Citation: Syberduh. "'Just Weed?': An Experience with Cannabis (exp14584)". Erowid.org. Apr 1, 2005. erowid.org/exp/14584
I really don’t know what happened to me on anight of Friday. It could have been anything from an adverse reaction to a large amount of THC to a full on trip caused by a completely different substance. In any case, it was an experience I won’t soon forget. This is the 90% unabridged account of what happened next (at least the 90% unabridged account of what I can remember). The other 10% I doubt I will ever tell to anyone. Those are some very personal insights that I think I’ll leave for myself to ponder.
I should preface this tale with a bit of background about my drug experience. Though I’d smoked a reasonable amount of weed in my life and experimented with E and meth, at the time of this experience I had ZERO experience with hallucinogens and was caught completely off guard by what happened. That undeniably had a profound impact on what ensued.
The whole thing started as I walked into a dorm room where five or six people were already good and stoned. One guy, Rick, had just finished rolling a very big joint of what I assumed was the same weed that the rest of the people in the room had just smoked. I’m normally not a big smoker but I was a little irritated at being the only sober person in the immediate vicinity so when Rick asked if anyone wanted to share the joint I said I would take a hit or two. Rick, one other guy, Mike, and I walked outside into a little courtyard that was surrounded on three sides by the walls of the dorm. They lit up the joint and we started passing it around. I wound up taking three hits, the third one really against my better judgment, as I tend to have a very low tolerance for weed.
My mood for the evening was irritated boredom. It was a Friday night and I was not at a party (the consensus of the boys in our hall was that a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night spent in the dorms was a wasted night – such is life at a University where the students are ashamed of being *demoted* to the rank of #5 party school in the nation). I was planning to trek over to another dorm in an hour or two but I decided to smoke a little to pass the time.
The first thing I noticed besides the usual light-headedness was that the scene in the distance, which was a few other buildings and a streetlight or two, seemed to have the qualities of a Thomas Kincaid painting – sparkles of light that just melt perfectly into the surrounding area – mixed with the qualities of a Maxfield Parish painting – smooth textures on everything, broad brushstrokes – especially the sky. Everything looked painted. Now I wasn’t really worried at this point. I’ve had minor hallucinations like this before while smoking weed – especially at night. This one would probably qualify as the most pronounced of those minor hallucinations but it was still nothing that really set off alarms in my head. Mike went inside sometime during all this in order to get us some water – as everybody knows joints are a little hard on the throat (I would later learn that he was already experiencing some pretty intense hallucinations). When he didn’t return after a while, Rick and I decided we would go back inside. I was feeling the weed very strongly as we reentered the building and I muttered something about how I was going to go up to the drinking fountain. I weaved my way down the hall, my vision swimming, but thankfully not spinning.
When I reached the end of the hall, I realized for the first time that I would have to climb stairs to make it to the water fountain. That was a strange feeling – especially at the point where the stairs reached a landing and doubled back – but I managed to get to the top. I got my drink of water and decided to go back to my room and go to sleep. This weed had really knocked me on my ass – or so I thought. I got back to my room and it was dark except for two computer screens. My roommate was watching a DVD on his computer and mine had a paused computer game (Baulder’s Gate 2, for the curious). I sat down to turn off the computer and that’s when things started to get really weird.
In retrospect I could have just used the power button and turned the computer off in a matter of seconds. But by this point I was starting to get very interested in the way the light from the monitor was highlighting the tops of my fingers and my knuckles – as well as hundreds of folds and wrinkles in my shirt. It was then that my vision started playing tricks on me. If you can picture the normal “frame rate” at which you view life and then imagine having that frame rate cut to two frames per second you’ll get an idea of what I was seeing. I was still in the process of shutting down the game and the computer – but that task was somehow relegated to my subconscious as much more interesting things began to happen. Suddenly I wasn’t really in my room. The surroundings were the same but the scenario in my mind had changed. I got the sense that I was in a very early 80’s music video with very stark lighting and what I could only describe as . . . “trippy” visuals. My next thought was that I had been transplanted into the animated movie “Heavy Metal,” a very . . . trippy . . . movie. I could see my arms and hands in front of me, but they were not really my own. Somehow my vision had moved back behind my eyes and I was viewing the scene from inside my head. After sitting in this state for several moments it finally dawned on me. I WAS tripping.
