There’s no escaping the fact that we’ve come a long way in the past decade: the push for decriminalization has gathered pace around the world and we are finally beginning to see our seeds baring fruit (and glorious buds, of course).
To see our legal systems becoming more civilized in the way they treat their civilians who choose to utilize a plant for medicine is a wonder to behold, yet there are still some sectors of society who can’t let go of misguided pre-conceptions. It’s strange to say it out loud, but everywhere I go I still find that certain people can’t see past the smoky haze to the person behind the burning bud.
Why is it that smoking weed is still so often associated with being an unmotivated, goofy, drop-out slacker? If that was true then I would never get round to writing these articles and I have plenty of other things to do in my life besides this: I have a full-time job (which is hugely demanding and goes beyond 9-5), I have a young child (who is hugely demanding also), I’m an active member in my community, my family is scattered across the country, I have plenty of sideline responsibilities and hobbies and I’m the first to give up my ‘free’ time to help others in any way that I can. Despite all this, I have to keep a part of my life secret from my professional colleagues and some of my extended friendship circle, as well as members of my community and my neighbors, because it would be deemed unreasonable/unethical for me to use cannabis either recreationally or as a medicine. I’m not saying I’m special, I’m really not, and I’ve had my ups and downs along the way, but I have fought hard for everything I have and cannabis has been more of a help than a hindrance.
My significant other is my exact opposite in almost every way and has never even smoked a cigarette. She has been immensely successful in her area of expertise and has worked tirelessly to get where she is (and she is still aiming ever higher) but she now faces a quandary due to an existing medical condition: she has Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Fortunately, she has been relatively ‘lucky’ up to this point, in so much as her condition has progressed quite slowly in comparison to other sufferers who we know, but she is concerned for the future. Recent talks with a specialist have indicated that she may need to switch to a different medication, which brings all manner of potential side-effects, or even move to a much more aggressive regime of treatment to maintain a standard of living she is accustomed to. We have talked at great length about the potential of cannabis as a medicine, especially due to the high-profile discussions surrounding Sativex and its high-cost in comparison to its perceived effectiveness, and she is fully prepared to consider trialing different strains in different forms to see how it impacts on her condition. But she is worried. She is worried that she might be labeled because of her usage. She is worried that she might not be taken as seriously in her professional field. She is worried that people will change their opinion of her. This simply isn’t fair.
Maybe it’s because the media is so biased in its presentation of cannabis ‘users’ (which could have something to do with the vast proportion of media outlets all belonging to a singular corporation) that people still possess a skewed view of its impact on society.
Maybe it’s because there still are people who smoke cannabis to excess and don’t do anything with their life, but is that the fault of cannabis, the individual, their environment or the sum of countless parts? Can we really play the blame game on such a base level without considering the bigger picture? Surely it would only be fair to look at some of the most successful cannabis smokers in the public eye and hold them up as positive ‘poster boys’ (and girls) because they have done so well because of their smoking habits, right? Well, let’s have a little look at all the good that cannabis has done for the world in recent history.
Aside from the countless artists who never hid, or indeed still refuse to hide, their passion for all things pot (let’s be honest, some of the best songs ever are about smoking the high-grade), it has to be noted that several presidents of the United States were no stranger to the odd smoke-out. Even the current POTUS, mocked the infamous Bill Clinton statement in one of his speeches (who could forget, “I inhaled…frequently”?). Arnold Schwarzenegger is the epitome of dedication to success and would hardly have found the time to hit the gym so hard if he was couch-locked for the vast proportion of his youth, yet he has been no stranger to the odd joint or two in his lifetime. And what about the millionaires and billionaires? Don’t stoners all end up as dead-beat dropouts? But Richard Branson, Steve Jobs and even Bill Gates admitted that they have not only smoked pot, they all think that it has the potential to do more good than harm. And where would we be without those who use their weed-stoked brains to bring us entertainment in many other forms? From Kevin Smith to Stephen King, some of the most influential writers have never been afraid to share their love of cannabis. I could go on all day.Z
What a fantastic representation of how cannabis can cause people to become intelligent, motivated, influential, rich and inspirational. Who knew that a simple plant had the potential to shape the lives of mankind so dramatically for the better? If I had been told about how amazing my life would be from an early age I would have started smoking before I hit double digits! But, let’s be serious. The above list is simply a list of people who happen to smoke weed, or did at some point in their life; there is no realistic link between their success and their smoking habits. It’s crazy to suggest otherwise unless they have specifically suggested it themselves. Just as you can’t label anyone who smokes cannabis as being destined to fail, it’s implausible to realistically deduce that weed can instantly improve your life and bring you all of the world’s riches. Of course, weed may have played a part in their lives, but who’s to say that that they would be any less (or more) successful without it?
Public misconception has always played a huge part in the campaign against cannabis, but now that we are faced with a genuine possibility of wide-scale legalization becoming a reality it the way that this perception is manufactured has an even greater potential to be a thorn in our side. For every liberal-minded individual who prefers experience over hearsay, there are plenty of people who are prepared to stick their oar in to the debate simply to stir the pot. Despite a lack of knowledge, facts or research in their corner, sometimes we have to deal with the uninformed on their level and fight back with everything we have at our disposal. We need to ensure that we don’t hide in the shadows and celebrate our success stories with the world so they know that smokers can’t simply be stereotyped: some of us will go on to great things, some of us will blend in and some of us will probably still be stuck in the same rut ten years down the line. Whatever happens to be true for you, just remember that cannabis is nothing more than a plant with potential: we are the dream makers.
Published By PSY-23 in Weed World Magazine Issue 122