The Social Stigma Surrounding Marijuana
With marijuana becoming more commonly used for medical and recreational purposes, the United States is seeing more tolerant and even embracing attitude towards the plant and all its uses. So much so that legislation has made cannabis consumption legal for 25 percent of the population. However cannabis’ status as a banned drug is still fresh in the minds of many citizens and the stigma against it persists. Cannabis users are often associated with deviation, criminal behavior, violence, laziness and a susceptibility to form an addiction to stronger drugs such as heroin. Many people who were incarcerated for marijuana consumption or distribution remain in jail, which furthers the association between cannabis and criminal activity. Let’s not forget how television and movies often portray cannabis users as lazy with low intelligence who contribute very little to society.
Where Did the Stigma Come From?
Marijuana use does not often inherently result in criminal behavior, violence or dangerous instability. The stigma arose a long time ago because of the groups that were known to use cannabis instead of the substance itself. In colonial Mexico, the two groups that were most known for using cannabis were prisoners and indigenous peoples, both of which were perceived negatively by the majority. This led to propaganda being spread about the substance; that it caused violence and madness in its users. The same thing happened in 1970’s America when the “War on Drugs” gained serious steam. Marijuana use was most associated with ethnic minorities and was seen as a threat to the American stability and family unit. Fueled by many billions of dollars, the War on Drugs campaign spread false information about cannabis and its users which is where the deeply-rooted stigma comes from. There is so much more to be know about tracing the marijuana stigma. Doing your own research is strongly encouraged.
What Are the Effects of the Stigma?
The social stigma surrounding cannabis makes it harder for scientists to conduct and publish research about the value of cannabis, hemp and CBD. With little research, society could be throwing away valuable medical solutions, alternatives to paper and the deforestation associated with paper production, and a host of other benefits. Those who have been criminally persecuted won’t be able to see freedom or justice. High-functioning individuals who use cannabis for controlling depression and anxiety have to treat their problems in secret or face ostracism and even be barred from employment opportunities. The billions of dollars being spent on prosecuting marijuana and those who use it could be re-appropriated for good use in schools, roads and general infrastructure. As the stigma around the word “marijuana” fades away, so does a host of negative consequences.
This article does not promote the use of marijuana. Marijuana is still federally illegal. This article promotes Hemp-Derived CBD, with NO-THC. Brought to the forefront of the mind, however, is the idea that fearing “marijuana” has caused hemp to be thrown into the same category and stigma. Both of the plants contain compounds that can save lives or help those that have been deemed untreatable. The time has come to put away the fear and move forward with change. It’s time to heal the people.