I was called up to the register and ordered Vanilla Kush (THC: 22.66%, CBD: 0.03%—$11.20/gram) and Trap Star (THC: 25.61%, CBD: 0.06%—$11.20/gram). I received my medicine and paid while the other patient stood staring at the exotic strain names and scratching her chin.
It's easy to talk about how cannabis treats this thing or encourages that other one. Things get uncomfortable when you start talking about how it might change your personality. For whatever reason, the idea of altering our personalities (even for the better) is terrifying—probably all that “be you” propaganda out there rotting the minds of our youths.
We hold onto that ego like it's the only thing in the world. It's tricking us—telling us that whatever we are now is what we've always been—what we always will be. This is plainly false. We change every day, with every experience, but we keep listening to that lying bastard anyway and saying things like: “Well that's just how I am.”
What if all of those tastes, opinions and loyalties were peeled back like onion layers? Would the kernel at the center tell you it prefers Velcro to laces—that it hates reggae? Most likely, the quivering jelly will just cry and beg for comfort in prelinguistic croaks. We probably wouldn't even recognize it.
According to a study that was published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition last year, cannabis users were found to rate higher in the “openness to experience” category of the five factor model, used by psychologists to explain the relationship between personality and behavior.
Openness denotes the aspect of your personality that's curious, wants novelty and looks for new ideas. Many cannabis enthusiasts began jumping up and down and shouting about how the drug can make you more creative.
That might not be the case, since this study and others like it haven't compared subjects' openness ratings before and after they used cannabis for the first time. Using cannabis might not affect your personality traits at all. It might just appeal to a certain personality type.
I'd have to guess the case involves a little of both. It's purely anecdotal evidence, but I've seen plenty of people change after years of cannabis use, displaying more and more of the qualities listed under openness as they grow older. This is odd, considering the trait is generally lower in older subjects.
But before you start proselytizing on the street corner (I do, I do), consider a 2011 study in the journal of Psychiatric Research that found that while the openness rating was indeed generally higher in cannabis users, most of the other ratings were lower—sometimes significantly so. Under the category of “conscientiousness,” for example, cannabis users scored around nine points lower than the control group (compare that to the seven point difference found in the openness category). Conscientiousness measures organization and discipline, traits classically associated with the archetypal stoner.
The only other category where cannabis users rated higher than the control group was in “neuroticism,” which measures emotional instability. It was only by a point, but … well …
The five factor model does have its problems. Trying to narrow the entirety of human experience down to five categories seems presumptuous, and the model only covers personality traits that are projected outward, neglecting the more private and deeper aspects of a person. There might actually be many more personality factors than five, and if each of those can be further split and subcategorized into infinity, then you can just forget about it.
As I hit the Vanilla Kush I asked myself, Do you feel more open? R. Greenleaf consistently has quality flower, and this was no exception. The bouncy and dense bud tasted of diesel, and the effects were immediately felt. My joints became wiggly and I felt very relaxed. My eyes were feeling extremely heavy only halfway through the bowl, so I can imagine it's a good strain for anyone suffering from insomnia due to pain or tension.
After a brief nap tucked into the corner of the couch like a turtle, I groggily splashed water on my face and packed a bowl of Trap Star. This was also an indica-dominant strain, but it was much less debilitating. It tasted very sour and somewhat fruity and smelled sweet and powdery. While it was relaxing and definitely slowed me down, it didn't have the heady, sleepy effects of the Vanilla Kush (thank goodness).
I couldn't tell you if I felt more open. Is it easy to detect—like a distracting itch or a cold draft?
To illustrate, an allegory: My father refused to eat guacamole for over 20 years because it was green. Can you imagine? I wonder what the betrayal felt like when he finally tried some.