“Start Smoking, It’s Good for You”
An Open Letter from Stanford Serial Entrepreneur and Toke With Co-Founder, Miguel Sugay
Hello, my name is Miguel Sugay. I’m a 27 year-old Stanford graduate, a former collegiate athlete, and a successful serial entrepreneur. This humble journey I have been fortunate enough to enjoy has been paved with many good decisions, but beginning to smoke has been one of the smartest ones that I’ve made along the way. Now, before you close the browser and start jumping to conclusions, hear me out…
Ever since I can remember I’ve been an obsessive worker. As a first-generation Filipino-American from humble beginnings, I understood early on the value of money through not having much of it, but I also quickly learned the value of hard work and education as a means to attain it. As a young teen I found myself working multiple jobs, regularly pulling academic all-nighters, and actively running every high school club possible to secure a scholarship that provided the only way I could afford tuition. I started getting splitting headaches in my senior year from all the sleepless nights. In the end, the sacrifices and dedication paid off, and I found myself admitted early into my dream university–Stanford.
College brought with it higher stakes and higher stress. To keep the financial burden off of my family who had already given me so much, I staffed my dormitory to earn room and board, tutored local kids on Skype between classes, simultaneously worked two additional off-campus jobs, and successfully walked onto a varsity sports team, eventually earning further tuition relief. Concurrent to all of this, I was flying into and living part-time in Las Vegas to launch one of my first apps (which we eventually sold to Amazon).
My now long-established, demanding routine led to regular bouts of stress-induced insomnia and a persistent migraine that growingly impeded simple daily activities. With the levels now raised from earning academic scholarships to securing multi-million dollar investments, I found myself in a persistently unbalanced and unhealthy state. After a year of that vicious cycle, I turned to over-the-counter medicine and copious amounts of alcohol as a means to escape the harsh reality only I had created. Yet the consequences of these substances only further degraded my body and mind, and what was once manageable had seemingly evolved into a more serious problem. I knew I needed to find a sustainable solution.
Then I discovered cannabis.
The first time I responsibly smoked weed was in 2013 at the ripe old age of 22, and it was a transcendental experience. Growing up I was told by every authority figure in my life that smoking weed was bad for the body, and that anyone who got high was doomed to be a failure. However, at this auspicious moment in what appeared to be a downward spiral in my health, I found myself open to trying anything that could provide some relief. So, I smoked my first bowl.
Immediately and overwhelmingly, I felt this calm envelop my body for what felt like the very first time. The cannabis allowed me to gain clarity and seemed to tap into a newfound part of my brain that allowed me to find a long-missing inner peace. More surprisingly, I found myself slipping into one of the deepest and most revitalizing, headache-free slumbers I had experienced in years.
The next day, as soon as the cloudiness had dissipated, I had to see if this positive cannabis experience could be replicated to the same effect. I packed a bowl and stepped out on the balcony. Success. But judging from my challenge in figuring out the carb and the raucous cough I let loose after every hit, I admittedly was a neophyte when it came to weed, which was not a position the nerd in me typically liked to find myself. Therefore, I endlessly scoured the Internet and learned everything there was to learn about cannabis, our body’s endocannabinoid system, healthiest ways to consume and more all to one conclusion–that I had been misinformed and misled all my life.
Without hesitation, I began completely substituting cannabis for alcohol whenever possible, and I found that my unsustainable work schedule became more manageable, sometimes even enjoyable. I became a more calm, empathetic, and effective leader. I became a more present friend and family member. I truly had a new view on life. People began asking me if I had been working out, or what I had begun to do differently. Best of all, I found myself genuinely happy in the present, a feat some fail to ever accomplish in their lives.
It took years of pain, dedication, and delirium to find out the simple truth that many cannabis consumers have known and espoused for generations–smoking weed is smart.
As I reversed even my own prejudices towards “stoners,” I quickly discovered a vibrant community bursting at the seams with unique, creative, and intellectual genius all-around. I have been blessed to personally meet powerful CEOs, brilliant computer engineers, world-renowned athletes, and every other type of productive human imaginable, all who clandestinely consume cannabis on a regular basis as a result of the still pervasive stigma.
Through this first-time experience and the many wonderful interactions I have had with the cannabis community in learning through and building the Toke With platform, my preconceptions about marijuana have dissipated.
End the stigma.
I’ll be blunt here: the dated, Reefer Madness-caused stigma against cannabis consumption is holding back our entire society.
As someone who has been branded “smart” and even called a “human encyclopedia” at times since a very early age, I felt embarrassed that I did not understand cannabis earlier in life. I was frustrated that I had been miseducated repeatedly about this naturally-occurring plant’s beneficial effects.
I started searching for others like me–professional, unrelenting, hard-working “potheads.” I wanted to see if there truly were others out there that defied the commonly-held stereotypes about smoking weed.
I soon found out that many of my most successful and intelligent friends imbibe regularly. When I would ask them how smoking helps them achieve better work results, they all seemed to have the same list of benefits: increased creativity; diminished stress or anxiety levels; and more restful sleep among many things.
I thought to myself, “If these clear benefits were obvious to so many educated, intelligent, and successful people, then why is there still so much mass misinformation about the positive effects of cannabis?” Thus, I created Toke With to break the cycle of misinformation still circling our society and to shed new light on the positive aspects of the developing legal cannabis world.
Testing this product over the last 6 months has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my lifetime. I have witnessed first-hand the authenticity, kindness, and intellect that our community possesses. The mystery around how we smokers have been ascribed the off-base stereotypes and inaccurate labels has only become even more nebulous to me as I dive deeper into the true beauty of what it is we stand for and are all about.
I created Toke With to help bring legitimacy and pride to all who consume cannabis for medical or any other positive benefits. Toking does not mean you’re lazy. Toking does not mean you’re dumb. In fact, I think it means quite the opposite–smoking is smart.
As a successful Stanford serial entrepreneur and widely renowned workaholic, I can affirm that cannabis has changed my health, career, and life for the better. My hope is to impart this wisdom through our platform and to provide others the opportunity to access this same knowledge I now possess.
Join me in changing the way we learn about cannabis. Join me on Toke With.