In this episode, our guest, Colleen, a retired pharma executive and sober woman in her 50’s, shares how rediscovering cannabis has positively impacted her health and well-being. We discuss the benefits of cannabis for women, debunking stigmas, and empowering others to embrace new beginnings.
Table of Contents
- Release Date: Monday, May 22nd, 2023
- Episode Number: Season 1, Episode 16
- Special Guest: Colleen DeVaul McGee
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Episode 16: California Sober: Thriving With Cannabis in your 50’s with Colleen DeVaul McGee
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Why You Will Love This Episode
Meet our guest, Colleen DeVaul McGee, a highly accomplished professional and a sober woman who found her way to cannabis later in life.
Having spent 33 years in the pharma industry, she rose through the ranks to become an executive before retiring last year.
Despite smoking as a teen and in college, she stopped when she started having kids and working full time.
With almost 20 years of sobriety under her belt, she was hesitant to start smoking again but found that the benefits of marijuana outweighed her doubts.
As someone in her 50s, our guest is passionate about helping debunk the stigma surrounding marijuana and increasing awareness for fellow “yuppies”.
She believes that cannabis has incredible benefits for women, from relieving anxiety and depression to boosting libido and sexual experiences.
Join us as we dive into her experiences as a self-proclaimed “professional Boomer” and sober woman who found her way back to cannabis later in life.
Links & Helpful Resources
The helpful links and resources listed below will offer insight into the world of cannabis, providing knowledge and guidance if you are seeking answers on your cannabis journey.
Frequently Asked Questions
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Teaser: We have to talk about it. It’s the talking about it and not being labeled. You know, my sisters were all sober and they’re like, yeah, but you’re not anymore. I’m like, that’s your thought process. That’s not mine. I still am very proud of my sobriety.
Announcer: Welcome to the Well With Cannabis Podcast, a show dedicated to telling the life-changing stories of those who live well with cannabis all while teaching you how to do the same. Meet your host, Emily Kyle, a registered dietitian nutritionist turned certified holistic cannabis practitioner. Emily changed her life for the better with the help of the cannabis plant, and now she’s committed to helping others do the same.
Tune in each week to hear heartwarming stories and gain the knowledge you need to feel connected, inspired, and supported on your own cannabis journey. Whether you’re a new cannabis consumer or a lifetime lover, you’ll benefit from these uplifting tales of real-life journeys that will show you how you, too, can live your best life well with cannabis.
Disclaimer: Hi there. Before we jump into today’s episode, I wanted to share a note on potentially sensitive content. The episodes on the Well With Cannabis Podcast are created for adult audiences only. We will, at times, cover sensitive topics, including but not limited to suicide, abuse, mental illness, sex, drugs, alcohol, psychedelics, and the obvious use of plant medicine. Explicit language may be used occasionally. Please refrain from watching or listening to the show if you’re likely to be offended or adversely impacted by any of these topics.
The information on this show is for informational and educational purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice. If any of the content on this podcast has brought up anything for you, please reach out or speak to a professional or someone you trust.
Emily: Hello and welcome back to another episode of the Well With Cannabis Podcast. I am so excited to have a really special guest here today. We have Colleen Deval McGee, she is self-described, a professional boomer. I am so excited to get the chance to talk to you and learn more about your journey with cannabis. So welcome.
Colleen: Thank you very much. I’m excited to be here. This is fun. I’ve never done something like this before.
Emily: Thank you so much for being brave and willing to just come and share your story. Let’s start with it. How did you get introduced to cannabis? What did life look like that brought you to the plant?
Colleen: So, believe it or not, I mean obviously all through, actually for me, it was middle school and high school, I got high back in the ’70s and ’80s. But I wasn’t a stoner. I like drinking, doing whatever, and then stopped smoking up until about six years ago, as a matter of fact. Was reintroduced by a friend, at first, kind of apprehensive, ’cause I didn’t love the way pot made me feel back then. It was very different than it is today. And I think two things happened. Number one, I’ve been sober from alcohol for, it’ll be 20 years in June.
