We all know the stoner stereotype: a giggly young ne’er-do-well in a smoke-clouded basement, surrounded by snacks and chortling at the television. And while this might not look too far off from many peoples’ average Friday night at home, the stereotype itself is proving to be outdated and critically misinformed. Laziness and a lack of ambition are characteristics of the average cannabis user that many people still have in their heads, but that perception is beginning to change. This change comes about as a result of not only legalization, but of the greater wealth of knowledge that we have about the plant as well.
We know now that pot can be incredibly helpful for those who suffer from pain, nausea, sleeplessness, cancer and a host of other ailments. 30 states in the US have legalized the use of cannabis for medical purposes, and that has former pot opponents thinking more critically about their once firmly held position. They’re beginning to learn that their beliefs about who a pot user is, have been wrong.
Pot users aren’t lazy.
With areas of the country either implementing or pushing for recreational, adult-use cannabis, it’s clear that pot advocates actually aren’t that lazy at all. They’re coming out in droves to support medical and recreational access to a plant that never should have become illegal in the first place. Not only are cannabis activists gathering in the streets to march, but they are writing to local and federal legislators, donating their money to efforts like NORML and the Marijuana Policy Project, and writing op-ed pieces that aim to chip away at this lingering Reefer Madness-era ignorance.
For those who believe in cannabis as a human right, laziness isn’t going to get anything done. So they’re plucking themselves off of their couches and taking to their cause with determination and well-researched evidence to support them and their favorite plant.
They’re just as successful as anyone else-perhaps even moreso.
A study conducted by BDS Analytics has revealed that consumers of cannabis might actually be more successful and happy with their lives than those who abstain from its use. In California and Colorado, across all walks of life, pot users and abstainers were assessed for their satisfaction levels, employment details and how they approach the subject of parenthood.
In the state of California, the study found that:
- 20% of pot users in the state had MA degrees, compared to 12% of abstainers.
- Cannabis consumers also had a higher average household income, by about $23,000 a year.
In Colorado, the results were similarly interesting:
- 64% of pot users had full-time jobs, compared to 54% of abstainers.
- Of those with full-time employment, almost half of pot users said that they were more satisfied at their jobs than they were a year ago. Only 40% of non-users could say the same.
Regarding both states, researchers discovered that those who use cannabis were also more inclined toward participating in volunteer activities, and enjoyed spending more time outdoors. “In fact, positive lifestyle indicators like volunteering, socialising, satisfaction with life and enjoyment of exercise and the outdoors are highest among cannabis consumers, at least in Colorado and California,” said Linda Gilbert of BDS Analytics.
The Marijuana Policy Project has compiled a list of the 50 most influential past or present cannabis users. The fifty individuals listed include former president Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Jon Stewart and Sanjay Gupta.
Users aren’t just young adults.
From critics of the plant, users have heard the same line time and time again: “Why don’t you grow up and stop smoking pot?” Nevermind the fact that nobody is seen as “less adult” for imbibing in alcoholic beverages, there’s absolutely no sense to this argument. Pot isn’t just used by 18-20something year olds. In fact, figures released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reveals something that might be quite surprising. Between middle-aged parents and their teenage children, guess who smokes more.
That’s right. Good ol’ mom and dad.
- 2% of those aged twelve to seventeen smoked pot in 2004. This is a ten percent decline since 2002.
- 8% of 35-44 year olds smoked pot in 2014, slightly more than teens their children’s age.
- For those aged 45-54, use since 2002 jumped up over fifty percent.
And the surprises keep on coming. Grandma and grandpa might be lighting up, too. This same data reveals that pot use by Americans aged 55 to 64 has gone up by 455%. No, not 45%. That isn’t a typo. In Americans age 65 and older, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that use of cannabis has skyrocketed by 333% since 2002.
For those among us who partake in cannabis themselves, this might not be all that surprising. After all, we know that cannabis can help reduce pain, sleeplessness and anxiety-all of which are common afflictions among the elderly.
