My name is AJ and I’d like to share my relationship with cannabis. But first, a little about how I got to this moment.
I served eight years in the Utah Army National Guard and two in the Arizona Air National Guard. I spent twelve months in Ramadi Iraq and served in multiple capacities including patrolling major highways to either find or prevent IEDs from being placed along the major route. I never had any trouble mentally while serving or coming home. I didn’t see or do anything that I couldn’t handle and so I thought I was going to be fine.
Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. Combat has an impact on everyone regardless of the job description. Some more than others sure, but the very fact that every day is spent not getting killed, being trapped behind barbed wire and barriers, or having a routine that is like groundhogs day for that long causes a shift. Most importantly, in my opinion, you create a bond with the people you serve with that CANNOT be duplicated in the outside world (or at least so I thought … more about this later). That’s not a bad thing when you’re in, but when you get out it can be very lonely.
I believe that we as human beings belong in tribes or communities where we can work together and serve each other and our lives are better for it. I believe that most civilians have no idea what this means or feels like so they don’t know what they are missing. I also believe that when a person discovers that feeling of belonging and service to their brothers or sisters standing next to them it can never be reversed. The hormones – serotonin, dopamine, and adrenaline are a powerful combination. Not many places offer those simultaneously, and when they are taken away, it leaves an emptiness.
I found through joining a CrossFit gym that I could walk into a class with my fellow members and when the workout got really tough, the dopamine and adrenaline would start flowing. The only missing ingredient was serotonin, and that was delivered in the form of someone in class encouraging me to finish or keep pushing – just like when I was in the military.
When I consume Cannabis the stresses of being an entrepreneur melts away and I can be fully engaged with my kids and be silly with them. This allows me to create strong bonds which will help my children grow to be contributing adults. This lack of connection with parents and children is why I believe we see so much violence and entitlement with our youth.
I believe that most veterans can handle the experience of war, I think where we struggle is having a purpose or a mission to accomplish and a team to go to battle with. Exercise in group environments fulfilled that for me and I see it helping other friends who have the same background. Most of them would tell you that training with people is the one thing that made a difference.
I was raised in a small town in southern Utah. Cannabis was always discussed as being no different than heroin, meth, or prescription painkillers. If you consumed marijuana, you where a deadbeat loser, a pothead, and you would never accomplish anything. I was a rebellious teenager (very tame by most people’s standards) and would smoke when I could, maybe three to four times total before joining the military and then only stopped because I wanted to serve honorably and those were the rules. Yet after returning from war, I found cannabis had a different place in my life that went against what I had always been taught.
I am an entrepreneur with three daughters. I also have ADD and dyslexia which makes it hard for me to focus on anything unless I have a task that excites me like my businesses. Sometimes the problem with ADD is that I get so focused on one task that I fail to manage my time or see other things around me that need my attention. I am very passionate about my businesses so they take up a big part of my focus.
I am very committed to my children and I even homeschool my oldest. I want my girls to know how much I love them and care about what they care about. Cannabis helps me to calm my mind down so that I can be present and playful with them. When I consume Cannabis the stresses of being an entrepreneur melts away and I can be fully engaged with my kids and be silly with them. This allows me to create strong bonds which will help my children grow to be contributing adults. This lack of connection with parents and children is why I believe we see so much violence and entitlement with our youth.
As a business owner in the fitness space I spend a lot of time studying the health implications of using cannabis as well as testing it on myself. I train very hard and I have not seen any negative effects of cannabis on my health or performance in the gym. Quite the opposite in fact. When I train on cannabis I am able to push harder and longer. I don’t do this all the time and I don’t recommend this for everyone (as this isn’t my purpose for consuming it) . I have been doing the same type of training for ten years now, so I know when to push and when to pull back. There are also some really great topical lotions that can do wonders for a recovering body or a targeted muscle group.
In the end, I choose to share my story and my relationship with cannabis in an effort to help others who can relate to my background. Cannabis can be helpful for those who use it intentionally and responsibly.