Colleen: Thank you. I haven’t been near drugs or alcohol for almost 20 years up until I started smoking again. I think there’s such a stigma that is involved with being sober, with smoking, with being a middle-aged to boomer professional. There are so many things that I’ve dealt with inside of me because there’s a part of me that struggles with the sobriety piece. But it’s also been wonderful.
I think one of the things for me is I still consider myself a sober person because marijuana doesn’t affect me the way it did alcohol. You talk to the sober community, probably not so much. I think that’s one of the reasons that I’m even doing this, is I think there needs to be more conversation, and as well as making people who aren’t familiar with or using or comfortable with marijuana today, helping to bring it to the forefront. I say to my children, I have two boys, 28 and almost 30. I would rather they’ve smoked pot than drink any day of the week.
I think especially with all the mental health issues, for me it’s been a godsend. I mean, it really has. That’s how I got to where I am today. A friend introduced me. At first, I had to get through the mental gymnastics. Am I allowed to smoke pot? Does that go against my sobriety, which I hold so dear. Then once I did, I was like, wow, this is awesome.
Up until a year ago, I was working full-time, and so I was doing it much more recreational. Every once in a while, especially at the beach in the summers and what have you. Now I smoke every day. I’m retired and I’ve really, I’ve just come to make it part of my routine, but in a mindful way because I’m so nervous about the addiction piece of it.
Emily: You are such a wonderful inspiration. I know there is a huge subset of our community, whether it’s alcohol or any other type of addiction that really struggles with bringing cannabis in and how that feels inside. So thank you for sharing that because you are the perfect example of kind of making it work in a way.
Colleen: Trying, yeah.
Emily: Trying, yeah. I mean, and that’s what it is. It’s a practice, every day is different. But just sharing that, I think hopefully someone listening on the other line. I’d love to talk, what happened that one day that made you say, I’m going to try this? Were you feeling unwell or like, what was the catalyst?
Colleen: It was a date. I had just gotten separated. This was six, no, seven years ago maybe, I don’t know. I had been engaged and with somebody for many years, and got out of that relationship, and went out on a date with somebody who turned into, we dated for a while, but turned into just a really good friend of mine. He was the one that was like, oh, okay, you don’t drink, do you smoke? I can remember, maybe it was a little bit of peer pressure even at this age, but thinking, what do I say? What do I do?
And just had an open, because of him, because of the situation, and I’m like, you know what? I’ll try it. What’s the worst that can happen? It was wonderful. It was just, you know, it was, it relaxed me, and I had control, and it just made me happy in a way that I hadn’t just felt calm into so long. That’s what it did for me. Then I won’t even get into the sex part, but we can. But that was the big eyeopener.
Emily: We might have to have a whole podcast episode just on that, because for women, I feel like it’s still so taboo. Everything you said, like being on a date with someone and being able to feel comfortable and relaxed, like what a gift. Like even if you didn’t end up together, like kudos to him, was probably the greatest date ever.
Colleen: It was, it was. We stayed friends for years mostly because of our love for the Grateful Dead, but also the love for, he just opened up a something that I never in a million years in my position in my life would have tried again.
Emily: That’s amazing. I feel like connected with you in that way because cannabis was brought into my life from a boyfriend, and obviously not together with them anymore, but like really introduced me and changed my life in a lot of ways, just through the introduction of the plant. So we share that. Okay, so before this date, this special day, were you anti-cannabis? How did you feel about that in your younger life?
Colleen: I wasn’t anti, I was neutral. It just wasn’t for me. Just like many drugs or, you know, when I drank it was Coors Light. Like that was my, you know, drink of choice. It just, I didn’t have great experiences when I was younger. Smoking, I would get so high, and you know, I used to joke around and say, I’d laugh, I’d eat everything in sight and I’d fall asleep all within about an hour. It’d be fun for a little bit, but not sustainable.
It wasn’t something that I would’ve ever thought, oh wow, I’m going to really get into this. I think I was open, again, because I had been sober, I just had never even entertained it up until that point because to me my sobriety was all drugs, and alcohol obviously, I was AA, you know, and all that. I was open-minded. I didn’t know what I didn’t know, but I also wasn’t scared of it.
