In Once upon a Time in Europe, I make many references to wanting to smoke ganja. My 23-year-old self lusted for the stuff. I was targeting Amsterdam, but found it in Interlaken, Switzerland. Truly, I’d gone halfway across a continent to get high. It was that important to me.

Those days are long gone. I wrote the below preface to make clear that I’m not encouraging anyone to smoke ganja by laughing at my buffoonery in Europe. I explicitly do the opposite. At the same time, someone’s choice to smoke is as much his choice as to drink. Marijuana is not only not a gateway drug, it doesn’t turn all people into loopy retards… though it certainly does for some.

Yet, I did want to leave my lusting for ganja in the story because it was who I was. It is what happened. Taking out references to smoking myself retarded, or drinking too much, would make this book fangled slop without testosterone…


Now, I’m not going to lie. Once upon a time I loved marijuana. It was the thing I coveted most in this world. Its euphoria was heaven.

I first smoked ganja in May of 1995 on top of Rice’s Lovette College – which of course led to Pink Floyd later on. However, it wasn’t my favorite thing. It was just a different buzz, and I preferred alcohol. Plus, the fear of getting drug-tested by the NCAA prevented me from indulging.

All that changed after college. I fell in love with Mary Jane. It felt so liberating. It took me far out of the cityscapes of Houston and Dallas, and caused me to see the physical world around me with new eyes. It made everything cool.

You know what I most loved doing after smoking ganja? Walking. I discovered this joy in Switzerland. Seriously, smoking ganja would cause me to peer outside and walk under the sun almost every time. It made the trees greener, the clouds puffier, the temperature perfect, and all fatigue in my body fade. It was the perfect stimulant. It never made me want to sit around, watch television, and eat to excess (well, a couple times it did). 95% of the time it motivated me to do some physical activity.

My love of this drug led me to become an everyday smoker. However, looking back I have no doubt that marijuana use, like alcohol use, was a remedy for confusion and despair. I don’t want to get into exactly what my circumstances were when I became an everydayer, but they were unfulfilling and even humiliating.

My morale picked up when I moved to Austin, and went months without smoking. However, the habit came back, but with a twist. Paranoia started hitting me hard. Even one little puff too much would be living hell. Whereas I used to enjoy the direction of thought and emotion the drug took my mind, the paranoia began for seeing how hyper-focused and overly concerned on every little thing I became. Racing thoughts didn’t stop. I couldn’t stop them. To see this occurring as the drug took effect made me paranoid that I would lose control of my emotions. I dreaded this.

It eventually came to pass that life in Austin no longer was tenable. I then moved to the Texas Hill Country, and, almost instantly, the desire to smoke went away. Temptation was totally gone. Something profound had changed within me. Though I lightly dabbled with it a handful of times since Austin, the anxiety it conjured those times was excruciating, and I’m talking like two or three puffs from the weakest stuff possible. THC absolutely hates me.

Thus, nowadays, marijuana is gone from my mind. The living hell of anxiety and paranoia it would certainly manifest now causes me to never think about it. Neither does being around it. It doesn’t tempt me at all. I’m grateful for my preference for sobriety. Frankly, I think this is how we’re supposed to be.

What I think was happening was that my life in cities was deeply depressing. Though cities were what I’d known my whole life, I nonetheless came to feel a call to leave them. I felt a calling to be in the country, to be surrounded more by Nature than the concrete, traffic, crowds, noises, and other mechanics which make me feel like a cog in a machine. Everything is artificial in a city. That includes the thoughts of the many people who escape the stress of their machine-like surroundings by turning on the television. The natural world is far from their mind as they live in yet another layer of artificiality. Truly, they become like robots all thinking, doing and saying the exact same things. They’re like Borg. They’re a stressor too.

Now, maybe the above isn’t a perfectly accurate representation of what changed within me. However, escaping city stressors – and they are stressors – is the only thing I can think of to explain why I no longer felt like escaping reality through ganja any more. Something profoundly changed inside me when what was outside me changed. I was no longer alienated from Nature because I was in it all the time. This explanation’s the best I can give.

Part of me feels compelled to say that I regret spending so much time stoned. It certainly was a remedy for pain. It probably would have been better to face the pain and find its root cause quicker. But, you can only learn from the past, not change it.

At the same marijuana helped open my eyes to Nature which my rearing on television – my thousands and thousands of hours watching it as a kid – tried to close. It caused me to slow down my mind enough to see things in the city I hated. It caused me to see things I loved. From this came a love of hiking and exploring. From this came a love of working outside. Joy and health have come from all this, stoned and not stoned.

So long as I can walk, so long as I can see, my appreciation of Nature will bless my life in ways that those addicted to graphics on television, phone and computer screens will never know – and people are more like this in cities. My love of the outdoors is one of my life’s greatest blessings, and I wonder what would have happened had I never stood high atop a mountain in Switzerland.

Maybe a love of the outdoors would have come anyway. Maybe I didn’t need to go through the agony and ecstasy from the drug to realize certain things. Maybe I’m encouraging others to try marijuana for themselves.

I’m not. Sobriety is the way we were created to be. It’s better to suffer through pain to see its root cause, and do something significant to remedy it, and bring healing into your life as opposed to becoming addicted to euphoric substances that mask despair and lonliness.

At the same time, marijuana should be 100% decriminalized. I regard the notion that it’s a gateway drug as being nothing but a filthy lie to justify turning countless millions of Americans into criminals. Countless lives have been hurt and even destroyed by America’s War on Drugs. This War is one of the most heinous things a government has ever done to its own people. It’s a violation of the most basic tenet of liberty and justice, which is that a man has a right to do what he pleases, even to his own body, so long as he is not infringing on the life, liberty or property of another. If he loses his rights for smoking ganja yet violates not the rights of another, this is injustice. This is tyrannical.

Smoking marijuana, like drinking alcohol, is a man’s prerogative. I know plenty of people who smoke everyday who are not loopy retards. Some are highly motivated, creative and capable people. I’d trust them implicitly in many matters.

So there it is. Let’s begin.