What is Cannabis Stigma?
As a new procurer of cannabis products and culture, you might have caught a sense of stigma surrounding cannabis. You also may not have, and in if that’s the case, that’s something to celebrate. But what do we even mean when we say stigma? To define stigma quickly, it is “a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.” In this case, cannabis is the “mark of disgrace.” Depending on where you live, you might be thinking, “but weed is cool!” Well we couldn’t agree more, we certainly believe that this is the case, but let’s remember the history of cannabis. It’s a long and complex story that has for many years painted an inaccurate picture of what it means to be interested in marijuana. That picture lives on for many people and in many places and it is that representation that fuels a stigma around cannabis use. The chances are high that as a weed consumer you’ll at some point feel that your relationship with the plant is in some way challenged, or shamed.. Today we’ll talk about how it happens, why, and what you can do to make things better.
Who is experiencing this stigma?
The truth is that although many states have come a long way in their acceptance of cannabis, the country and government still remains somewhat divided on the issue. Old ideas have a way of penetrating thoughts for a long time, and the history of marijuana in the United States has been complicated and misunderstood. This paired with propaganda has led to many people viewing cannabis as something inherently negative and to be avoided. You might be surprised to find that maybe even some of your friends are not so down with the herb. Cannabis stigma is more than anything disheartening. As a cannabis consumer we can be so excited about wanting to share what weed means to us and what it has done for our lives that it can genuinely hurt to have others talk down on “stoners” or having representations of cannabis that are just not accurate. Sadly, until a certain level of education on the topic is reached, cannabis stigma in some form is likely to continue. But that doesn’t mean things aren’t changing! There is hope as laws change and cannabis moves more into the mainstream that this stigma will dissipate.
There are a few things that are driving cannabis stigma. By identifying them, we can gather a greater understanding of why stigma is occurring and how we might be able to influence a change.
Regardless of where you live, there are going to be people who are not so accepting of cannabis. Even in areas like California, where by and large cannabis seems to be celebrated, there are many counties where it is still illegal to sell weed and easy access to marijuana does not exist. This comes down to local governments imposing legislation they feel is best. On a larger scale, the U.S. government also still posits that cannabis is illegal. The takeaway to get here is that government officials are the ones that have an ultimate say on the fate of cannabis. If marijuana means something to you and you live somewhere where it is heavily stigmatized, GET OUT AN VOTE. Use your voice, resources, and platforms to bring awareness to this issue to the state, for they are the ones at the end of the day making serious choices about weed.
Perhaps most importantly, education surrounding cannabis history is not prevalent. The reasons that made cannabis illegal in the first place are in a lot of ways not reflective what is honest and just. This begs us to question what the true motivations were behind its illegalization. Not everyone has had the chance to explore literature and media related to cannabis, an their exposure has come from a limited and biased perspective. By holding onto these beliefs, they have done a disservice to themselves to reason about the issue and make an opinion for themselves. Reversing stigma starts with education of cannabis from its ancient origins to its modern applications.
What we can do
When it comes to combating the negative associations that some people may have about cannabis, it can be a slippery slope. You should never try to impose your opinion on another person. We all have a wide range of personal experiences that have shaped our perspective and we should respect that. Just as I would hope that my opinion be recognized, I need to work at recognizing other viewpoints. That’s not say I have to agree with them but an inital wave of trying to see something from another viewpoint is in many ways beneficial. That being said, we have a responsibility to share our story, for we don’t know how that might impact someone else. In terms of cannabis stigma, we can all play a role in reducing stigma by dong three things:
Sharing information related to the history of cannabis
Understanding and sharing our own stories and relationship with weed
This might seem overwhelming but all it really means is to be yourself and if cannabis is something that brings you joy, peace of mind, relaxation, health and wellness, whatever it may be, have the courage to share that with people around you. Some audiences (hi mom) may not react so well to knowing you like weed, but if you go into that conversation knowing your facts, trusting your experience, and demanding a mutual respect, then your outcome will be positive.
The greatest detriment that cannabis stigma has is that it puts people who enjoy cannabis in a position where they have to question themselves. We begin to view ourselves not through our own lens, but through the expectations of others. In this life it is crucial that we live authentically and freely and by feeling that our interests are not accepted, our sense of self can be damaged. While it is possible to rise above the stigma and still live our truth, it is easy to do it with the support of others and by erasing cannabis stigma, we can undoubtedly have a more wholesome society. Thank you for reading today, at Cannacopia we really appreciate you guys and we’re always here to help you find a personalized cannabis experience. Find us in the app stores, and we’ll see you next time. As always, stay high!