Understanding old school stoner stereotypes and attitudes

Published May 8, 2019 12:44 p.m. ET
AP Photo/Justin L. Fowler

We all already know about the famous Cheech and Chong stoner duo who helped to ignite the movement for legal marijuana access all around the world through their movies that appeared to portray what it would be like to smoke weed everyday. The thing is, any regular cannabis user knows that the media portrays an unrealistic version of reality that couldn’t be further from the truth. Most of us don’t have half naked women hanging off us, weird police exchanges, or motorcycles in our living rooms.

So, what’s the deal with this strange perception the media seems to feed to the public about smoking weed? Well, much of what you see today from Hollywood is built on a sensationalized stereotype that stems from years of racism and government funded propaganda that was once believed by much of the population. Since the old days where most people associated smoking weed with Mexicans and African Americans who were largely discriminated against. The awful stigmas still have held on strong and are still highly regarded as fact in many regions of the world today.

Examples of stoner stereotypes

  1. Smoking recreational weed will make you unmotivated and lazy.

Though some weed strains might produce a couch lock feeling that makes you not want to move out of your seat, there are just as many types that will provide the opposite effect especially if it’s consumed in smaller doses.

  1. Legal marijuana users also know where to buy illegal drugs.

Now that recreational weed is legal in most regions, there is absolutely no reason to assume that someone who smokes pot might know where you could score other drugs. Even before legalization, most cannabis users shunned any type of association with harder drugs.

  1. People who smoke weed everyday are unemployable, and probably still live at home.

A lot of the time, cannabis users are simply self-medicating for issues that they have yet to receive a diagnosis for. Even those who are not treating such things are achieving a calm that is a great boost for several different reasons. Weed is excellent for sleep troubles, headaches, stress, and just about anything else that ails you, which tends to make them even better employees than their non consuming counterparts. According to one study by BDS analytics, people who smoke weed tend to have better jobs, and a higher yearly income by approximately $2000 per year. Though the number of people that are sharing living quarters with their parents has risen in the last decade, that is mainly due to housing issues and cost restraints than it is cannabis use. I think it’s safe to say that this one has been completely debunked several times over.

  1. Cannabis users talk slowly.

When you watch typical stoner movies like Cheech and Chong or half baked, you will notice that when everyone gets high, they usually talk much slower. This just doesn’t happen guys, not unless you have smoked so much that you are about to fall asleep or have some other issue going on. Most potheads do not sound any different when they are high than they do sober.

  1. Recreational weed consumers all sport rainbows and tie-dye.

Most people who are new to cannabis culture are surprised that cannabis users come from all different walks of life, and each of us has our unique sense of style just like anyone else. This stereotype is mainly driven now by the industry who makes a ton of bright colored logo sporting shirts, hats, bags, flags and more. The limitations force those of us with minimal access pot themed merchandise to wear something crazy now again, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t also find us in business suits and other types of attire on a regular day.

  1. Marijuana consumers are always stoned.

Smoking weed once in a while is normal for the majority of cannabis users. According to one exclusive survey by Ipsos in combination with Global News shows that only half of marijuana consumers use it daily, while the remaining 50% choose to partake anywhere from every weekend to once every few months. Most daily pot smokers know their limits and choose to indulge when it least affects other day to day responsibilities.

  1. Pot smokers only listen to rap or reggae.

This stereotype is one of the oldest, and it couldn’t be more wrong. Though both genres of music are often associated with marijuana use, most cannabis consumers prefer hip-hop, oldies, and dance music over rap or reggae.

  1. Smoking weed will make you dumb and forgetful.

Though cannabis does have the ability to create minor lapses in time while it’s active in your system, and you mind find yourself slightly more distracted than normal thanks to heightened and stimulated senses. The only portion of a marijuana consumers memory that might be affected is short term, and it’s only true for a short period afterward. So, while it might not be a great idea to get high on the job, cannabis will in no way make a person slow, or forgetful unless they are already that way naturally.

Where did the stigma surrounding cannabis come from?

As mentioned above, there has certainly been a racial aspect that is impossible to ignore; there have been many powerful individuals who encouraged the stigma surrounding smoking weed for one of three reasons.

  1. Fear of backlash

At one time our president announcing the legalization of marijuana might have had him or her thrown from office. Marijuana use until recently was very rarely touched on by official governments. This is largely due to the stigma that is only now beginning to fade, which is believed to be the reason for so many powerful leaders who we know smoked pot choosing to stay silent while backing a narrative that they didn’t necessarily believe in. The same holds for regular everyday people who have kept their cannabis consumption a secret for fear of discrimination in the workplace, and other areas of life.

  1. Financial motivations

Many world leaders maintain investments with pharmaceutical companies, alcohol sales, and other industries that did not want to have to compete with cannabis. For them keeping marijuana use a criminal offence lined their pockets. The average person wouldn’t have been influenced by this, had those companies not released decades of propaganda to keep pot illegal.

  1. Personal opinion

Different times offered a different perspective into the world of illegal weed. Many people truly didn’t know any better than what they were taught during the times that governments started to enforce a negative attitude about cannabis. This is believed to be the most significant influence on how long it took to get legal marijuana back in the spotlight.

The reason why attitudes about legal marijuana need to change

Unfortunately, despite cannabis legalization in much of the western world, there is still plenty of discrimination being faced by those who choose to partake in a much safer substance than alcohol. Regulation in Canada has been rolled out at a snail's pace due to an outcry from thousands of uneducated individuals claiming concern for an industry that was in existence long before the laws that allowed personal possession. Citizens are arbitrarily limited to 30 grams of legal weed. Any more than that risks confiscation, fines, and possible jail time. Marijuana edibles aren’t even available yet as the government tries to navigate how to appease the non-using residents as well as the potential customers. Making for an unnecessarily messy process that is doing nothing but fan the flames that are still driving the black market just as hard as ever before. When unwarranted fears get in the way of true legalization, there is a serious problem that needs to be addressed so that at the end of the day, people can enjoy easy access to safe and effective medicine and relaxant in whatever form suits their needs.

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