Putting Stoner Stereotypes in the Puff-Puff-Past

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A nurse, a dental hygienist, a hairstylist, a journalist, a mechanic, a fisherperson, a social worker, and an electrician walk into a dispensary. They’re joined by a software developer, a graphic designer, an author, an early childhood educator, a tradesperson, and a cook, all checking out the varying strains of weed, edibles, and oils. There is no punchline because this isn’t a joke.

It’s an accurate representation of the many different kinds of people who use marijuana today.

‘REEFER MADNESS’

Marijuana – also known as pot, weed, reefer, ganja, grass, dope, mary jane, and more – has had a bad rep since the mid-1930s, when the drug was used as a scapegoat to bolster confidence and coin for the newly formed Federal Bureau of Narcotics in the USA. 

This led to the creation of the 1936 cinematic adventure, Reefer Madness, a propaganda film that demonized marijuana with highly exaggerated and fictionalized cautionary tales of what would become of potheads.

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Today, over 80 years later, many of the widespread myths of marijuana use have been debunked, and many positive uses and adaptations have been discovered. Somehow, the stigma remained, and even now, in 2018, weedheads encounter prejudice day-to-day.

Pop culture icons like Cheech and Chong, the cast of Dazed and Confused, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Friday, Half Baked, and other films of the like have created a particular image of a stoner – unintelligent, unorganized, uncaring, and unkempt.

This stereotype, which has created vast amounts of admittedly hilarious comedy, does not represent all marijuana users, however. 

When compiling input for this article, 30 sources, ranging in ages from 19-60, agreed to be interviewed for this story. The interviews were granted on the basis of anonymity, due to the negative views many people still hold against pot.

Most of the smokers aren’t waking and baking, and many wouldn’t dream of toking at work – instead, they are lighting up after work, using pot to chill out after a long day in the same way many reach for a beer or a glass of wine to wind down.

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As we head towards legalization and decriminalization, many weed enthusiasts are hoping that marijuana will be viewed with the same casual attitude that alcohol is met with, and even now, with dope still stuck somewhere in legal limbo, they’re vocal about their current use, and their hopes for the future of pot.

When it comes to the state of the current cannabis climate, a 32-year-old tradesperson who has been smoking for almost 20 years, suggested taking a look around your own neighbourhood.

“You will be amazed at how many successful, intelligent and positive people in this community are also smoking weed every day,” they said. “I have a successful career, I am a homeowner (before the age of 30, mind you), I take time to volunteer in the community, I am well-spoken and intelligent, and I’m a strong union member involved with the ongoing and the future of my union hall,” they continued.

Does that fit the typical image of the couch-bound teenager, covered in Cheeto dust?

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There is no typical image of the modern-day stoner – “All sorts of people from every class of society use cannabis,” a software developer shared.

POT SMOKING DOCTORS

A local journalist followed up with the fact that they have “been in the company of pot-smoking doctors, politicians, janitors, the unemployed and skilled tradespeople. I’ve seen those in their 70s light up and I’ve seen those in their 20s,” they said. “Have I met lazy and useless pot smokers? Yes! But I’ve met lazy and useless non pot smokers too. I’ve met more creative, intelligent, knowledgeable and dependable weed smokers in my life than lazy, useless ones,” they continued.

An occasional toker of 41 years joked that “the stoners who are lazy and useless when stoned are lazy and useless when they’re not stoned,” they said. “Anyone can be unproductive and some of the most productive people I know are high,” a local author shared.

Out of the 30 people interviewed, only a handful expressed interest in smoking at work, and many pointed out the potential dangers of doing so, also discussing the current laws surrounding driving while high.

One user, a refrigeration mechanic in their late 20s, stated that being able to smoke at work would make them more productive, and more focused on their work.

Another toker shared that they smoked at school and graduated top of their class with honours with a 95 per cent final average.

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A local arts worker noted that marijuana makes them feel productive, powering through household chores and tedious paperwork.

“When I smoke, I am able to take a breath and not be anxious or stuck in my thoughts,” they said.

This is not the case for everyone of course, as different people react differently to various drugs of all kinds, marijuana included. Yet it’s obvious, as noted in these true testimonials from local tokers, that many of the preconceived notions about potheads are inaccurate, and outdated. 

One 19-year-old cook implored readers to “have a look into the many different types of people from all over the world that smoke weed for many different reasons. Look into why those people smoke weed,” they said. 

“I think one of the biggest misconceptions is just how many of us there are,” a 29-year-old film industry professional said. “I know plenty of users in the 50+ range and more getting into it for pain management, etc. People who pass down judgement on others probably don’t realize how many of their neighbors participate.”

When pot becomes legalized, and all the ensuing smoke has settled, many have high hopes for our economy.

“I think it will be an integral part of our society and I hope that the tax income that comes from it will enable our province to dig themselves out of debt,” a 25-year-old software company salesperson said.

‘CANNABIS CULTURE’

One local journalist contributed a dose of realism, bringing glaring clarity through the haze:

“I don’t think any of us can say for certain what the future of anything is in this morally bankrupt world. I think the furor over legalization will die down very quickly and that one day — not any time soon, mind you — we’ll have a cannabis culture the same as we have a beer culture that supports hundreds of craft and microbreweries around the country,” they said.

“I’m excited to see the emerging of new products and industry centered around such a versatile resource,” an actor added.

Throughout the serious discussion, some clever wit shone through, like a graphic designer’s genius idea to save rural Newfoundland with “Bake-cations.”

To those with doubts, take this parting advice from a 60-year-old, who has been blazing for 45 years: “It’s been here forever and it’s gonna stay forever.”

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

 

For more by Wendy Rose, click here!

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