Like, I have a lot of friends and my two sisters won’t, they’re like, “oh my God, no, no, no” you know? And then I stopped talking about it because I don’t want to feel like I’m a pusher, right? And so you’re kind of like, you want people to experience what you’re experiencing, but also not feel like doing what, I hate it when people would try to push alcohol on me. When I say no, it’s like, no, that’s it.
I’m very mindful of that. I think that so many people have that, no, no, don’t, I don’t want to touch it. It’s going to make me nuts. I get too paranoid. You know, all the negative connotations that are still, you know, attached to cannabis.
Emily: What would be your advice, say someone is listening here on the other end and is like, you know, I hear all these things but I’m nervous. Like, I’m nervous to try this. Do you have any advice for them?
Colleen: I think the very, the most important thing for me in looking back and how I would be with others, is to do it with somebody that you trust wholeheartedly. Obviously start super small, and if you don’t like it, you don’t like it. That’s, you have that choice, right? But be open minded. I guess that would be my biggest thing is just be open-minded about it.
I worked in pharma for 35 years. I truly believe in pharmaceuticals in the right place at the right time. I am amazed at how natural marijuana is, how the psychedelics, all of them are so natural. Yet what we as a country and as individual industries have done to this plant, it is mind boggling, mind boggling.
When I think about how we get drugs through the system and through the FDA, and all the rigor we have to go through and everything, and these are synthetic, right? We don’t know what they’re doing to your body. So we test them obviously. But you’ve got this natural product that’s been with mankind since the beginning and has been used.
I just have such a greater appreciation for it from a scientific point of view as well. And what it can do for even just all of our vets and how we’ve treated them post-war. I mean there’s just so many groups of people that we should just be handing it out to.
Emily: Yeah, for free, yeah.
Colleen: I can go to the 7-Eleven or Wawa and get a beer, but I can get arrested for smoking a joint. You know, it still boggles my mind that our country and our states are still so backwards about it. I’d love to get involved in that somehow as well, and I don’t even know where to begin, but that part drives me nuts.
Emily: I would think your experience though with the pharmaceutical industry would give you like such a different insight and perspective on it. Because as I always say, you know, I’m not anti-pharma, there’s absolutely a time and a place for medicine, but you probably just have such a different perspective on it, seeing both sides now. Do you feel that way?
Colleen: Absolutely. And that’s the part, and I’m a diehard Republican. Throw that in there. So you’ve got all the things that I shouldn’t–
Emily: Yeah, yep.
Colleen: Be going for, and I get angry at my Republican congressman in Pennsylvania, because we are the most backwards state. Every state around us is getting, you know, recreational use. I don’t even think it’s on the dockets here, but we do have medical. I think that it should be federally, you know, all of this should not be done at the state level. It should be done at the federal level.
Like alcohol is open, open up all of the business, the commerce side of it. But from a scientific perspective, I just read last week that they did allow, there was only one place in America, I believe it was the University of Mississippi that was allowed to grow marijuana for clinical trials. Stupid, I mean, come on. So they’re opening that up. There has to be funding and a willingness to do clinical trials if that’s what we’re concerned about.
Or just making it available and letting people self-medicate as needed, like they do with alcohol right now. How we prescribe Adderall and all of the other antidepressants, anti-anxiety, all of those other products, why not allow people to at least try marijuana and have a clean source that they can get without feeling like a criminal. That’s the other piece that I think we have to fix as well. I don’t know how you go about that. I’ve noticed started getting into politics because I would absolutely kill people. But that’s why I’m doing this. Like how do we get people to be comfortable talking?
Emily: Yes, absolutely. I don’t think I have the energy to get involved with it either, but I do hope that conversations like this, and just letting people listen, will give them the confidence and reassurance needed to try something new. Because a lot of people that I’ve talked to in the older generation, really trust pharma. We’re taught that what the doctor says is what the doctor, where it goes.
If a doctor tells you to take a pill, you take a pill. And it’s very hard for the older generation to kind of take their own health into their own hands. It feels scary because we don’t have the education and tools to do that. But you’ve successfully done that. What suggestions do you have for someone who doesn’t know where to go to even try.
