Ask Old Hippie: Am I Addicted To Weed?

Old Hippie Kenobi

Q: I recently had a bad breakup which triggered some latent depression, anxiety, and nausea, which are all pretty severe. A few months later I discovered weed, and it is the perfect cure for all three. I’ve tried lots of other drugs, but if they had any effect at all, it was subtle and unsatisfying.

Trees make everything better for me. It’s not just the fact that I feel happy, calm, worry-free, and my stomach settles when I’m high, but just knowing that I have my special herb to go to whenever I’m feeling like shit helps so much.

I’ve been fighting with my parents, who are completely anti-drug. When I first told them about it, they treated it like meth. After months of work, I’ve gotten them down to treating it like alcohol. Still a bullshit comparison, but I’m making progress. They’ve cut off my allowance (an agreement we had so I could focus on school and not have to get a job), my driving privileges, etc. until I can get a medical marijuana card and use it legally. So until I get a card, I’ve stopped smoking.

I’m completely miserable most of the time without my herb. Stress through the roof, sick as a dog, low self-esteem, low hope. I crave it every day, I miss it. Everything just seems devoid of interest to me. My question is, am I addicted, or is this just me going untreated?

A: It really pisses me off when people find a safe, effective, natural medicine that works against life-threatening illnesses and then ignorant “authority figures” tell them they’re bad for using it. You’re not “addicted”, you’re self-medicating. And that’s not a bad thing. You’re not even using it recreationally (although that’s not a bad thing either). But you can’t actually become physically addicted to marijuana.

It seems to make sense that “you’re getting high, so now you feel happy, but you’re still depressed”, but that’s not how anti-depressants work, and that’s not how cannabis works against depression either.

If you feel depressed, especially due to events that happened in your life, sometimes talking to a therapist (or using cannabis!) will let you see things differently, and then the feeling of depression goes away. If so, that’s great, and if it stays away we’d probably all agree it’s cured.

If you still feel depressed after therapy and time (several months), such that you’re in a mental fog and can’t seem to get out of it, I would consider that to be an actual change in body chemistry, or a chemical imbalance. At that point, prescribed anti-depressants or cannabis may work to clear this feeling. You may have the feeling come back when the drug wears off, so perhaps it’s not permanently cured, but it’s not just masking the symptoms, it’s actually making them go away.

I think of it as similar to Type 1 diabetes…maybe you’re not “cured” by taking insulin, but it keeps you from the problems you’d have if you weren’t taking it. And nobody sane would consider diabetics to be “addicted” to insulin just because they “feel the need to use it every day”.

Got a question for Old Hippie? Send your questions to him using the contact form or post a comment below.

Old Hippie is a father of two boys and thankfully living in California where all this kind of thing is legal. He started smoking marijuana in 1967 in high school, experimented with mind-expanding drugs of all kinds, and then straightened out 15 or so years later to become an airplane pilot. After being diagnosed with depression in 2000, he lost his job and most of the following decade to prescription medications (such as antidepressants) which sapped his energy and will. Finally, a chance conversation with a friend led to a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana (MMJ). This changed his entire life, health, and outlook for the better. is his continuing story. It’s also his way to provide experienced advice on using medical marijuana effectively and responsibly, as well as advocacy, activism, and support for others. Old Hippie teaches about safe use of cannabis edibles, Canna Caps, vaporizers, dosing, and even microdosing.


If you’re interested, there’s two particular points of interest that i’d like to bring up.

One is that there are studies showing the difference between dopamine affecting drugs that cause physical addiction, and the ways cannabis works without affecting dopamine levels much and what that means… i.e. the difference between being ‘used to getting what you need’ and experiencing the cravings of physical addiction. If you really get into the biology of it, it’s quite interesting.

The second point is the body of research showing the functions and implications of the human endocannabinoid system. I’m not going to bring up any specific facts or point to specific studies, besides to suggest that our innate need (and natural synthesis – or lack thereof) for cannabinoids in our bodies is actually very similar to the way insulin response regulates our bodies in its own ways as well. Lack of cannabis or sufficient natural synthesis is increasingly being considered as a cause for many diseases and malfunctions of human biological processes. It’s a concept that meets a lot of opposition and controversy, but it’s gradually coming along and more people should know about it.
Sorry for the tldr comment… hope it helps.

Love this site btw 🙂 first time comment

Brian, thanks for pointing that out. I actually did a fair bit of research on cannabis and dopamine and serotonin for this column, but didn’t want to lose people in the details! And as for your second point, I’m quite interested in that aspect too, and recently had an experience that illustrated the truth of it for me. Nugs and Hugs!

