Is “California Sober” A Real Thing?

by Kevin
welcome to california

If you spend a lot of time on insufferably fashionable culture blogs, you’ve almost certainly come across the term “California Sober” or – ugh – “Cali Sober.” It’s all the rage among people whose job is coming up with stylish content for hip websites. 

But here’s the thing: old men yelling at clouds that we are, we gotta admit those bloggers have a point. California sober is a really damn cool idea, and a great way to address consumption and moderation in a realistic way. 

What does it mean? California sober can mean different things depending on who you’re talking to – a lot of the articles on it are written from a first-person perspective, and each writer tailors it to their specific needs. Some take it to mean only using cannabis and abstaining from other intoxicants; others include psychedelics like mushrooms in their regular intoxicant use. Either way, weed is a key component. No drinking, no hard drugs, no recreational Adderall, no paint thinner. You shouldn’t drink paint thinner anyway. If you do, please stop.

The goal of California sobriety is to manage one’s wellness needs while abandoning those things that only feel good in the short term. Practitioners hang onto weed as a calming influence, a mind-expander, a way to harness creativity or a way to manage depression and anxiety – which, incidentally, is rampant among exactly the kind of creative people who write for style blogs.

Mostly, the goal is to stop drinking booze. And if you drink a lot of booze, a little THC and CBD might be the best way to wean yourself off. And, frankly, weed is better than booze overall.

Look, booze is great. Beer is great. Wine is great. Mai tais at a beachside bar in Kona are great. And drinking alcohol isn’t bad for you per se. Like anything else considered a vice, drinking booze has a variety of effects on your body, ranging from pleasant to deleterious. Alcohol can hurt your liver if you drink too much, and even if you don’t drink too much, it’s putting your liver and kidneys to the test. Most people’s liver and kidneys are more than up to the task of filtering a moderate amount of bourbon, bock or beaujolais – and those same moderate amounts can help ease everyday stresses. That might be why many studies show that people who drink alcohol in moderation tend to live longer – since drinking in moderation is a good way to not let your worries overwhelm you to the point that they’re having a physical impact on your health. Those who argue against against alcohol consumption often seem to forget that for most adults, the goal of imbibing isn’t getting drunk so much as simply relaxing and having a good time. And for most people, that’s a job that can be done with a single glass of wine or a couple of medium-strong beers. 

So don’t pay too much attention to a series of rigid social mores that are nearly a century old. You need to make the decision that’s right for you, your health, and your lifestyle. That being said: Pot can do everything that booze can do, and at a fraction of the impact on your health. 

Pot doesn’t really have any calories. There’s a reason we call a big gut a “beer belly” – because even the lowest-calorie beers still have about 100 calories per can, and that’s usually at an alcohol-by-volume rate of about 4 percent. So low calorie beers aren’t going to offer much of a buzz unless you drink two or three. Higher-ABV beers can be denser and have twice the calories. Wine and liquor are relatively low calorie, provided you’re not drinking sangria or cocktails with lots of sugary mixers. Pot, on the other hand, has no calories at all if you smoke or vape it. And even edibles only run 10 or 20 calories per 5mg of THC. You can work that off with a walk around the block.

Weed hangovers aren’t really a thing. You might get a little dehydrated and experience some dry mouth, but it’ll be nothing compared to the dehydration from a night of drinking. Weed is a painkiller and anti-inflammatory, so it’s unlikely to give you a headache. Bonus: You won’t need to pee constantly. 

Smoking weed isn’t as dangerous as smoking tobacco. OK, it’s true – inhaling any kind of smoke into your lungs isn’t ideal (which is why a lot of folks use edibles instead). But if you’re gonna choose between weed and cigarettes, go with weed every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Weed isn’t full of weird additives that may or may not be designed to addict you. Plus, it’s a hell of a lot easier to roll your own.

Long-term alcohol use can take a strong toll on your body. Forget hangovers. Booze can wreak havoc on your liver and kidneys, not to mention your heart and pancreas. Also, you can die from drinking too much booze at one time – it happens on college campuses every year (even the ones without frat houses). The only way to die from weed overdose is to be crushed under a ton of it.  

People turn to California sobriety because they know they’re not gonna go cold turkey on every brain-altering chemical. Extremes like that aren’t sustainable – what if you go out with friends and someone brings a bottle of homemade wine? What if your favorite brewery is dropping a new bourbon barrel aged imperial stout? California sober allows you those occasional cheats, and using weed as a calming agent instead of alcohol means you won’t feel too bad about them. 

So give it a try – those bloggers are on to something. Start small. Maybe avoid drinking for a week, or a month if you can. Or limit yourself to one glass of wine/whiskey/bourbon barrel aged imperial stout per week. Meanwhile, manage your weed intake as well, maybe by scheduling your smoke breaks or taking one or two edibles per day. Tailor your approach to your needs, and remember that even the slowest runner on the track is lapping the guy who never left the couch. Good luck.

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