Trail Blazers is a series of portraits by photographer Maria Levitov, spotlighting cannabis consumers from all walks of life.
Allister Auguste started experimenting with cannabis at a young age. A child of separated parents, he started smoking pot early and hasn't stopped. Despite the daily habit, Auguste earned an academic scholarship to the Indiana Institute of Technology, and continues to use the plant as he finds meaning.
"My relationship with marijuana began when I was about twelve. Growing up as a child, I had always rejected smokers because of how I was raised by my father. After he left me and I had to live with my mom, almost all of his rules left with him. I was now able to think on my own and develop reasoning for myself. As much as my father hated smokers, I always thought that smoking looked cool and placed you in a certain social setting."
"After buying weed for my older brother and friends, watching them smoke, and laughing at them sitting there high, the day finally came for me to get high. They told me, "After you pull the smoke in your mouth, gasp for air, like someone scared you." I coughed up a lung or two, and hit the spliff three more times before I tapped out. I could now hear my heartbeat thumping, like I was listening through a stethoscope. I could feel a pulse in my whole body — it felt like my first time looking down from the Empire State Building. As we walked out the building we were smoking in...I remember seeing a little blue guy with a white hat and white shoes run across the street. 'A Smurf, y'all. You guys don't see it running!?' [I asked my friends]."
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"After that day, I felt my mind open not just to weed, but to everything around me. I began to question almost everything, and find an answer. My quest for knowledge and for learning grew massively. I wanted to do everything high, especially school. There wasn't a single day of high school when I wasn't high. I graduated on the National Honor Society, got an academic scholarship to college, and even gave the speech for my high school house class."
"Marijuana allowed me to have an open mind towards everything that came in my path. I never think in one direction, but from multiple outlets [instead]. I've accomplished all these things high, with an open mind, and continue to conquer life one joint, blunt or spliff at a time."