This is a rare treat… to read through an entire column or article and agree with the writer’s thesis, or logic, or factual opinion. “This is my life!” I could have written this, not as eloquently, but it’s where I’ve come to physically and emotionally since a year ago August. That was right after recovering from stepping down off a psychotropic too quickly, by medical necessity. The side-effects from those can be horrid, if not toxic, often requiring other meds to counter-act them. If I’m going to have to medicate every few hours, I’d rather ingest Cannabis! I love its side-effects: I get up out of bed, get ready to “go,” and then I “do.” Whatever is in front of me to get done, and in the middle of “doing,” I realize that I am. And I feel positive, and dang, happy. What pharma med has done that for me? Not many. The drs tried to find the right chemicals to balance me out. I found the right ones on my own, and they’re called cannabinoids. Now what I want is more research data on why they act on me like they do so I can stop having to justify why I like to use Cannabis daily. I just want an even playing field for Gawd’s sake! Thanks for a great read. Got me thinkin’… that’s another side-effect, and it’s not a bad thing. Really.

High, Old Hippie
I use cannabis medicinally as well as recreationally. I have done for 40 or more years now.

I have chronic pain problems, and this makes me depressed. The pain can be too intrusive, which is how the depression takes hold.

People say “Indica for pain” but this is, in experience, not so. Maybe for one-off pains, but not for full time chronic pain.

Sativas, or sativa rich hybrids, however – ROCK! They lift the mind and distract it from the pain. Bloody marvellous!

I have not yet found any habituation problems with cannabis. So much so, that I sometimes forget to smoke it for whole days on end, days when I am either too busy or when the pain is at a minimum.

Growing your own is also a therapy in itself. I’ve been growing my own fun’n’meds for over ten or fifteen years now indoors – its a distraction all in itself, and nothing sorts a person out like a little re-connection with nature.

Thank-you Old Hippie. It is a good work you do, and I salute you for all your efforts and labours!


High, Arnold!
Not only is the human body complicated as hell, but add a complicated plant and we get so many variations! As someone with two main things to worry about that are somewhat opposite in terms of “standard” strain recommendation, you have an even more complicated case. Sounds like your mind and body are very connected, and that Dr. Mary Jane Sativa is helping you in whichever way she finds appropriate 🙂
I totally know what you mean by forgetting to take your medicine, too…and it’s not because I’m too high, just that I’m feeling so good and focused that it’s the last thing I’m thinking about!
Thanks for the kind words and I hope to keep doing it right!
Nugs and hugs,
Old Hippie

Hi All,
Well this site really does raise some interesting points.
My story is this, I tried Weed age 13 and smoked it for a month or so. I then rediscovered Mary-Jane aged 16 I am now 35. Apart from holiday/travelling etc and a few years while I was literally too busy to smoke everyday, I smoke every evening and so do a lot of my friends, not all, but most. My partner is preggers and has obviously quit during her pregnancy and her forced exile from the weed made me reconsider my position on it. The problem is I don’t want to quit I live in a £500,000 house I have a good career and drive nice cars all of these things I got myself by the way no help from Mummy or Daddy! So I am to all intense and purposes happy and successful but I am a stoner and that means loser, right?. During the time I considered my position on weed I came to realise that I was more concerned with the health side of things than not wanting to be stoned every night as taking in smoke that is heavy in tar/oil cannot be good for you. I then quit tobacco (6 months now) and moved to a Vape. It was then it hit me, I like being stoned and it has not ruined my life! Now please do not get me wrong I know that with some people weed can destroy their life, I am just not one of them, but am I really that different to these peeps or have I just been lucky? I just don’t know. When I travel weed does not even cross my mind but as soon as I land and get home I break out the box! So in summary: I understand the damage this drug can do so I treat it with respect. I do not feel it will kill me as I smoke just about as healthy as I can. I like it. It helps me relax after a hard day. It does not affect my life in anyway. Do i need to quit or am I just thinking I should because that’s what I am supposed to do! One last thing apart from a nice cold glass of Magners at the weekend I do not take any other drugs. I would love to hear peoples take on this I am not looking for you to agree with me just give me your honest opinions.

