The last time

MINE IS THE FAMILIAR tale of someone who smoked pot pretty regularly during their late teens and early 20s. Over time, my interest in the stuff declined, and for the last several years I'd smoked only occasionally, until earlier this year when I decided that I'd taken my final toke. The decision didn't come on the heels of a bad high, an arrest, or a religious awakening. Instead, my reservations about smoking pot—some admittedly superficial, some more substantive—simply outweighed the pleasures to a great enough extent that it was time for me to quit.

Pot just isn't my style. Like the clothes you wear or the car you drive or the music you listen to, the drugs you take reflect a lot about your personality. While being a pot smoker doesn't mean you are required to wear sandals, drive a VW bus, or "jam out" to the Dead, it's definitely got its own aesthetic—just look around at the Hempfest crowd. Appalling breaches in fashion such as Caucasians with dreadlocks and that silly dance most of the audience at a Phish show do can only be attributed to marijuana use. I never smoked pot to be part of a larger lifestyle—I smoked it because it was easy to get and scrambled my head for a couple hours. The possibility that prolonged use would slowly warm me to the accoutrements of pot culture, though, always stuck in the back of my mind.

Perhaps because it is a plant, pot enthusiasts like to act as if it's a necessary nutrient. Though it's probably no worse (or even better) for you than drinking, it's not exactly a health-promoting hobby either. It's murder on your lungs, and you'll never convince me that regular use doesn't make you dumber. The spiel about it stimulating creativity is nice, but for every good idea unleashed by pot, thousands of horrible ones are born. Fortunately, the lethargy that goes along with getting high prevents the large majority of them from being unleashed upon the world.

I'd be lying if I didn't say that the process of getting older (I'll be 30 next month) and the increased sense of mortality that accompanies it wasn't a big part of my decision. After years of treating myself to a variety of vices in moderation, I wasn't very pleased with the results: considerable weight gain, decreased coordination, and, worse yet, the suspicion that I maybe wasn't as smart as I used to be. Pot may not have played a significant role in the decline, but it wasn't doing me any favors. The daily exercise, healthy foods, and ambitious reading list that have replaced some of my former habits may be "square," but after only six months under the new regime I feel better than I have in ages. There will always be a special place in my heart for the giant rotating salad bar that so entertained me during my first high, the hazy afternoons with the blinds drawn listening to Galaxie 500 and Jesus and Mary Chain records, and the giddy Thanksgiving blurred by an especially potent batch of brownies, but I'm sure I won't be missing anything.

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