When you smoke a joint in Grand Theft Auto V, lights get brighter, time moves slower, and your character's inner monologue drifts toward self-pity and anxiety: "I'm as happy as you can be when you're all alone and everyone hates you." It's a rare pop culture depiction of the not-so-fun side of getting high, in contrast to the consequence-free bliss of stoner flicks and weed raps. But it's real: advocates and detractors alike will tell you that a heavy weed habit can trap you in your own head and bum you out. A few of our favorite artists came to this realization on their own, and told FADER about taking the first step to their last hit.
Bassist, Real Estate
I was a really heavy smoker, and then something shifted in me. I wanna say about 2008-2009. I was just like, "This isn't working for me, I don't have to do this anymore, I don't want to do this anymore." I started to experience a really, really high degree of anxiety, the specific kind of anxiety that was really self-deprecating. I was getting high and I was just so down on myself. I'm a really social person. Friends of mine smoke constantly in social situations, and I would just like, shut down. "Everything I'm saying is lame, I'm weird, I'm a terrible person." I was denying that that was happening, because I would keep smoking, until one day something snapped and I was like, "Wait a minute, this is supposed to be fun. This is supposed to be something that makes me feel good, and that's not happening for me. So, I'm going to stop." I think I'd feel weird about it if I wasn't so happy with my decision. It just made so much sense to me once I got over that hump.
I been high before. All my friends smoke weed. I know they buy eigths and pounds and shit, and they like Swisher Sweets. Last time was '09, New Year's Eve. Ate a weed brownie, worst time in my life. Not for T. This mind shouldn't have anything in it. We was all at the studio, and I was like "Yeah, fuck it, I'll take a small piece of the weed brownie." I was fucked up, crying, wanted to die. This brain isn't supposed to have anything. I can't even take Benadryl without "[slurred] Ohh shit, the sky is so blue, oh my god, look at the skyyyyy."
I quit two years ago. I was signed with Rodney Jerkins for a little bit, and the way he runs his camp, he doesn't smoke or drink. So when we're in there working, it's kind of awkward to do it. We were in there one time, and Wyclef was like "Man, can you get me some weed?" I'm like, "'Course I got the weed!" We rolled it up, and Rodney was like, "Y'all gotta go outside and smoke." So I started slowing down, like okay, I'll just do it on the weekends. I've been smoking since I was like, 13. I had a girlfriend, and she always wanted me to stop. I'd sneak and smoke and try to wash my hands. Of course you can never get the smell off, so I'd go over there and she'd smell my fingers, and like start crying. It was crazy. And then fast forward to today: I don't smoke, and now she smokes.
On and off quitting for the past year, finally nailed the coffin about four months ago. Was dropping too much shit, leaving my stuff everywhere, tired all the time, spending too much money (not on music gear and traveling), and really unproductive. Finally feeling more energized, way less munchies, way more libido, way less anti-social/anti-mainstream. Quitting was pretty easy—just went heavy on the other psychedelics for a bit.
Me decide to find out if it was me singing or the ganja singing. And the scribe says, if it was the ganja singing, you're gonna stop singing. It's better when me sing. If the ganja can sing, the ganja gonna take you to a height that you can't come back. And the ganja love to mix with cigarette, and me get to hate cigarette. Me was addicted to cigarettes and me start to hate it, when me discover what it is. No cigarette, no ganja. Fully in control. I was out of control because I was following fashion, thinking it was the ganja making the people sing.
Singer, King Cyst
It wasn't like kicking a habit, but rather consciously choosing to no longer participate after years of it being a social staple. I was only ever enjoying myself maybe one out of ten times. The rest of the times sent me reeling from the sensation of having my social anxiety magnified. Contrary to the cliches, it never sparked any form of creativity either, and in fact was counterproductive. In the end, it was easy to quit because it was almost as if I was giving up on it. I never noticed an immediate change but I suppose I can say that it allowed me to focus on myself more creatively, vocationally, and socially, which at this point has left me with the highest self-esteem of my life.
It was around and it was tempting, so I tried it once when I was 17. I didn't like the after-effect—I was hallucinating and it made me nervous, like I was panicking. I didn't like that feeling, so I didn't do it again. Back then I was like, "If I see my friend do it, I'm gonna do it." I feel comfortable now because I know my way, I'll never do it. Y'all can smoke around me all day long for six months straight and I'm not gonna touch it. I sip lean instead. That's it.