In the short time that Happy Joe has started focusing on cannabis for veterans, we’ve experienced a broad range of emotions on our business decision. We’ve had enormous support from people in the cannabis camp and opposition from people who believe it’s harmful.
Often the hangup centers on the Cannabis Stigma and not on the actual effects of marijuana. I have found this interesting and want to address my thoughts on it today.
The Cannabis Brand
What do you think of when you hear the word cannabis? What comes to mind when you envision people using marijuana?
Depending on your generational upbringing, your first thoughts might conjure up images of Cheech and Chong. Marijuana is often associated with the hippy culture because of its widespread use in the late 1960s. The pothead stereotype is often associated with the use of cannabis. But is this really fair?
Not all of the people using cannabis are potheads. In fact, most of the people you encounter who use cannabis resemble nothing like a hippy. Cannabis users can be lawyers, doctors, CEOs, stay at home moms, principals, or public servants. Cannabis isn’t always used to “get stoned” either.
Medical marijuana can treat PTSD, anxiety, cancer, arthritis, seizures, and other debilitating illnesses. People don’t die from cannabis use; they are helped by it. Research has proven this.
Is it right then to assume that cannabis enthusiasts are lazy, good for nothing bums? If you look at the broad perspective, you will see people like you and me.
The Alcohol Brand
What do you think of when you hear the word alcohol? What comes to mind when you think of top-shelf liquor?
Alcohol is often associated with people having a good time or of relaxation. Images of fun parties or barbecues permeate our minds. Need to wind down from the work day, have a sip of brandy. Alcohol is celebrated and marketed as the magic elixir to our problems. Having a craft beer or glass of wine is for the astute or sophisticated people of the world.
People who use alcohol also come from all walks of life. However, we now associate alcohol more with Don Draper of Mad Men and less with a bum on the street holding a bottle of MadDog 20/20 in a paper bag. The perspective of alcohol use is vastly different than that of cannabis use.
Alcohol causes more deaths and health problems than cannabis. Liver cancer, Cirrhosis, depression, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and nerve damage is increased by excessive alcohol use. People die because of drinking and driving or irrational choices made while being drunk.
With more people suffering problems from alcohol than cannabis, shouldn’t the Cannabis Stigma be removed from our culture?
My Cannabis and Alcohol Use
I started consuming alcohol at the age of 15. I smoked cannabis from the age of 16 until 23. In all my years of doing both, I made worse decisions and mistakes while under the influence of alcohol.
When I only used cannabis, I was always the mellow dude. No anger and no stupid choices except for eating too many chocolate donuts. Life was chill and I did some of my best creative work ever. And to be honest, there were times it kept me from being motivated. Cannabis isn’t perfect.
When I used alcohol and got drunk, I could be extremely volatile. There were times when I was violent or put my life in extreme danger. I did things I was not proud of and that have caused me great pain. In my adult life, I’ve made stupid choices because of alcohol.
Cannabis use that is mostly safe, has been shunned and made illegal by the government. Alcohol use that is often dangerous, is accepted and hailed as the American way. It’s interesting.
Stop the Cannabis Stigma
My purpose is not convincing you that cannabis is the way or that you should use it recreationally or medically. Nor am I saying that we should all stop alcohol consumption and that all people who drink exhibit problems. Both cannabis and alcohol have their pros and cons. What we need to do as a global community is stop looking at cannabis as something evil or wrong.
Cannabis has medically helped thousands of veterans with PTSD to cancer patients to people battling depression or anxiety. Recreational cannabis helps people unwind whether they are CEOs or stressed out parents or blue collar workers. Many of these people don’t sit around all day smoking pot while listening to Jimi Hendrix. They don’t all stink or have long hair. They aren’t all bums or people asking for a handout.
If we can change our perspective about alcohol consumption, then we should easily be able to change our perspective on cannabis consumption.
It’s time to change the Cannabis Stigma. I’ll do my part. Will you do yours?