Ever since its prohibition almost 100 years ago, the stigma associated with marijuana users has continued to grow. Although the stereotype of the marijuana frequenter is diminishing slowly over time with the growing popularity of cannabis use, there is still major societal pressure not to be involved with cannabis use. In this article, we debunk the myth and show cannabis-users for what they are: normal everyday people.
The stereotype associated with the frequent cannabis user is a drug addict, a drug dealer, or a lazy do-no-gooder. There is no doubt that this stereotype stems from the prohibition of cannabis, and there is no escaping the racial factor that is involved in this stereotype. With the population of cannabis users around the world growing (the inevitable result of legalization), it is important to break the stereotype to avoid discrimination. In order to integrate the use of cannabis into the new paradigm of society, we should first identify that there are a number of different social groups that participate in the use of weed, and most of those groups do not fit into the stereotypical perception of the cannabis user.
The racial factor
Weed was first prohibited in the USA in the 1930s as a result of the number of Mexicans crossing the border into the USA with copious amounts of cannabis. This naturally pushed all circulation of this plant into a black market industry that is unregulated and opens the door for crime and corruption. The stereotype of the stoner is usually racially categorized, often black or Hispanic. This stereotype comes as a result of the white establishment not wanting to be associated with cannabis use, and creating an ethnic profile of the regular cannabis user.
The racial discrimination that this has caused in certain social classes and underprivileged communities is devastating. The implication of this stereotype is that a greater percentage of black and Hispanic people are arrested for cannabis use than the regular white person, despite the fact that they are statistically just as likely to use cannabis as the other. This causes a social division greater than the one we are already experiencing as a result of racism and religious war, in a time where we should be trying to harmonize.
Throughout human history, cannabis has been used as a healing plant, and a communal one to bring people together. Because of the stigma that has been so ruthlessly associated with weed, it has been the focal point of racial discrimination, and it is this stereotype which has perpetuated the war on drugs rather than the innocent intentions of the consumer.
Do cannabis consumers perpetuate the drug war?
A major part of the stereotype of the cannabis user is the brainwashing of the public that the ordinary cannabis consumer perpetuates the war on drugs. Of course, prohibition pushed all cannabis circulation onto the black market, and this effectively leads to other criminal activities such as trafficking and even violence. But can the regular cannabis frequenter really be held responsible for this?
The intention of a drug cartel leader with reference to cannabis may be violence or corruption, but the intentions of the end consumer come from the innocence of simply wanting to use weed. Whether the person is using cannabis medically or recreationally, it is incredibly unfair to punish users for the war on drugs, when the truth is that it is the authorities which are enduring the war on drugs and its devastating effects.
Through legalization, the cannabis user has the opportunity to purchase and use weed without financially supporting the illegal drug trade, and the entire operation is therefore no longer associated with crime. In fact, the legalization of cannabis in the US is already damaging the Mexican drug cartels that focus on cross-border cannabis trade. This alone is a statement about how prohibition is the greatest perpetuation of the war on drugs and its devastation.
Different users, different reasons
To lump all cannabis users into a category of lazy, video game-playing, crime-perpetuating stoners would be to deny the plethora of reasons that cannabis can be used. Although there are certainly some people using weed for recreational purposes, there are those using it as effective treatment for a range of medical conditions. There are even people using weed for spiritual reasons.
There are people all over the world using cannabis to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, cancer, nausea, and even anxiety. In fact, as technology continues to increase in the scope of being able to produce medical cannabis products, there are ways being found for the medical cannabis user to ingest cannabis without even getting high. With CBD-only cannabis and CBD oil becoming more and more readily available, there are cannabis users who are receiving the medicinal benefits without the cerebral high. CBD-only cannabis is a strain of cannabis that does not contain the psychoactive compound of the cannabis plant (THC), and instead contains only the medicinal properties of CBD.
These cannabis users are definitely not sitting on their couches eating and watching mindless television all of the time. In fact, it is likely that they resorted to the use of medical cannabis in order to be able to continue productively living their lives.
Stoners who break the stereotype
Weed is a plant that is loved by many and has been loved by many over the ages. And there have been quite a number of successful stoners over the ages that break the stereotype that cannabis users achieve nothing for society other than crime and laziness.
We only need to look at examples like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. Both of these millionaire success stories are self-proclaimed cannabis users, and they are definitely advocates of cannabis. Both of them attribute a lot of their creative energy to the use of this plant, and how it assisted them in being so successful in their careers. Both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates fit into the white America paradigm, neither being from an ethnic background, and both of them have been financially successful and career driven.
Carl Sagan, creator of the television documentary series Cosmos is also a self-proclaimed cannabis user. This man is the holder of two PhDs, one in astronomy and the other in astrophysics. Sagan says that using weed shook something deep and profound in him, a spiritual awakening if you will, that allowed him to fully understand human relationships better. He credits the success in his career and philosophical contemplation to the deep spiritual connection that weed gave him access to.
The stereotype is not real
The conclusion of all of this is that the stereotype that has been created by society over the last one hundred years is not real. It is completely a figment of people’s judgement and the power of authority over public opinion. In fact, none of the evidence out there suggests that cannabis users are all lazy, or all criminals, or all unproductive. The real evidence actually suggests otherwise, that people are using cannabis for its physical, spiritual, and medicinal benefits.
The stereotype has simply become a way for another social group to be discriminated against, the same way that society has the tendency to discriminate against religious groups or ethnic communities. With legalization well on its way in the world, it would be economically and socially beneficial to start shedding the layers of this stereotype so that it can be accepted into society.