What is California Sober?

The term “California sober” has become popular in 2021, thanks in part to a song by Demi Lovato. While definitions for the term are varied, the most common use of California sober describes the idea of giving up alcohol and all types of drugs except cannabis.

That’s easy to do in California, where weed is legal for medical and adult use. Lovato, who also came out as non-binary this year, made the term popular through the song with the same name. However, their definition of California sober is different than the original. In interviews, they seem to indicate that, for them, it means using everything in moderation.

But there’s no doubt they enjoy cannabis. They recently posted a video of themselves on Instagram smoking a joint in a car for their 114 million followers. Lovato had a near-overdose in July 2018 from opioids. They also came out as non-binary in May of this year.

Lovato Interview and Song Made the Term Famous

Lovato talked about California sober during an interview on CBS Sunday Morning earlier in 2021. To understand their comments, it’s important to know that Lovato had a near-overdose in July 2018 from opioids.

In the interview in Los Angeles, the pop star said, “I think the term that I best identify with is California sober. I really don’t feel comfortable explaining the parameters of my recovery to people, because I don’t want anyone to look at my parameters of safety and think that’s what works for them, because it might not.”

They went on to say that “I am cautious to say that, just like I feel the complete abstinent method isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for everybody, I don’t think that this journey of moderation is a one-size-fits-all solution for everybody.”

The “California Sober” song is on the “Dancing with the Devil…the Art of Starting Over” studio album released by Lovato in April 2021.

The Term Originated With a Former New York Writer

The popularity of the California sober is traced back to writer Michelle Lhooq, who wrote an article for Vice in 2019 about giving up all drugs – which she had used liberally – and using only cannabis and the occasional psychedelic. She moved to California, where cannabis – and maybe, soon, some psychedelics – are legal.

“I moved to California to save myself, although I did not realize this until much later,” the article begins. Lhooq had worked for years as a music journalist at Vice magazine. Once she got laid off, she moved to California and decided to change her life.

In the article, she said heard the term from people in Los Angeles. After describing her intention to give up all drugs except cannabis and psychedelics, she wrote: “I call this “Cali sober,” a term some people also use when they quit everything but weed.”

In a way, Lovato’s use of the term – and even Lhooq’s – has obscured the original meaning. They both became “California sober” because they wanted to curtail drug use. But for many people, the term still retains its original meaning: California sober means you give up everything – including alcohol – and only use marijuana, just because you enjoy it and feel healthier.

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