The First Drop: Embrace the Flood

Much to the dismay of many of the inanimate objects that dwell there — and some of the living, breathing ones as well — for the past seven months I’ve been bringing my new puppy into the office.

During that period, my wife and I have rediscovered what it means to miss a dog. By that I mean, we don’t miss the puppy. We miss the last dog, who was a quiet, sleepy 14 when he passed. Quite frankly, we’ll miss this one when he’s gone, but we likely won’t miss the puppy that he was.

Basically, he’s left a trail of destruction through both my own office and the general environment in which I work. He peed on my boss’s standing desk mat. He gnawed his way through a speaker cable in the conference room. He empties trash cans and eats the contents. He has destroyed countless headphones, very nearly swallowed a pair of high-tech earbuds belonging to our managing editor, Marty Caballero, chomped his way through a couple of MacBook Air charging plugs, and as I write this he is jumping on my arm to tell me that he’d really like to go home.

In other words: it’s been extra stressful around here since February. And since I’m pushing a couple of sizes larger than most Klinemans believe is healthy, I’ve cut back on my stress reliever of choice (hint: It rhymes with “Banhattan”).

So for months I’ve been eyeing the cannabis space as eagerly as the puppy is currently eyeing the biltong sample on my desk. And while it’s easy enough to kiss your worries goodbye for a while with a good edible or pre-roll, I’m not among that lucky group (read: chefs and The Black Keys) who find marijuana accretive to my everyday productivity.

So that has left the miracle cannabinoid du jour, CBD, as the one stress reliever that might work. The three or four of you who have suffered your way through this column in the past know that I’ve been skeptical about the CBD side of the cannabis equation — between lack of consistent sourcing, metrics, extraction formats, and studies that show efficacious dosing, I’ve been worried about the premature gold rush it’s engendered.

But then, last week, the puppy chewed up a lacrosse stick. So I decided that I was going to throw skepticism to the wind and dive deep into the many samples of CBD beverages that people have sent us. Over a four-day period, I’ve ingested fresh-pressed juice shots infused with up to 40 mg of hemp extract; I’ve chugged nano-encapsulated CBD suspended in sparkling water until I’ve belched bongwater; I ate almonds and gummies, dropped some CBD oil in my coffee, and just plain poured a couple of small test vials of it on my tongue.

As I sit here at my desk slugging down the last of a mixed 8-pack of one brand, I can tell you that the effects have been varied, not life altering, but in some cases, with some products, I can feel stress reduction. In some cases, I think, it has worked.

Look, I maintain my skepticism, but what I’ve done is create a regime where I’ve basically ingested about 60-80 milligrams, minimum, each day since Thursday (it’s Monday afternoon now) in various forms. That’s not the miligram-per-pound recommendation that I’ve heard as a suggested metric for full efficacy, but it’s also an average — I’ve gone way over on some of those days.

When it’s “worked,” the stress has quieted. I don’t know if it’s psychosomatic, if not having a couple of rhymes-with-Banhattans is helping my sleep, or if, dear lord, it’s actually a chemical reaction in my brain based on the ingestion of CBD. But at times, like at the end of the workday when my tolerance is down but there’s still more to do, or on Sunday evening when I’m thinking about the week to come, or now, when there’s a fluffy-yet-vicious beast punching his little puppy fangs through my forearm, I’ve felt okay. Not great, but something has turned down the noise in my head that corresponds to the one they’d play in Scarface when Tony Montana decided someone had better stop pawing at his sister.

I won’t tell you which ones have worked best — I’ve deliberately mixed-and-matched for days, knowing that showing one brand more favor is precarious given both the dollars at stake for a winning product and the variable contribution of my own physiology and psychology.

But what I can tell you is that while my puppy has been going nuts in here — alternately barking for biltong and leaving a trail of chew toy guts on the floor — I’ve been quietly, calmly writing this column for the past hour or so (although you’d likely only imagine it has been a few minutes during a hayride, if it’s consistent with the quality of the work you’d typically read here).

What I’ve described is a highly unscientific test with myself, a person known as a ball of insecure neuroses in a highly stressful — although largely painless, canine company excluded — occupation. I don’t know that from my reaction I’d want to gamble a couple of billion bucks on it. I’m not the only one in my office who has played around with CBD. Basically, we’ve been awash in different formats since the Farm Bill passed, and results have varied.

There are plenty of things that I think it’s not helping. My plantar fasciitis is still aggravating me. My back hurts. I’m fat. But my brain has found a break here and there, and I believe that’s the CBD working. As with most of these things, until the studies come back, maybe that’s enough.