In the fairly short existence of Milwaukee Record, I’ve made a point to chronicle foolish adventures that have damaged my spirit, tested my eating endurance, and depleted both my physical and emotional well-being. I have no regrets (except maybe that George Webb one), but with the arrival of a new year also comes new perspective and a new opportunity to forge a different path. Over the course of 2018, I’m going to seek inner peace, personal growth, and healthy choices while documenting my experiences with a series of columns under the ’18 And Life To Go umbrella. Will it work? Probably not, but I’ll try anyway.

After generations of regulations and legislation, America is slowly-but-surely changing its tune regarding the acceptance and use of marijuana, as well as semi-associated variations of cannabis. Despite the best efforts of the current administration to stop the progress of pot purveyors, 30 states have legalized medical marijuana and close to 20 percent of the country has legalized recreational pot. Along the way, a full-fledged and newly-legitimate industry forged by cannabis has helped spur economic growth in a country that’s finally coming around to the health benefits certain types of plants pose.

Though it’s NOT marijuana or an illicit substance by any means, increased awareness of cannabis has also recently brought immense growth and universal legalization to CBD. Cannabidiol (better known as “CBD”) is a hemp extract that’s a distant relative of marijuana. There’s no THC in this naturally-occurring cannabinoid, meaning it offers many of the same comforting and anxiety-reducing benefits of its stoned distant cousin, but has been deemed “safe for consumption” by the government.

Recently, CBD was made available in all 50 states. After hearing actor/comedian/heady humorist Pete Holmes rave about how much he loves Charlotte’s Web—”The World’s Most Trusted Hemp Extract™”—and its relaxing, mind-clearing properties in the intro for almost every one of his You Made It Weird podcast episodes through the years, I’ve been tempted to give Charlotte’s Web a try. As you might’ve read in past ’18 And Life installments, I perpetually struggle to relax and focus. What harm could CBD do? Once I saw Fresh Thyme started selling it earlier this month, I decided now was the time to see what all the CBD buzz was about.

During a recent trip to the store, which was my go-to spot during my Whole30 experience, I was led to Fresh Thyme’s new CBD section by arrows painted on the floor. I stayed on the course and soon found myself before a locked case replete with Charlotte’s Web products and items from other hemp-strainers in its various forms and strengths. There were oils, powders, sprays, and capsules. Prices ranged from about $23 to nearly $100 (hence the locked case). After closely examining the contents of the case and the balance of my bank account, I eventually settled on a 30-count bottle of 15 mg CBD capsules of Charlotte’s Web for $34.99. At $1.17 per pill, it was a somewhat risky purchase, but the potential rewards seemed worth it.

I popped a pill in the Fresh Thyme parking lot and drove back to Bay View. By the time I was home and my groceries were unloaded, I was feeling it. No, I wasn’t ripped or anything close to high. Instead, I felt just a touch lighter on my feet and like a small-yet-notable portion of my ever-present mental fog had become a bit less dense. Holmes says he describes the effects of Charlotte’s Web to friends by showing them a blank expression and then smiling ever so slightly. I understood that.

I decided I’d make Charlotte’s Web a ritual of my next 10 days (11 if you count taking one before I started writing this). The next day, I took two within a few hours of one another, the second of which was taken on an empty stomach before leaving for our Half Baked screening, which left me feeling a little bit out of it until I ate something. Shit, man, the same thing can be said of taking a multi-vitamin with only coffee in your system, so its not an indictment of the capsules as much as the circumstances of person who took them. For the record, Charlotte’s Web recommends no more that two capsules be taken daily.

After day three, I decided to take two pills a day. Though the number is set, the time in which I took them (never together, by the way) varied. One result of my inconsistent—by always chaotic—work schedule is never quite knowing that a day will be stressful or that my mind will be spinning until it’s actually happening. So when the various bleeps and bloops of phone or computer notifications would overtake me, when the emails would pile up, and daily adjustments would need to be made on the fly, I’d just pop a capsule. Within 15-20 minutes, it’d sink in. The work wouldn’t go away, nor would the worries. They just got a little easier to manage.

I’d usually reserve my second dose for the nighttime. I’d be near the end of a busy day, still somewhat amped up and feeling behind in the task of tackling the next day’s self-imposed assignments. Again, the worries wouldn’t go away and the storm continued to loom in the distance, but in time (oftentimes with the help of a beer or five used to wash it down) the clouds would eventually clear for moment—just long enough to drift into a deep sleep. Speaking of sleep, get ready for some weird and vivid dreams! I’ll spare you from recounting specific dreams (because that’s dumb), but they ranged from strange to extremely realistic. As a person who struggles with sleep issues, I’d still prefer the REM cycle oddities to five or six restless hours any night. I’d compare it to a softer and more natural melatonin.

So after a week and a half of regular CBD use, do I think it’s worth it? I think that all depends on how you decide to implement it into your life. I just tried a low-mg capsule. Perhaps my journey might’ve differed greatly (for better or worse) had I gone with oil, spray, or a more potent dosage. At the end of the day, if you desperately need respite from significant anxiety, insomnia, or emotional turmoil, I wouldn’t put all your reliance on Charlotte’s Web. However, if you’re like me and you just wish to partially dull the din of sounds, expectations, and stimuli that dominate your existence and/or you want a minor ally in approaching some semblance of relaxation in a society that’s no longer built for comfort, follow the arrows and try to integrate CBD into your life. It’s a little pricey, but worth having in your cabinet to take when the clouds mount and the world gets too loud to take.