The Cannabis Stigma
The criminalization of marijuana has been based on racism and false information since the plant was originally prohibited. Harry Anslinger, the first commissioner for the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, said, “Reefer makes darkies think they are as good as white men,” during a conference in the 1930’s. Then came the days of “Reefer Madness” in the 60’s and 70’s where marijuana and marijuana users have been stereotyped into a specific role as lazy, unproductive, unmotivated, and unintelligent members of society. Propaganda showed the evils of marijuana turning sane people crazy and good girls bad.
Then in the 80’s the Reagan administration continued the misinformation by stating, “I now have absolute proof that smoking even one marijuana cigarette is equal in brain damage to being on Bikini Island during an H-bomb blast,” which we know is completely false.
Now, with the legalization of marijuana in multiple states, people are starting to discover from personal experience that the dangers of marijuana have been grossly over-exaggerated. In fact, last year, Nixon’s former domestic policy chief John Ehrlichman removed all doubt that the US Government had lied about marijuana for political gain when he admitted in an interview with Harper’s:
"The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I'm saying? We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders. raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did."
Legalization Paints a Different Picture.
In an era of legalization, for both medical and recreational consumers, the obvious fallacies of these antiquated thoughts are beginning to surface. Interestingly, a recent survey by has indicated that maybe these politicians have severely underestimated the typical cannabis user. This comprehensive study is considered to be the first of its kind considering full legalization has only been in place for a couple of years.
Over 2000 interviews were conducted in California and Colorado to guarantee 1200 cannabis “consumers” were involved in the survey. Other participants in the survey were labeled as “acceptors,” or people who either support marijuana but don’t use, or have used, but don’t currently and “rejecters” those who don’t use cannabis, have never used cannabis, and have no intention to start. The results were a little astonishing.
Cannabis users are more likely to experience personal and professional success.
The jobless, lazy, “Cheech & Chong” style image of the typical pot smoker is quite far from the truth as it turns out. In the survey, Californian consumers appeared to make a higher salary than the acceptors and rejecters by a significant amount. The consumers surveyed averaged between $18,000 and $21,000 more per year than those classified as acceptors or rejecters. This could be partially due to another data point collected in the same survey showing that 20% of cannabis consumers held advanced degrees, as compared to 13% and 12% for acceptors and rejecters, respectively. In addition, those surveyed from Colorado showed that consumers were between ten and thirteen percent more likely to have a full-time job.
Cannabis users are more social, creative, and conscientious.
Media, television, and cinema have been portraying the typical stoner as a teenage rebel drawn to a life of crime, who never leaves the basement except to score more dope, and spends most of his time peering through the blinds because of immense paranoia. The survey, however, shows a much different perspective. Thirty-six percent of Colorado consumers consider themselves social and outgoing individuals, whereas only 21% of acceptors and 28% of rejecters said the same. Coloradan cannabis consumers were also more likely to partake in creative endeavors, such as art museums, and consider themselves creative than their non-consuming counterparts. In California, it was found that cannabis consumers were 19% more likely to consider themselves nurturing and 13% more apt to volunteer their time than the rejecters who said they’ll never use cannabis.
Cannabis users are more likely to be parents who love the outdoors.
Despite all the stereotypes, the survey also showed cannabis users being most likely to be parents, with 64% of cannabis users having children as compared to only 55% of those who reject marijuana. In Colorado, consumers were also 14% more likely to enjoy outdoor activities than those who don’t consume, and in California, consumers enjoyed the outdoors by more than double the percentage of non-consumers, thus debunking the myth that all pot smokers want to do is sit on the couch watching movies and eat Doritos.
Cannabis consumers are happier.
Although, we have all seen the frying pan commercial about your brain on drugs warning us that marijuana can ruin our lives, fifty percent of Colorado cannabis consumers surveyed said that they are happier and more satisfied with their lives now than they were a year ago, outshining both the acceptors and rejecters.
Cannabis users are more likely to experience personal and professional success. They are more social, more creative, and more conscientious. Cannabis consumers are likely to be parents who love the outdoors and are happier and more satisfied with their lives than those who don’t consume cannabis. This survey results clearly depicts how despite fifty years of negative media, misinformation, and inaccurate stereotypes, the typical cannabis consumer is anything but what our society has portrayed them as.
As legalization slowly sweeps across the nation, and the rest of the country is able to experience the benefit of cannabis consumption, many more individuals will start gain access this powerhouse of healing. Imagine what a difference a year could make if 50% of our society was actually satisfied with their lives by this time next year?