Colleen: To be open to, I mean, I think the biggest thing, is everybody, I wish there were more people or more sources out there that did this, that allowed people to hear both sides of the story from professionals, from people from all walks of life. We have this, again, you know, stereotypical pot smoker who is either an old hippy deadhead, or the young kids, you know?
Most middle-aged professionals don’t want to be associated or don’t fit. I shouldn’t say don’t want to be associated, you don’t fit in those two. And so it’s like, ooh, how do I do this? I guess the more the state open it up and make it available, I think what will happen just organically is people will be exposed to it in more social settings, and it will become hopefully, more just spoken about and talked about and less taboo.
You know, once things start getting legalized across the country, not just so sporadically as it is now, and we can start, I mean what if everybody was advertising for it the way they do for the drugs on TV or all the ads that we get? I mean, you are not allowed, as you know, to do any type of advertising. So opening that up. And unless we do that as a country, the people who could, you know, do very well on cannabis aren’t going to get the comfort that they need, and have those sources to go to, to become comfortable with it.
Do you smoke? Do you vape? How do you do edibles? You know, edibles are a fabulous way for people who don’t want to be associated with smoking pot. So, but it’s also, people have to be open and willing to do it too. So quick story. I made some edibles, and my little sister is also sober, and she’s the opposite of me. She will not touch it, she wants nothing to do with it. She questions my sobriety, we go back and forth.
I stay on my own, and I said, I guess I’m California sober or whatever they call it. I said, you know, I do fine, and it doesn’t ruin my life. It doesn’t ruin my relationships. It doesn’t ruin anything. If anything it enhances who I am. She, not so much. So gummies, she doesn’t sleep, doesn’t sleep, doesn’t sleep. Finally got her to take a gummy, finally. Again, not me be pushing her, but just being like, just try it, just take it. I promise you’ll sleep like a baby.
She got up at two o’clock in the morning, had a panic attack and called the cops, and an ambulance came and the cops came and then she said, my sister made it for me. I’m like, thanks. But I mean, you still have people that just are so anxious they’re not going to try it. And I think that that’s also something that’s very real too, you know?
Emily: Absolutely, and I’m glad you shared that story because that happens to a lot of people. It’s not that unusual. And one tip I always have for everybody, if they’re ever concerned about getting in that situation, and I’ve tried this and it works, if you accidentally consume too much THC, consume a large dose of CBD on top of it and it will help to bring down that high and make you feel better. So don’t feel bad. We all react so differently too. It could be totally fine.
Colleen: Well, that’s it.
Emily: And if you go into it anxious already, you are way more likely to just spazz out.
Colleen: That’s my point. I mean, it is nothing against edibles or what have you. It is having that right frame of mind, and being open that this can help you. But if you’re so scared that, oh my god, I’m ingesting, you know, marijuana. Yeah, you’re probably going to have an anxiety attack.
Emily: It does happen, unfortunately. But it’s so good to talk about and mention. So now let’s see, you’ve had the plant in your life for six years. What does life look like today and in what ways has life improved with having the plant?
Colleen: So, as I said, I’m retired, so life is very pretty today. Life is good. My husband and I are both retired and just kind of living life nice. And we both smoke and ingest.
Emily: Oh, nice.
Colleen: Yeah, and so it makes our lives more comfortable, is a generic way to say it. I love, I’m learning how to cook with it and I’m learning how to make edibles, which sometimes they’re good and sometimes they’re disgusting. I haven’t figured that one out yet either. But I love doing that. I’m loving learning about the plant, and all aspects of the plant, and all the things that it can do for you.
I also love how, at nighttime, I mean we love to just, you know, chill, and it is a relaxant without it being something intrusive in my life. I get as if that’s how I can explain it. You get joy, but I’m not out of control. I’m in total control. I love that feeling. I mean, I love the way I feel when I’m high, but I never feel out of control, which I did when I drank. So there’s that piece of it.
