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Brian Finch

Brian Finch

Brian Finch, founder and publisher of Positive Lite. I've had a blog since 2005 when I decided one day that I just wanted to write. Since then I've grown to writing for a local Toronto magazine, Fab, and contribute to MyGayToronto.com.

I first went public in the 1980s, and with the exception of a few years of taking a break, have not really stopped. Life is an evolution, and for the last six years I've brought everyone along for the ride, the good, the bad & the ugly.

Today I share stories of my lastest recarnation of life of a publisher, traveler, recovery, a new relationship, my three-pound Chihuahua Hildy, converting to Judaism and where ever else my journey takes me.

Feb04

My Struggles With Medical Marijuana

Monday, 04 February 2013 Written by // Brian Finch - Founder Categories // Living with HIV, Brian Finch

Brian Finch on quitting pot. "I knew I had to stop. This time it took me two months to finally put it down. I am now a week and a half into it.:

My Struggles With Medical Marijuana

There was a time when I had my authorization to possess marijuana card from the government. It made for great I.D. However, I let it lapse.

Since my teens I’ve been off again and on again with marijuana. It has been wonderful for my increasing my appetite, especially when I’m sick with fevers etc.

The problem is that I’m kind of an all or nothing kind of guy. What starts as a few tokes a day can easily escalate into lighting up at dinnertime, and every hour. I am not a social person when I smoke pot. I become very reclusive. I watch TV, don’t answer my phone and end up spending a lot of money.

The difference between when I’m smoking and when I’m not is like night and day. Smoking equals isolation, while not smoking equals being active and social.

Cognitive issues have been a problem for me as well. Ever since I went into a translation program at Glendon College (French to English) I began to notice a cognitive deficit. My ability to edit my writing was hopeless. On one assignment I neede to go over the paper 50 times, each time finding a new mistake. My memory was shot. One of my professors would joke about me leaving stuff behind all the time.

That was over ten years ago.

I had been smoking daily for about five or six years when I decided to quit all the drugs I had been in to. At my worst, I was doing GHB, Crystal Meth and all sorts of stuff. I took a couple years to get rid of the most dangerous of drugs.

When in Europe, I had been staying with a friend in Brussels who managed a night club. I had all the alcohol I wanted and frequent dinners out with bottles and bottles of wine. I had run out of pot and we drove to Amsterdam to pick up some more. Plus I was missing my meds at a time when I was running out of options.

Combining all of this, I said to myself “I have to take a break from drinking.” I came home for four weeks and went back to Europe again. During that break I stopped drinking. I even made it through Pride without one drink. “Hey I’m doing great, let’s stop the pot.”

Boy, I was in for a rude surprise. After quitting,i t took me forever to get to the point where I could stop. I’d try, and then wind up smoking a joint anyway. I knew that I would be in for some sleep disturbances. What I didn’t know was that I’d maybe get two hours of sleep a night. If I was lucky I could get back to sleep for another two. This went on for a very long time.

When I was fortunate enough to get to sleep I woke up completely drenched, including my pillows and sheets. I had to change my bedding in the wee hours of the morning.  I had the craziest of bizarre and incredibly intense dreams. After waking up I could not shake off the feeling of terror, sadness or whatever the emotional state of the dream was.

I was getting worried. Since I had never heard of such detox problems, I thought I was getting sick. I went online and found that this was indeed a common experience. Yet none of my friends experienced this. One friend, a daily smoker, could leave it to go travel and not have one problem. Me, not, so much.

Arriving back in Amsterdam, I had no sleep in the prior 36 hours. I was a mess. My friend took me to a boathouse were I could try to sleep while waiting for my hotel check-in time.

During my sleep I woke up in a state of semi-conscousness in a complete state of panic, breathing extremely quickly. When I finally woke up, I was crying uncontrollably as I looked at the Amsterdam houses lining the canals.

During that seven week stay in Brussels, my final destination, I did not smoke any pot or drink.

Fast forward to a year ago. When I found out I was booked to do stand-up for the very first time as a fundraising activity for the Stephen Lewis Foundation I went directly to a friend’s place and had a toke.

I was in a state of panic. I thought I could regulate it by only having a toke when at his place. I just started going there all the time. Finally after a falling out with him, I went back to my old compassion clinic and got my own.

The amount I was smoking was increasing and increasing. My socializing and getting out was getting extremely limited. I was getting a lot of colds to, and I’m sure having burned-out lungs didn’t help.

I couldn’t get anything done. My motivation was gone. I knew that smoking pot, for legitimate reasons or not, had become a barrier to moving forward in life. I have all these things I want to do, and I wasn’t doing anything.

Additionally my memory was becoming worse. My cognitive issues were worsening. My Facebook wall looked like a Scrabble board threw up on it.  Sentences often had words missing and typos were commonplace. My ability to spell had gotten to the point where I feel I have a learning disability.

Writing, and even processing abstract concepts as well as organizing myself had become an extreme challenge.

I knew I had to stop. This time it took me two months to finally put it down.  I am now a week and a half into it. I’ve been out more than I have been in a long time.

One comic said to me, “Hey good to see you, you’re out!” and I replied, “That’s because I quit smoking pot.”

Ironically the only time I get booed on stage doing comedy is when I say I stopped smoking pot by other comics.

I’m not trying to say smoking pot is evil or you shouldn’t do it. We are all very different. I don’t know why but I am really affected by it. Last week I couldn’t couldn’t get to sleep until 3 or 4 am.

I am going to Israel for the month of March. I knew I was heading to my “pot cliff” and it was better to sort this now before I go.

My recommendation for smokers is to take breaks. Take a month off here and there. Do a detox. Find out how sensitive you are to withdrawal. 

Since I've had people refuse to believe me that I had this experience, I thought I'd share it with the community.  

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