Ep. 174 – Our Thoughts on California Sober AKA Marijuana Maintenance Program

“I know people that have gotten clean and sober off of their drug of choice… and have tried this ‘medical marijuana’ aspect of it… and… I don’t know of anybody that was able to stay that way and maintain sobriety after going down that road.” -Tom Conrad


Today, Ben and I are chatting about California Sober, brought to light recently by Demi Lovato on Joe Rogan’s podcast, offering our opinions on it. While we aren’t here to criticize how other people recover from addiction, as we are not witch burners, we just want to offer our opinions based on our own experiences being former addicts ourselves.

How We Ultimately Feel About California Sober

In her interview with Joe Rogan, Demi Lovato defines what she means by being California Sober, saying, “It’s a term that a lot of people use to identify this path of moderation with the help of some green plants.” Our perspective on this is that that isn’t going to work for everyone. We both agree that while marijuana isn’t usually a gateway drug and wouldn’t likely cause us to revert back to harder substances, it wouldn’t likely have any benefit in our lives and would, in fact, likely hinder productivity. Give it a go if it works for you, but our experiences suggest that, again, it does not work for everyone.

How People Like Joe Rogan Have Misunderstood the Twelve Steps

The first step of the twelve steps is admitting that you are powerless in your addiction, and some people seem to confuse powerlessness with helplessness. If you were helpless, then there wouldn’t be recovery programs. Being helpless refers to an inability to take action, but these programs offer things that you can do, ways to fix the problem. It isn’t helplessness. In fact, if anything, it can actually be empowering.

Our Experiences and How They Shape Our Opinion on Marijuana Maintenance


We, for starters, have known people who have relapsed and even died of overdose after years of sobriety because they started smoking marijuana. Living in the Palm Beach County Area in Florida, we have also seen four local treatment centers adopt the marijuana maintenance treatment method. Two of them were actually shut down by the FBI and owners got arrested because of how addicts were being taken advantage of, one voluntarily shut down because of its clientele not being serious about actually wanting to recover, and, finally, someone that we know personally throwing in the towel on the program because of his perspective that it had absolutely no benefit to him.

What the Best Approach Is in Our Opinion

While, again, we are not witch burners and are not even against marijuana, there is absolutely nothing to support the idea that marijuana maintenance is a more effective treatment than abstinence based treatment. While marijuana maintenance (or California Sober) works for some, that doesn’t seem to be the norm, so it is our belief that it is always better to completely abstain from illicit substances, that that’s always the best approach.

Listen in and hear us discuss our experiences and how they shape our opinions on this topic. Be sure to check out our new website where you can download any episode along with other useful information for those in recovery.

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Show Notes:

  • [04:16] What the topic of this episode will cover – California Sober.
  • [08:19] How Tom and Ben feel about Demi Lovato’s discussion of being California Sober.
  • [09:54] Whether or not marijuana is a gateway drug and what kind of effect it could have on someone trying to maintain longterm recovery from harder drugs.
  • [12:18] How Tom feels about Joe Rogan commenting on helplessness in the addiction and recovery community.
  • [15:01] How Joe Rogan’s perspective on the twelve steps is misguided because there is a difference between powerlessness and helplessness.
  • [19:54] Marijuana Maintenance has been adopted in treatment centers in the Palm Beach county area of Florida, none of them successes.
  • [24:00] Why abstinence from all illicit substances is the best path to recovery.
  • [30:53] How recovery is not absolute or black or white.
  • [34:45] How substance abuse is, for some people, all or nothing, which is why abstinence is the best approach.
  • [39:16] Summary of the episode’s main points about California Sober.

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