I like the socialization piece of it, right? So there’s people that you meet, it’s kind of like, oh, you get high, and then you become friends with people, especially at our age. And you know, in the suburbs when you find others, that there’s–
Emily: Oh my God, we’re friends. Oh my gosh. Yes, I get it.
Colleen: And so there’s that piece. We also live at the beach in the summer.
Emily: Oh, so nice.
Colleen: I know, thank God. And I got to be honest, there’s nothing better than just sitting on the beach. It enhances that experience in a way that it doesn’t affect me socially. You wouldn’t know. I listen to music. I love the sounds around me, the smell of the ocean. Everything is enhanced as you know. And so I guess the best way, is it makes experiences that much richer, better, deeper, all your senses are alive, food tastes better. I do have to manage the munchies, I will say that. But don’t you find that like, you know–
Emily: I mean, everything you’re saying saying is spot on.
Colleen: It makes everything better.
Emily: As you mentioned earlier in the episode, sex, like there really isn’t anything that hasn’t been better for me. I have gotten the munchies finally under control and now I exercise when I’m high. I feel like cannabis can just enhance so many different pillars of your life if you give it the opportunity to.
Colleen:I agree 100%. And you look at it not from, oh boy, you’re going to get wasted. You look at it from, oh my God, this experience is going to be better. I’m going to enjoy it more. The sex piece, I’ll do a full hour on that with you.
I mean I’m a newly wed, I’ve been married for three years. My husband and I have been together for six years. So that’s why I should back up and say, no seven years because it was the year before I met my husband. But you know, we’re both, he’s just turned 60, I’m 58. Year older, gone through menopause, all that fun stuff.
It is just a game changer. And I just think like people’s relationships who have been married for a long time, and it’s stale, and life is boring and you’ve raised the kids, and you’ve been through hell and back. Now it’s time for you two to reconnect. And it just makes it so much better. It is day and night.
Emily: I agree 100%. Like I wish there was, you know, more opportunity for women to experience it because for a lot of people they don’t even realize like what they’re missing.
Colleen: It’s not spoken about. It’s taboo. I think that if I was wealthy enough to start a cannabis company, I would market it to women for the, and I know that there are companies out there that do it, but I think that you could, if you had enough money, you could take the market in women for this and just have strains for it. It’s terrible, I go for strains like the, if I go into the dispensary, I’m like, I want to have good sex, I’ll say that. I’m like, what’s the good strain for that, you know?
Emily: Yeah, absolutely. And have you found that they’re helpful when you ask?
Colleen: Yes, so again, my learning is, it’s all so personal and how the different strains hit you differently. And even at different times, like I can get super horny on one strain one night, and two nights later I’m numb. And so it’s like, okay, that can happen too.
I’ve read like Do-si-do, and there are certain ones that are supposed to be more, and I don’t even know which terpene is attributed to it, if they have even done that. But I don’t really notice, that’s my only frustration is I haven’t been able to pin down a strain or anything specific that’s like, ooh. It just generally, now I will say if you’re too high, the opposite effect, but, right?
Emily: Yes, and that’s great advice too, is just we’re all different, and being willing to experiment, I think is the ultimate goal, because like you said, one day it can make you feel one way. One day you could feel another. Learning to get to know your body, your moods, your emotions, and then pairing it with cannabis is like a beautiful marriage, because then you really have full control over your mental and emotional health. You are taking care of yourself based on what you need.
Colleen: Absolutely. Perfect way of putting it. And it is, it’s trial and error and being willing, you know, to do it.
Emily: Yeah, absolutely. And being brave, you know, it’s hard to try something new, but to be willing to experiment, and then once you find the success, to turn around and share that with others. That’s why I’m so glad you’re here doing this today. I’m hoping that there are women and men listening who are like, oh my gosh, like this is so enlightening to me and I’m so excited to try cannabis right now.
Colleen: It’s fun.
Emily: It sounds, I mean you make it sound fun. I want people, and I know that we are from different generations, but I find that my biggest clientele who I’m speaking to is your generation. So I really–
Colleen: Is it really?
