Stoner Stigma in the Era of Legal Cannabis
A stoner, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is somebody who habitually consumes drugs and alcohol. However, the word has always been commonly associated with marijuana enthusiasts ever since the 1930s. Even now, in the age of cannabis legalization, the word has not been eliminated from the everyday vocabulary.
Unfortunately, weed users today still suffer the stigma of being lazy, paranoid, constantly getting the munchies, and always having an excuse to shrink away from responsibilities.
What Transpired in the Poll?
A Gallup poll in 2017 revealed that more than 6 in 10 of Americans favored the legalization of marijuana, that’s the highest rate so far since the organization started running the survey in 1969. More importantly, the views of the Republicans with regard to marijuana also shifted as 51% of them are no longer opposed to cannabis legalization.
Meanwhile, the way in which stoners are portrayed in the movies has also improved. Netflix’s Disjointed, a series that depicted the stereotypical lazy stoner, was canceled. Meanwhile, HBO’s High Maintenance, a shows that depicts a more realistic picture of marijuana users, was renewed.
Cannabis dispensaries are also on the PR campaign to shift the public’s attitude toward marijuana, particularly in cleaning up the image of the stoner. Advertising agencies also foresee the potential of raking in huge revenues in a rapidly growing industry.
While the country certainly has come a long way from 2005, when support was just 36% the battle is not over yet. In fact, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a known critic of marijuana legalization, announced back in January that he was rescinding the memo issued during the Obama administration that took a hands-off approach on state laws regarding recreational marijuana.
To date, there are nine states in the US, along with the District of Colombia, that allow recreational marijuana use.
While marijuana advocates are making headway in their efforts to reverse the negative perception of “stoners,” clearly there’s a long way to go. Minorities, like African-Americans and Latinos, have a harder time with removing the image of the stoner as traditionally, they have been the first victims of the government’s drug war.
The stigma also extends to parents who are judged harshly by society if they even stand close to pot. The Department of Social Services could potentially take custody of children whose parents are habitual marijuana users.
How to Break the Stigma of the Stoner?
It’s been a slow process, but the tide of public opinion has shifted after some states experimented with recreational marijuana without adverse side effects. All those unsubstantiated fears about creating a stoner generation or increasing the crime rate did not come to fruition in places where weed is legal.
In addition, many people see that those who use marijuana today cuts across all sections of society. These members of society include successful CEOs, celebrities, startup owners, engineers and IT experts, all of these people earn millions while smoking pot on the side. These people are workaholics, even-keeled, and totally normal individuals who just happen to like the cannabis plant. While the stoner stereotype still exists, the new image of what a marijuana user is today has slowly eroded that negative label.