I have a confession to make: I’m a 37-year old woman and last week I tried weed for the first time.

What took me so long?

First, I grew up under the D.A.R.E. generation’s mantra of “Just Say No” and the propaganda that marijuana was “a gateway drug”. With addiction in my family—from alcohol to needle drugs—I avoided everything because I never wanted to flip that genetic switch.

Second, I didn’t associate with the people who had access to marijuana in high school. I admit I was pretty judgmental about those who used marijuana, because at the time I viewed them as unmotivated “stoners”.

By the time I was an undergrad in Eugene, Oregon, I had acquaintances who smoked marijuana at parties. I never liked the smell of it, so I wasn’t curious to venture into the smoke-filled room at the back of the Party House. I also dodged cannabis when I lived in New York City and then San Francisco.

To this day, I’ve never smoked tobacco and my 21st birthday was the first time I was drunk. I enjoy a glass of wine or margarita occasionally, but I never saw how cannabis could fit into my life, so I avoided it.

If I hadn’t moved to Colorado in 2014, right when adult use became legal, and if I hadn’t spent a year filming 40 female “ganjapreneurs” for Mary Janes: The Women of Weed”, I doubt I would have ever tried cannabis. In the ultimate life plot-twist, my first “sesh” was on camera for all the world to see in the forthcoming film.

Playing It Safe

I’ve been fortunate to meet dozens of highly knowledgeable cannabis connoisseurs, so I started asking advice on how to consume cannabis the first time. The advice varied from topicals to vaping, but the consensus was “To start low and go slow” to ensure I had a positive reaction. Everyone wanted to help me avoid overindulging on my first try–now known as “Dowding”— after Maureen Dowd’s infamous Colorado visit. A lot of women were looking out for me, so I started to call them my Cannabis Fairy Godmothers.

Still apprehensive about getting “high,” I decided to start with a Topical Relief Oil from Empower Body Care. The Vegan, Paraben-free, and GMO-free cannabis oil won the 2017 Dope Industry Award for Best Topical. Trista Okel, the Founder and CEO of Empower, assured me I couldn’t get “high” from using the oil transdermally (through my skin), but it would provide some pain relief. It smelled like ginger and fresh herbs–nothing like that smoky party room in college. The directions were simple: “Put it where it hurts.”

The night before, I slept wrong and had a kink in my neck, so I rolled on the empower oil. In under five minutes, I regained most of the mobility in my neck. Plus, I didn’t have the “spicy” feeling or weird medication smell of other topical pain relief creams and gels. I reapplied throughout the next few days, and it continued to offer relief.

Even with playing it safe, I found a great product to ease neck pain! I was getting ready to take the next step…