Preferred Name: Jenna
Jenna is an artist and a musician and is studying for a degree in the arts. She’s single and lives on her own. She describes her ethnic background as ‘white Australian’: she was born in Australia, as were her parents.
Jenna began smoking cannabis regularly in her early twenties, and has continued to do so into her thirties. After about five years of regular cannabis consumption she began to think she might be experiencing an ‘addiction’ to cannabis. Over the years she’s stopped taking it for short periods but has no plans to stop altogether. Jenna says she sees cannabis as ‘part of [her] life’, and smokes around five days a week as ‘a private thing’ to help with her ‘creative practice’ when making visual art and music.
As an artist and a musician, Jenna describes smoking cannabis as part of her ‘creative practice’. She feels that it enables her to ‘process information’ differently, facilitating ‘her creativity’ and allowing her to ‘come at projects from a different angle’ with ‘different sensitivities to music and movement’. As she puts it, ‘I have a better sense of pitch…and can hear a lot more subtlety in notes…when I’m playing music and singing’ after smoking cannabis. She also says she feels ‘more intuitive’ and finds there’s ‘more fluidity’ in her playing.
When she was in her mid-twenties, she began thinking that smoking cannabis may be ‘a part of [her] life that [she] can’t remove’. Although her consumption hadn’t changed much over time, she began to think that it could be thought of as an ‘addiction’. She contrasts this with her consumption of MDMA and ice, which she takes every few months with friends when ‘going out dancing’. According to Jenna, her use of MDMA and ice is ‘more social’ than her cannabis use in that it facilitates ‘a shared wavelength’ with friends ‘on the same drugs’, as well as creating ‘different ways of social connection’, which she finds enjoyable.
At various times over the years, Jenna has stopped smoking cannabis for short periods, out of curiosity about ‘what [her] life would be like if [she] wasn’t smoking’ it. The last time she stopped for a month, she called it ‘a pretty nightmare month’ as she had also stopped smoking cigarettes. Although she felt that she was ‘more productive’ and ‘read a lot more’ over that month, she says ‘wasn’t very happy’, and resumed smoking cannabis. At times when she wants to cut down on cannabis, Jenna talks with her close friends in order to ‘reflect on’ her consumption and ‘think about whether [she’s] at a place with it where [she] want[s] to be’.
In the future, she plans to continue ‘being intellectually curious’ and to ‘progress in [her] artistic career’. She also hopes to ‘deepen [her] community connections and friendships’ and to ‘make a positive contribution to the world’. While Jenna says that smoking cannabis doesn’t necessarily figure in her future plans, she has no plans to stop smoking it altogether.
Jenna (F, 31, studying, cannabis) says that smoking cannabis improves her creativity and musical performance.
[Smoking cannabis] affects my creativity. It means my brain can process things in different ways. It has a good effect on my proprioception and musical interpretations and stuff, yeah […] So it means I can come at [my] projects from a different angle [with] different sensitivities to music and movement particularly […] It’s like, for me, a link to art and creativity […] When I have taken breaks from [smoking] it hasn’t been an issue. Like, I’ve still been able to be creative. I think the thing that it affects the most [is] in terms of proprioception, like movement and musical pitch and ability. Those things specifically are much harder for me without it […] So if I’m playing music, like playing an instrument and singing, I’ve got a much better sense of pitch when I’m high on weed than I do off it. And there’s kind of much more fluidity when I play an instrument. It’s more intuitive. Like, yeah, I can just hear a lot more subtlety in notes and things.
She discusses her cannabis consumption with select friends as a way of ‘reflecting on’ and managing it.
I guess there are some friends who I talk about it with. Sometimes there are particular friends I talk with, because with them I can reflect on my use and in doing that, think about whether I’m at a place with it where I want to be […] When I’m talking to them about it, because I think I’m smoking too much, then [I’ll talk…] about how it’s affecting me and what I want to be doing, whether I want to be smoking less or, you know [otherwise varying it].
Jenna says removing the stigma associated with drug consumption and addiction will enable her to be more open about her consumption.
[I think] that drug use and addiction [are] not necessarily things that are, like, inherently shameful or problematic but, you know, just things that people can live with. And yeah, like, I guess [I’m trying to overcome] the kind of internalised stigma that I might have around those things […] because if I don’t feel like there’s any shame or whatever attached to it, then I can be very like honest about it. Whereas if I felt ashamed about it, then I would maybe obscure to my friends, or to myself […] what sort of [drugs] I was using and how much.
Taking MDMA and ice in social settings helps Jenna to make new social connections.
Yeah, I guess the [other drugs I take] are very much more social. So MDMA and ice are ones that kind of happen socially […They enable] just different ways of social connection and creative expression, and those sorts of things […] I think MDMA is probably more of a sexual drug for me […] I mean I guess there’s a shared wavelength if you’re all kind of on the same drugs. And it, yeah, it breaks down barriers. So, yeah, dancing and other kind of physical and mental connections are different.
Jenna attends a health service that caters for her needs by assuring anonymity and offering discreet, non-judgemental care.
If I was going to talk to the [Health Minister] about [the] service [I attend] I would say they’re amazing because anyone can use them without needing ID. You know, it’s amazing to have this healthcare service where people can go without judgement, without fear of being identified [and] without needing to be [a] resident [of Australia]. It’s really important that there’s healthcare for everyone and for me personally, I don’t have to explain myself around sexuality, or drug use or sex work, or any of those things. And if I did feel judged on those sorts of things, then I wouldn’t be as honest with a healthcare person […] I would go [to that health service if I needed help with anything] because even if they couldn’t help me, I feel like they’d make a good referral.
[With] drug use [I’m…] not sure where I’d start […] There’s, like, a queer kind of alcohol and other drugs program at [my local LGBTIQ health promotion organisation] which is maybe where I’d start […] I don’t know that I’d be excluded [from other mainstream health services] but I just feel like the assumptions will be wrong probably, and I don’t want to have to explain stuff to them […I mean] assumptions that I’m straight, about the kind of sex that I have, about the kind of people I have sex with, those sorts of things.