Well i have a 2-3 gram a day bho oil habbit but very little pain now WITHOUT 12 NORCOS A DAY; and i make many other people pain light also cause im off the couch more and more now. EDIBLES ARE GREAT damn habbit SORRY. Hey this eating thing americans are obese BAN FOOD really THATS a habbit we can do without I heard you could end up sleeping with cattle. Cigeretts booze and caffene though are essentials GOV KNOWS BEST DAM HIPPIE

Dear Rocketskunk-

You must be the envy of many. Nice house, nice job, nice cars, nice lifestyle, loving preganant wife I presume, and you are able to recreationally enjoy cannabis. There are many who are not as fortunate as you in many of these respects. I wish I had what you have (I think…maybe or maybe not depending on what I don’t know about you) You see, I used cannabls in my teens (from 16 to 20) and went from recreational use to abuse then on to dependence. So it became a problem for me. I had to quit lest I ruin my life. I was freed of my addiction through drug recovery which i have practiced for 20 years now. I am grateful for what I have now. I don’t have a fancy and rich lifestyle, own a house or even have a wife at this point. So, we are quite different you and I actually. If it works for you and it truly is not a problem and you can maintain everything in your life in balanced and healthy ways then great. There are a few among us that can actually do that and occasionally get high on weed. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do it. And there are many others who cannot either. Again, some can. Please just be careful and be honest with yourself. If weed becomes the center of your life and it takes priority over your wife, your job, your child(ren) (future) then please reconsider your position. Until then, have fun and don’t get caught. But also, be careful who you associate with. It’s no secret that drug money fuels cartels and organized crime. There are a lot of low life criminals who also smoke pot regularly and you could come in contact with them. You still have to deal with the illegality of it too. Like it or not, you are in violation of the law and may have to face some consequences of that. I don’t wish it upon you. It’s just a fact of life. Also, please be careful of your decision making while you are high. Rational decision making is sharply affected by cannabis use while high. Reaction time is affected too. Driving while high is risky. Honestly I am concerned for you… but it’s ultimately up to you how you live your life. Good luck to you.

Dear Rocketskunk-

Upon further reflection I have come to greater clarity about your posting. There are indeed greater differences between you and I that I did not mention before but I will now. I just spent the last seven years investing in myself in pursuing and obtaining a quality education -dual bachelor’s degrees and I am now finishing my masters in a professional field. I couldn’t and wouldn’t have done that if I was a slacker bum smoking weed and getting high. I just wouldn’t care. So, I now have that to bank on clean and sober tried and true. I also don’t have to spend my time looking over my shoulder like you wondering who knows about my dope habit and when the cops are going to snag me. I have divine freedom there. Additionally, I have a clear conscience knowing that I am NOT giving money to the illegal drug trade where it travels up the economic food chain to cartels and the mob feeding other destructive criminal enterprises like the manufacturing and distribution of dangerous and deadly drugs like crack, heroin and methamphetamine (to name a few), as well as murder, and the kidnapping and human trafficking of sex slaves into prostitution and other illegal rackets. Can you live with that and how you spend that money? I also have integrity. Honesty and forthrightness in all areas of my life. I don’t have to lie to hide my drug habit from others so as not to get caught and prosecuted. You don’t have that freeedom do you? I am also free from the risk of marijauana induced psychosis, panic attacks, anxiety or paranoia, some things you may experience for yourself. It is said that all the money and wonderful things in the world won’t and cannot buy you happiness. It’s true. And if you were happy already, you wouldn’t be turning to a substance to put in your body to make you happy. It’s sad really. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t trade my life for yours ever under any circumstances. I have a damn good life and I have my sharp intact healthy mind to go with it. Can you say that about yourself? You’re literally changing your brain every time you get high. You are gambling with your brain. The nucleus accumbens (the pleasure center) keeps getting activated and the neural pathways in your brain get rewired from using. So, when the craving comes your brain gets hijacked and you cannot stop yourself. You said you don’t want to stop, but could you stop? You are playing with fire and building a foundation on quicksand. But it’s your life. Do what you please. And what kind of example will you be to your child, eh? “I learned this from you dad…” If I were you I would be thinking over this pot habit thing very seriously. Is it really worth it in the end?

I just spent the last seven years investing in myself in pursuing and obtaining a quality education -dual bachelor’s degrees and I am now finishing my masters in a professional field. I couldn’t and wouldn’t have done that if I was a slacker bum smoking weed and getting high.

Plenty of PhDs out there who got all their degrees while smoking weed and getting high…plenty of successful people in all walks of life. Carl Sagan, virtually every musician in the past 40 years, the last three presidents, and way too many more to name weren’t stopped by being “slacker bums”.

Your postings are sometimes interesting, but calling weed users on this website “slacker bums” is not acceptable. We are not slackers, bums, addicts, or anything else negative. We are no more lazy potheads than someone who drinks beer while watching football is a “burnout drunk”. Whatever problems you’ve had in your past cannot be blamed on weed but on your own personality. If you have managed to get past them, great for you, but don’t put everyone else who uses cannabis down.

