Every morning Tim Johnson*, 30, suits up to start his day just like every other business professional in corporate America. However, what’s most unique to Johnson is his meticulous morning routine. At 6:30 a.m., he wakes up, says his prayers, reads a five-minute Bible workout, chats with his wife, and then, as he powers up his laptop to check the day’s emails, he loads a bowl of weed and lights up.
“It makes me so much more active and so much more focused. I smoke three to four times a day, just purely to help me focus and complete the tasks that I may have,” he says. “I graduated from college because of it; prior to that, I had been kicked out.”
Years ago in college, Johnson was diagnosed with depression and ADHD, for which doctors put him through a trial of various medicines.
“I hated the medicine. I felt was muted. I got fed up and took things into my own hands. And I just sort of went on a drug binge to be honest,” he says. “One of my friends was a medicinal grower out in a compound in Oregon and prescribed me a medicinal-grade strain. And so I started smoking his weed. It changed my life.”
Similarly, makeup artist Robbie Phillips*, 31, started ingesting the drug to help with her insomnia and anxiety. Working through the nights, 18-hour days and other sporadic schedules on film and television sets, the disruption to her natural sleep cycle left her with many wakeful nights.
“I’m always in a sleep deficit, and it’s impossible to catch up [because] I have a difficult time winding down. Ultimately I am an independent contractor. I could be without a job at a moment’s notice. That reality, combined with the stress of my job, makes me a little anxious at times,” she says. “Marijuana makes me feel calm, peaceful and extremely relaxed.”
Unfortunately for Jones and Phillips, they live in Atlanta, where the schedule I controlled substance is not approved for medicinal use. Yet as momentum picks up state by state through the help of pro-marijuana lobbyists, Georgia may soon see a bill revisited on the ballot.
After the recent election, currently 25 of the U.S. states and Washington, D.C., have approved some form of medicinal weed. As of today, seven states, Colorado, Washington, Alaska, California, Massachusetts, Nevada and Maine, have legalized it for both recreational and therapeutic uses; and several states have decriminalized the substance for small, first-time possession.
So with all the push behind legalization—not to mention its unflinching popularity—is cannabis really the fabled panacea that it’s been made out to be?