Going Cali sober: why drink when you can smoke?

Published on August 31, 2020 · Last updated September 1, 2020
Man with a headache getting out of bed

There are few things in life worse than a hangover—and most of them are too gnarly to speak about to strangers.

That being said, it’s hard to find something as familiar and detestable as waking up with the indescribable pain and world-rocking nausea caused by a hangover, still dazed after a night out. 

For anyone that has never experienced one, consider yourself lucky. These post-drinking phenomenons feel as if someone drilled a hot poker through your head before throwing a bottle of expired baby talc in your eyeballs as you beg for water like a camel on a record-breaking summer day. Depending on whether you feel proud of what you did the previous night (or not), you can add the weight of moral guilt as heavy as a truck full of bricks. 

You ask yourself, “Why did I have that extra shot?” then self-soothe with the false promise of: “I’m never drinking again.” If it’s so horrible, why do we keep doing it? Well, because we live in a society engaged in a lusty affair with alcohol.   

How alcohol became the norm

Alexis Rosenbaum, the founder of RoseBudCD, has been Cali sober (consuming cannabis instead of alcohol) since 2015.

“The hardest part about quitting booze is how ingrained it is into our culture and community,” she says. “Sometimes I tell someone five times that I don’t need a drink before they stop asking me; people are just shocked and perplexed by the idea. It’s interesting to see how people react to sobriety.”

Alcohol is killing more Americans than ever. Here’s how to save them

It’s true. We love to drink. We do it to celebrate and to mourn. We clink booze-filled tumblers when we close a deal, and we fill glasses with bubbles to forget our ex. We get drunk when we’re too young to understand what life is about, and many of us continue to do so until our time has come to an end. 

Every year, around 3.3 million people die globally from alcohol-related deaths, but that hasn’t made us quit: in the US alone, fatalities caused by drinking have steadily doubled annually since 1999, while cannabis is responsible for zero deaths

What does it mean to be Cali sober?

No alcohol sign

For those of us far from teetotalism (full abstinence from alcohol) nor abiding by a straight-edged way of life—a term coined by the hardcore punk band Minor Threat to describe a subculture that avoids all sorts of intoxicants— switching shots for joints is immensely helpful. Rosenbaum agrees that it’s a significant boost to her feelings of proactivity, responsibility, and well-being. 

“Most memories with alcohol lead to an argument or something going wrong,” continues Alexis. “My family has a long history of drug and alcohol abuse, so it was something that was always on my mind. The best part of being Cali sober is the harmony I have with the people in my life”. 

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De-emphasizing booze is as much of a preference as an act of self-preservation. Alcohol’s prevalence isn’t just in the culture surrounding us, but it often shows up in our DNA if we’re related to anyone with an addiction. The paranoia of overindulging and the atonement of hangovers can often weigh on our mental health – and for many people, it just isn’t worth it. 

“When I weighed the pros and cons of alcohol consumption, the pros list was empty,” says Alexis. 

Can you be Cali sober outside of California?

With its cool West coast moniker, being Cali sober doesn’t require that you pack up and move to the beach. Elective-sobriety is becoming more and more popular in an age when long-term wellness has our attention and our prioritization.

Of course, switching bar-hopping for toking can be complicated in locations where cannabis is still illegal, but hiding a discrete vape or hitting the bowl before you leave the house is always an option.

Even while living in a medical state, I still get weird looks when I only order a soda at a bar or when I get invited to dinner and arrive with a six-pack of kombucha and my pre-rolls. But knowing I won’t wake up with a hangover is all the approval I need to have a fun night.

Don’t worry about what’s in my cup

Our society is pre-programmed to drink; we just don’t realize it. But every day, we’re bombarded with media and advertisements that make alcohol seem normal while cannabis remains illegal, difficult to obtain, and harshly penalized when enjoyed in public settings.

Most people resort to booze to initiate conversations, take the edge off an awkward first-date, or battle with social anxiety in a new environment. And for many people, cannabis does all of that without requiring you to deal with moral or physical hangovers.

How Cannabis Can Help You Cut Back on Alcohol and Live Healthier

If you live in a state where cannabis isn’t legal, why not start experimenting with a Cali sober lifestyle using CBD? It’s a great place to begin your journey into a cannabis-infused, alcohol-free life. CBD’s growing popularity makes it widely available in many cities where you might be tempted to drink, and it goes great with a mocktail.

With a glass in your hand, no one will care what’s in your cup, and if they do – tell them you’re about that Cali sober life.

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Santiago Rodriguez Tarditi
Santiago Rodriguez Tarditi
Santiago (@srtarditi) is a Colombian-born journalist focused on covering drug policy reform, cannabis culture, and the psychedelic renaissance. He’s the co-founder of @intu.rituals, a BIPOC/Latinx-owned CBD company.
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