It was a gigantic shock. I could hardly believe it. This was NOT what I had signed on for. I immediately became extremely angry with Rick. How DARE he. What the FUCK was he thinking – not telling me what the fuck I was smoking. I was going to tell him off the next time I saw him – no – punch the bastard out – kill him? That was when the first onslaught of free associational thinking occurred. I experienced a cascade of images. 5,000 . . . 10,000 different ways to kill someone. StabShootRendTearCrushStabStabStabLiverHeartSpineShoot . . . Not pleasant. This was NOT a good experience. This is what the anti-drug crazies said would happen. This is a bad trip. This is a nightmare. This is painful. PAIN. This is awful. This is the worst I have ever felt. This must be what torture feels like. This is torture . . . THIS. IS. HELL. That realization hit me harder than anything had so far. I was in hell.
All of this was in a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions that flashed by frighteningly quickly. I stared paralyzed and wide-eyed at the computer screen, which was displaying the exit graphic for the game. There was a constant klaxon blaring in my ears. This sound may have been the single worst part of the entire experience. The only word I can think of to describe it is oppressive. It was oppressively loud, oppressively low, oppressively bone/mind rattling. My consciousness fractured into several different pieces. One still feebly trying to shut down the computer – one, almost completely detached from the rest, keeping a running monologue and record of the events (at the moment it was repeating the less than helpful mantra “This is hell. This is hell.”) – one taking in the incredibly terrifying scene. Most of the aforementioned pain was focused in a burning sensation that enveloped my whole body. The game screen was made up most of shades of orange and yellow – which whether or not it caused the burning sensation – did not help. After several terrifying moments, I somehow managed to turn the computer off.
I experienced my first moment of calm. As the night wore on I would notice that my sense of hearing was, or at least seemed to be, extremely acute during these respites from the most vivid hallucinations. I could clearly hear my heightened breathing through my nose. But I was safe for now. Bed. If I could just crawl into bed and close my eyes I would be ok. I looked to my right at my bed. It was covered in a mound of clutter that normally would have taken me half a minute to clear, but in my present state it seemed like an insurmountable task. I grabbed the first couple of things I could get my hands on – a pair of jeans and a shirt. As I began to carry them towards my closet I remembered a conversation that I had had with a friend of mine about one of his acid trips – I had no idea what I was actually on but I certainly had my suspicions. I remembered his story about playing the game Diablo before taking acid and then walking into his basement to the sight of people impaled on spikes throughout the room.
Instead of jumping to that particular hallucination, my mind ran off on a different but related tangent. Focusing on the game Baulder’s Gate 2 and all of the little horrors that I had seen while playing it. My mind positively flew through every detail of the game and came to a stopping point on the giant spiders I had been fighting the day before. I sputtered there for a second on the edge of a precipice that I knew I had no power to avoid – wondering just how bad this might get. Was that movement in the shadows of the closet? Just at that moment, some bit of insight came shooting out of the back of my mind and completely enveloped my brain. “THIS IS NOT A GOOD LINE OF THOUGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” I think that was the only time during the experience that I was able to bend its direction consciously.
At this point I reached complete overload for the first time in the evening. Thank god my mind was off the subject of giant spiders but it was spinning out of control in every direction. By some chance, my eyes flicked sideways to the left. It was like I had hit the reset button. I snapped back into a fairly normal reality. It was quite a jolt, something like slamming into a wall at a thousand miles per hour, but it was certainly better than the alternative. I was still acutely aware that I was under the influence of a mind altering drug, but the frame rate had gone back to normal and the light streaming in through the open doorway that lead into the hall was very comforting. “The light is good. Stay focused on the light.” My internal monologue piped up again. I’ve got to tell Jim – in case I start to lose it at least he’ll know what the fuck is going on. I turn around. Blur. Whoa. Definitely still under the influence. The room settles back down. I make my way towards my roommate – he’s apparently still oblivious to my condition. I guess I haven’t done anything too strange. I put my hand on his shoulder. He looks up and takes his headphones off.
I can barely speak but manage to get across the main point that I’ve taken something psychedelic. I tried to express that I hadn’t known what it was that I was smoking but I’m not sure if that got across. I started listing outloud every hallucinogenic substance that I thought might have an outside chance of being smokable. LSD, PCP, K, Opium, Shrooms, Mescaline. What had I taken into my lungs and bloodstream?
Thank god for two things: 1) Jim is a very calm, levelheaded guy 2) He is a bit of a psychonaut. He started talking to me in his normal, calm voice, which was immensely comforting to me because it sounded nothing like what I had been hearing inside my head. I realized that even my own internal monologue had been at screaming intensity in order to be heard over the klaxon sound. Jim’s voice was mercifully quiet. I told him I thought that I was through the most intense part of it. He laughed a little bit. “I’m not so sure about that one.” He continued to talk for a while relating part of his most recent acid trip. Then he got up and said he was going to go ask exactly what it was I had smoked. I nodded, not really realizing that I was letting my link with reality walk out the door. The inside of the room was still dark so I turned around again to stare at the light of the hallway through the open door. The contrast between light and dark was just too much. As I watched, the shape of the door began to warp from a rectangle into a parallelogram. My eyes looked to the left again and the scene snapped back to normal. This time it was even more jarring and really not worth it. As I watched the door began to warp again. The hallucination would not be denied. This was all just too much for my equilibrium. I became aware of a strong sense of nausea. Time to make for the bathroom. I had resisted the urge until now. I didn’t know what my mind would make of the toilet’s mini-whirlpool. Rational thoughts like that would occasionally interject themselves during calm moments of the experience. I don’t think they really helped me do anything other than anticipate the next descent away from rational thought.
