Tag Archives: time

Every time I visit my family, they body-shame me

I have been through something similar, says Annalisa Barbieri. Try joking it off – or face the problem head on

illustration of bathroom scales with fingers pointing at the feet on them


Illustration: Lo Cole for the Guardian

I am being constantly body-shamed by my family, and it hurts.

I moved to the UK years ago and built up a good career. I am finishing my master’s degree part-time while working full-time; I have also recently started my first managerial role. Juggling my studies and a full-time job, means I go back to my country only once a year.

However, every time is the same: the first thing my parents say is that I have got fatter, since I went from a size 12 to a size 18. They ration my food. They are also keen to let me know that I have to stop eating badly before I go back to the UK.

This has been going on for years, and I am fed up. When I started working in the UK, I was paid very little and struggled to get the money for a flight;. In the past couple of years, I have started to feel very anxious before going back, and now I have mixed feelings about seeing them again.

You don’t say, but I wondered if your family were Italian. I had this once, visiting wider family – not my mum and dad – after a gap of some years. In the intervening time, I had gone from a childlike figure (size 8) to a womanly one (size 14) and the response was brutal. No mention of any of my achievements, of asking how I was or if I was happy. Nothing to do with me at all. All to do with my weight. It took me a while to work out what was going on.

A size 18 is hardly obese, so it is not as if they can use your health as an excuse for their “concern”. In any case, a far more constructive idea would be to make you feel safe and supported so that you might open up about why you have gained weight – if it bothers you.

I contacted Catherine Crowther, a psychoanalytical psychotherapist (bpc.org.uk). She said: “I wonder if the food/weight issue has become a focus, a cipher for something else that has gone wrong between you and your parents?”

Maybe your parents felt left behind by your moving and that commenting on your weight was a way of expressing that? “Your parents may feel as if they have lost track of you,” suggested Crowther, “and one thing they feel they can do is comment on your weight.” Of course, we want to stress, this does not make it OK.

I am not surprised you feel anxious; your parents are reducing you to little more than your weight. I understand how despairing that can make you feel. They should be focusing on how wonderful it is to see you.

“There must be a certain rage that when you go back they are not seeing you,” Crowther said. “They don’t see your achievements – and you have achieved a lot – only your weight gain.”

Crowther also wondered if there was something in you that was – perhaps – rebelling against your parents, in defiance?

We wondered – not to say that it is easy – why you couldn’t try to make a joke of it and say, “Yes, I love my food”? You mentioned, in your longer letter, a relationship that ended and how food gave you comfort. Of course, eating is a classic way to self-soothe and avoid emotions. But the relief is usually short-lived and the feelings perpetuate. You may want to look at this a bit more.

Practically, you can’t never see your parents again because of this (unless there is more to it than their comments). One way round it may be to Skype, so they can see you more and you can get this issue out of the way before you meet them. Or you could face it head on and say: “I find it really upsetting when you say this – is that all I am to you?” Would it upset you if anyone said it, or is it upsetting because it is your parents? In other words, is it what is being said or who is saying it?

With my family in Italy, I realised I had looked like a teenager for a very long time, so every time they saw me they could convince themselves that time had stood still – I looked the same. That made them feel safe. But when they saw that I’d grown up, they had to face reality: time had ticked on. My weight gain reflected back to them the fact that they were getting old; they dealt with it by blaming me.

Send your problem to annalisa.barbieri@mac.com

Annalisa regrets she cannot enter into personal correspondence.

Follow Annalisa on Twitter: @AnnalisaB

Every time I visit my family, they body-shame me

I have been through something similar, says Annalisa Barbieri. Try joking it off – or face the problem head on

illustration of bathroom scales with fingers pointing at the feet on them


Illustration: Lo Cole for the Guardian

I am being constantly body-shamed by my family, and it hurts.

I moved to the UK years ago and built up a good career. I am finishing my master’s degree part-time while working full-time; I have also recently started my first managerial role. Juggling my studies and a full-time job, means I go back to my country only once a year.

However, every time is the same: the first thing my parents say is that I have got fatter, since I went from a size 12 to a size 18. They ration my food. They are also keen to let me know that I have to stop eating badly before I go back to the UK.

This has been going on for years, and I am fed up. When I started working in the UK, I was paid very little and struggled to get the money for a flight;. In the past couple of years, I have started to feel very anxious before going back, and now I have mixed feelings about seeing them again.

You don’t say, but I wondered if your family were Italian. I had this once, visiting wider family – not my mum and dad – after a gap of some years. In the intervening time, I had gone from a childlike figure (size 8) to a womanly one (size 14) and the response was brutal. No mention of any of my achievements, of asking how I was or if I was happy. Nothing to do with me at all. All to do with my weight. It took me a while to work out what was going on.

A size 18 is hardly obese, so it is not as if they can use your health as an excuse for their “concern”. In any case, a far more constructive idea would be to make you feel safe and supported so that you might open up about why you have gained weight – if it bothers you.