Dear Old Hippie-

You have got me wrong. I never said anything definitive about all cannabis users being slacker bums. I said (if you take the time to re read my post) that if I was a slacker bum weed smoker I wouldn’t have pursued my education. There’s a big difference there. Clearly you are triggered by your own insecurities about people labeling you and others but that’s not actually what I did. So I am offended that you falsely accusued me of something I did not do here. Clearly you do not know squat about the science of addiction or you would not be saying my problems with pot were due to my personality. The addictive personality argument has been proven as a myth. The brain undergoes marked changes when you use cannabis and cannabis abuse can and does lead to dependence in some users. It’s textbook data really. But you are just so hung up on being right in your own view you are not willing to look at the data. You are hypersensitive about being persecuted as an “addict” that you are willing to attack me without sound basis. You owe me an apology Sir. Some cannabis users are addicts, and that’s something you need to come to terms with if you are going to be helping the greatest number of people on your quest for pot liberation. Cannabis is addictive for some people because they get conditioned to receiving pleasure from it and don’t want to go without it. Plain and simple really. Please have some courtesy and respect for my experience and clinical knowledge of drug addiction instead of spouting off in anger and indignation.

Stop back peddling, he did not misread anything your just doing the Internet troll dance now that someone’s confronted your ignorant and incredibly condescending statements. You say your opinion is born out of personal experience and research, well ours too. You may be surprised by this but stoners can read and I’ve done extensive research on this subject using unbiased peer reviewed sources, and what I’ve found is that it’s muddled. There’s little research being done so I tend to take your researched opinion with a grain of salt. I also happen to be one of the people smoking marijuana while working toward my PhD, as the author said we exist. This also gives me access to gigantic databases of peer reviewed scientific journals, I could send you some articles if you’d like.

Old Hippie-

PS You have always struck me a a guy who is up on information and the issues. That you want to know and share the truth so as to liberate your cause to legalize marijuana. However, you have confirmation bias as I have observed. Anything that is different from your point of view you simply dismiss and ignore. That’s bad logic. The anxiety, panic attacks, paranoia and psychosis that some cannabis users unfortunately experience comes from physiological changes in their brains from using cannabis. It is obvious that you want to paint pot as being all good, all helpful and wonderful but you ignore the ugly truth of addiction and attempt to sweep it under the rug hoping nobody will notice and expect that other users will heartfully agree with your point of view. -And why wouldn’t they? They are biased just like you. You can put your head in the sand and pretend all you want as you advocate for pot use, but that doesn’t change the facts or reality now does it? You of course are free to believe and say whatever you choose. But denying the science will eventually bite you in the ass in the long run. Smoke away and forget everything I said… if that’s an acceptable solution to you.

You keep bringing up addiction, I have to ask, have you ever been addicted to anything else, like cigarettes? I have, it does not even compare. When your withdrawing from nicotine, in a strange way it hurts, physically not mentally. Pot is about as addictive as cheeseburgers and sex. Habit forming yes, but they don’t cause true withdrawal.

Old Hippie-

again, to reiterate and be clear here…

My statement was only about myself and not implying anything about anyone else. You read more into it than what I said and intended. You had a knee jerk reaction after you misconstrued my comment. I have repeatedly taken into account your position and acknowledged that some cannabis users can use recreationally without problems and I support medical marijuana for legitimate medical patients. So, I feel like you are trying to pick a fight over your own misperception. Conversely you have repeatedly passed over many of my posts and not responded when I asked you specific questions or made debating points. For instance, I pointed out that you and others are touting pot as a panacea -a cure all for countless ailments A to Z. This is not borne out by evidence and research. Marijuana can help a small handfull of conditions. But you failed to respond to that and many of my other comments. I strive to find someone intelligent and informed to converse with on this forum. I thought I found that in you. But you are closed minded at times and do not follow the truth, data and research where it actually leads. You seem to live in a bubble surrounded by the fantastic delusion that pot will save the world and can help everyone despite the risks and problems with it. Have we reached an impasse where we cannot even converse with each other now?

Sanyars, I am having a hard time understanding what point you are trying to make with your series of posts. It appears as if you have serious resentment when it comes to weed, as you are having the “knee jerk” reaction to a post.

“Additionally, I have a clear conscience knowing that I am NOT giving money to the illegal drug trade where it travels up the economic food chain to cartels and the mob feeding other destructive criminal enterprises like the manufacturing and distribution of dangerous and deadly drugs like crack, heroin and methamphetamine (to name a few), as well as murder, and the kidnapping and human trafficking of sex slaves into prostitution and other illegal rackets”.

