Article by Adria Such – November 21, 2014
Colorado—land of the free and mecca for legal marijuana. We certainly have come a long way since this time last year. With a significant expansion of the Colorado Marijuana market, cannabis culture and legalization, it’s almost impossible to keep up with the continuous evolution.
However, what remains one of the most significant challenges faced by this new industry is shifting negative perceptions away from the outdated “stoner” or “pot-head” image towards a more sophisticated cannabis consumer profile.
With Alaska, Oregon and Washington D.C. legalizing recreational marijuana use in 2014 and 10 more states slated to legalize by 2020, we continue toward a new era, one in which marijuana is more openly discussed, consumed and accepted. Here are a few of the many reasons we are evolving away from these stereotypes and continue to redefine the image of the cannabis consumer:
1. Marijuana provides relief from many health issues such as pain, sleeplessness, anxiety, depression and even more serious conditions, such as epilepsy, cancer, PTSD and glaucoma. There is no denying the medicinal benefits of cannabis and objective government-funded research will likely support its acceptance; in fact, the federal government itself currently owns the patent on the medical use of marijuana.
2. The marijuana community is proactively promoting the importance of safe and responsible consumption. Keeping people informed and educated is the number one goal of this movement. The Marijuana Policy Project, a strong supporter for passing legalization in Colorado, has launched a $750,000 public education campaign called “Consume Responsibly.” This campaign strives to communicate the importance of “start low, go slow,” which has proven to be a challenge for many visitors. Many companies are beginning to follow suit and have begun production of low-dose edibles. Along with education on edibles, The Marijuana Policy Project thoroughly explains the laws here in Colorado, reminding residents and visitors to know the law before, during and after consumption.
3. The Marijuana market has provided a significant amount of economic opportunity, jobs and tax revenue. Because of marijuana legalization, the state of Colorado is expected to collect $40 million in additional tax dollars, which will be allocated to schools and other areas in need of economic support. Beyond giving back to the community in financial funding, the marijuana industry has created an upwards of 10,000 new jobs in the state. These new jobs have created incentive for people to stand behind what is progressive for our country and economy. The professionals emerging into the industry are breaking ground with their business models. They are educated entrepreneurs with a vision of success.
4. The cannabis movement is building credibility with historical events such as Classically Cannabis: The High Note Series. The Colorado Symphony teamed up with the Edible Events Co. and industry sponsors for a series of marijuana-friendly events that raised money for the financially struggling music organization. This event raised thousands of dollars and also helped bring together an eclectic mixture of cannabis industry leaders, supporters, and symphony goers.
5. The once male-dominated marijuana industry is now seeing an impressive influx of brave women stepping into positions of power. Women are claiming their spots within the marijuana world by revolutionizing and co-creating in the exciting new industry. Women Grow, an organization founded by Jazmin Hupp and Jane West, focuses on bringing together like-minded women to help educate and connect one another. These ladies are combining forces and bringing together bold ideas to create an unstoppable force and shift stereotypes in the industry.
6. Parents are also now fighting for their right to consume freely and without judgment. The idea of being safe and responsible is their main goal. After a long stressful day, to satisfy the need to kick back and relax, some parents are choosing cannabis instead of alcohol. Among her other trailblazing work in the industry, Jane West was recently featured on ABC nightline speaking out for parents who choose to consume cannabis. In the interview, West makes a solid point about the stigma of consuming alcohol vs. consuming cannabis, “If other people were willing to talk about it, instead of saying, ‘Oh, my God, I was so drunk last night,’ be comfortable saying, ‘Oh, my God, I was so stoned last night,’ then more people would be talking about it just as openly.”
7. Marijuana dispensaries strive to make buying marijuana about much more than getting high. At The Farm Recreational Marijuana Dispensary in Boulder, for example, from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave, it is an educational experience. You are urged to study the appearance and aroma of various strains of marijuana, to follow your nose (as your body responds well to strains that your nose finds appealing), to understand the potency results and how they will affect you. Taking these informative measures, in addition to the bud-tender’s recommendations, you discover your desired effect.
Through continued efforts such as these, the popular “pot head” persona—glorified by classic movies like Cheech & Chong and Dazed & Confused—will begin to shift toward a contemporary definition of the responsible cannabis consumer. Shedding the negative stigma, not only in the US but around the world, will take time and tremendous effort.