How To End Cannabis Stigma Forever
By Gregory Frye, Executive Editor of Green Flower Media.
How often do you talk about cannabis? Or better yet, whom do you avoid discussing cannabis with?
Progress is impossible to achieve without communication.
Imagine making revolutionary advances in medicine or technology in a world where much of the public is afraid to discuss those subjects. Crazy, right?
This is a critical point with cannabis. Whether cannabis has added immense value to someone’s life, or they’ve never tried it, most people are still afraid to talk about it at all.
Society’s reluctance to discuss cannabis is no surprise. This lingering stigma is due course after more than 80 years of fear-based messaging from people in power. During this time span, the media and government came up with everything from cannabis turning young people into depraved murderers to being “gateway drug.”
Those messages were scary, and there was never any credible science to support them.
Since cannabis is still a Schedule I substance at the federal level, getting caught with it in the wrong place could lead to arrest, loss of employment, losing custody of children and all sorts of other harsh ramifications. It’s no wonder cannabis is still a taboo, emotionally charged subject for a lot of people.
Navigating the conversation can be extremely difficult, especially if you’re unprepared. Yet, those conversations are essential at every level of society, especially to make much-needed social (and political) progress with this life-changing plant.
Losses From Staying Quiet About Cannabis
The end-goal of any cannabis advocate must be to normalize cannabis within society so that the maximum amount of people can benefit.
From the plant’s anti-inflammatory properties to its use as an antidepressant, as a sleep aid, and even as a tool for creativity and problem-solving, cannabis has a variety of life-impacting benefits: mental, physical, emotional or spiritual. This is why humanity has been using it for thousands of years, as a means for health and wellness.
Now, after nearly a century in the shadows, we are finally bringing cannabis back into the light. It has taken a lot of dedicated work and sacrifice to come this far, and we still have a long way to go.
Today, talking about cannabis is more important than ever. The stigma and fear remain stronger than most realize. Even in a big cannabis state like California, half of the counties still ban adult-use sales.
In fact, stigma around cannabis still creates various issues in legal states from jobs still testing employees for cannabis to government bureaucrats playing doctor in the face of questions on cannabis policy. Not to mention those same bureaucrats restricting research on cannabis.
Without cannabis stigma blocking progress, numerous societal breakthroughs and dozens of public health advantages would have already emerged a long time ago. You could argue there’d be less strain on the nation’s healthcare system, domestic violence numbers would continue to drop as well as cartel violence and cannabis could continue to help patients with terminal illnesses – such as cancer – and help alleviate their suffering.
Bottom line: Why let fear and stigma get in the way of these possibilities? It all comes down to addressing cannabis knowledge gaps. Educating ourselves on cannabis and the industry is the foremost way to end stigma. And that especially involves talking about cannabis.
From talking to someone who’s cannabis-averse to bringing it up in your local town hall meeting, striking up conversations and questions about cannabis is the core method to changing people’s hearts and minds about this plant.
Navigating Over 80 Years Of Fear And Lies
The key to normalizing cannabis is eradicating the associated fear and replacing it with open-mindedness, followed by credible education.
That’s not always easy when the person on the other side of the conversation has heard so much about the perils of cannabis their entire life.
Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to prepare for cannabis dialogues, so you can navigate these sometimes-difficult conversations with confidence and credibility.
Research all the facts – take a look at the basic science of the plant, how it works in the body, the positive data coming from cannabis legalization and, most importantly, the history of why it became illegal. Anticipate and be ready to debunk all common arguments and misconceptions, from cannabis being addictive to it being a gateway drug or a menace to society.
Learning this information and sharing it with others are among the best steps you can take to eliminate the stigma and bolster progress with cannabis legalization.
More Tips For Talking Cannabis
Perhaps there’s someone you have in mind to educate on cannabis. Whether it’s a family member, colleague, government leader or doctor, these talks can be nerve-racking when you don’t know how the other person will react.
Here a few more tips to prepare:
Do Your Homework: Anticipate big arguments against cannabis and arm yourself with credible information. If a question arises that you can’t answer, be honest and search for the information together or follow up on it.
Consider Your Audience: Whom do you want to talk cannabis with, and why? Whether it’s a government leader, a friend, a family member or your community, know the intent.
Monitor Emotions: Cannabis is a sensitive topic for many. Don’t force the conversation on someone if they become emotional or upset. Pause and propose revisiting after everyone has calmed down.
Share Your Cannabis Story: If cannabis has improved your life, share your story! Just be mindful whom you’re sharing it with and why (especially in places where cannabis is still illegal).
Set the Stage for Further Dialogue: No matter how the conversation unfolds, invite the other person to reach out with any questions and be sure to follow up after a few days. With such a deep subject, one conversation is rarely enough.
Recommend Credible Cannabis Education Resources: Don’t send the person away empty-handed. Recommending resources in cannabis education will help further their own cannabis knowledge, empowering them to share and talk more with others.
Gregory Frye is executive editor with Green Flower Media.
The preceding article is from one of our external contributors. It does not represent the opinion of Benzinga and has not been edited.
Photo courtesy of Green Flower Media.
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