Breaking the stigma of cannabis

Let's dig into the STIGMA around cannabis. 

Social stigmas can occur in many different forms such as culture, gender, race, illness and disease.  Individuals who are stigmatized usually feel different & devalued by others in society. Stigma may also be described as a label that associates a person to a set of unwanted characteristics that form a stereotype. 
The term “break the stigma” was first popularized in fighting the stigma of mental health. It’s interesting how much cannabis and mental health go hand in hand, while both are challenged with a stigma about them. 1 in 5 adults in the US experiences mental illness in a given year.  Cannabis use is stigmatized in a way that alcohol and prescription drug use is not, despite the fact that cannabis has been proven to be an effective medicine for many mental health conditions.  Some cannabis users have felt the need to hide their use from employers, family and friends. Here is a little history on how we got here. 
Cannabis prohibition has disproportionately targeted immigrants, POC and the poor. There has been a tremendous cost to the War on Drugs and many have been convicted on various quantities of possession and sales resulting in very long sentences that have lasted well beyond legalization in their state. The lazy stoner stereotype has been sustained to support racist agendas. The term "marijuana" was an attempt to demonize cannabis among Mexican workers and to distinguish it from hemp that was grown by American farmers. 
The stigma around cannabis also creates issues in legal states from testing employees to mothers and involvement of Child Protective Services.  Many breakthroughs in public health could have already happened if research was allowed. 
Stigma of cannabis stoner COMMUNICATION seems to be the best tool to change the narrative about cannabis use. How often do you talk about cannabis? Or WHO do you avoid discussing cannabis with?  Fear remains strong amongst non-users even in legal states. Talking about cannabis is important to open dialog and begin educating. A key to normalizing cannabis is eradicating the fear associated with it and replacing it with open-mindedness, and credible education.  To contribute to changing the narritive YOU can help spread this message. It can be challenging when the other person has heard so much about the perils of cannabis their entire life.  Prepare by researching for yourself: why cannabis became illegal in the first place, learn about the science of cannabis and how the plant works with the endocannabinoid system, and the known positive benefits and medicinal uses for it. 
Communication for breaking the stoner stigma
If people are open or interested in trying cannabis, then CBD flower is a great place to start. The non-intoxicating effects will still give them the calming, pain relieving effects without the high feeling from THC, which they might be a little hesitant about. CBD is a great stepping stone to get into exploring cannabis and see how the body responds. CBD can have a calming feeling for many people especially when smoked because it enters the blood stream faster with more recognizable results. It might activate a light body tingle the is physically relaxing. 
One last idea: we should stop focusing on the stigma of cannabis use and realize it is a gap in education that has led to prejudice/discrimination against those who use it. By changing how we talk about cannabis use, we can begin to impact the negative attitudes.

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