Dear Dr. Grinspoon:

I am 48 years old and have five daughters and one grandson. I worked as a pharmaceutical technician for several years, then operated two health clubs with great success. After that I decided to give up the world of business and move to the country, where I try to raise all our food and meat organically, without chemicals and insecticides. I realized that substituting for meals and reducing stress with coffee and cigarettes was an unhealthy habit, and I was determined to change. I gave up smoking through the use of cannabis.

My father and brother were heavy smokers, and I picked up the same habit. For many years I remember my father coughing until he turned beet red and gasping for air. He usually ended up sleeping in his recliner because it was easier to breathe. He suffered from bronchitis, walking pneumonia, then emphysema, and finally cancer. He survived surgery, but today he needs to carry his oxygen wherever he goes.

I tried to quite smoking tobacco many times unsuccessfully. I drank at least 30 to 40 cups of coffee a day as well, and as long as I drank that much I would not be able to quit cigarettes. When I first tried to quit the coffee habit, I ended up with painful headaches, so I made a tea out of cannabis which helped my headaches and satisfied my craving for caffeine. Finally I got rid of the need for coffee. My cannabis tea was great. I could add lemon, milk, or sugar, or even a little pineapple juice to change the flavor if I wished.

Then I went to work on quitting my addiction to cigarettes. I raised my own little patch of marihuana in my back yard so I would have enough to finish ridding my system of tobacco. The first week was tough. When I could no longer stand going without a cigarette, I rolled a joint instead. It calmed my nerves and helped the craving. By the end of the first week I was smoking at least six joints a day, but I thought that was better than two packs of cigarettes. I was down to about three to four joints by the second week. Rather than grabbing that first cigarette in the morning, I would have a joint that satisfied me. By the third week, I was not craving a cigarette when I woke up. To cut down on smoking during the day, I would make cannabis tea, which helped me to keep busy out of doors instead of sitting idle. After each meal I would smoke a joint instead of a cigarette, and at bedtime I would smoke another joint to help me sleep better and not pace the floor wanting a cigarette.

By the end of the first month I did not want a cigarette at all, and within six months I no longer drank coffee or smoked cigarettes. I could not even stand to be around someone smoking, because the smell almost made me sick to my stomach. I did gain a little weight, because food tasted better, and for the first time in many years I actually woke up hungry. I did not care that I was no longer a skinny minney. I was healthier and could breath better, and I could truly say that I was not addicted to anything. My bronchitis went away, and I did not get walking pneumonia either. It felt good to be free from cigarettes.