I contacted Catherine Crowther, a psychoanalytical psychotherapist (bpc.org.uk). She said: “I wonder if the food/weight issue has become a focus, a cipher for something else that has gone wrong between you and your parents?”

Maybe your parents felt left behind by your moving and that commenting on your weight was a way of expressing that? “Your parents may feel as if they have lost track of you,” suggested Crowther, “and one thing they feel they can do is comment on your weight.” Of course, we want to stress, this does not make it OK.

I am not surprised you feel anxious; your parents are reducing you to little more than your weight. I understand how despairing that can make you feel. They should be focusing on how wonderful it is to see you.

“There must be a certain rage that when you go back they are not seeing you,” Crowther said. “They don’t see your achievements – and you have achieved a lot – only your weight gain.”

Crowther also wondered if there was something in you that was – perhaps – rebelling against your parents, in defiance?

We wondered – not to say that it is easy – why you couldn’t try to make a joke of it and say, “Yes, I love my food”? You mentioned, in your longer letter, a relationship that ended and how food gave you comfort. Of course, eating is a classic way to self-soothe and avoid emotions. But the relief is usually short-lived and the feelings perpetuate. You may want to look at this a bit more.

Practically, you can’t never see your parents again because of this (unless there is more to it than their comments). One way round it may be to Skype, so they can see you more and you can get this issue out of the way before you meet them. Or you could face it head on and say: “I find it really upsetting when you say this – is that all I am to you?” Would it upset you if anyone said it, or is it upsetting because it is your parents? In other words, is it what is being said or who is saying it?

With my family in Italy, I realised I had looked like a teenager for a very long time, so every time they saw me they could convince themselves that time had stood still – I looked the same. That made them feel safe. But when they saw that I’d grown up, they had to face reality: time had ticked on. My weight gain reflected back to them the fact that they were getting old; they dealt with it by blaming me.

Send your problem to annalisa.barbieri@mac.com

Annalisa regrets she cannot enter into personal correspondence.

Follow Annalisa on Twitter: @AnnalisaB

Every time I visit my family, they body-shame me

I have been through something similar, says Annalisa Barbieri. Try joking it off – or face the problem head on

illustration of bathroom scales with fingers pointing at the feet on them


Illustration: Lo Cole for the Guardian

I am being constantly body-shamed by my family, and it hurts.

I moved to the UK years ago and built up a good career. I am finishing my master’s degree part-time while working full-time; I have also recently started my first managerial role. Juggling my studies and a full-time job, means I go back to my country only once a year.

However, every time is the same: the first thing my parents say is that I have got fatter, since I went from a size 12 to a size 18. They ration my food. They are also keen to let me know that I have to stop eating badly before I go back to the UK.

This has been going on for years, and I am fed up. When I started working in the UK, I was paid very little and struggled to get the money for a flight;. In the past couple of years, I have started to feel very anxious before going back, and now I have mixed feelings about seeing them again.

You don’t say, but I wondered if your family were Italian. I had this once, visiting wider family – not my mum and dad – after a gap of some years. In the intervening time, I had gone from a childlike figure (size 8) to a womanly one (size 14) and the response was brutal. No mention of any of my achievements, of asking how I was or if I was happy. Nothing to do with me at all. All to do with my weight. It took me a while to work out what was going on.

A size 18 is hardly obese, so it is not as if they can use your health as an excuse for their “concern”. In any case, a far more constructive idea would be to make you feel safe and supported so that you might open up about why you have gained weight – if it bothers you.

I contacted Catherine Crowther, a psychoanalytical psychotherapist (bpc.org.uk). She said: “I wonder if the food/weight issue has become a focus, a cipher for something else that has gone wrong between you and your parents?”

Maybe your parents felt left behind by your moving and that commenting on your weight was a way of expressing that? “Your parents may feel as if they have lost track of you,” suggested Crowther, “and one thing they feel they can do is comment on your weight.” Of course, we want to stress, this does not make it OK.

I am not surprised you feel anxious; your parents are reducing you to little more than your weight. I understand how despairing that can make you feel. They should be focusing on how wonderful it is to see you.

“There must be a certain rage that when you go back they are not seeing you,” Crowther said. “They don’t see your achievements – and you have achieved a lot – only your weight gain.”

Crowther also wondered if there was something in you that was – perhaps – rebelling against your parents, in defiance?

We wondered – not to say that it is easy – why you couldn’t try to make a joke of it and say, “Yes, I love my food”? You mentioned, in your longer letter, a relationship that ended and how food gave you comfort. Of course, eating is a classic way to self-soothe and avoid emotions. But the relief is usually short-lived and the feelings perpetuate. You may want to look at this a bit more.

Practically, you can’t never see your parents again because of this (unless there is more to it than their comments). One way round it may be to Skype, so they can see you more and you can get this issue out of the way before you meet them. Or you could face it head on and say: “I find it really upsetting when you say this – is that all I am to you?” Would it upset you if anyone said it, or is it upsetting because it is your parents? In other words, is it what is being said or who is saying it?

