stigma placed on marijuana users

Simple Ways to Eliminate the Stigma of Weed

Whether you’ve used cannabis for a while or new to the game, chances are you know and have dealt with weed stigma. It might have come from a family member, friend, boss or even just the public in general. It can be frustrating to deal with judgment from those around you when you know the effects of this natural plant. In order to really understand the harsh reality of and how to specifically eliminate weed stigma, we first need to understand the word, “stigma,” or more fitting in this case, “social stigma.”

What is Social Stigma?

Social stigma is defined as “the disapproval of, or discrimination against, a person based on perceivable social characteristics that serve to distinguish them from other members of society.” In order to eliminate weed stigma, society’s perceived opinion of weed has to change. But the question is: how does that happen?

Eliminate Weed Stigma

While this list isn’t all-inclusive, there are several things you can do to help eliminate weed stigma.

Start the Discussion

Someone has to start the discussion. If you are a cannabis business owner, user, or involved in the industry in another way – then that discussion should start with you. Most people who choose to speak badly about a topic or a product do so because they don’t understand it. They might not understand it’s uses or the benefits it can provide. The easiest way to eliminate weed stigma is to do so in an area where weed is legal. The majority of your potential clients or customers will have a more open mind relating to weed if they live in a place where weed isn’t considered contraband.

Share Your Experiences Related to the Benefits

Next, it is best to share all of the incredible health benefits of cannabis. The most popular benefits are reducing pain, relieving anxiety and stimulating appetite, but did you know cannabis can also aide in sleep, treat fungal infection and promotes bone growth? Many people are unaware of the extensive health benefits of weed. Have a personal story? Even better. People enjoy hearing personal testimonies about products that work for others. It might not change their minds immediately, but it’ll leave them thinking.

Talk about the “Bad” Effects

Part of the negative stigma that comes with weed is that people think you can die from consuming it. That is a complete myth. Would you like to guess the total amount of people that have died from cannabis overdose? None. Nada. Zip. Can you say that about any other negatively perceived drug on the market? I don’t think so. The common misconception around a deadly high has its roots in experiencing a ‘bad high.’

What does exist is a bad high. Because weed is a foreign substance to your body, it can react negatively. It’s still not going to kill you.

A bad high might happen if a customer receives an incorrect strain of weed and experiences a high they were not expecting. For example, there are two general strains of weed that produce different highs. Indica highs are more of a body high, which equates to a more relaxed high, pain relief and appetite stimulant. On the other hand, a Sativa strain is more of a head high. A head high is characterized as being more alert, creative and experiencing increased energy. Ensuring your client’s knowledge of which strain produces which high will help to increase the positive benefits of weed and eliminate weed stigma.

Increase Legalization Efforts

A final way to help eliminate weed stigma is to increase the areas where positive weed usage is practiced. Right now, weed isn’t legal in all 50 states (or federally) which means that, until it is, the “illegal” stigma will stick with it. Legalization creates safer use because people are able to seek out education from professionals as to how to implement it into their daily lifestyles and for the management of physical and mental ailments. Additionally, testing becomes mandatory and consumers can be ensured they are purchasing safe and effective products.

Interested in learning more about how to eliminate weed stigma? If so, you won’t want to miss a CannaCon event in your area. Grab your tickets now and join us to network with cannabis professionals and industry experts. We look forward to seeing you!

Whether you’ve used cannabis for a while or new to the game, chances are you've wondered how to eliminate weed stigma. Check out these tips.

Marijuana Legalization: History, Impact and Stigma

Western states in the U.S. have often held a reputation for being much more accepting of marijuana. Recreational cannabis is legal for selling, consuming, and purchasing in California, Oregon, and Washington State. Nestled just south of this cannabis corner of the nation is Arizona, a state where only cannabis for medical use is legally available.

In Arizona, a person who is a qualifying patient can request a medical marijuana card. To qualify a person must have one of the following medical conditions: Chronic, severe pain severe nausea, seizures, persistent or severe muscle spasms, cancer, glaucoma, Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), Hepatitis C, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, Agitation of Alzheimer’s disease or Cachexia, or wasting syndrome.

