Here's What's Behind Women Replacing Wine With Weed

For starters, it’s safer and milder (and fewer calories).

In any legal-pot state today, a woman can choose her favorite cannabis product, buy it, and sink into the couch (or whatever the fuck she wants to do) to obtain full concentrated relaxation. Consequently, instead of reaching for a bottle of wine (every night) or an addictive sleeping pill, the new nightcap often involves cannabis.

Presuming the goal isn’t strict sobriety, a recurring weed ritual can help kick a lot of bad habits that come with really shitty side effects. Sobriety, though, might come on as an added aftereffect.

Kate Smith writes on Refinery 29 about replacing her nightly glass(es) of wine with CBD chocolates, and never going back:

The night of my Sex and the City binge, I settled in on my couch, turned on HBO, popped a chocolate (I chose the ones from Sakara) and forgot about it. It was kind of huge: The effects of CBD didn't knock me over the way I had felt when I smoked. It wasn't until over an hour later that I realized I was much more relaxed and less anxious than before. I wasn't "high" by any stretch of the imagination; if anything, I was more in control of my thoughts than usual. I was relaxed enough to logically realize that, at 11:30 p.m., there was really no need to check my work email. I'm not that important—and that's a wonderful thing.

That’s the joy of incorporating cannabis into your daily (or nightly) de-stress routine: You aren’t limited to smoking a joint, which (at least once) made you paranoid. There is a plethora options so you can choose the exact high you want. Unlike wine, with its wicked hangover, addictive temptations, and major calorie bloat, cannabis gives you a better high with fewer consequences.

This replacing booze with pot thing isn't new. A whole army of people believes that cannabis can help ween addictions and mitigate the major come-downs from heroin or methadone withdrawal; as well as break a thorough cycle of dependence on booze. This year VICE dedicated an entire episode of Weediquette to cannabis's role in coming off drugs.

While only a few studies suggest weed is the right (unconventional) way to get people off addictive drugs, a lot of people claim it works. Especially for booze. Especially if you’re just trying to kick your after-work bar habits.

Just scroll through anonymous Reddit threads on the topic, and you'll catch long strings of people who would rather use less harmful cannabis over (more outwardly) harmful booze any day. Even if that means they are not exactly on the road to complete sobriety. Maybe there’s some kind of gray, safe, middle ground.

In states where weed is legal, the idea of a boozy nightcap is a thing of the past. It’s a puff before bed to sleep like a baby and wake up refreshed and clear as fuck. 

“My addiction comes from a need to dissociate from my mind/body due to years of trauma. I see using cannabis as a perfectly reasonable way to increase appetite, help insomnia, cut anxiety, and stay booze sober. Hit one year no alcohol a week ago,” Reddit user QQmewmew says.

Many people in these forums contend that weed helps them stay away from alcohol and produces less (painful) side effects. So, for some, it makes "marijuana maintenance" worth a try.

“I'll be at one year sober next week. I don't smoke daily, but in social situations, or when I feel the need to unwind. Smoking has made me realize even more how destructive alcohol was for me—Marijuana has not harmed me at all—but I can see how others would caution you against it. It works for some,” Reddit user Manitoggie says.

But these women cutting out wine are not all motivated by addiction and recovery. Some social drinkers accustomed to downing a glass-of-wine a night and also willing to forgo that wine to keep their dress size down; waking up sober with clearer skin and an alert mind are collateral bonuses, the kind that keep you on track for a promotion someday.

Author Laura Dewey surveyed many women about their cannabis use while researching her novel Betty’s (Little Basement Garden). She found that, for many women, cannabis was an "exit drug" that got them off years of boozing and bloating or sleeping pills, antidepressants, and pain pills. They were seeking a life without a boozy and/or pill hangover, and weed was their answer.

Dewey explained their position in the Huffington Post:

A senior couple, both professionals and well-educated, made the decision to give up alcohol and only use cannabis when the wife needed to quit drinking for medical reasons. While using the smoked cannabis for her medical condition, she realized it was "far more appealing" than her gin and tonic. Her husband agreed and now instead of two shots in a glass, it’s two puffs before dinner.

In states where weed is legal, the idea of a boozy nightcap is a thing of the past. It’s a puff before bed to sleep like a baby and wake up refreshed and clear as fuck. Admittedly, weed substitution is not the most scientifically-proven way to replace a nightly wine habit, but it’s happening, and rehab programs offer no guarantee of getting you sober anyway.

The Fix, a news and lifestyle site for the recovery community, tells the story of Annie, who’s been battling alcohol addiction for years, going the AA route. Now she’s sober from all booze, but admits to smoking pot, and doesn’t tell her sponsor. She believes that the point of being sober is to make her life better. While she’s not following the AA rules of abstinence, she’s charting her own kind of sobriety.

“Pot doesn’t affect me the way alcohol did,” Annie told the Fix. “It doesn’t make me act out—it mainly just makes me chill and tired.” 

So far, no recovery programs support weed, because well, changing your mental state with a chemical is not part of the 12-step plan. But for some, maybe pot is a more attainable answer. And maybe you aren’t even chasing sobriety in the first place.

“I never thought I’d say this, but pot makes my head feel less muddled than booze,” one woman told Dewey during her research, “and it makes sex incredible.”

That may offer an insight to why women like Kate Smith are trying things like CBD chocolates to level off at their perfect high—the one that augments their life and makes it a whole lot easier. Isn’t that the point?

With half-a-dozen bad cannabis experiences in her past, Smith was skeptical that CBD would do the trick, but it offered great relaxation and relief. She joined the legions of women for whom pot has been a turning point in their daily drinking/pill-popping routine.