It’s no secret that millennials are anxious. A recent study by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) found that anxious feelings among millennials have spiked since 2017 and are only on the rise. This is not surprising given that millennials have had to come into adulthood during a time that being an adult means, for a lot of us: ballooning student loan debt, dashed dreams of owning a house due to the housing crisis, a rise in the cost of rent, and a very low employment rate. All of this can make us feel like we are on a hamster wheel that has to keep spinning in order for us to survive. This is exactly why more millennials are turning to cannabis over alcohol.

The average street price of a gram of marijuana is twenty dollars, whereas a night out at a bar or club could cost anywhere from sixty to a hundred dollars. With this in mind, it’s no wonder that many of us prefer smoking to drinking. But while the psychoactive effects of tetrahydrocannibinol (THC) cause feelings of euphoria and a release from stress in many, there are still some for whom the psychoactive effects cause even more anxiety. This is where cannabidiol (CBD) comes in.

CBD is one of over four hundred chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant and accounts for up to forty percent of the plant’s extract. CBD and THC are cousins, and are typically consumed together. Often you can attribute the feeling of relaxation in your muscles while high to the percentage of CBD that your marijuana has in it. CBD is an anti inflammatory that can help with physical ailments as well as mental ones, without the added psychoactive effects of THC. For example, I am a twenty six year old with social anxiety who has worked in food service since the age of seventeen. As a bartender, I talk to anywhere from a hundred and fifty to four hundred people a day. Some days this is easy, other days I am plagued by outlandish fears, such as, “What if I open my mouth and nothing comes out?” or “What if my words summon a swarm of bees?” or the much more realistic, “What if these people are the type of people that derive pleasure from tormenting service workers because they know that there most likely will be no ramifications on their end?”

My first introduction to CBD was through my boyfriend who uses cannabis to medicate his Crohn’s Disease. I was surprised to learn that CBD was legal in Texas, where we lived at the time. I went with him to our local smoke shop and bought myself some CBD tea. At my boyfriend’s suggestion, I drank my tea in the morning before I had to go to work. I was prepared to have to battle with the anxious voice in my head telling me every possible way that every possible interaction could go wrong, but before I knew it it was the end of the day and I hadn’t had any of my usual negative feelings about surrounding talking to people. I was more open, more kind, more myself. I was able to put my bar patrons at ease because I, myself, was at ease. In the words of Dr. June Chin, “CBD tells your body to calm down and reminds you that you’re safe. It mellows out the nervous system so you’re not in a heightened ‘fight or flight’ response.”

After that first day, I decided to use CBD in everything. I put CBD honey in my CBD tea as I smoke my CBD joint every day before work and I have seen not only positive changes in my mood but my tips as well.

Most millennials are not in a financially secure enough place to take a mental health day, or we just do not feel like we have enough job security to ask for one without being fired. So unfortunately we opt to go to work on days where we probably should stay home and tend to our state of mind. While CBD cannot fix the economy, the housing crisis, or the competitive nature of a harsh job market, it can give us the peace and the presence of mind to deal with these things in our daily lives.