Why so many cannabis lovers remain silent

Published Feb 21, 2021 02:00 p.m. ET
iStock / Morrison1977

You might think that cannabis lovers and industry professionals alike have it easy these days. After all, it’s legal in most places, and where it isn’t, it’s usually still possible to get your hands on some of that sweet, sweet green. Here we stand on what feels like the precipice of greatness, as we watch our dreams unfold right before us, and it’s a wonderful time indeed. Still, it is important that we don’t get caught up in it all and accidentally discredit the struggle of anyone who wants or needs to associate with cannabis today.

For many advocates, this journey towards greatness began on an incredibly awkward note. Friends and family harshly judged the choice, and fear of contamination of one’s professional life was very real. In some spaces, criminal penalties hovered overhead, but true enthusiasts barreled forward, letting nothing get in the way of their dream for a better, freer, more elevated tomorrow. They broke down some of the most challenging barriers while ushering in waves of marijuana reform, bringing us to this strange place of in-between where we stand today.

It’s now legal to smoke, carry, buy, grow, and process cannabis products in so many places that some of us have begun to forget that not so long ago, we lived in a very different world, where we were persecuted and criminalized for having any sort of association with the plant, but a great many are still adversely impacted by the so-called “war on drugs” today. Even those in legal regions continue to face discrimination, and it’s keeping far too many consumers quiet about their love of cannabis.

Friends and family

We spend our whole lives determining who will remain in our closest circle of friends, and family is pretty well known for having high expectations. These are the people we spend every spare moment with, and some consumers have never really had the chance to be open with them about their preference for cannabis. It might seem like a simple task, but many fear the fallout of those who don’t approve because, in some cases, large aspects of life can change, and not for the better when this sort of taboo discussion finally makes it to the table.


Work experience and ethic is an important thing that can make the difference between failure and greatness, which is probably why so many people like to openly discuss what they do for a living. We want to be loud and proud about our successes, and rightly so, but unfortunately, working in cannabis can sometimes throw a wrench into this. Though in this day and age, especially in legal areas, you would hope that future employers won’t judge you based on where you’ve been in the past, but the reality is that this isn’t always so.

Just spending a summer working in a cannabis greenhouse is enough to make some cannabis lovers cringe as they think about how terrible that might appear to someone who isn’t so soft on this new fangled trendy reform and working in the field isn’t the only thing that some of the most interested people turn down in hopes of maintaining a selective reputation.

Simply being known as a toker, for many, would be even worse, as there could be an immediate association with stereotypes. At first thought, these minor judgments might not seem like much, but when the boss is looking at you extra hard trying to catch you stoned, even when you’ve never stepped foot on the premises high, or you’re being treated differently as if every mistake is somehow green-related, something that many of us have witnessed first-hand, it’s no wonder that so many remain silent.

The law

Many cannabis enthusiasts just aren’t fortunate enough to live in such a progressive area, and for them, the threat of becoming a criminal just by simply mentioning their interest in pot products is very real and something that they’re still living. Though it might seem like a bygone era, dozens of US states alone still have yet to finalize legislation for legal cannabis, and until new measures pass or federal legalization takes over, millions of consumers will feel wrongfully muffled by the threat of a criminal record.


Even if a person's parents or friends won’t disown them, their employment is secure, and the law is on their side, it can be hard to talk freely and comfortably about cannabis, and this is mainly due to trauma. This phenomenon is very real and prevalent among long time consumers who have experienced repercussions at some point in life due to an association with cannabis. Some have been arrested, disowned, harshly judged, or found themselves in some other awkward situation that would never have arisen had it not been for their substance of choice, and for them, this is going to take time.

Many pre-prohibitions are so scarred that they still can’t bring themselves to spark up for fear of a nosy neighbor finding out about their “secret”. Parents fear the wrath of overseeing agencies that have stolen children from families in the past over less, and many cannabis users without so much to lose, just can’t get over that instinct to hide, no matter how hard they try. At this point, it’s a reflex, an instinct, and a debilitating barrier that keeps far too many consumers in the dark.

These are only some of the most common reasons for silence among cannabis enthusiasts, but if we can address and recognize these struggles, then perhaps we can also help one another to get past this truly unfortunate fallout because the taboo will just continue to adversely impact the industry and society as a whole until we get something figured out.

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