In the state of Arizona, not all medical patients can grow and cultivate their own marijuana plants. A patient is allowed to grow their own cannabis on their own property if there are no medical dispensaries within 25 miles of a patient’s legal address. These patients still have the option to go to a dispensary if they choose to do so. Sometimes people are under the impression that Arizona has recreational cannabis, but all dispensaries still require a legal medical marijuana card for the state of Arizona to even enter the store.

Marijuana legalization has caused much confusion when it comes to cannabis and the workplace. It is illegal for any employer to discriminate against a future employee based on a positive cannabis drug test if the person is a medical marijuana patient in the state. There is a slight loophole, where if an employer can prove that hiring someone with positive drug screening results causes a loss of their license or income, they can reserve the right to not hire them. Additionally, if an employee is using any drugs or under the influence of drugs while working, the employer reserves the right to fire that employee.

Currently, marijuana legalization varies from state to state. In some recreational states, there are licensed store-fronts and dispensaries that any person, resident or not, over the age of 21 can enter the store and purchase large amount of cannabis and marijuana products. In D.C., the law is a bit murkier. There are currently no store fronts that sell cannabis for recreational purposes. Weirdly, residents can get cannabis delivered to their homes, and individuals can visit “pop-up” events where they purchase items and receive cannabis items as a “gift.”

D.C. law contains many loopholes for those who wish to obtain and use cannabis. Cannabis companies often have functioning websites and require ID verification before prices and strains are spoken about. Like in a pipe shop, language must be used specifically and one has to be careful they do not say the wrong thing.

In addition to D.C, 33 states have passed legislation that broadly legalizes marijuana in some form. Recreational weed states include California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Vermont, Nevada, Alaska, Maine, and Michigan. Recreational marijuana is decriminalized, which is basically a step down from recreational legalization, in a large number of states. These include Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia (only in the cities of Atlanta and Savannah), Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico (just in the city of Albuquerque), New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Rhode Island.

Opening dispensaries for citizen’s use is not the only way that cannabis legalization benefits individuals. New York recently cleared past criminal records for almost 400 residents that had past low-level cannabis convictions in a civil case. A new law that has just been passed and will go into effect at the end of the month aims to remove all low-level cannabis convictions from all court and criminal records.

This is a huge victory for residents of New York. Many individuals who have cannabis convictions on their record, only have cannabis convictions on their record. The civil case, which featured 360 residents of New York, outlined the ways that the new law is going to go into effect. Until now, a signed affidavit was required for a person to request their record to be cleaned, and that caused many people to typically avoid the lengthy process.

Clearing the records of ‘criminals’ that have marijuana convictions is a huge step for not only marijuana activists but civil rights activists as well. The war on drugs is still not over, and large numbers of people of color are being targeted and prosecuted for drug possession. A black person is much more likely to get pulled over for a “stop-and-frisk,” by a police officer. There is no data that backs up the claim that black people use drugs at a more frequent rate than whites. It is held that people generally use drugs at the same rate despite being white or black. Black people are just more likely to get in trouble with the law for it.

Marijuana legalization is still pending in many areas, but it seems almost every day new legislation and laws are appearing to get rid of the penalties associated with marijuana possession and put new regulations in place to set up dispensary store fronts. Lawmakers and politicians are either going all-in and supporting the move towards legalization, or suffering the loss of many supporters by rejecting the drastic change.

Legalization is also benefiting brands and companies as well. Many corporations are choosing to partner with cannabis companies and collaborate with growers to expand their businesses. Some brands, such as Ben and Jerry’s, are choosing to advocate for cannabis legalization and expunging old cannabis records. This is a great idea for brands that are looking to step into the national spotlight and establish brand recognition as well as loyal customers.

Western states in the U.S. have often held a reputation for being much more accepting of marijuana. Recreational cannabis is legal for selling, consuming, and purchasing in California, Oregon, and Washington State. Nestled just south of this cannabis corner of the nation is Arizona, a state where only cannabis for medical use is legally available.