‘Cannabis shaped my entire life, from daily routine to career path’

Eaze Team
Feb 7, 2019

Editor’s Note: Eaze is celebrating Black History Month by supporting causes aimed at restoring equality to the industry and criminal justice system; with our first Black History & Cannabis event; and by highlighting the voices and experiences of African-American leaders in the cannabis space. Today, we hear from Terry Brown, Eaze’s Partner Support Coordinator.

I remember loving the smell from day one.

My momma hated it and would scrunch her nose up saying “Eww, didn’t know they had skunks in here” any time the aroma snuck up and put her nostrils in a chokehold (her sense of smell is impeccable; she can tell you what kind of perfume/cologne you have on two minutes before you walk in the room). She never smoked because her mom, my grandmother, was a serious cigarette smoker. Mom always lumped smoking of any type in the same bucket: disgusting.

For me, on the other hand, it didn’t really smell skunkish. Sure there were similar notes, but no, this was something different, and you better believe that I could tell the difference. Those were my first thoughts about this incredible plant that has since shaped my entire life, from my daily morning routine to the career path that I’ve chosen. Who would’ve thought?

I was born in Houston, Texas, but my family moved to California when I was young. So I grew up in Baldwin Hills, a predominantly Black American neighborhood in the heart of Los Angeles, which, if you know L.A., is right between Culver City and the tip of “the Jungle.” Both my parents were relatively conservative when it came to alcohol or drugs and held conventional opinions regarding both. Alcohol was certainly OK (in moderation of course), but anything that was determined to “get you high” was severely condemned.

I was a standout in the D.A.R.E. program and even gave a speech in the 3rd or 4th grade on its impact and “why I would never smoke.” Laughable! I love my parents immensely and consult them regularly for all kinds of life advice, but the interesting thing about it all was that despite them being openly critical of a lifestyle fueled by weed, I became more intrigued by it.

Terry Brown, center, with his father, left, and uncle, right, circa 1995 [photo courtesy of Terry Brown]
I smelled it EVERYWHERE; in the park behind my church, seeping through the window of one of my middle school’s restrooms, in my older cousin’s car – there was even a hint of it on one of my teacher’s coats. So if this stuff was so bad, then why did so many people that I knew, loved and respected seem to have their hands on it? This was a lingering thought in the back of my mind that never left, although school, sports and life in general was beginning to require more of my attention.

By the time I got to high school, I was obviously aware that some (really most) of my peers were regular smokers and while I was curious, my curiosity was curbed by my ambition to become a better athlete and truly be successful at that … until it wasn’t. I was definitely driven from within to excel at basketball, but my exterior was at parties on the weekends and hanging out with friends that would have certainly triggered my momma’s detective of a nose.

So I stood in the circle with those friends at a party in View Park one night, and when my turn came in the rotation, I took a puff (would’ve usually turned it down). I passed it to my left, not my right, like I had heard Snoop say on “Pass it Pass it” and laughed to myself on the inside. I didn’t tell anyone there that I had just smoked for the first time, because I didn’t want to seem lame, but I felt like I had just experienced a rite of passage of sorts.

I instantly felt connected to it and connected to the people I was with, just for being there in that moment. I was probably thinking so much that I forgot to inhale, honestly, but when my turn came around again, I took two puffs and focused on trying to savor and experience whatever I was supposed to be feeling.

I don’t remember really being or feeling “high” in the traditional sense (maybe just slightly goofier than normal), but I do recall being on a high from the awe of finally having my OWN moment with cannabis and the agency to decide for myself how I felt about it. There were so many mixed reviews that had skewed my perception of it, it was an accomplishment in and of itself to even humor the possibility of trying it again.

My pastor said that God didn’t want me to smoke it, the government said I’d go to jail if they caught me with it (and would be happy to put me there), my momma said she’d kick me out if she found out I was using it and my school said I’d be expelled. My doctor assumed I was already a semi-regular smoker because “that’s what kids your age do,” and my dentist said that smoking could make my teeth rot.

I had some friends that smoked every day and some that haven’t smoked to this day. Cannabis was just this polarizing centerpiece that some people deemed hideous, while others wanted to take it home. As I’ve grown and obviously developed a very strong affinity and appreciation for cannabis, I’ve come to realize that it is, in every sense of the phrase, a “personal journey” that can’t be defined by society or its conventions.

I’ve seen it serve as a cornerstone of the Black creative’s lifestyle as well as the Black professional and I’m honored to work in a space where I have the opportunity to destigmatize it and our community at large on a daily basis.

The journey is yours and yours alone so own it and enjoy the moment!

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