You can’t honestly think most young people today believe any of the Nancy Reagan War on Drugs rhetoric that you described. You made a clear decision to stop smoking when you were a teen because you didn’t want to smoke, and everything that happened after that has NOTHING to do with weed. Some of your comments are more like lectures, but I can’t tell if you want to help people or push your opinions on weed and life on others. If you are truly happy with your decisions about addiction then you should be satisfied with the life you are living. Furthermore, if you have not smoked in 20 years, a lot has changed since then.

Dear Mind the Carb-

I actually don’t have any resentment toward weed. I just have trouble with those who advocate for a position in this discussion and debate and who lie by omission deliberately leaving out facts that go against their well formed slanted opinions. Don’t misunderstand me. I know that the folks who post pro pot truly believe how great it is in all ways. But that is not true for everyone. Some people have a problem with weed and no amount of pretending otherwise will change that. I just want to have a whole discussion that includes all the facts even if they are not convenient to pot smokers who enjoy toking and don’t have a problem with it. I am happy with my decision and I am not interested in converting anyone. In fact I respect that others have different opinions. But at least be totally honest that’s all I ask. You state that a lot has changed in the last twenty years as if I am missing out on something profound in the arena of pot culture. If so, what is it? What has changed? Please tell, I really do want to know…

PS Drug cartels make a ton of money through the distribution and sale of Marijuana. Mexican cartels are a prime example of this. That drug money (and that from the other many drugs they manufacture and sell) goes to fuel their other enterprises. That’s actualy easy to figure and is not rhetoric. Have you actually investigated this for yourself or do you just live on a pink cloud?

To old hippie and this forum-

so now I clearly see how this forum works. Any evidence that supports points that you disagree with you simply delete. So much for having a real and fair discussion or debate on the facts. You simply get rid of the facts that refute your slanted biased position. Great. You have lost any respect that I might have had toward your cause. You lie by omission plain and simple. You cannot stand to be wrong and own the whole truth when it comes to the facts of addiction to cannabis and the many problems it causes countless people. Old hippie you are a coward and I now believe you are an addict. My words have served to threaten your position because I shed light on your pot problem. You are spineless and not committed to the truth. You have lost any favor I might have given your approach to these issues because you cannot and will not be fair in this conversation.

First of all sanyars as far as I can see nothing you have said has been deleted, and as for marijuana being addictive that is a flat out lie. I have smoked for over 30 years total smoking every day an ounce to an ounce and a half a week, during those years I have quit cold turkey for months sometimes years at a time before starting up smoking again without any withdrawals like you would get from drugs. Yeah most street dealers who sell weed sell other drugs but most marijuana being sold in the USA is grown here not from Mexico or Columbia or other countries( they prefer selling heroin, cocaine, crack etc more money to be made) .Old hippie gives accurate and informed information based on honest facts. Maybe if you’re so against marijuana you should stop posting on a site that is pro marijuana since your going to reject anything said here. Maybe you can be Obama’s poster boy…Otherwise quit shooting down the people who use this site to stay informed on the honest and correct facts on medical marijuana!! p.s. sorry for poor and bad written post lack of sleep and meds lol but I had to say something!!

I agree with you on so many things and I really liked this blog entry. I’ve been a cannabis enthusiast for years and proudly grow my own, and I have to say keep up the good work! However I’m also a psychology grad student and I have to point out that comparing anti depressants to insulin is misleading, especially considering that so called “chemical imbalances” have never been proven to exist, they’re really more of a pharmaceutical marketing tool than anything else. In my work now I work directly with people withdrawing from both antidepressants and antipsychotics (which aren’t just for schizophrenics anymore, they’re often prescribed with antidepressants), and it’s often not pretty. Cannabis is definitely a lot safer.

Well, “chemical imbalances” may not be totally accurate, but I don’t think it’s a misleading term and it makes it easier for people to understand. It takes a lot of work to wade through phrases like “CB1 receptor agonists” and the like, and even though it’s convenient shorthand for people in that field, it’s total gobblydegook to anyone else. But that’s why people like me — who can understand both worlds — are necessary!

I was diagnosed with severe depression, ptsd and had suicidal tendencies.. I smoked daily for over 10 years and recently quit 2 months ago and now I take prescribed medidations. I failed a drug test for a job a month ago and have another one coming up in 4 days which would be right over the 60 days since stopping. I’m petrified I won’t pass again. What can I do to ensure passing I really need to get back to work. I am 47, 5’5 175 lbs.

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