The Strain of the Stigma: “You Don’t Even Look Like a Stoner”

There is a critical need in our current situation to disprove the stigma surrounding cannabis and cannabis culture.

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Cannabis legalization has remained a third wheel among political concerns for far too long. Due to the recreational legalization measures passed in Colorado and Washington, the voice to the public that is the mainstream media has been dealt a new hand to play from a brand new deck of cards. What the politicians and media gurus are unable to conceive is that this is not a game to us. The legalization of cannabis is not a matter to be covered like the Casey Anthony murder trial. It isn’t about creating sides for those for it and those against it. It’s about the truth. It’s about nature. It’s about medicine. I am almost 24 years old, a college graduate, a bartender, a daughter, a sister, a friend, and a neighbor. I am also a user of and advocate for cannabis. I am not a criminal.

[quote_right]You are not the just the voice of another stoner who will never be heard. Your opinions matter.[/quote_right]

​In my line of work, I meet and converse with new people and new co-workers every single day. Whether during a friendly conversation among guests or a break with some co-workers, occasionally I share with people the fact that I am a user of cannabis. Nine times out of ten, the response I receive is, “But you don’t even look like a stoner!” I can’t help but think to myself, what does that even mean?

​​Regardless of what the label is, when you brand a group of people together under one specific label solely based on the fact that they share a common passion, you are demeaning those individuals by reducing them to nothing but a name. I am not here to try and deny the fact that I am a stoner. I most certainly am. I am, however, here to defend the right to be an advocate for a more natural way of life without being relegated to a stereotype.

I often wonder what marijuana is going to have to help cure for it to be appreciated by closed-minded individuals who are still asleep. My mother is an oncology nurse. Day in and day out she treats people with cancer and far too frequently, they lose their battles. She loves what she does no matter how emotional it can be because, above all, she wants to help people. But just for a moment, imagine a world where cancer isn’t a death sentence and where its treatment doesn’t involve pumping poison and radiation throughout your body. Imagine a world where medicine does just that…medicates.

All our lives we’ve been told to donate money to cancer research and walk for a cure, but let’s get real. There is nothing wrong with showing support for those battling an illness. But pharmaceutical companies are in the corner laughing at those who believe their donations and walks make any difference in regards to finding an actual cure. Pharmaceutical companies don’t create cures. They create customers. How long are we going to cower under the politics that keep such a beautiful and natural creation illegal simply because one day a few people got together and decided that it should be? This is the government our founding fathers warned us about. Think about how radically different their time would have been if hemp wasn’t one of their most industrialized crops.

[quote_right]Your voice is your weapon. You are not your stigma.[/quote_right]

I’m almost 24, and all too often I hear people my age talk about how they don’t care if marijuana is legal because they can find it anyway. Shame on those people. Shame on the establishment that took a generation unlike any other and turned us into a group of unresponsive individuals who’s opinions will never be shared, let alone heard. It’s not that our generation is afraid to speak up; most of us simply just don’t care to. And that is the saddest truth. We’ve grown up in the age of Facebook and Twitter where a picture of what you ate for dinner can be shared with hundreds, thousands of people in a matter of seconds. We can communicate with whoever we want, about anything we want,anytime we want to. What do we do instead? We talk about Kim Kardashian’s wedding proposal, Miley Cyrus’ haircut, or that thing Justin Bieber did that doesn’t matter at all. Imagine a world where people my age talked about the things that actually matter. Hell, imagine a world where people my age actually CARED about the things that matter. ​

As the millennial generation, we have so much more power than we are aware of. We need to let our voices be heard while we are still allowed to use them. We’ve been conditioned to remain silent about what is important for far too long. The people running the show now are too far gone to recognize real. They’re the same people our founding fathers fought against in order to establish a more perfect union. Let us be our own founding fathers. Let us live. Let us be free of the chains our government silently places on us. We have the power to be an unforgettable generation, but we’re already forgetting ourselves. Don’t forget to remember that a life without purpose is no life at all. If you fail to make something your purpose, you will have failed on purpose. Every person who ever accomplished anything started off as someone without a purpose. Open up your mind to the possibility that you might be one of those people and when you do, don’t ever let it close again.

I often find that when facing adversity or a stereotype, it is helpful to remember the words of those who came before us and faced similar forms of ignorance. It was Gandhi who once said, “You are the product of your own thoughts. What you think, you become.” Above all else, remember one thing and hold true to it. You are not the just the voice of another stoner who will never be heard. Your opinions matter. Your voice is your weapon. You are not your stigma.