With my family in Italy, I realised I had looked like a teenager for a very long time, so every time they saw me they could convince themselves that time had stood still – I looked the same. That made them feel safe. But when they saw that I’d grown up, they had to face reality: time had ticked on. My weight gain reflected back to them the fact that they were getting old; they dealt with it by blaming me.

Send your problem to annalisa.barbieri@mac.com

Annalisa regrets she cannot enter into personal correspondence.

Follow Annalisa on Twitter: @AnnalisaB

I love my job as a prison psychologist. But it’s time I was paid fairly

Over the past 10 years I have seen a lot. Being a prison forensic psychologist is not a job for the faint hearted, but I love it.

As a forensic psychologist I am closely involved in assessing and treating criminal behaviour. I frequently go to parole board hearings and advise on whether violent and sexual offenders are suitable for release. It took an undergraduate degree, a masters and an ongoing professional development diploma to get here. It is a huge responsibility – and yet my salary is £29,000. I take home just £1,500 a month.

My colleagues and I feel undervalued. It is taken for granted that we will continue to work for the public sector out of love and loyalty. But the sector cannot rely on employees’ goodwill alone forever.

The government’s austerity measures have impacted me in other ways too. I have been assaulted at work because there aren’t enough officers around to ensure civilian staff are protected in the work they do. They are similarly undervalued, underpaid and overstretched.

My colleagues and I have been stretched further and further, so we are now providing the bare bones – and I do sometimes fear for my safety.

We are all expected to carry on, regardless of the threats and the struggle to make ends meet, because of the love of the job. That was once enough – but now I want to start a family, and that requires more income.

Advising on whether prisoners are suitable for release can take weeks. Weeks of interviewing the prisoner, reading their file information, reviewing their behaviour on the wing, checking their correspondence. Weeks of speaking to the staff who work with them, liaising with the security department and the probation service.

And then come the big decisions about whether prisoners need more treatment; whether they can go to a lower category prison without risk of trying to escape; or whether they can be safely released. I have to ask myself if I am confident they can return to society without harming someone else. And if they did, how would I live with myself knowing I had advised the parole board that I thought they were ready?

I have seen profound changes in prisoners I’ve worked with over time. I’m most proud of the work I did with a man with learning disabilities who had previously reoffended within a week each time he was released. The treatment he’d had didn’t work because he simply didn’t understand; it was too complicated for him. I worked with him over months, adapting the work by using different techniques, like drawing and role play.

I took the time to understand why he’d committed his crimes and what his learning needs were. I worked with his family so they could continue to support him. I helped him gain supported accommodation. He was released again and has stayed offence-free. That was five years ago. He still sends me letters because he says I made a difference in his life.

I take so much pride in my job and want to continue doing it, because I know it allows me to make a difference to society as a whole. As a previous victim of violent crime, my greatest motivation is to ensure that future crimes are prevented and people don’t experience what I went through.

But I’m not going to lie: sometimes it is hard to remain motivated when I have such little income coming in. I look around me and see friends who work as personal assistants to businesspeople earning more than me. The low pay makes me question whether I have taken the right route.

I have seen colleagues leave for private practices. They are working fewer hours for more pay. But if everyone does that, who will be left to do this work for the public sector?

I feel passionately about the work I do and feel it deserves fair pay. I’m not asking for the earth. I’m not asking for a massive wage. I’m just asking for a fair reflection of the work I do, the commitment I show – and the responsibility I have.

This series aims to give a voice to the staff behind the public services that are hit by mounting cuts and rising demand, and so often denigrated by the press, politicians and public. If you would like to write an article for the series, contact kirstie.brewer@theguardian.com

Talk to us on Twitter via @Guardianpublic and sign up for your free weekly Guardian Public Leaders newsletter with news and analysis sent direct to you every Thursday.

High time: introducing the Guardian’s new cannabis column for grownups

Today, California becomes the world’s largest legal marijuana market. It’s not the first American state to go fully legal, but with its outsized cultural influence and economy larger than France, it’s about to do for cannabis what Hollywood did for celluloid and Silicon Valley did for the semi-conductor.

Already, 30 US states have legalized medical marijuana (Med). Next year, Canada is likely to become the first large industrialized nation to legalize recreational (Rec), with support from the prime minister, Justin Trudeau. Germany, Israel and Australia have the beginnings of Med industries. Legal marijuana is coming to your neighborhood, maybe a lot sooner than you think.

For decades the plant has been stigmatized, at best, as a time waster for malodorous and unproductive men, with the disapproval factor steepening after age 30. But here in Los Angeles, the world’s most important cannabis market, a rebranding is under way. Marketers are positioning marijuana as a mainstream “wellness” product, a calorie-free alternative to an after-work cocktail. In short, it’s on the brink of global conquest.


It will have profound consequences for how adults relax, but also how they date, parent and work

There’s much to celebrate in that. Among other things, cannabis can be fun, and in some patients it relieves certain kinds of suffering. In the US, legalization is an important victory for criminal justice reform, and racist “war on drugs” tactics which continue to ruin many lives.

