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    Posted December 27, 2013 by
    Salt Lake City, Utah
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Does marijuana help you?

    Success is Fleeting through a Haze

    I absolutely hate the image that you'll see in your mind when I say this, but here it is: I'm a pothead. That being said, ignoring that I like the movies, I am the antithesis of the Cheech and Chong pothead. I've always done really well in my academics. I've always done really well at work and in my research. I've always been really active in my community. Considering I've been paying my own way through school for the better part of a decade, I think its safe to say that I'm NOT lazy or ill-motivated. And other than smoking pot, I'm involved in literally no illegal activities, nor do I use any other drugs. I don't even look at my phone while I drive or use aspirin.

    Even though I stand literally opposite of the stereotypes, I still somehow suffer from them in my family life, my social life, and definitely in my work life. If there is any point to my ramblings, its that marijuana has not hindered my success, but I've struggled in my personal and professional life with the affects its had on who I am and the people in my life.

    I don't fall into many classifications that see much negative stereotyping. I'm a white male in my late twenties that works as a Mechanical Engineer in a sought after industry. I'm still attending school to get a Ph.D. in the same field. I earned a BS in ME with an emphasis in thermal-fluid systems and a minor in math and physics while working full-time. I've been partner to two successful start-ups and one not so successful, and I have a patent currently in review.

    I'm also involved in an outreach program designed to help kids in high school find their way to college.Specifically my job there is to try to get more women in engineering. I'm also involved in a program that tries to engage all kids in engineering through supervised robotics projects.

    I'm also happilly married and don't have any kids.

    Back to that whole pothead thing though. I started smoking at about 13 and it became pretty regular when I got into high school. When I graduated high school, I continued to use it, but mostly as a sleep-aid before bed.

    I've been growing my own ever since I bought a house right before I started college. I've been in too many close calls while buying from dealers and I feel like I have too much going for me to risk it anymore. By growing my own, nothing ever has to leave my property and I don't have to interact with drug dealers. It keeps me out of trouble, but I do smoke more recreationally now as a result.

    Despite me being a well-behaved kid even when I smoked weed, my parents have pretty much given up on me to focus on my sister. They forced me to get a job leave the high school band at 16 because they insisted I was just getting high and playing music (maybe a little true, but I played four instruments in four different school bands and was on a fast-track to a full scholarship). they forced me to move out almost right after I graduated at 17 because they insisted I was just using their house as a place to do drugs between work and classes at the community college (I was really using it as a place to do homework and by then I wasn't even smoking recreationally). They've got the rest of my family in the mindset that I'm a screw-up just trying to redeem myself even though most of my problems were caused by THEM kicking me to the curb after high school. None of these things would really bother me if they hadn't done the exact opposite for my sister.

    I should mention both my parents smoked marijuana when they were younger and didn't stop altogether until after my sister was born when I was about six.

    When I was struggling to pay my rent and they bought her a car and sent her off to a $25k/yr private college, I couldn't handle it anymore. I moved 1500 miles away and don't really talk to them much anymore. It was after moving that I bought a house and started putting myself through school.

    In recent years, I've tried to talk to my parents about why they alienated me so much because of my marijuana use and they talked about me as if I was a meth-addict that might rob their house even despite my accomplishments and lack of a criminal record.

    In my opinion though, marijuana didn't ruin my family relationship. My parents' completely over-the-top, uneducated, and naive response did that. Simply telling me to stop would have been much better than the passive-aggressive approach they took.

    The social impact that marijuana has is an interesting one. Smoking weed is inherently a social activity and you make a lot of friends that way. Unfortunately, A LOT of those friendships are based pretty much on the fact that you smoke. I personally didn't really notice it when I was young because I was having fun. We were laughing and hanging out and that was exactly what we set out to do.

    As I've gotten older, most of those friends just haven't been there for me. If neither of has weed, we don't hang out. If we do anything, there's almost an unspoken obligation to get high. Very few of my friends from those smoking circles are still good friends today. I miss a lot of them, but when it came down to it, I was just an acquaintance to them just as they were to me.

    The part of my life I struggle with the most is definitely my work life. Drug use is considered completely unacceptable in my line of business. I don't even want to mention the industry I work in because of fear of throwing red flags so the thought of being truthful with any of my co-workers is laughable.

    I come into work playing a character. I play someone a lot like myself, but I'm someone that never smoked weed. Anyone that has ever smoked for a long period of time knows that your life and experiences are shaped quite a bit by things that involved marijuana. Eliminating that from your history without essentially neutering the person that you are.

    this acting is most difficult when co-workers are talking about stupid things they did in high school. Its perfectly acceptable to have a funny story about you and a friend getting drunk at a campfire, then play fighting and falling in the fire. But hey, my story about getting high at a campfire, then play fighting and falling in the fire is off limits. This means I can't tell stories about a lot of my experiences without tediously editing them as I go which likely has the effect of making it seem like I'm lying.

    This has more than one time led to my superiors telling me that they wished I would open up a little more. I've been told by co-workers that have worked with me for years that they feel like they don't even know me at all.

    Other than the impact that weed has had on my social life, the things that I struggle with as a result of my pot use all arise out of people's willful ignorance towards the drug. Its difficult looking back at my detachment from my family and knowing that the same misunderstandings are causing less significant, but apparent detachment in my work life. Its because I can't control other peoples' understanding of weed that I probably won't smoke my entire life, or even that much longer at all. But when it comes to the question, "Would I buy retail pot?" the answer is yes. And I would continue to be the successful person I am with the slightly less frowned upon lifestyle that I already have, at least for now.

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