The Beginning Of My Cannabis Journey…

Originally published at The Pot Medic
By Paul Cercy

You never forget your first time.

Sex, drugs, or rock and roll. No matter if it’s your first concert or your first joint, these are the moments in life that will stick in your mind forever. I came to the party late in life. I wish I could tell you funny stories about me skipping high school classes and getting stoned. My childhood was actually spent sheltered by a religious family background, so I was a straight arrow until I was in my twenties. Typical for southern bred gents like me.

After high school, I went right into tech school to become a paramedic and farther away from any imaginings of me becoming a full fledged cannabis advocate.

In 2006, I moved to Pacific Grove, California-following my younger brother there and hoping to meet new people, and new adventures. I planned to transfer my paramedic credentials and stay for a while. I was in my early twenties and I had to get out of Dixie. A new life in Cali, was just the thing I wanted.

My brother was stationed in nearby Monterey Bay at the Defense Language Institute. He recently survived Marine Corps boot camp and found himself stationed there to learn a second language for his new job. His studies were to last at, minimum, one year, so I jumped at the opportunity to follow him and get a taste of the California lifestyle.

I found an apartment with relative ease, after only a day of searching the roommate wanted ads in the local paper. The tenant’s name was Jason and he was close to 30 at the time. I was 24. He was chill and laidback, like an awesome older brother that showed me around and got me adjusted to the new town. It was really a beautiful place. Hailing from the pine trees of swampy northeast Florida, I was not used to such breathtaking scenery.

The apartments were situated near the bay and our roost was on the third floor. From my balcony, I was able to peer past the line of short trees that stood sentry around the carefully manicured cemetery across the road, at the bay side. Down on the rocks, sea lions could be seen sun bathing, and I was only a short distance up the beach from the iconic Pebble Beach tree. You know, the gorgeous lone cypress tree that everyone loves to take pictures of:


Yes, this was truly a special place.

I’ve never taken any sort of drug, except for alcohol at that time. Like I said, I was a straight arrow and only a year removed from being a youth pastor in training. Jason had a medical cannabis card, which was my first experience with cannabis being used as a prescription. I listened to him talk and took in this new and exciting information. He was very intelligent and articulated the research points well. He wasn’t your stereotypical stoner.

My time in California ended up being short, because of the process for transferring my paramedic license was a difficult one. I had begun running out of money and had to get a job at Starbucks, in the meantime. After a few short months, I decided I had to move back to Florida, back to where I was able to get an ambulance job more quickly and catch up my bills.

For weeks, Jason tried to get me to smoke with him. I wanted to try it, but I was afraid of popping positive on a drug test that I knew I would have to take when I got home. One of those facts about my line of work. He assured me that it would be out of my system after a few days, as long as I didn’t keep smoking, he had explained with a smirk and a wink.

I remembered back to a time a few weeks earlier, when he had just returned from a trip to the dispensary and stood at the doorway to my room. I was sitting on my bed, at least 15 feet away, when he popped the topped on his container. In seconds, the entire room seemed to fill the air with this dank, but sweet smell. Pungent, but curiously candied and pleasant.

“What is that?” I had asked in an inquisitive tone. Purple Haze was what he called it.

This was the same Purple Haze stash that he pulled out the day I decided to smoke for the first time. I made a deal with him that I would smoke the day before my last day. So, we jumped in his older model black Lexus and drove down to smoke at the cliffs along the bay.

He packed some of the purple and green stinky herb into a very decorative glass pipe, that looked liked it had been in use for many years. I was not an experienced smoker of anything, so trying to learn how to light, inhale and cover the carb and then let it go at the right time, was a hilarious scene. With a little help, I was able to draw in a nice lung full of the thick hot smoke, which was quickly followed by a gasp, a choke, and then a fit of coughs that seemed to propel this smoky drug further into my system.

After regaining control of my breathing, and settling the coughing rage that seemed to shake my soul, I began to feel it slowly creep upon me. Like a morning fog, slowly creeping across a lush valley. We passed the pipe back and forth a few more times, and I was what they call in modern stoner parlance, “fucking lit, man.”

My eyes were heavy, but I felt this exciting and happy feeling rush across me. Everything was more noticeable, like the brightness of color and the sounds of the waves splashing across the rocks of the beach. Everything thing else, the noise of the day, and the anxiety of life, was quieted down and pushed into the background.

We returned to our abode after getting nice and lifted, and I began to have a strange desire to eat. Anything, it didn’t seem to matter, I was just craving something. For a fat kid who loves to eat, I quickly found out what it meant to have the munchies. I also discovered the magic that Mary Jane brings to your taste buds. Oh my, oh my!

That had been a surreal experience and I love to think back to that time. It introduced to me a whole new world.

Now, with many more pipe fulls under my belt, I am drawn to the medical and therapeutic benefits of cannabis. We are at a time in our society where the research is finally starting to change opinions about this amazing plant. As a former paramedic, I see the value not only for patients, but for first responders as well. Veterans, too. Anxiety, depression, and PTSD are common place in the EMS and military fields. The sights we see, and the range of human suffering that crosses our senses, all has effects on our minds. Cannabis helps in ways other pharmaceutical options do not, or cannot.

It is my hope that we can do more to educate others about the clear facts of medical cannabis. By starting this blog, and soon a podcast, I am doing my small part toward that goal.


Remember to keep your friends close and your buds closer,


I just started my new WordPress blog, The Pot Medic. Follow along for everything related to cannabis news, culture and research. The Pot Medic Podcast is also coming soon!