For that reason and many more, marijuana needs to be taken seriously, even though it can make people act goofy.

With legalization, many more people will spend much more of their time high. It will have profound consequences for how adults relax, yes, but also how they date, parent and work. Already, seniors are the fastest growing group of users in the US.

Legalization supporters often say cannabis is safer than alcohol, and this view has gained mainstream credibility. As Barack Obama said, it was “no more dangerous than alcohol”.

A bag of cannabis seen in Toronto. Canada is likely to become the first large industrialized nation to legalize recreational use.


A bag of cannabis seen in Toronto. Canada is likely to become the first large industrialized nation to legalize recreational use. Photograph: Mark Blinch/Reuters

It’s true that you can’t fatally overdose on cannabis. And the drug is less likely than booze to presage a car accident, an assault or another life-shattering event. But legalization may give rise to unforeseen problems. (Some doctors have expressed concern about use during pregnancy.)

No one knows how mass-market weed will change how we live and relate to each other. It’s safe to guess it will alter daily life as irrevocably and intimately as landmark products like cars, smartphones and reliable birth control.

Society has embarked on these kinds of mass experiments before. More than a decade into the social media age we’re only beginning to appreciate the implications for our brains and for our world.

Cannabis, at least, is a familiar entity. The plant has been known as both a psychoactive and a medicine for millennia. But much of the existing information and superstition is anecdotal, since for a lifetime it’s been almost impossible to study this chemically complex plant.

Due to marijuana’s outlaw past, and its most famous property, a fog of misinformation and bullshit envelops the plant and everything it touches. As a reporter, I’ve been listening to it for three years.

Now that world-class marketers have arrived on the scene, the fog has, if anything, thickened. The shelves of California pot shops abound with products implying medical benefits. Several brands of cannabis lubes claim to heighten female orgasms. In stores, they sit alongside tempting gourmet chocolates and infused breath mints, discreet enough for work.

Marijuana bubble bath and body lotion for sale at a marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, California.


Marijuana bubble bath and body lotion for sale at a marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, California. Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Some brands target young professionals and others, packaged to resemble pharmaceuticals, go after grandparents. Women of all ages are especially in demand; cannabis executives assume the men will follow along. This is all part of an industry-wide effort to reinvent marijuana as a cherished part of a functional life.

There’s some truth to this. But the organizations selling cannabis aren’t charities. While they talk constantly about “educating” the public about cannabis, it generally just means they’re talking up their product.

Cannabis has changed since you were in school. Upon entering a dispensary customers encounter dabs, rigs, concentrates, topicals, CBD and tinctures. Even the flower (that’s what it’s called now) comes in endless strains with unhelpful, sometimes threatening, names like Skywalker OG, Durban Poison and Blue Dream. The galaxy of websites dedicated to parsing them only makes it worse. My favorite write-up begins, “Pretty hard to write this on Dream Beaver.”

Now that the green genie is out of the bottle, let’s talk about it like adults.

High time is the Guardian’s new column about how cannabis legalization is changing modern life. Alex Halperin welcomes your thoughts, questions and concerns and will protect your anonymity. Get in touch: high.time@theguardian.com

High time: introducing the Guardian’s new cannabis column for grownups

Today, California becomes the world’s largest legal marijuana market. It’s not the first American state to go fully legal, but with its outsized cultural influence and economy larger than France, it’s about to do for cannabis what Hollywood did for celluloid and Silicon Valley did for the semi-conductor.

Already, 30 US states have legalized medical marijuana (Med). Next year, Canada is likely to become the first large industrialized nation to legalize recreational (Rec), with support from the prime minister, Justin Trudeau. Germany, Israel and Australia have the beginnings of Med industries. Legal marijuana is coming to your neighborhood, maybe a lot sooner than you think.

For decades the plant has been stigmatized, at best, as a time waster for malodorous and unproductive men, with the disapproval factor steepening after age 30. But here in Los Angeles, the world’s most important cannabis market, a rebranding is under way. Marketers are positioning marijuana as a mainstream “wellness” product, a calorie-free alternative to an after-work cocktail. In short, it’s on the brink of global conquest.


It will have profound consequences for how adults relax, but also how they date, parent and work

There’s much to celebrate in that. Among other things, cannabis can be fun, and in some patients it relieves certain kinds of suffering. In the US, legalization is an important victory for criminal justice reform, and racist “war on drugs” tactics which continue to ruin many lives.

For that reason and many more, marijuana needs to be taken seriously, even though it can make people act goofy.

With legalization, many more people will spend much more of their time high. It will have profound consequences for how adults relax, yes, but also how they date, parent and work. Already, seniors are the fastest growing group of users in the US.

Legalization supporters often say cannabis is safer than alcohol, and this view has gained mainstream credibility. As Barack Obama said, it was “no more dangerous than alcohol”.

A bag of cannabis seen in Toronto. Canada is likely to become the first large industrialized nation to legalize recreational use.


