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By Ayad Maher
As cannabis is becoming more and more mainstream and emerging from the shadows, the vintage 'stoner' stereotype will continue to alter. Hopefully it will fade away altogether eventually. Professionals, parents, and senior citizens admit to frequent or even daily cannabis use and the physical, emotional, and mental benefits they receive are remarkable. Although many are trying to distant themselves from using the term Stoner - Wayne Schwind for instance, owner and founder of Periodic Edibles, thinks the term "seems loaded and carries a lot of assumptions." which is True. Despite that, however, I still like to describe myself as a "stoner." Maybe because I didn't grow up in the U.S. therefore I don't fully understand its meaning, the social stigma, and the history behind it. Another possible theory; I just like to F*** with people heads and see the confusion in their eyes when they see someone who calls himself a "stoner" but doesn't manifest the typical stereotype of a stoner (I always like to consider myself as social disruptor, and if you know me well, you'd know).
Related article: The Tainted Herb – The History of Marijuana Stigma
Here’s the deal; The majority of the opinion polls display fast-growing support of marijuana legalization in the U.S. as well as all over the world, mainly due to the numerous and legitimate scientific researches which have confirmed that cannabis and its derivatives could assist us in multiple and in a wide variety of ways; win the war on prescription drugs abuse, relieve PTSD for veterans, soothe epileptic seizures, maintain healthy insulin level, cope with chronic pain, anxiety, depression and more.
What's so crazy; despite all that, the stigma continues to be persistent. Many people see 'stoners' or cannabis users as lazy, unsuccessful, and potentially troubled human beings. Society believes we, stoners, are incapable of providing anything useful to the community because of our intake of cannabis, which also is strongly false.
You might be wondering; where does this ancient and degrading stoner stereotype come from? We could cast the blame upon television, movies, or newspapers where stoners are portrayed as a lazy with poor posture and only wear tie-dye shirts.
Related Article: 11 Stoner Stereotypes That No Longer Apply.
OR even better, we could act mature and admit to our own responsibility for the unfavorable public image because we all know that is the only way this image will change favorably. We need to still maintain our life-goals and daily motivation as well as enjoying the simple pleasures of Marijuana smoking.
Couple of questions that we ought to be answered; what marijuana enthusiasts do wrong? And more importantly, what can we do differently to look better in the eyes of society?
1. Get out of the Green Closet
Are you a spirited cannabis user as well as a supporter? Then advocate. Be proud of your lifestyle. It is really not all that different from vegans preaching about the benefits of their diet and how we should all become vegan too (just try to be not as obnoxious about it). Become an ambassador for the Cannabis industry, whom is credible through personal experiences. Search for the positive changes that marijuana provided you and embrace them. Speak about your personal experiences and how cannabis has benefited you and how it can benefit others as well.
I understand the dilemma for some who live in a state where it is still illegal through and through. However, you are still capable of spreading the word. Just be careful and aware of who you're telling.
2. Don't abuse the herb. Be mindful about smoking habits and get to Know Your Weed
Educate yourself about the effect of marijuana and how it may influence your life or health in a positive or negative way. Practice consciousness and selflessness not only the easily accepted part but the not-so-pretty part as well. Don't be one of those individuals who deny science to serve his or her personal agenda.Be mindful about your smoking habit is a very important point. I'm talking here about your consumption, why, where, when and how often do you consume the herb. Getting high is fun, but it's not a competition; who can smoke more or who has a higher tolerance level, it's a lifestyle that you need to understand, express and embrace in a sophisticated and educated way.
Furthermore, as for strains, there is an endless amount of of marijuana strain possibilities (yes, hundreds!) which have created a whole new class of marijuana smokers.They have turned from stereotypical stoners into rather prestigious and sophisticated cannabis connoisseurs. Yes, be pretentious about your weed, if you can afford it, of course.
3. Don't Drive While You're High
There are absolutely no “marijuana is safer than alcohol” excuses for driving while under the influence of Cannabis. Yes, health-wise it is safer than alcohol. In fact, according to the late research conducted by NHTSA, any drug is safer than alcohol, legal or illegal.
