I received a private message on Facebook the other day from a friend of a friend. The message came from a woman working in Oregon's cannabis industry. Apparently, her brother is married to a high school friend of mine, and Facebook thought we should connect. Se we did.
We got to talking about this and that. The conversation switched over to me asking about my old high school friend. "How is Jen?" I asked. She's great, blah, blah, blah.
Then the conversation turned to my asking how things have been in Oregon since legalized marijuana began on October 1st last year. The response I received was confusing and seems to epitomize where we are in the timeline of cannabis legalization. My new Facebook friend pointed out that she still hasn't told her family that she's in the cannabis industry, or that she even smokes pot.
"Wait, what?" I was caught off guard. "You haven't told your family you're in the biz even though it's legal?". She went on to say her family likes to drink wine, but they look down on stoners. She didn't feel comfortable coming out as a smoker.
In a state where marijuana is legal, it still isn't okay to come out of the stoner closet to your family (or in some cases, friends).
My old high school friend, Jen was especially judgmental toward weed smokers, yet she loved to drink her Chardonnay every night. Don't get me wrong. I love a good glass of vino with my meal just like the next schlep, but the double standard has run its course.
I spent 17 years of my life in Oregon after spending the first 17 years of my life growing up in Colorado (not too bad, eh?). My best friend (who lives in Oregon) still is adamantly opposed to marijuana, even today after full legalization. He and I have known each other since we were kids but we've never smoked together. One of my bucket list items is to change that.
Why is there still a stigma about cannabis in Oregon or anywhere it's been legalized? The plan was we all vote for it to be legal and cannabis gets monitored like alcohol, then we all live happily ever after.
There's a laundry list of legal vices that are far more deadly than cannabis, yet have no stigma attached. Let's pick on alcohol for a moment. At one point it was prohibited in America much like cannabis. In 1937 the blanket of prohibition was lifted and a new alcohol industry was born. You can't escape invasive ads for booze, there are advertisements for booze everywhere you turn. One third of the world will be tuning into the Super Bowl where ads for beer will run prominently. We don't even question it.
While it probably has never been as popular as alcohol throughout history, cannabis has been shown to be much safer than alcohol with actual medical properties that patients find so useful they're willing to uproot their families and move across the country to Colorado for. Side by side, cannabis is to alcohol what olive oil is to deep fryer grease.
When people have the lightbulb moment and finally "get" how much more harmful alcohol is than cannabis, it's usually followed by the, "wait, why is it illegal?" question.
But cannabis' benefits over alcohol don't stop at medicinal values. Oh by the way, there's hemp. The fibers in the plant (not the flowers people smoke) that have been used throughout history to make everything from clothing to ship sails and even paper to write the Declaration of Independence on.
The long standing double standard in western culture's attitudes toward marijuana and alcohol has deep roots in racial prejudice. In 2016 racial divide is still alive and well, and because marijuana was attached to that during the Reefer Madness days we can't seem to shake it.
Once states where cannabis has been legalized show how much "good stuff" comes out of it, it'll be hard to ignore .