Photo by Yash Lucid

I quit marijuana for 30 days.

Neil Kollipara
6 min readOct 11, 2022


For half my life, I was a chronic user of marijuana.

And this past month, I decided to shake it up and take a break.

Here’s how it went.

The Backstory

The first time I took a rip off a joint, I was 16 years old.

At the time, I was a sophomore in high school and I lived in an affluent suburb of Detroit.

Most of my friends came from privilege. And most of them smoked pot.

Sometimes we’d skip school to smoke. On Friday and Saturday nights, we’d get baked. And on at least two occasions that I recall, I smoked in the bathroom at school. Didn’t get caught, but it was a very stupid idea.

Fast forward to undergrad at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, where I smoked on campus just about every day. Well, multiple times every day. One time, I smoked with a couple friends before an important presentation. Surprisingly, it went well (this was an anomaly).

In 2012, I was arrested for misdemeanor possession of marijuana and it cost me $1,500 in legal fees, $300 in court fees, and much mental distress.

During probation, I suffered my first panic attack.

And when my probation officer released me four and a half months early, the first thing I did was roll a fat joint.

In 2014, when my girlfriend (now wife) and I moved in together, I decided it would be wise to get a medical marijuana card, in the event that I should get caught by law enforcement.

For several years, up until our son was born in 2017, we were cannabis connoisseurs. I made frequent trips to my favorite dispensary in Ann Arbor to buy my favorite strains.

Through the pandemic, I smoked.

Into 2021 and 2022, I smoked. A lot. At parties, during evenings, on the weekends… any occasion was an occasion to get high.

My two glass bowls, Huckleberry Finn and Pocahontas, took residence on my home office window ledge next to the grinder and Bic lighter.

Weed was just a regular thing, like breathing and sleeping.

And then, last month, it dawned on me: Weed isn’t serving me anymore.

Why was I even using cannabis in the first place?

Was I smoking to numb some pain?

Cope with trauma?


These questions led me to dig deeper into my habit.

I do suffer from generalized anxiety, and I had always heard that cannabis alleviated stress, anxiety, and depression.

But the weed didn’t seem to help with relief. Whether I was high or not, I was still struggling.

As I dug into my habit, I observed that my cannabis use was mindless. Weed was there, available and ready, and I smoked mostly out of reflex.

The marked characteristics of mindful cannabis use would have been (1) to use flower primarily as triage for when I needed immediate relief or (2) to use it proactively, to stave off the onset of anxiety.

I wasn’t smoking pot for either of those reasons. I was smoking because the pipe was sitting there ready to spark.

I realized that cannabis could be causing some of the anxiety I experienced and decided it was time to see what abstinence might do.

A Step Toward Anxiety Relief

During a journaling session, it occurred to me that lasting anxiety relief could come via several different avenues:

  • Therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Pharmaceuticals

Immediately, I threw out the idea of pharmaceuticals. That would be a last resort.

Therapy seemed like a viable option, though the therapist would likely ask questions about alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and other drugs. So I reckoned that I should suspend cannabis before seeking therapy.

Acupuncture seemed viable as well, but if alcohol and cannabis were contributing to my chronic anxiety, then I should suspend use prior to visiting an acupuncturist.

Knowing that suspending cannabis use was a prerequisite to each feasible route, I came up with a different idea:


The idea behind zero-basing is to entirely eliminate consumption of mind-altering substances in an attempt to reduce anxiety.

Without much hesitation, I decided to zero-base with respect to cannabis and alcohol.

I am proud to say that I have been clean for 36 days now, which is, perhaps, too soon to tell what the long-term effects might be.

And I am going to keep it going.

Putting weed out of sight kept it off my mind.

Like I mentioned earlier, I was smoking largely out of reflex. The sight of packed Huck Finn triggered me to take a hit.

Once I put weed and weed accessories in a separate area, the trigger was gone.

Im a very simple manner, I hacked this habit. Charles Duhigg talks about the Habit Loop — cue, routine, and reward — and I entirely eliminated the cue.

If you are trying to give up something, put it out of sight.

Abstinence is a moment-to-moment decision.

To stay away from weed requires willpower — don’t let anyone tell you it doesn’t.

Over the past 30+ days, I had the opportunity to smoke with friends and by myself.

Instead of giving in, which was at times tempting, I resisted.

When abstaining from cannabis, some people do not have to exercise any willpower to say ‘no.’ I definitely needed to put my willpower to work.

Habit replacement works.

Habits are a science in-and-of themselves, and by no means am I am expert. Look to BJ Fogg, James Clear, and Charles Duhigg for expertise.

Generally-speaking, folks who value health will exercise healthy habits.

People who do not value health tend to engage in unhealthy behavior.

Well-developed humans will seek to align their actions with their values.

But all of us have some misalignment when it comes to actions and values.

Sometimes the bodybuilder eats cake or the undisciplined guy who typically orders a quarter-pounder at McDonald’s decides to get a salad instead.

But neither makes a habit out of it.

As a person who values health, I have decided that cannabis could have a place in my wellness regimen, or it could not.

For the foreseeable future, cannabis is not in my wellness regimen. Instead, I am doubling down on reading, meditating, and journaling. At parties, I will just say “no, thank you” when the joint comes my way.

Cannabis isn’t all good.

Since marijuana has gained decriminalized status in many states, people love to champion the many benefits of cannabis. Indeed cannabis does have some good qualities, but it also has some downsides.

These downsides are usually spouted by the opponents of marijuana.

Over the past few days, I listened to Andrew Huberman’s podcast episode “The Effects of Cannabis (Marijuana) on the Brain & Body” and I learned an incredible amount about marijuana.

The biggest takeaway for me: Long-term chronic use of cannabis can cause anxiety.

I want to be a better dad and husband.

At times, cannabis prevented me from being fully present with my family and I have regrets about that. In order to be the best father and husband I can be, I want to lead my family with clarity and direction.

That is my calling.

Was I anxious because cannabis made me a weak man? Could be. Only time will tell.

Concluding Thoughts

I am not a medical professional or an addiction specialist, so if you need medical advice or you need rehabilitation, please get the help you need.

Marijuana is a complicated substance. It can alleviate anxiety for some people, but for others, it can cause anxiety.

As individuals, we each have a personal responsibility to make informed decisions.

The bottom line is this: If something isn’t serving you anymore, it’s okay to say goodbye.



Neil Kollipara

Articles about self-improvement and simple living. I write a newsletter called Creator Chronicles. Check out all my stuff at