Despite some of Jeff Sessions’ best efforts, cannabis is undeniably becoming a large part of mainstream culture, and its only a finite amount of time before its wholehearted acceptance. However, due to its Schedule I status under the federal government and the correlating connotations rooted in the war on drugs, there still remains a sizable amount of stigma around the plant. While we’ve clearly come along way since the ‘Reefer Madness’ days, we still have a lot of work to do. Above all else, challenging the stigma against cannabis consumption remains step one in bringing the plant to full normalcy.
Fighting The Stigma Against Cannabis Consumption
According to one report by The Global Commission on Drug Policy, one of the biggest ways to reduce the stigma around pot, and all drugs for that matter, is to curb the use of insensitive language. Words like “junkie” may be causing harm beyond simply hurt feelings.
The U.K. report, spearheaded by former Liberal Democrat leader, Sir Nick Cregg, called for the abolishment of such language. The stigma that pot-users are “lazy” or “unintelligent” has demonized the drug further.
“Public opinion and media portrayals…perpetuate the stigma associated with…drug use…terms such as “junkie,”…and “crackhead” are alienating, and designate people who use drugs as…morally flawed and inferior,” the report said. The research also pointed to the criminalization of drugs as another catalyst of the negative stigma attached.
“Such stigma and discrimination, combined with the criminalization of drug use, are directly related to the violation of the human rights of people who use drugs,” the study concluded. “Therefore, in order to change…how people who use drugs are treated, we need to shift our perceptions and…change how we speak.”
The report noted that we shouldn’t consider all drug use wrong and specifically pointed to cannabis as a reference. The report focused on the recreational benefits of cannabis, such as smoking with a group of friends. But the vast medicinal benefits of the plant should also de-emphasize the longstanding stigma around it.
Final Hit: How To Challenge The Stigma Against Cannabis Consumption
The report also states that the magnetism to psychoactive substances is an inherent trait in humans. In a broader sense, use is inevitable.
“Drug use is relatively common. An estimated quarter of a billion people used currently illegal drugs. About 11.6% of these are considered to suffer problematic drug use or addiction. The most common pattern of use of psychoactive substances is episodic and non-problematic,” it states.
The stigma around cannabis, however, has proven to be more costly than the stigma surrounding any other drug. Its lingering bad rap has hindered medicinal research. It has turned good people into criminals. And as a result, has caused unnecessary casualties. It’s time to, once and for all, break the stigma against cannabis consumption, one step at a time.