A bag of cannabis seen in Toronto. Canada is likely to become the first large industrialized nation to legalize recreational use. Photograph: Mark Blinch/Reuters

It’s true that you can’t fatally overdose on cannabis. And the drug is less likely than booze to presage a car accident, an assault or another life-shattering event. But legalization may give rise to unforeseen problems. (Some doctors have expressed concern about use during pregnancy.)

No one knows how mass-market weed will change how we live and relate to each other. It’s safe to guess it will alter daily life as irrevocably and intimately as landmark products like cars, smartphones and reliable birth control.

Society has embarked on these kinds of mass experiments before. More than a decade into the social media age we’re only beginning to appreciate the implications for our brains and for our world.

Cannabis, at least, is a familiar entity. The plant has been known as both a psychoactive and a medicine for millennia. But much of the existing information and superstition is anecdotal, since for a lifetime it’s been almost impossible to study this chemically complex plant.

Due to marijuana’s outlaw past, and its most famous property, a fog of misinformation and bullshit envelops the plant and everything it touches. As a reporter, I’ve been listening to it for three years.

Now that world-class marketers have arrived on the scene, the fog has, if anything, thickened. The shelves of California pot shops abound with products implying medical benefits. Several brands of cannabis lubes claim to heighten female orgasms. In stores, they sit alongside tempting gourmet chocolates and infused breath mints, discreet enough for work.

Marijuana bubble bath and body lotion for sale at a marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, California.


Marijuana bubble bath and body lotion for sale at a marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, California. Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Some brands target young professionals and others, packaged to resemble pharmaceuticals, go after grandparents. Women of all ages are especially in demand; cannabis executives assume the men will follow along. This is all part of an industry-wide effort to reinvent marijuana as a cherished part of a functional life.

There’s some truth to this. But the organizations selling cannabis aren’t charities. While they talk constantly about “educating” the public about cannabis, it generally just means they’re talking up their product.

Cannabis has changed since you were in school. Upon entering a dispensary customers encounter dabs, rigs, concentrates, topicals, CBD and tinctures. Even the flower (that’s what it’s called now) comes in endless strains with unhelpful, sometimes threatening, names like Skywalker OG, Durban Poison and Blue Dream. The galaxy of websites dedicated to parsing them only makes it worse. My favorite write-up begins, “Pretty hard to write this on Dream Beaver.”

Now that the green genie is out of the bottle, let’s talk about it like adults.

High time is the Guardian’s new column about how cannabis legalization is changing modern life. Alex Halperin welcomes your thoughts, questions and concerns and will protect your anonymity. Get in touch: high.time@theguardian.com

High time: introducing the Guardian’s new cannabis column for grownups

Today, California becomes the world’s largest legal marijuana market. It’s not the first American state to go fully legal, but with its outsized cultural influence and economy larger than France, it’s about to do for cannabis what Hollywood did for celluloid and Silicon Valley did for the semi-conductor.

Already, 30 US states have legalized medical marijuana (Med). Next year, Canada is likely to become the first large industrialized nation to legalize recreational (Rec), with support from the prime minister, Justin Trudeau. Germany, Israel and Australia have the beginnings of Med industries. Legal marijuana is coming to your neighborhood, maybe a lot sooner than you think.

For decades the plant has been stigmatized, at best, as a time waster for malodorous and unproductive men, with the disapproval factor steepening after age 30. But here in Los Angeles, the world’s most important cannabis market, a rebranding is under way. Marketers are positioning marijuana as a mainstream “wellness” product, a calorie-free alternative to an after-work cocktail. In short, it’s on the brink of global conquest.


It will have profound consequences for how adults relax, but also how they date, parent and work

There’s much to celebrate in that. Among other things, cannabis can be fun, and in some patients it relieves certain kinds of suffering. In the US, legalization is an important victory for criminal justice reform, and racist “war on drugs” tactics which continue to ruin many lives.

For that reason and many more, marijuana needs to be taken seriously, even though it can make people act goofy.

With legalization, many more people will spend much more of their time high. It will have profound consequences for how adults relax, yes, but also how they date, parent and work. Already, seniors are the fastest growing group of users in the US.

Legalization supporters often say cannabis is safer than alcohol, and this view has gained mainstream credibility. As Barack Obama said, it was “no more dangerous than alcohol”.

A bag of cannabis seen in Toronto. Canada is likely to become the first large industrialized nation to legalize recreational use.


A bag of cannabis seen in Toronto. Canada is likely to become the first large industrialized nation to legalize recreational use. Photograph: Mark Blinch/Reuters

It’s true that you can’t fatally overdose on cannabis. And the drug is less likely than booze to presage a car accident, an assault or another life-shattering event. But legalization may give rise to unforeseen problems. (Some doctors have expressed concern about use during pregnancy.)

No one knows how mass-market weed will change how we live and relate to each other. It’s safe to guess it will alter daily life as irrevocably and intimately as landmark products like cars, smartphones and reliable birth control.

Society has embarked on these kinds of mass experiments before. More than a decade into the social media age we’re only beginning to appreciate the implications for our brains and for our world.

