I’ll never forget the first time I tried smoking marijuana.
It was the summer before my sophomore year of high school.
I had a pretty unorganized date with a local stoner boy, and my two best friends thought it would be smart for me to smoke weed before the date.
As class president and track captain, I pretty much looked at my friends like they were throwing their lives away when they started smoking weed.
But there we were, in a grass field across the street from the local library, cupping our hands to light a poorly-made makeshift bowl.
My virgin lungs were in for a trip.
As an alcohol enthusiast, I didn't have a single clue about how marijuana would affect my personality.
I felt light-headed and paranoid.
All I really remember from that night is accidentally running into the guy I had a date with.
He was hanging out with a crowd of other people, and I don’t think he planned on meeting up that night.
I still haven’t spoken to him to this very day.
But the marijuana-related memory that sticks in my mind is one from my junior year of high school.
On our way back from a two-day track invitational at Brown University, my friends and I decided to celebrate my win the routine way: over a few joints with some guys.
As we smoked weed in the back of the car, we suddenly noticed flashing lights through the clouds of smoke.
The whole thing was quite the ordeal.
It turns out that someone walking his or her dog smelled the smoke and called the local park police on us.
We assumed they’d steal our stash, and we'd be forced to watch them smoke it.
We were wrong.
Shortly after, a white car marked "Suffolk County Police Department" rolled into the parking lot.
We were screwed.
That cop had to call two female officers to the scene to search me and my two girlfriends, and we were all given tickets to show up in court six months later.
We were 16.
On our hearing date, my two friends were 17. But I was still 16.
We were asked to come back the next day with our parents, even though we had tried to hide this incident from them.
We returned the next day with our parents. They shamed us over breakfast at the local diner, where our peers were being celebrated for academic excellence while we ate our post-court meals.
We ended up getting our records clear a year after.
Although smoking weed as a teen led me into some mischief, I’m glad I smoked marijuana in my youth.
It opened my mind, and it led to some pretty entertaining experiences.
I used to be so closed-minded toward marijuana. Yet, I rarely ever acknowledged how horrible alcohol is for us, even though it's completely legal.
I refused to see the health benefits of marijuana while growing up.
Being able to experiment with marijuana in my youth also gave me less of a need to try harsher drugs growing up, especially during the rise and fall of EDM.
While people were in a race to name all the harsh drugs they had tried, I was already looking forward to a weekend with friends that wasn't focused around how next-level inebriated we'd be getting.
These days, I’m prescribed medical marijuana to treat my anxiety.
I rarely drink, and I'm the healthiest I've been in six years.
In the weirdest way ever, smoking weed when I was younger kept me grounded in the future.