Emily: Absolutely, 100%. Everybody in the older age range, and I don’t want to be disrespectful, I hope I’m not saying it wrong
Colleen: Oh gosh, no, not at all. You’re younger, I’m older.
Emily: 50 and up is interested in cannabis, but too afraid to talk about it. So you coming here and talking about it is like lifting up a veil, I hope for a lot of people and being like, if she can talk about it, I can talk about it, and it’s okay. And knowing that there’s probably all of your friends around who are actually doing it or talking about it and waiting for you to say something, it might just be, you know, something to explore, and it’s completely okay ’cause we’re all adults and we’re allowed to do whatever we want to do.
Colleen: And I think for me, obviously it’s the liberation that I’m no longer with the major pharmaceutical company. When I was working, even though I was still smoking, I was very at fault, about just because of the legality piece of it.
Colleen: And because of all of the stigmas associated. Since I’ve retired, I don’t care what I post or what I say, which is me in general, I just, I don’t, I have very little filter. I am amazed by how many people from work are texting me or, you know, high fiving me because I just think it’s a huge untapped market, and I think that the, as I’ve said before, I alluded to before, as we as a country release some of these draconian laws that are in there and start opening up, both from a pharmaceutical.
Now look, I don’t think that pharma’s ever going to get into pot. There’s no reason, there’s absolutely no reason for it. The only reason they would ever do it would be to try it. I think compare for maybe different disease entities or what have you. Even then it’s going to be tough. But if you were to just make it easier for them to get it to study, for the fact that there are no banking laws, that people cannot get funded. There are so many things that are just killing the infrastructure of this commodity from taking off, and being used and being researched. I think until that’s lifted, we’re going to continue to just be grassroots, right?
As soon as that’s lifted, my hopes are that it becomes more prevalent than alcohol. And again, I come at it from having a family full of alcoholics, being Irish, and the whole nine yards. As I said, I tell my kids, I tell my nephews, if you’re going to do something, please, you know, stick with pot and not alcohol. I think they should make alcohol harder to get than marijuana.
Emily: Absolutely. I mean I think most people feel that way. Like it’s just so mind blowing you can go down to the store and pick it up. But God forbid we talk about this plant growing in the backyard.
Colleen: Absolutely. I mean, like okay, I want to grow it out back. I don’t even know where to begin in my area to learn about that, right? You can’t go buy starter plants anywhere. You can’t learn about the growth cycles and everything that’s needed. I’m online trying to find, I mean, it’s so hard. Everything is so difficult as a consumer trying to educate themselves.
I consider myself educated, I know my way around a computer, and you know, lots of stuff. It’s hard to find a lot of this stuff that it’s not contradictory or who do you trust? You don’t know where to go. You know, again, once we make it easier for people, I think that’s the only way it’s going to become, that’s just my opinion, more mainstream.
Emily: I like to also think that women like me and you are going to go out and share with other women and share what we know. So once you learn to grow, you are going to share that with another woman, and hopefully she will share that with another woman because as much as I’m hopeful to see change, I don’t feel like, I can’t hold my breath to it seeing it any time soon.
I really think it’s like woman to woman, conversation to conversation. And not to leave out the men, men to men too, I mean, we are all in this together. But it’s like, I feel like that ancient wisdom that’s passed down from generation to generation, We have to share that with each other because it’s, like you said, really hard to find that reliable, real information.
Colleen: So let me hit on another point. I was on another site, so I told you I’m just starting to make gummies and what have you know, and I tend to be the type person that will investigate, and look online and find different recipes and figure out what’s the quickest way.
I originally bought the gummies on Amazon, and tried to melt them down and didn’t work, right? So it’s a total mess. So I’m on, not your site, but there was another site that they since then took down that had a lot about making edibles and what have you. I could tell that it was a site that was, had a lot of older, kind of the hippie, more grassroots type of people, have been cooking with it for as long as I’ve been alive, who just know how to manipulate the plant and every part of the plant.