Cannabis, at least, is a familiar entity. The plant has been known as both a psychoactive and a medicine for millennia. But much of the existing information and superstition is anecdotal, since for a lifetime it’s been almost impossible to study this chemically complex plant.

Due to marijuana’s outlaw past, and its most famous property, a fog of misinformation and bullshit envelops the plant and everything it touches. As a reporter, I’ve been listening to it for three years.

Now that world-class marketers have arrived on the scene, the fog has, if anything, thickened. The shelves of California pot shops abound with products implying medical benefits. Several brands of cannabis lubes claim to heighten female orgasms. In stores, they sit alongside tempting gourmet chocolates and infused breath mints, discreet enough for work.

Marijuana bubble bath and body lotion for sale at a marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, California.


Marijuana bubble bath and body lotion for sale at a marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, California. Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Some brands target young professionals and others, packaged to resemble pharmaceuticals, go after grandparents. Women of all ages are especially in demand; cannabis executives assume the men will follow along. This is all part of an industry-wide effort to reinvent marijuana as a cherished part of a functional life.

There’s some truth to this. But the organizations selling cannabis aren’t charities. While they talk constantly about “educating” the public about cannabis, it generally just means they’re talking up their product.

Cannabis has changed since you were in school. Upon entering a dispensary customers encounter dabs, rigs, concentrates, topicals, CBD and tinctures. Even the flower (that’s what it’s called now) comes in endless strains with unhelpful, sometimes threatening, names like Skywalker OG, Durban Poison and Blue Dream. The galaxy of websites dedicated to parsing them only makes it worse. My favorite write-up begins, “Pretty hard to write this on Dream Beaver.”

Now that the green genie is out of the bottle, let’s talk about it like adults.

High time is the Guardian’s new column about how cannabis legalization is changing modern life. Alex Halperin welcomes your thoughts, questions and concerns and will protect your anonymity. Get in touch: high.time@theguardian.com

High time: introducing the Guardian’s new cannabis column for grownups

Today, California becomes the world’s largest legal marijuana market. It’s not the first American state to go fully legal, but with its outsized cultural influence and economy larger than France, it’s about to do for cannabis what Hollywood did for celluloid and Silicon Valley did for the semi-conductor.

Already, 30 US states have legalized medical marijuana (Med). Next year, Canada is likely to become the first large industrialized nation to legalize recreational (Rec), with support from the prime minister, Justin Trudeau. Germany, Israel and Australia have the beginnings of Med industries. Legal marijuana is coming to your neighborhood, maybe a lot sooner than you think.

For decades the plant has been stigmatized, at best, as a time waster for malodorous and unproductive men, with the disapproval factor steepening after age 30. But here in Los Angeles, the world’s most important cannabis market, a rebranding is under way. Marketers are positioning marijuana as a mainstream “wellness” product, a calorie-free alternative to an after-work cocktail. In short, it’s on the brink of global conquest.


It will have profound consequences for how adults relax, but also how they date, parent and work

There’s much to celebrate in that. Among other things, cannabis can be fun, and in some patients it relieves certain kinds of suffering. In the US, legalization is an important victory for criminal justice reform, and racist “war on drugs” tactics which continue to ruin many lives.

For that reason and many more, marijuana needs to be taken seriously, even though it can make people act goofy.

With legalization, many more people will spend much more of their time high. It will have profound consequences for how adults relax, yes, but also how they date, parent and work. Already, seniors are the fastest growing group of users in the US.

Legalization supporters often say cannabis is safer than alcohol, and this view has gained mainstream credibility. As Barack Obama said, it was “no more dangerous than alcohol”.

A bag of cannabis seen in Toronto. Canada is likely to become the first large industrialized nation to legalize recreational use.


A bag of cannabis seen in Toronto. Canada is likely to become the first large industrialized nation to legalize recreational use. Photograph: Mark Blinch/Reuters

It’s true that you can’t fatally overdose on cannabis. And the drug is less likely than booze to presage a car accident, an assault or another life-shattering event. But legalization may give rise to unforeseen problems. (Some doctors have expressed concern about use during pregnancy.)

No one knows how mass-market weed will change how we live and relate to each other. It’s safe to guess it will alter daily life as irrevocably and intimately as landmark products like cars, smartphones and reliable birth control.

Society has embarked on these kinds of mass experiments before. More than a decade into the social media age we’re only beginning to appreciate the implications for our brains and for our world.

Cannabis, at least, is a familiar entity. The plant has been known as both a psychoactive and a medicine for millennia. But much of the existing information and superstition is anecdotal, since for a lifetime it’s been almost impossible to study this chemically complex plant.

Due to marijuana’s outlaw past, and its most famous property, a fog of misinformation and bullshit envelops the plant and everything it touches. As a reporter, I’ve been listening to it for three years.

Now that world-class marketers have arrived on the scene, the fog has, if anything, thickened. The shelves of California pot shops abound with products implying medical benefits. Several brands of cannabis lubes claim to heighten female orgasms. In stores, they sit alongside tempting gourmet chocolates and infused breath mints, discreet enough for work.