However, that doesn't mean you should drive after consuming THC. In the state of Washington alone, where recreational Marijuana is legal, the number of stoned drivers involved in fatal car accidents, has more than doubled from 2010 to 2014. Although Cannabis is proven to be safer than alcohol, it still directly effects some of your physical and mental attributes temporarily. Which if you are not used to then you should definitely stay off the roads at all costs.
In some states, there’s no limit for the THC level in driver’s blood. In other states the limit is so incredibly low that people who are completely sober get arrested for smoking weed a day before. Always remember these laws change according to the state so be careful when traveling across country.
All of us who live in the states where driving while baked is illegal should keep our levels of THC low enough to drive. It does require doing some math. The rest of us should use common sense. If you’re questioning yourself whether you are fit to drive, you are probably not.
Related article: 5 Scientific Reasons Weed is Safer than Alcohol
4. Keep Your Weed out of Children and Pet's Reach and Sight
Cannabis should be treated as seriously as alcohol and prescription medications, in the same time, it shouldn't be "hidden" per se, but secured out of children and pets' reach. Negligence can put your loved one(s) in the emergency room or a vet hospital for several days with an extremely strong and unwanted psychedelic experience. Although it would not be lethal it can have lingering effects on delicate and developing minds, especially in large doses.
NPR reported "Some studies have shown that even low concentrations of THC — the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana — can cause developmental problems for babies whose mothers used marijuana while pregnant. Another Research shows that marijuana use in adolescence can impact the developing teenage brain and cause problems with attention, motivation and memory."
Open communication for kids is extremely important. Teaching kids about cannabis is a direct way to address the stigma. Upfront, honest education about marijuana’s real benefits and risks is more important than ever. Your kids have to understand that you're not being hypocritical by not allowing them to smoke weed during. To learn more, here are 'The Most Important Thing To Tell Your Kids About Cannabis'.
Also, it goes without saying that we shouldn’t brag about how great recreational marijuana is in front of the kids, let's at least act like adults. They will find out eventually like we all have, there is no need to prematurely expose them.
5. Smell. Here Is a Surprising News: Not Everyone Loves the Smell of Weed
If you’re smoking in public; first, make sure the law allows you to do that, secondly, that no one has to unwillingly inhale second-hand smoke.
Be discrete. Be considerate. Be responsible.
Celebrities and pranksters who find the need to hot-box private jets, London eye cabins, or walk around the supermarkets smoking are the worst representation of marijuana enthusiasts. They are legalization’s faux friends that encourage people to view cannabis users as inconsiderate and careless degenerates. Which most of us are definitely not.
6. Keep Everything Neat, Tidy, and Picture-Ready
These options don't only provide a better experience than DIY smoking devices and plastic bags, they also look more professional and make us cannabis users look more refined as well.
7. Finally, Become an Example to Your Fellow Stoners, but Don't Preach
It would be sad if your only argument is that 'many successful people smoke/smoked pot' and yet, you spend all of your day getting high, watching TV, and daydreaming.
My point is, don't let smoking weed deplete your motivation to be productive and responsible because Marijuana has no control over your life, as long as you don't allow it to. Have life-goals and fulfill your highest potential in life all while smoking Cannabis.
Dress well, groom well, and be productive. Every now and then try to get off your couch and go out. Exercise and eat healthy. Trust me, any experience is a great one when you smoke weed, so try to enjoy them all without falling behind in life.
Let me first give you a quick overview of what can benefit our 'stoner' image (in case you skimmed the whole article):
Personally, being a genuine and considerate human is not hard at all. Easier done when I am medicated with Cannabis if I must admit. We are in the day and age that you are capable of creating your own 'stoner' stereotype.
Encourage your unique lifestyle, you will be proud of it and you won't shy away from telling people, friends, and family that you smoke weed every day. You can be that successful stoner that you talk about and just because you aren't famous doesn't mean you aren't successful. At the end of the day, It's really just up to you and how you want to present yourself.
Stay toasty my friends
Stay toasty my friends.
Ayad Maher is a Cannabis Industry Entrepreneur, Blogger & Activist. eCommerce Specialist and Owner of a 420 Life Style Website; Monroe Blvd, an online smoke shop; 421Store, and an online CBD store; GoodyCBD.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in July 2015 and has been revamped and updated as needed for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
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