I’m trying to ask questions and they are like shutting me down right and left. I thought, what happened to this really cool, you know, nice group of people that I was like, ooh, now I’m scared to even ask a question, because they’re like, just do it, trial and error. I’m like, okay, but it’s really expensive. I really like somebody to help me so I’m not, you know, wasting all the tincture, and I’m not wasting, I bought, you know, a pound of gummies that I now can throw away.
I was kind of pissed about that, I’m not going to lie. So yours is good too for having a place to go and being able to ask questions without feeling stupid or feeling like you’re bothering people.
Emily: Oh, thank you. I mean, that’s what, so I work with Renee, and we take in all the comments and inquiries from people and that’s our number one goal is to make people never feel stupid. There’s never a stupid question, because to someone, cannabis is brand new. And if you feel that way, if you feel like someone was like eh to you when you first get started, it kind of takes the wind out of your sails.
It makes you double question yourself. I don’t want that for people. I want people to be like, I can do this, I can do this, and feel proud and excited to move forward. I’m sorry you had that experience. I do find the cannabis industry to be interesting. I feel like we could have a whole different conversation on different approaches people have to the industry and things.
Emily: I just know that I’m out there putting my best out into the world and putting my best vibe. So hopefully, you know, that is seen, so.
Colleen: Yes, no, you’re doing great.
Emily: Oh, thank you. I want to be respectful of your time. I’m going to ask you our four questions, the same four questions I ask all of our interviewees. Are you ready? My first is, what are you most proud of in your life to date?
Colleen: Oh geez. Off the top of my head, my children. I mean that’s, and it’s genuine. I mean, I love my boys. They’re, as I said, 28 and almost 30, and they’re just fabulous. We have an open relationship. They smoke and we do it together. The way I look at it is, if I was drinking, I’d be having a glass of wine with them when they were having a beer, you know, or what have you. So why, and I don’t want to treat it differently. I think that’s important.
Emily: That’s perfect.
Colleen: My kids. Yep, my sobriety from alcohol. Again, people may call me hypocritical, I don’t care. Alcohol really messed up my life, and had I not gotten sober, my life would not be what it is today. I would not have my children, I would not have my job, I would not have my husband, I would not have my houses, I would not have anything.
So to me, being able to get sober and stay sober from alcohol, I think that’s as important as my children, because I lose that, I lose everything. Then I guess last is, it’s weird, but my career, only because I was a single mom for the whole time, that pretty much the whole time my children grew up, and I somehow managed to have a very good career and raise them and educate them. And that was hard. That was really hard. And so to be on the other side of that now and look back and be like, “wow, how the hell did I do that?” That’s really important.
Emily: But to come out on the other side and, you know, be proud and say, I did that well, like that’s amazing. Parenting is hard. I’m just in the thick of it, in the middle now. And to come out on the other side and say, I have great kids and that was a successful endeavor, like I’m super happy for you for that.
Colleen: Thank you, thank you.
Emily: Next question is, what do you think your life would look like if you didn’t have cannabis?
Colleen: Boring. It would be boring. As I said, I feel like it enhances so much of my life right now. I think it would be very vanilla. I can’t even really imagine it. I know that sounds crazy, and it’s not like I’m smoking all the time. I don’t. It’s when I want to, it enhances what I do.
I guess what I was thinking about are, the concerts, the music, the beach, the laughing with my girlfriends, the being intimate with my husband. All of that would be different. It would not be as fun, as enjoyable. You know, life is about experiencing things and living. And I feel like it enhances those good times.
Emily: Oh, that’s perfect. Someone else had said that it’s like living in a world of black and white, and with cannabis it turns to color. And so I just felt like that’s really similar to what you’re saying. Someone else said it was like being outside in the cold and like coming into a warm house. Like something about it, just the way you said it made me think of that, it’s perfectly said.
Colleen: It’s true. And I think though, like it’s also knowing when not to do it, right? Like it’s, and that’s what I like about it, is you’re still a responsible adult. You get everything done, you do everything you need to do. And then when you just want that, or that it’s there.
Emily: It’s there. It’s perfect, it really is. If you could sit down with yourself 10, 20 or even 30 years ago and give yourself a piece of advice about cannabis, what would it be?