Marijuana bubble bath and body lotion for sale at a marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, California.


Marijuana bubble bath and body lotion for sale at a marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, California. Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Some brands target young professionals and others, packaged to resemble pharmaceuticals, go after grandparents. Women of all ages are especially in demand; cannabis executives assume the men will follow along. This is all part of an industry-wide effort to reinvent marijuana as a cherished part of a functional life.

There’s some truth to this. But the organizations selling cannabis aren’t charities. While they talk constantly about “educating” the public about cannabis, it generally just means they’re talking up their product.

Cannabis has changed since you were in school. Upon entering a dispensary customers encounter dabs, rigs, concentrates, topicals, CBD and tinctures. Even the flower (that’s what it’s called now) comes in endless strains with unhelpful, sometimes threatening, names like Skywalker OG, Durban Poison and Blue Dream. The galaxy of websites dedicated to parsing them only makes it worse. My favorite write-up begins, “Pretty hard to write this on Dream Beaver.”

Now that the green genie is out of the bottle, let’s talk about it like adults.

High time is the Guardian’s new column about how cannabis legalization is changing modern life. Alex Halperin welcomes your thoughts, questions and concerns and will protect your anonymity. Get in touch: high.time@theguardian.com

High time: introducing the Guardian’s new cannabis column for grownups

Today, California becomes the world’s largest legal marijuana market. It’s not the first American state to go fully legal, but with its outsized cultural influence and economy larger than France, it’s about to do for cannabis what Hollywood did for celluloid and Silicon Valley did for the semi-conductor.

Already, 30 US states have legalized medical marijuana (Med). Next year, Canada is likely to become the first large industrialized nation to legalize recreational (Rec), with support from the prime minister, Justin Trudeau. Germany, Israel and Australia have the beginnings of Med industries. Legal marijuana is coming to your neighborhood, maybe a lot sooner than you think.

For decades the plant has been stigmatized, at best, as a time waster for malodorous and unproductive men, with the disapproval factor steepening after age 30. But here in Los Angeles, the world’s most important cannabis market, a rebranding is under way. Marketers are positioning marijuana as a mainstream “wellness” product, a calorie-free alternative to an after-work cocktail. In short, it’s on the brink of global conquest.


It will have profound consequences for how adults relax, but also how they date, parent and work

There’s much to celebrate in that. Among other things, cannabis can be fun, and in some patients it relieves certain kinds of suffering. In the US, legalization is an important victory for criminal justice reform, and racist “war on drugs” tactics which continue to ruin many lives.

For that reason and many more, marijuana needs to be taken seriously, even though it can make people act goofy.

With legalization, many more people will spend much more of their time high. It will have profound consequences for how adults relax, yes, but also how they date, parent and work. Already, seniors are the fastest growing group of users in the US.

Legalization supporters often say cannabis is safer than alcohol, and this view has gained mainstream credibility. As Barack Obama said, it was “no more dangerous than alcohol”.

A bag of cannabis seen in Toronto. Canada is likely to become the first large industrialized nation to legalize recreational use.


A bag of cannabis seen in Toronto. Canada is likely to become the first large industrialized nation to legalize recreational use. Photograph: Mark Blinch/Reuters

It’s true that you can’t fatally overdose on cannabis. And the drug is less likely than booze to presage a car accident, an assault or another life-shattering event. But legalization may give rise to unforeseen problems. (Some doctors have expressed concern about use during pregnancy.)

No one knows how mass-market weed will change how we live and relate to each other. It’s safe to guess it will alter daily life as irrevocably and intimately as landmark products like cars, smartphones and reliable birth control.

Society has embarked on these kinds of mass experiments before. More than a decade into the social media age we’re only beginning to appreciate the implications for our brains and for our world.

Cannabis, at least, is a familiar entity. The plant has been known as both a psychoactive and a medicine for millennia. But much of the existing information and superstition is anecdotal, since for a lifetime it’s been almost impossible to study this chemically complex plant.

Due to marijuana’s outlaw past, and its most famous property, a fog of misinformation and bullshit envelops the plant and everything it touches. As a reporter, I’ve been listening to it for three years.

Now that world-class marketers have arrived on the scene, the fog has, if anything, thickened. The shelves of California pot shops abound with products implying medical benefits. Several brands of cannabis lubes claim to heighten female orgasms. In stores, they sit alongside tempting gourmet chocolates and infused breath mints, discreet enough for work.

Marijuana bubble bath and body lotion for sale at a marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, California.


Marijuana bubble bath and body lotion for sale at a marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, California. Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Some brands target young professionals and others, packaged to resemble pharmaceuticals, go after grandparents. Women of all ages are especially in demand; cannabis executives assume the men will follow along. This is all part of an industry-wide effort to reinvent marijuana as a cherished part of a functional life.

There’s some truth to this. But the organizations selling cannabis aren’t charities. While they talk constantly about “educating” the public about cannabis, it generally just means they’re talking up their product.

