One youth’s honest explanation of his relationship with where he is from.
I was raised in East Hollywood in a low-income Hispanic neighborhood.
I was involved in the neighborhood gang and craved attention that I didn’t receive from a loving mother or father.
So I raised myself and taught myself what I thought was right and what was wrong.
I taught myself that stealing was bad.
I taught myself that helping people in need of help is good, whether it’s a blind person crossing the street or a senior citizen needing help with their marketing.
I lived in a world of violence and evil intentions.
For most of my life I lived without a father because he was too busy raising his other family.
My mom worked from dusk to dawn.
She was a manager at a Jack in the Box fast food restaurant in downtown L.A. She had no car but managed the nightshift without missing a day. She worked there for 12 years.
During the rare times she had a day off, she yelled at my sister for being rebellious and smoking cannabis.
As bad as my sister was, she was the only person I felt safe going to when I felt blue.
Probably explains why I’m rebellious and dependent on cannabis.
Whenever I felt alone and in my parents’ absence I went to my sister and her smoking buddies. I turned to the euphoria of cannabis and alcohol when all I needed was a hug.
This was most of the time since my mom was too busy working and my dad was who knows where.
Every time my mom got mad and threw everything off the shelves, I turned to the euphoria of cannabis.
Every time I felt hurt, worried, stressed, scared or bored, I turned to cannabis.
Cannabis was easy to get hold of.
I was a kid, not yet a teenager, and I was blowing more smoke than the older cats in the neighborhood. Only to recap the previous high that had picked me up when I felt down.
I always felt better when I turned to cannabis.
I felt as if I had become my own therapist. Asking myself all these questions, like “Why do I gang bang, why do I smoke, why are my grades FUU?” I would tell myself “Next semester I won’t smoke as much. Next semester I’ll pass all my classes.”
That never happened.
So I was convinced that getting high put me in a frame of mind that allowed me to cope with life, in and out of the ‘hood.
Cannabis became my mother and father and taught me lessons along the way. Like who actually cares about you and not just your weed. The people who actually call you when you have no weed, those are the people who will dig you up out of the grave to ask, “How you doing, bro?”
Six years after I first lit up, I’m still using cannabis more than three times daily to relieve my stress.
I can’t go a day without lighting up.
At least not without making a wrong decision out of frustration. My fuse is 9/10ths shorter when I’m not high.
Yes, to you I might be an addict, but I consider myself dependent on cannabis. Everyone is dependent on something, whether it’s coffee, TV, music, your car…
I grew to love this plant like someone loves his mother.
Cannabis has shaped my life.
Cannabis helped me grow the courage to talk to the girl who is now my girlfriend, the girl I love.
Cannabis opened my mind and I was able to look farther than the problem or issue at hand. Rather than putting my head down and looking at all the negativity I was in, I looked past it, looked at what is to come. I looked for the smallest possible thing I can do to get me out of the gutter.
I now appreciate the small things in life. Thanks to cannabis.
By Luis Fajardo
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Photo Credit: Kat Secaida