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RM Vaughan.Supplied

RM Vaughan is a Canadian writer and video artist based in Montreal.

“I haven’t smoked pot since I was your age,” I told the bouncy millennial behind the counter at the Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC) outlet on Montreal’s Rue Saint-Hubert. “Walk me through this.”

He offered me an indulgent smile, the kind I used to bestow on my mother – when she was 80. And then I learned all I need to know about marijuana today. Basically, it is not the marijuana of my youth. Stronger, cleaner and more efficient, pot today is as specific (and fussed over) as wine, coffee, cheese or chocolate. Pot is artisanal now, fancy even. And I love it.

From about 13 years old to 24, I was an unrepentant pothead; as well as an acidhead and a speed freak, with a side of mushrooms on the party plate. But pot was my mainstay, because it was easy to get, even in 1980s rural New Brunswick. Then I quit, because I wanted to be more grown-up.

No, I am not advocating for teen drug use. Keep your letters. I would be the first person to tell a teen all about the downside of recreational drugs: the anxiety attacks, the forgetfulness, the weird mood swings, finding new ways to convince your parents and teachers that you’re not high, you’re just, um, really tired. But I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss the illicit thrill of smoking a joint in a cold back alley, huffing manically between turns as lookout.

Doing things that are not good for you is fun (that’s why people do them), and since I have no children, I am blissfully nobody’s role model. At 53, I’m now a “new” (born-again?) pot smoker. But, like everything in midlife, this latest chapter in a lifetime glittered with self-abuse presents typical humbling challenges. As the lad at the SQDC told me, “This is not your parents' pot.” (I remain charmed by his thinking that I am young enough to have hippie parents.) “It’s more, how do you say, smart.”

That may well be, but it is not making me any smarter. Fine. I don’t want to be smarter, more attuned, more alert, always on top of the latest upsets and frenzies. Quite the opposite. I want the world to go away. If you too are fed-up with the barrage of contemporary life and curious about the dumb joys of pot – but haven’t touched the stuff since REO Speedwagon topped the charts – here’s what to expect after the giggling stops.

The hangover, a.k.a The Fog. True pot connoisseurs would undoubtedly say I am not paying adequate attention to the CBD versus THC ratio, and/or am insufficiently educated in the vagaries of terpene content in types of plants (myrcene-dominant or guaiol? Sativa strain or indica strain?). To which I say, please see the above paragraph. But this I know: Sometimes, the next day, I cannot remember where anything is nor can I perform simple functions without swearing.

Pot can leave a residual wall inside your head, a greyish, cottony barricade between you and any task (I’m talking putting-on-your-socks-level chores here), and there is not enough coffee in the world to knock the wall down. If you smoke pot in midlife, accept the simple truth that on occasion your already aging brain will not take up the slack. There’s a reason you were a fully functioning smoker at 25 – because you could be. Not any more.

Furthermore, while you’re high, you will want to eat, a lot, and the compulsion will not be attractive. The last time I got high (okay, last night), I woke up in the early hours and ate five cinnamon buns and a fist-sized chunk of Parmesan cheese. Eating without shame and being body-positive is one thing, a wonderful thing, but gross is gross. When you get high, you will be gross, and you will see yourself being gross, and you will keep on being gross. Marijuana is to willpower, hard-won good habits and simple self-regard what killer whales are to slow-moving sea lions.

And if you have any quirky personality traits, the kind your friends have resigned themselves to be polite about, expect those traits to show up in brand-new suits and polished shoes. All my former, and formerly conquered OCD triggers come flooding back when I smoke pot. The difference is, I now find checking the locks on the doors every 11 minutes great fun. It’s exercise, but with achievable goals.

And finally, remember that the kids do know more than you, hateful as that sounds. When I go to my local pot shop, I am always the oldest person on the property. But for how much longer?

The pressure to be always sharp, innovative, on point and socially perceptive is bloody exhausting – more so at 53, after decades of keeping up with a world that only ever spins faster and faster. It’s time for us geezers to exercise our legal right (and government blessing) to sometimes be stupid and lost.

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