More recently, cannabis-based technological company Eaze conducted a similar survey of their own. They analyzed their customer base, to whom they facilitate the delivery of cannabis and cannabis products. One of every five of their customers are parents, and most of these parents are mothers.
Sheena Shiravi, head of PR for Eaze, was not surprised to learn this. After all, is it really that different from a mom who reaches for a tall glass of wine at the end of a trying day?
Eaze found that many of these cannabis-using moms are partaking in high-CBD treatments like tinctures, in lieu of strong pharmaceutical medications (like Xanax and other anti-anxiety drugs) that can make it hard to care for a vulnerable human being.
Cannabis isn’t just about getting stoned.
Sure, we might enjoy a recreational joint every now and then (or more often, that’s cool too) to get a bit elevated away from our worldly worries. But this isn’t always the case for everyone. In fact, there are more and more people every day coming out from the shadows to use cannabis for its therapeutic effects-and without the psychoactive component THC.
CBD-based treatments with little to no THC are used in the treatment of many ailments including insomnia, depression, anxiety and joint pain. In fact, many people who discover CBD and use it as a part of managing their condition get off of pharmaceuticals entirely, like painkillers ranging from OTC Tylenol to prescription-only Vicodin.
Unlike the psychoactive component of cannabis, CBD doesn’t get you high. But it can still help you to feel better, live healthier and go about your daily life without pain or panic attacks. It’s no wonder that people are choosing this method of medicating themselves.
So while it might be a common misconception that everyone who uses cannabis is doing so to get giggly and intoxicated, that simply is not true. If it were, there wouldn’t be such a high demand for CBD products that permit one to medicate with cannabis without the high.
Yes, it is medicine.
We’ve touched on the medicinal purposes of cannabis a bit above, but let’s dig into the meat of this particular subject: cannabis is medicine. People in states with medical cannabis, who obtain the proper documentation to become legally permitted to use it in their state, have been turning to the therapeutic properties of the plant since California first stepped forward to make it accessible to patients with certain conditions in 1996.
Since then, one thing has been made abundantly clear: The people want the right to choose their medicine, including cannabis. 29 states and the District of Columbia have all hopped on board the medical cannabis program since then. Consistently, our knowledge of the plant’s benefits in healthcare is growing. We’re learning more about its capabilities within just a few decades. And, frankly, it’s pretty amazing.
Cannabis can heal the brain and even protect it from injury. It can also treat the pain and spasticity of Multiple Sclerosis, relieve nausea associated with chemotherapy, and help patients suffering from Tourette Syndrome. There are more uses for medical cannabis being discovered all of the time, which (we can hope) will propel the remaining states to get onboard for the benefit of their citizens.
Though the state defines which conditions are qualifying for medical cannabis programs, recently more and more have been opening up to expanding upon that list. The American Legion, the US’ largest veterans association, made headlines when they rallied together to push for medical cannabis as a legitimate, legal treatment for sufferers of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Support for legalization on a federal level has been swelling in recent years and even now, in the face of a presidential administration that has appointed anti-pot blowhard Jeff Sessions and his desire to revive the failed war on drugs.
It’s really quite backward, since legal cannabis actually seems to help reduce the amount of drug-related deaths in America. 91 deaths occur per day because of overdoses on opioids, like numerous prescription pain-relievers. These drugs can be easily abused, and even when taken correctly (but over a long period of time) can cause life-threatening kidney damage.
So really, when someone tells you that they are considering cannabis as a means of treating their ailment, don’t assume that they’re making stuff up to get a medical cannabis card. The therapeutic benefits of this plant extend to a host of conditions and the patient may see it as legitimately safer than other medical alternatives. Using cannabis as a medical treatment is a decision that one must consciously make, and oftentimes a great deal of thought goes into this choice. It is not uninformed, or an excuse.
People who use pot are literally no different, at all, from people who don’t. In a crowded room you could never pick out the smokers. It could be your 21-year-old cousin, or your 78-year old grandma for all you know.
Photo by Oslo In The Summertime