As more states legalize, women are dropping alcohol in favor of cannabis. Journalist Katie Heaney gets serious about being “California sober” and shares five reasons why women are embracing this growing trend.
Featuring Katie Heaney, senior writer at The Cut.
After listening to this episode you will have a better understanding of…
April Pride: What does it mean to be Cali Sober? I define it as people who smoke weed but don’t drink, and it’s obviously a little bit distinct from what we generally mean when we say sober, but a little more forgiving for people who are open to using cannabis for medical and recreational reasons.
April Pride: Welcome to High Five, where we give you practical tips for how to do the pot. I’m April Pride, and I do the pot. Seventy-five million women have access to some form of legal cannabis. As more states legalize, women like me are reducing their alcohol consumption to varying degrees on purpose and with great success.
April Pride: This week, Katie introduces us to the concept of being California sober and shares her reasons why women are adopting this growing trend. Number one, community.
This is an option for people who want to meet like-minded people who enjoy the same things just the same way that people who are really into craft beers can go to breweries. This is another option to let people still have that social element but not feel required to make alcohol a part of it.
April Pride: And that brings us to number two, which is lifestyle.
Katie Heaney: A lot of people when they get to their 30s or even sooner, start to notice that hangovers are not pleasant and going to bars isn’t always pleasant. People are questioning whether it’s time to move away from that in their own lives and to find something that works better for them that might even address some of the other issues that they’re having in their lives, like sleep problems or anxiety, chronic pain, any number of things.
Katie Heaney: Sometimes when people become parents, they find that cannabis use can help them relax but still be functional the next day with their child. Not having that pounding headache, not throwing up, it’s more sustainable in a lot of ways. And also for people who don’t want to consume a lot of empty calories that beer and other alcohol could have. Cannabis is calorie free, so it’s another option for people who might consider diet when they’re thinking about the practices that they want to make a habit of in their lives.
April Pride: That brings us to number three, which is cannabis as an alcohol alternative.
Katie Heaney: I talk to people who don’t drink, period, and then I talk to people who drink a little bit. It definitely varies how strictly people mean it, but I think it’s more indicative of a preference than an absolute, and that gray area is suitable for a lot of people. It’s important for people to recognize that this isn’t one-size-fits-all. People react differently to drinking. People react differently to cannabis. And this is one way to help tailor your substance use to fit your own needs and what you’re looking for. It’s freeing to think about what you actually want out of an evening or a day and to think about the options available to you and not feel like this is just what I’m doing because this is what everybody else is doing.
Katie Heaney: I don’t have to do anything, first of all, and if I do want to do something, it doesn’t have to be alcohol. I can smoke. I can have an edible. I can do any number of things that’s going to make me my best self in whatever situation I’m about to be in.
Katie Heaney: Some studies in the last couple of years have found that this is an option that more and more people are availing themselves of, using cannabis to treat anxiety, chronic pain, insomnia, and finding it to be really effective. There’s a huge problem with opioid addiction in our country and this is another option that may provide fewer side effects, doesn’t have those same addictive properties, and still provides many of the same benefits and sometimes more.
Katie Heaney: A study in 2018 out of Washington State University found that people reported finding cannabis really effective for dealing with anxiety and stress in the short term. There’s obviously still lots of studies to be done, which has been hampered by cannabis being illegal, but that’s changing and that means we’re getting more and more good information about the benefits that cannabis can have.
April Pride: And I want to stress that cannabis can be helpful for depression in the short term. There are findings that using cannabis for chronic depression is not beneficial, and in fact, can exacerbate your symptoms.
April Pride: And for more information on what we know about pharmaceuticals and cannabis, please listen to How to Do the Pot’s pharma episode.
April Pride: That brings us to number five, sleep.
Katie Heaney: Most people don’t find that alcohol contributes to quality sleep. Certainly some people use it in the very, very short term to get to sleep, but there’s strong evidence to suggest that it disrupts sleep, prevents people from sleeping in or sleeping continuously, and cannabis is an alternative that has been found to be successful or helpful to people dealing with insomnia or nightmares. Cannabis can blur out those nightmares and make it so that you’re not having these recurring PTSD symptoms. And that’s another case too, where it can be another option to use instead of pharmaceutical sleep aids, which can be habit forming and much more serious.
April Pride: And we talk about this in more detail on How to Do the Pot, our brain episode, which is the final episode of season one.
April Pride: So here’s a recap of Katie’s High Five on why women are choosing to be California sober. Number one, community. Create new ways and find existing ways to be social sans alcohol. Number two, lifestyle. Discover ways to relax that are more sustainable. Number three, as an alternative to alcohol. Remember your drink choices when you began to consume alcohol? As you’ve matured, so have your choices. Cannabis is a process to find your right fit. Number four, reduce pharmaceutical use. Fewer side effects and real relief. Number five, sleep. Better quality sleep and more rest without pills.
April Pride: When it comes to drug and alcohol education, I’ve come to believe that we should embrace harm reduction rather than insist on abstinence. My favorite definition of harm reduction is from a 2020 New York Times article, and I’m quoting here, “It’s an approach that provides people with tools and support to limit the negative consequences of drug use.”
April Pride: Are you California sober? And what tips do you have for other women who are curious about it? Share your experience and email us a voice memo to email@example.com. Thank you for listening to our High Five mini episode.
April Pride: Thanks to my co founder, Ellen Scanlon, our marketing manager, Betsy Kabaker, and our producers, Eliza Lambert and Taylor Dankovich, for Pot People. If you like the show, please share it with someone. Rate and review us on Apple Podcasts, and visit dothepot.com for more information on the topics covered in our episodes.
So you must be legal, too. Age 21+ invited to continue.