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From Pills To Pot: How Weed Saved My Life

This is one man's story of how Marijuana changed his life forever. 

It was the summer of 2003 when I was shot. I was hanging out at my favorite local bar, and it was near closing time. My friend went to use the restroom but a few low life characters I knew from the neighborhood followed him. They waited outside the bathroom door for him, and I instinctively knew they were up to no good, so I joined and waited alongside them. When my friend opened the door to leave the restroom, one of the guys pulled out a gun, grabbed my friend by the cuff of his shirt -- forcing him back into the bathroom. I pulled out my knife, but I soon realized this was a gun fight. What a mistake.

All I remember were fists crashing into me from every angle, then "BANG!" I felt the slug tear through my back as my body jolted forward. In a single moment, I saw a blinding white light, and then heard nothing. When things started to focus in again, I saw my assailants walking over my body, fleeing the scene. The feeling in my left leg went numb, and still to this day has never fully regained the full sensation. The bullet is still lodged in my back and the pain that I suffer from daily can be unbearable at times. Learning to manage this pain over the last 12 years has been a difficult journey. That one moment of my life led to years of dependency on pain medication, specifically Vicodin (Opiates).

The doctors started me on Kadian. Kadian is a pill form of Morphine and comes in an extended release capsule. The problem with Kadian was that it was hard to find at the pharmacies and that every once in a while, the pharmacies had to order it, which took up to 3 days. Usually that meant after the first day of not having it, I went through crazy withdrawal symptoms until I was able to get it. I still remember the cold sweats, my body physically jerking, and the mental anguish. This was enough that after 6 months of using it, I asked my doctor to take me off of it.

During this time, I was also prescribed numerous other medication, including Neurontin for nerve pain, which gave me crazy suicidal thoughts. A few weeks after being asked to be taken off of it because of these thoughts, I came across a commercial that asked, "If you or someone you know has committed suicide on Neurontin, please call us." There were many others I can't even remember the names of.

It was then that Hydrocodone, aka Vicodin, was introduced into my life. The dosage grew to an allowance of up to 6 pills a day -- because it didn't seem to work at all at lower dosages. Over time, this took a toll on my body and my quality of life. I didn't take it during the day because it Zombied me out, and instead took a whole day's worth of Vicodin in a matter of 2-4 hours at night. I took it at night with the impression that it may help me sleep because it was at night when ,u back pain was at its worst. Instead, the pills did the opposite, and kept me up all night -- and had me nodding out during the day.

When the insomnia got so bad, I started being prescribed Ambien, a powerful sleeping pill. The combination of Vicodin and Ambien was more dangerous than I could have known at the time. The Ambien was supposed to help me sleep, but if you stayed up past a certain point on Ambien, your mind goes into sleep mode, but you're physically awake. It puts you in a state similar to sleepwalking. This was incredibly dangerous because in that sleepwalking state, I would forget how many Vicodin pills I had taken -- to the point that I was not even caring how many I was taking. For years, I averaged 2-3 hours of sleep a night, thinking it was normal and that this was just a phase I was going through. I did not realize that taking an opiate-based prescription drug in combination with a sleeping pill was doing to my life. The scariest part was that the Vicodins would stop my breathing every once in a while. Those are still my scariest memories when I look back on it now. I was lying there awake, unable to breathe, thinking I was going to die, and my mind would go into panic mode. It was like being buried alive. I struggled to breathe with no avail, and I thought to myself that maybe if I passed out my body would start breathing again. I realize now that this is how people actually die from taking opiate-based pills.

I happened to be on probation at the time I was shot so during the first four years of my recovery, I wasn't able to smoke marijuana. After I got off probation a few years later, a close friend of mine who was shot a few years before me handed me a bag of weed and told me to try it when the pains was at its worst. At first I dismissed the idea. At the time, California had already legalized it for medicinal purposes, but there wasn't much information about how marijuana could help medicinally. I always thought that using marijuana for "medical use" was just an excuse for stoners to smoke legally, (not that I minded -- it's not like I haven't). One night, when the pain was bad, I took my friends advice, rolled up a joint, lit it up, and inhaled. It took about two to the three puffs but that's when I felt it. It was as if the pain melted away. I also noticed that not only did the pain go away, but I was actually able to function and wasn't put into a Zombie-like state. It was a miracle.

