By Tony Jr., Guest Contributor
Cannabis in 2018 is a totally different monster than it was just five years ago. Slowly, cannabis has pulled itself from the underbelly of society, where it had been unceremoniously held captive by the United States government since the 1920s.
While cannabis has done a great job reshaping its image, its consumers need to make sure they keep up. If we want cannabis to become mainstream, we need to break the Cheech and Chong stoner paradigm. Here are a few ways to do just that:
Stop It with the Red, Yellow & Green
Bob Marley did a lot of great things for a lot of people, and his close affiliation with both Rastafari and cannabis has shaped the cannabis lifestyle industry even decades now after his death in 1981. The colors red, yellow and green arose out of the Rastafari movement in Jamaica led by Marcus Garvey in the 1930s. The red stands for the blood of black martyrs, yellow represents the wealth of Africa and the green signifies the vegetation of the Rastafarian promised land, Ethiopia.
In no way does this movement represent cannabis, and yet because of Bob Marley’s association with cannabis, this noble cause has been dwarfed by suburban kids wearing rasta colors mumbling “yeah, dude, I totally get high.”
It’s important not to keep cannabis in the closet and out of sight from the public, but filling your closet in the style of a religious and cultural movement that you don’t have any true connection to just isn’t cool.
Take Part in Cannabis Activism
When it comes to freeing the weed, there is a right and wrong way to advocate if you want to separate cannabis’ myriad benefits to society from stoner culture. Who do you think someone on the fence about using cannabis will be more likely to trust: An educated, informed person who can citing medical and economic studies to help explain the different ways cannabis is useful or a fellow wearing a shirt with a Maryjane leaf and talking about how high a strain will get you?
Being able to have an educated conversation with people about cannabis is just the beginning level of cannabis activism. Joining your local NORML chapter and voting for government officials that have a positive view on cannabis are other great ways to help spread positive cannabis culture and progressive change.
Stop Calling it Weed, Pot or Marijuana
No matter what Snoop wants to call it, the preferred cultural term among industry leaders, activists and experts is “cannabis.” I am a huge culprit of using outdated terms myself; they are hard habits to break! Part of me feels like we own these words as a community now, but I understand the importance of separating cannabis from drug culture. Using slang terms is an easy way to undermine cannabis’ delicately accepted position as medicine.
Using the correct terms also keeps an image of legitimacy that cannabis rightfully deserves. As a writer, I still find myself using terms like this because it’s still the language of my audience. As the level of education is rising in the community, however, I am starting to see fewer uses of the slang terms of previous decades.
Know When It’s Not Appropriate to be High
Chances are, if you started consuming cannabis as purely a recreational hobby, you’ve gone through an “all day, everyday” phase. While some of us in the community use cannabis as a means to manage our pain and need regular dosages of medication, there are recreational users who need to realize when it’s inappropriate to be high.
For starters, driving high is not cool. While it’s easy to convince yourself, “I got this,” you don’t. According to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, fatal crashes caused by cannabis in Washington have doubled since legalization. It’s also inappropriate and potentially dangerous to be high while you are working, taking care of kids and plenty of other situations where the responsible thing to do is to stay alert and sober.
Keep a Clean Appearance
I touched on this briefly already, but your appearance is extremely important when trying to break away from the stoner stereotype. I will admit that I wear Texas NORML members t-shirt out in public quite often. But it’s very toned down compared to some of the clothing you will come across at your local mall. (Refer to Rastafarian colors above.)
The most obvious way to perpetuate being labeled a “stoner” is to arrive in public smelling like cannabis, possibly with joint burns on your shorts and wearing a shirt covered in cannabis leaves. This might seems out of left field, but the way to normalize cannabis is by consuming cannabis while acting normal.
I am not saying that you have to hide your personality to avoid from being labeled a stoner. But if we want to separate from the lazy, uneducated, druggie connotations associated with cannabis consumption, we need to back up our points with real information and substance.
If you can show non-believers that cannabis isn’t just a fun time but a life-changing plant that has more benefits then we might even be able to pinpoint, we can reshape the boxes stoners have been put in — maybe even cast them off completely.
Tony Jr. is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of THCoverdose.com. If he’s not smoking, writing or watching anime, then you can usually find him on the couch yelling over terrible play calling.