Cannabis has changed since you were in school. Upon entering a dispensary customers encounter dabs, rigs, concentrates, topicals, CBD and tinctures. Even the flower (that’s what it’s called now) comes in endless strains with unhelpful, sometimes threatening, names like Skywalker OG, Durban Poison and Blue Dream. The galaxy of websites dedicated to parsing them only makes it worse. My favorite write-up begins, “Pretty hard to write this on Dream Beaver.”

Now that the green genie is out of the bottle, let’s talk about it like adults.

High time is the Guardian’s new column about how cannabis legalization is changing modern life. Alex Halperin welcomes your thoughts, questions and concerns and will protect your anonymity. Get in touch: high.time@theguardian.com

High time: introducing the Guardian’s new cannabis column for grownups

Today, California becomes the world’s largest legal marijuana market. It’s not the first American state to go fully legal, but with its outsized cultural influence and economy larger than France, it’s about to do for cannabis what Hollywood did for celluloid and Silicon Valley did for the semi-conductor.

Already, 30 US states have legalized medical marijuana (Med). Next year, Canada is likely to become the first large industrialized nation to legalize recreational (Rec), with support from the prime minister, Justin Trudeau. Germany, Israel and Australia have the beginnings of Med industries. Legal marijuana is coming to your neighborhood, maybe a lot sooner than you think.

For decades the plant has been stigmatized, at best, as a time waster for malodorous and unproductive men, with the disapproval factor steepening after age 30. But here in Los Angeles, the world’s most important cannabis market, a rebranding is under way. Marketers are positioning marijuana as a mainstream “wellness” product, a calorie-free alternative to an after-work cocktail. In short, it’s on the brink of global conquest.


It will have profound consequences for how adults relax, but also how they date, parent and work

There’s much to celebrate in that. Among other things, cannabis can be fun, and in some patients it relieves certain kinds of suffering. In the US, legalization is an important victory for criminal justice reform, and racist “war on drugs” tactics which continue to ruin many lives.

For that reason and many more, marijuana needs to be taken seriously, even though it can make people act goofy.

With legalization, many more people will spend much more of their time high. It will have profound consequences for how adults relax, yes, but also how they date, parent and work. Already, seniors are the fastest growing group of users in the US.

Legalization supporters often say cannabis is safer than alcohol, and this view has gained mainstream credibility. As Barack Obama said, it was “no more dangerous than alcohol”.

A bag of cannabis seen in Toronto. Canada is likely to become the first large industrialized nation to legalize recreational use.


A bag of cannabis seen in Toronto. Canada is likely to become the first large industrialized nation to legalize recreational use. Photograph: Mark Blinch/Reuters

It’s true that you can’t fatally overdose on cannabis. And the drug is less likely than booze to presage a car accident, an assault or another life-shattering event. But legalization may give rise to unforeseen problems. (Some doctors have expressed concern about use during pregnancy.)

No one knows how mass-market weed will change how we live and relate to each other. It’s safe to guess it will alter daily life as irrevocably and intimately as landmark products like cars, smartphones and reliable birth control.

Society has embarked on these kinds of mass experiments before. More than a decade into the social media age we’re only beginning to appreciate the implications for our brains and for our world.

Cannabis, at least, is a familiar entity. The plant has been known as both a psychoactive and a medicine for millennia. But much of the existing information and superstition is anecdotal, since for a lifetime it’s been almost impossible to study this chemically complex plant.

Due to marijuana’s outlaw past, and its most famous property, a fog of misinformation and bullshit envelops the plant and everything it touches. As a reporter, I’ve been listening to it for three years.

Now that world-class marketers have arrived on the scene, the fog has, if anything, thickened. The shelves of California pot shops abound with products implying medical benefits. Several brands of cannabis lubes claim to heighten female orgasms. In stores, they sit alongside tempting gourmet chocolates and infused breath mints, discreet enough for work.

Marijuana bubble bath and body lotion for sale at a marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, California.


Marijuana bubble bath and body lotion for sale at a marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, California. Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Some brands target young professionals and others, packaged to resemble pharmaceuticals, go after grandparents. Women of all ages are especially in demand; cannabis executives assume the men will follow along. This is all part of an industry-wide effort to reinvent marijuana as a cherished part of a functional life.

There’s some truth to this. But the organizations selling cannabis aren’t charities. While they talk constantly about “educating” the public about cannabis, it generally just means they’re talking up their product.

Cannabis has changed since you were in school. Upon entering a dispensary customers encounter dabs, rigs, concentrates, topicals, CBD and tinctures. Even the flower (that’s what it’s called now) comes in endless strains with unhelpful, sometimes threatening, names like Skywalker OG, Durban Poison and Blue Dream. The galaxy of websites dedicated to parsing them only makes it worse. My favorite write-up begins, “Pretty hard to write this on Dream Beaver.”

Now that the green genie is out of the bottle, let’s talk about it like adults.

High time is the Guardian’s new column about how cannabis legalization is changing modern life. Alex Halperin welcomes your thoughts, questions and concerns and will protect your anonymity. Get in touch: high.time@theguardian.com