Even with the introduction of marijuana though, Vicodin had a hold on me. Years went by and I would self medicate during the day with marijuana and up to 6 pills at night. It almost felt normal to have such a poor quality of life. My closest friends would tell me I needed to get off of it because they said it changed me, but I couldn't see it. It made me anti-social to the point where I'd be hanging out with my friends, and leave abruptly so I can go home and take my pills. In the beginning of 2012, I started dating a nurse. She knew of this prescription called Marinol, whose main ingredient is delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active component in marijuana. She suggested I ask my doctor to give it a try, so I inquired with my pain management doctor about Marinol. After trying it, I started weening myself off Vicodin, and slowly diminishing my intake from 6 a night to 5, then 4, then 3, etc.

I am happy to say that as of April 2012, I have been completely opiate free. The quality of my life has drastically improved. My mind is clearer during the day and I'm able to sleep up to 8 hours a night. I find myself to be highly motivated and energetic again. I feel like I have a new lease on life. Since then, I've developed quite a passion for cannabis research -- what it is, why it affects your body, and how. It's become an obsession. I've learned how to extract the cannabinoids into oils and butter and create candies -- and other edible weed snacks. There was a problem with my prescription plan and the Marinol became too expensive, so now I am completely off all prescription drugs and only medicate with the edibles I make.

Thank God for Weed... because it saved my life. --- Jason

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Allen Berezovsky

New Music Friday: Snoop Dogg, Young Thug, Quality Control, A$AP Ferg and more

This week's New Music Friday has a new album from a rap legend in Snoop Dogg, a possible legend in the making with Young Thug, and one of the best rap crews with Quality Control, along with projects from shining R&B minds Snoh Aalegra and Bridget Kelly. Look below for the rundown on today's releases.

Snoop Dogg – I Wanna Thank Me

A week after top 50 rap lists circulated online, one of the greatest rappers ever has dropped his new project. After dropping his double-disc gospel LP in 2018, Snoop Dogg is back to what he does best with I Wanna Thank Me, the West Coast legend's 18th (!) studio album. Songs like "One Blood, One Cuzz" (feat. DJ Battlecat)" encourage gang unity, he experiments urbana sounds with "Do It When I'm In It" (feat. Jermaine Dupri, Ozuna and Slim Jxmmi), "Let Bygones Be Bygones" is dedicated to resolving his longstanding issues with Suge Knight, "Countdown" meshes Swizz Beatz adlibs with a classic West Coast sound, (feat. Swizz Beatz), and the title track uses his Hollywood Star acceptance speech to introduce a boastful, self-referential banger. Other guests on the 22-track offering include Slick Rick, Swizz Beatz, YG, Mustard, Russ, Wiz Khalifa, Trey Songz, the Hamiltones, Rick Rock, and RJmrLA. Snoop has spent the last 25-plus years becoming one of the most versatile musical artists on earth, and he tries out a variety of different styles here. He may be making his money in a variety of places, but the music is still consistent. Apple Music | TIDAL

Young Thug – So Much Fun

It's been two years since Young Thug dropped a full-length project, so fans have been foaming at the mouth for So Much Fun.  So Much Fun has 19 tracks and features from Future, Gunna, Lil Baby, 21 Savage, Lil Duke, Quavo, Lil Keed, Juice WRLD, and J. Cole and Travis Scott on the previously-released "The London." While Young Thug has been influential in recent years, and nailed appearances with stars like Post Malone, Camilla Cabelo and Ed Sheeran, he has yet to release a definitive record – and this may be his chance to do so. Apple Music | TIDAL

A$AP Ferg – Floor Seats EP

With the announcement of his Yedi Tour with MurdaBeatz and MadeInTYO starting in November, Harlem's A$AP Ferg is giving fans new music to mob to at the shows. The Floor Seats EP is nine tracks long, showcases Ferg at his energetic best, and features appearances by MadeInTYO, Asian Doll, Rico Nasty, A$AP Rocky, Ty Dolla $ign, and Brent Faiyaz. Apple Music | TIDAL

Various Artists – Quality Control: Control The Streets Vol. 2

Atlanta's Quality Control has established itself as one of the strongest crews in music, and Control The Streets Vol. 2 showcases the squad in full bloom. The follow-up to 2018's Vol. 1 includes QC members Migos, Lil Baby, City Girls, 24Heavy, DJ Durel, Duke Deuce, Jordan Hollywood, Kollision, Layton Greene, Stefflon Don, YRN Lingo, YRN Murk and Lil Yachty. Guest features are provided by DaBaby, Gunna, French Montana, Meek Mill, Megan Thee Stallion, Playboi Carti, Travis Scott, Young Thug and more. With 36 tracks, fans will have plenty to dig into. Apple Music | TIDAL

