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The Meaning of “California Sober”

Clearing up Meeting Slang

If you’ve been around recovering alcoholics and addicts, you’ve probably heard someone described as “California sober.” The phrase usually means that a person in recovery makes an exception for marijuana. They may be abstinent when it comes to drink and all other drugs, but they still ingest marijuana and consider themselves clean and sober.

The Purist Meaning of Sober

In terms of 12 step programs for drugs and alcohol, most of them consider sobriety the absence of all mood and mind-altering substances, including marijuana. So there is some contention whether a marijuana user is sober in the strict sense.

Another expression along the same lines is “marijuana maintenance plan.” This phrase has the same connotation as “California sober” in that an alcoholic or addict is using marijuana as their only drug, despite being in a recovery program.

Is California Sober Really Sober?

Whether such a plan is a good idea for long-term sobriety is up to the individual. In my experience, I’ve not seen it last very long as the person usually gets back to the drugs or amounts they were trying to avoid in the first place. However, I’ve met others who say this works for them, and that is their right in their recovery as they find what works for them.

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