The trip to the bathroom was surprisingly normal from what I remember. Luckily it’s only two doors down from my room. I stumbled through the hallway with a slight sense of a rainbow effect from the lights. I made it to one of the stalls and realized that, along with the nausea, I had what felt like a full bladder. I might have ignored it except for a vague fear that I might lose all control of bodily functions during another hallucination. So I stood over the toilet trying my very best to pee. I don’t know how long I stood there, nauseous, trying to piss. But when I finally did it was in slow motion . . . and musical. My urine was creating a song as it hit the water in the toilet bowl as if by playing little bells. Yes, even at the time it seemed weird. Well I flushed the toilet and switched stalls. Who wants to stick his head in the bowl of a toilet that he’s just pissed in? I felt as if I would puke any second, but as I knelt, my head in the bowl, breathing hard, I started to notice the way the light was playing off the ripples that my breathing was causing in the water. My eyes were drawn into the prism, or at least the perceived prism, that was created by the water and the white porcelain beneath it. Vision seemed to be drawn downward into what, for lack of a better description, I will call a tunnel of light. If you’ve ever seen the end of 2001: A space Odyssey, you know what I’m talking about. The only differences were that the apparent speed was much faster and the scene was much brighter.
Again I was conscious of a very loud sound that seemed to envelop me completely. However, this wasn’t the horribly oppressive klaxon of before. Maybe it was inspired by the musical peeing. But it seemed to me that I was surrounded by an absolutely massive choir made up entirely of sopranos (given the nature of the hallucination to come I can only speculate that they were angels). What they sang was wordless and shrill but it did have harmony. I can’t remember most of what I saw in the water of that toilet bowl but most of it was patterns and flashes of light that I think my optic nerve is still recovering from. Depending on the intensity of what I was seeing, the pitch of the singing would vary. From relatively low (something that a human soprano might actually have a prayer of hitting) to almost ultrasonic. The images got perpetually more complex and intense as the hallucination went on. And then, for just a moment, I saw . . . God. Not an old man on a throne, but a pattern of colors and light that was simply perfect. I knew that nothing more complex or beautiful could possibly exist. Ever. I just KNEW it was God. The image flashed away so quickly that I could almost deny that I had seen it. But then it was BACK. The choir was screeching such an impossibly high note in my head that I thought I would pass out.
And I became aware that I was weeping. Despite all the logical impossibilities, all the contradictions, all the religious crap. Somehow . . . God. Did. Exist. And then I was laughing uncontrollably at the irony of this little vision. I was seeing the answers of life, my soul laid bare in the water of a toilet bowl. I laughed like a madman and cried oceans at the same time. Irony. Good Christ. Somehow my inner observer was still intact and making fun of this situation.
And then it was over. And I was staring into a lifeless toilet bowl. And my acute hearing was back. And I could hear the dripping showerhead two stalls over. I sat like that for a while. And then I puked. Oh god did I ever puke. And then I dry heaved. Oh god did I ever dry heave. At some point Mike came in and started puking in the other stall. And then Jim came in and asked us if we needed anything. And then Jim came in again and asked me if I thought I could make it to bed without puking. Somehow I did. I pushed all the junk onto the floor and curled up on my bed. Unconsciousness was mercifully quick.
And so that was it. From the depths of hell to the rapture of heaven – my first extended hallucination was nothing if not far-ranging. I never did find out for sure what it was that caused the hallucinations. Rick swears to this day that it wasn’t laced with anything and that he didn’t experience anything other than being really stoned. However, Mike had an experience that was similar in intensity to mine. I don’t really have much choice but to believe Rick and assume that it was just exceptionally potent cannabis - in which case I have just gained a HUGE amount of respect for what I used to consider “just weed.”
In retrospect the shape of the experience is not all that surprising. I can see where and how my most personal fears and curiosities were played out as I watched – mostly powerless – to stop or alter their effects. It was therapeutic in a way. Extraordinarily frightening in another. I wasn’t quite myself again for several days. The bad parts were very bad. But the good parts were good enough that I’m curious to explore this altered state of consciousness again - with a prepared mind and a friendly environment in which to experience it.
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