Curren$y – Hot August Nights

Hip-hop doesn't get more prolific than Curren$y. The New Orleans spitter releases music at a more consistent clip than anyone that's out there, and he's continuing that with Hot August Nights, his third project of 2019. Spitta is as consistent as it gets, so we're expecting no different with this seven-track work. Apple Music | TIDAL

Snoh Aalegra – - Ugh, those feels again

Swedish singer/songwriter Snoh Aalegra, signed to Def Jam and to No ID's ARTium Recordings imprint, has spent the last several years earning a fan base that included the likes of Prince and Drake, who sampled her song "Time" on his record "Do Not Disturb" from More Life. Now, after releasing four singles this year – "You," "I Want You Around You," "Find Someone Like You," and "Situationship" – she's dropping her sophomore album. If the title and singles are any sign, listeners will be in their feels just as much as she is. Apple Music | TIDAL

Bridget Kelly – The Great Escape EP

After her 2018 full-length Reality Bites, New York singer/songwriter Bridget Kelly has released her The Great Escape, a five-song EP with production from Ayo N Keyz and StarchildYezzo. "It's True" sees her professing her love to a new interest, and "Just Playin" sees her looking to apologize to a lover for going overboard in an argument. Apple Music | TIDAL

Kill Em All - Kill Em All

Mach-Hommy is making waves, but the Haitian rapper from New Jersey is an exercise in scarcity: he doesn't reveal his face, and much of his music is only attainable via physical copy for hundreds or thousands of dollars. So when he drops something readily available, his quickly-budding fan base pounces on it. Kill Em All is his second available project of 2019 with DJ Muggs, after Tuez-Les Tous dropped this spring. Expect Muggs' signature brand of sparse, gloomy beats, and Mach's equally dark, conceptual rhymes. Apple Music | TIDAL

Nef The Pharaoh – Mushrooms & Coloring Books

E-40 signee Nef The Pharaoh has released his latest LP, Mushrooms & Coloring Books, using Bay Area sounds and dropping quotables while enlisting guest appearances from the likes of Tyga, Slimmy B, LOE Gino, ShooterGang Kony, Scando The Darklord, Sada Baby, Rexx Life Raj and ALLBLACK.

Apple Music | TIDAL

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Normani Turns Back The Clock In “Motivation” Music Video

Normani pays homage to the early 2000s in the new music video for “Motivation,” the first official single off her forthcoming debut solo album. The nostalgic visual, released Friday (Aug. 16), finds Normani going all out in the choreography department, and sporting an unofficial uniform from the turn of the millennium complete with a studded belt, rhinestone belly button ring, and low rise jeans.

The New Orleans native teased the visual all week, and fans have been getting in the spirit sharing throwback trinkets like bedazzled flip phones, and airbrushed sweatshirts. Speaking of New Orleans, the “Love Lies” singer honors her NOLA music roots in the video by way of a jazzy dance break.

Although Normani has been mostly mum about her new music, she did reveal that Ariana Grande helped write “Motivation,” and has been “very supportive” as she embarks on releasing her debut.

“I talk to her about the creative process,” Normani told Rolling Stone. “I’m like, ‘When did you know your album was done.’ She was just like, ‘Honestly, you’ll know. Nobody will have to tell you. You’ll feel it. Just trust your instinct; trust your gut. And listen to that voice inside of you, and it’ll tell you that you’re done. Just take your time, too, and have fun in the process and make sure that it’s something that you love. She’s dope. She also has a part in the record that I’m releasing, too. She wrote on it.”

Watch “Motivation” in the video above.

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Doja Cat Gets Colorful In “Juicy” Music Video Feat. Tyga

Doja Cat’s claim to fame may be her hilarious, “B**ch I’m a Cow” single, but the 23-year-old rapper is actually very serious about her music and skilled at going viral. The Los Angeles native is giving fans even more to talk about in her colorful music video for the remix to her single, “Juicy,” featuring Tyga.

From watermelon, to peaches and cherries, “Juicy” is a fruit cocktail of sweet visual stimuli with a seeming nod to the vibrant '90s-era music videos like “Groove Is in the Heart.” In the video, released Thursday (Aug. 15), Doja flaunts her curves in everything from barely-there bikinis to a watermelon-themed catsuit.

In an interview with Hypbae earlier in the year, the rapper/singer -- whose debut album, Amala was released last year -- broke down some of the themes in her music. “I like to touch on topics of romance as far as sex, break-ups, and owning/embracing the rollercoaster we call love,” she said. “I love to write about emotional freedom and I love humor. I think it’s essential to be humorous and to have a comedic filter when I’m writing any of my songs. My message is freedom.”

Watch “Juicy” below.

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