Cannabis and Freedom
Like many others, I have kept my cannabis use private, outside of close friends. Over the past years, many people have been shocked to find out that I smoke weed. I never would have started a blog like this only a year or two ago. The legal threats and social stigma would have stopped me from sharing what I know with others. Instead, weed is legal here in Canada. We now have the freedom to consume and converse about weed openly. I hope this article helps us all to feel a little freer to speak up now that we have this opportunity.
The Decline of Cannabis Stigma
I think one of the best parts of legalization will be the conversations, the discussion of both pros and cons. While talking to grandma about cannabis may still be tougher than opening up to colleagues, the legal framework being created will support our freedom to discuss this soon-to-be legal intoxicant.
This legal substance that I feel needs to be talked about more, like all the time. Make people face their stigmas as they find out all the people they respect and interact with smoke weed with no undue harms or changes. No longer will stoners be confined to television stereotypes and horror stories shared among clueless citizens. Knowing so little makes us vulnerable to stereotyping.
Shadows and stigma
Smoking in the shadows, hiding in alleys and corners. Years of finding secretive spots to get stoned. Years of internalizing this fact that I was a criminal, smoking an illegal substance. I went along with this role, keeping my blazing a secret, hidden from colleagues and family.
I have only experienced this for years. There are others who have experienced this their entire lifetime. There are many more baby boomers smoking weed than you may think. And many more will try it out as it becomes legal and those around them start to smoke openly. To have the freedom to legally buy weed has been so empowering and positive for my mental health.
Stigma and Stereotyping
It will be hard to view all Stoners as a criminal when people start to discover all the people they respect who are stoners. Kind of like how it is much harder to be racist towards an ethnicity when you socialize with members of that cultural group.
It will become increasingly difficult to stereotype cannabis users, as more and more people openly proclaim that they consume cannabis. Hopefully, it’ll become harder to hate cannabis as more people benefit from CBD products (ones with little to no THC that do not produce psychoactive effects). It will be harder to hate a substance that provides substantial revenues for our local, provincial, and federal budgets.
Talking about Cannabis
All these topics and more are bringing discussed by nearly every news outlet here in Canada. I see people debating how it should be legalized, a topic I wish we had started talking about years ago. Politicians want more information about the harms of cannabis while having done nothing to promote the research of cannabis these past years. People are having discussions, picking sides, and talking about it with those around them. This is what I love to see. I also feeling free, and adding more rights to our collective freedom around cannabis has been spectacular to see.
Different Strokes for Different Folks
I don’t expect us all to agree and I know there are people who are unhappy about Cannabis legalization. They are welcome to voice their opinion throughout this process, unlike many of us stoners who could not freely discuss the illegal substance we have appreciated all these years. I welcome and appreciate conversations with people about the pros and cons of cannabis.
What I haven’t appreciated
I have no appreciated being told I was a criminal for liking this plant. I do not appreciate the opinions of others dictating how I exercise my rights and freedoms as a Canadian. People are welcome to not like cannabis, not want it in their homes, and not want to smoke it themselves. I do not think that personal opinion should extend through the law into my home and tell me what I can’t do. Luckily, here in Canada we now have the freedom and right to consume cannabis legally. Thank goodness!
Talking about Mental Health
I love the increased dialogues going on around mental health in the last decade. We have progressed a long way from where we were with judging those with ‘invisible illnesses’ to at least considering their perspectives. The combination of stigma around mental health and against cannabis has done unmeasurable harm to citizens around the world. I felt stigmatized and judged for my cannabis consumption my whole adulthood. Trying to discuss my chronic pain problems was usually met with skepticism, judgment, and lots of suggestions.
What I rarely experienced was empathy and attempts to understand my problems. Things have improved dramatically, and now I feel comfortable discussing my anxiety, depression, and chronic pain problems. I still feel stigma, but at least people can’t pinpoint cannabis and blame it for all of my problems. And at least it’s legal, so they can’t jump on that argument. Mental Health Week just ended here in Canada. I wrote about my experiences and then speculated on some of yours. Give those posts a read for more on mental health.
Freedom to Talk about Cannabis
This legalization process has formally put the topic of Cannabis into the spotlight. We all should be talking about it. I look forward to many more conversations about weed as we move forward toward the end of the prohibition on marijuana. Whether each person likes it or not, this country is moving beyond decades of stigma and fear-based decision-making regarding what to do about this fascinating plant.
Whatever our opinions may be, we have the right to hold them. I hope people keep an open mind and are willing to listen more when it comes to cannabis (and mental health) without jumping to conclusions. Now that weed is legal in Canada, I hope more of us speak up about our consumption. We should be able to discuss pros and cons without being interrupted for being criminals at least. I’ve taken advantage of this new environment and created this blog.
I hope it provides an opportunity for you to read opinions outside of your own. It may help you feel less alone. I want to provide you with information you can share with your friends and family. Our collective effort can help reduce the stigma and stereotypes around weed. It also just feels great to be able to speak openly, I hope you experience the same feeling!