighbours called police, who kicked in our door.
There was never any violence, but the screaming was so loud and incessant that it was hard for the cops to know what was happening inside our apartment.
Avoiding running out of weed became an obsession. The only problem was affording it.
By this point we needed three fatties in the morning alone. I became a fixture at local pawnshops. I sold my entire philosophy of literature collection and eventually my professional photo equipment. My Hasselblad, a professional-format Swedish camera, was the last to go.
Even if the money was available, a dealer wasn't always. I had three, the most reliable being John, a tattooed street prince into speed metal. But even he needed days off.
Since we lived at Jarvis and Wellesley, I could usually hit the streets and rustle some up. This was often dangerous. Powder and pills are much easier to come by from the Yonge Street crowd on a rainy Sunday night. Always a last resort, I dreaded it. These kids will rip you off.
A legal, readily available supply of pot would have changed this story drastically. But most doctors we visited were extremely judgmental.
Our last attempt involving medical professionals brought us to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. There, too, we encountered staff who lumped marijuana use with heroin and cocaine addictions. The option offered was antidepressants. We tried them but found no relief.
In the end, we threw away the meds, moved out of the city and changed careers. We are no longer chronic users.
The common belief is that weed is not physically addictive, but my frequent night sweats and transient nausea told a different story. Although it was mild and manageable, I definitely went through physical withdrawal.
Many people smoke out here, but I have no idea where they get it and don't plan to ask.
I still see marijuana as a drug of value, a learning experience. I've seen people kick heroin addiction with a combination of methadone and weed. I've also accompanied a friend to AA meetings, where I learned that about half in attendance used marijuana to deal with alcohol withdrawal.
If it's grown for personal use and then eaten, probably the way pot was meant to be ingested, then I think pot's negative effect can be alleviated. Being chronic just helped me see its limitations.