After a hard day at work, when it comes to unwinding and relieving their stress, many people reach for a glass of wine or a cigarette.
For Tony, his relaxant of choice once his work has been done and his children have gone to bed is smoking a joint of cannabis.
Dad-of-two Tony, 42, who lives in Bamber Bridge, near Preston, and doesn’t want to reveal his true identity for fear of legal repercussions, explains: “When you sit down at the end of a day, some people put on the telly and pour themselves a glass of wine and others reach for the cigarettes.
“There must be countless people who get through a bottle of wine or a substantial amount of vodka a night.
“It is all about the individual way people deal with the stresses of the day that most people with jobs and families go through.
“I simply reach for a joint of cannabis to release my stress.
I have found my use of cannabis is of no detriment to my family life and career or my ability to function as an every day human being.Tony
“I use it to wind down and it is a genuine relaxant.”
Tony, who is married and works as a chef, has been using cannabis recreationally for the last 25 years and says he believes it has had no detriment to his life as he has been able to hold down a full-time job and have a complete family life despite using the illegal drug.
And he claims the use of cannabis is widespread among working professionals – although many are loathe to admit they use it because of its legal status.
Tony says: “I have found my use of cannabis is of no detriment to my family life and career or my ability to function as an every day human being.
“I know lots of successful professionals such as those working in the legal profession, accountants and bank managers who all use cannabis.
“They don’t want to come out and admit it because of the social stereotypes of being labelled a pothead.
“But they all manage to hold down jobs and live completely normal and successful family lives.”
Tony admits he was first introduced to cannabis at the age of 17 during the music scene of the early 1990s.
He recalls: “I already smoked cigarettes at that time and I was in a room when this joint of cannabis was passed round.
“It was just a social thing and there was no peer pressure at all.
“Some people in the room said, ‘No thanks’, and that wasn’t an issue, but I thought I would try it.
“I remember experiencing a calming feeling and I felt relaxed and happy.
“Smoking cannabis made me talkative, giggly and friendly – all pleasant feelings.
“The best part was, there were no nasty after effects such as a hangover.”
Tony enjoyed the feelings cannabis unleashed so much that he carried on using it recreationally after that.
He says that as he has got older and become a father, the opportunities to have a smoke of cannabis have become more limited, but he usually smokes it two or three times a week after his children have gone to bed.
Tony says: “As I have got older, I don’t smoke cannabis as much as I did in my 20s.
“In a busy life, the opportunities to smoke cannabis are not as much as they used to be.
“No, I only tend to smoke it a few times a week after my children have gone to bed.
“People choose to relax in different ways and for my ‘me time’, I like to smoke cannabis.
“My wife doesn’t smoke or use cannabis at all. But me smoking cannabis has never been an issue for her.
“I smoke cannabis pure and roll it up. I also smoke it when I go fishing in a pipe.
“Out in the countryside, it is nice and relaxing to have a smoke of cannabis and lots of fishermen smoke it.”
Tony has not smoked tobacco for 11 years and says he is annoyed that to get the pleasant effects of cannabis, he has to smoke it.
He says: “Smoking anything carries a health risk and I am not disputing that.
“I don’t like the fact I have to smoke cannabis to get the feelings I like as no matter what you smoke, you are still smoking.
“Being a chef, I do cook with cannabis.
“The problem is the method of ingestion through eating it means you have to put in much more cannabis to get the desired effect and that can get very expensive.
“I have made soups, curries, chilli con carnes and milkshakes with cannabis.
“I also use it in rolled oat biscuits such as flapjacks and make cannabis butter by simmering the leaves in butter.”
Tony wants to see cannabis legalised so people can grow their own plants for their own use and believes this will lead to decreased criminal issues.
He explains: “There are many different types and strengths of cannabis and the type you can buy on the street is the potent skunk variety.
“I personally don’t always want that strong variety.
“But the people growing cannabis only grow the strong varieties because there is more money in it.
“It is a bit like having a double espresso instead of a latte.
“If everyone was allowed to grow their own cannabis, it would cut out the commercial growers who are only doing it for financial gain.”
Tony also believes that legalising cannabis will allow those using it for medical benefits to use the drug without any fear of getting in trouble with the law.
He says: “People with health conditions who want to make their lives more comfortable have the potential to be criminalised for using cannabis.”
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