Colleen: Oh, about cannabis. So, I’ll tell you what I wish. That I wasn’t so scared of it. I was a good kid, you know, and kind of like, to me, I didn’t want to be ahead. There was all those connotations back in the ’80s about, you know, who smokes pot and who doesn’t. When I went to college though, there were a couple guys in my dorm who I stayed friends with all four years, who were just total potheads.
I’d think to myself, like they would smoke all day, all night. They were smart. I went to a really good school and they were smart as hell. I always wanted to be that person who could like, smoke a lot of pot and still get good grades, whatever. I would not have been that person, I would’ve flunked out.
So I think I wish I had been more open to it and not so judgmental of it back throughout my life. I have a much different appreciation of it now than I just ever did. And so for me it would be, be open to it. I just, I think it’s kind of how you grow up, where you grow up, what your experiences are that either you smoke a lot or you don’t, or, you know, at least at our generation.
Alcohol and then cocaine, everything, were so much more prevalent and so much more mainstream. But like mushrooms too, never did a mushroom in my life. Was petrified to do that. And finally just did a microdose, and I’m like, oh, this is cool, you know? So it’s not being so scared. I don’t know that I would’ve listened though, so.
Emily: Yeah, I’d say the same hindsight is 2020, that’s for sure. As we wrap up with our last question, if you could be remembered for one thing in this cannabis space, what would it be?
Colleen: For being brave. For not being scared to own it. I’d really like to help somehow myself with the guilt that I feel as a sober person, kind of be part of a larger movement that helps people, myself included through that. And then just hopefully somebody who can be a good ambassador for us old folks, and a good role model I guess would be nice.
Emily: I feel like you’ve brought that to the show. I feel like anybody who listens to that, I mean, you have been a beautiful role model for anybody listening, whether they use cannabis, whether they don’t use cannabis, regardless of which generation they are in. I mean, you have been so brave to share this experience with us, and I just can’t thank you enough.
Colleen: Aw, thank you. It’s been really fun. I’ve never done anything like this before, so.
Emily: You’re brave, see to go out and do something new. Now I’m going to ask you one more question, just because I find it really special that you can offer this. Do you have one piece of advice for our California Sober Community who might be listening.
Colleen: To embrace it. To also go to watch it, I watch myself. I do, I can tell, you know, if you’re an addict of any part, you still have addictive behaviors, and I can tell my addictive behaviors are wanting to learn everything I can about it, wanting to try everything new. Like, you know, just getting, and it’s, I have to stop myself and be like, Col, back up.
Don’t get in trouble, you know? I do that, I do that with myself because of my addictive nature. I would say that to them. I think it’s, we have to talk about it. It’s the talking about it and not being labeled. You know, my sisters were all sober, and they’re like, yeah, but you’re not anymore. I’m like, that’s your thought process. That’s not mine.
I still am very proud of my sobriety, and so it’s a shame that I have to do that. I don’t want to have to do that. I think that somehow AA, or the alcoholic or whatever, and again, I can’t talk to NA or drugs ’cause I just, that was not my experience. And I don’t know if there is picky about it in NA as they are with AA. But if you follow AA, I would just say talk about it to the people you trust. I would never go into AA now and say, oh yeah, I smoke pot. It’s my own thing. But it’s becoming legalized in the US, it’s going to take a while to get people.
Emily: That is wonderful advice. Thank you so much for sharing because I just feel like hopefully someone on the other end who is struggling with, whether or not they feel sober or not, and how cannabis can incorporate that. I hope they just listen to your story and feel comforted in knowing that they’re not alone, and that you’re out there living your best life and not caring what other people think. So thank you for showing us that.
Colleen: You’re welcome. Thank you for having me today, I really appreciate.
Emily: Thank you so much. Any last words, any last things you want to share?
Colleen: I want to get better at making gummies, so if you can help me.
Emily: I can definitely help you, absolutely. I am here, I will email you right now some resources and support and anything else. I just, I want to say thank you. I think that this is going to be an amazing episode and I can’t wait for people to listen to it.
Colleen: Aw, thank you so much. Just, I really appreciate it and it’s pleasure meeting you live.
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