Once upon a time, cannabis was a medicinal substance found in pharmacies across the U.S. Now, it has a questionable reputation and struggles to shake negative stigma. And that just stinks.
At one point in history, farmers were told to grow hemp, and grow lots of it too. A decade later, this same herb was labeled a Schedule 1 substance. So, what exactly happened here? Cannabis was a medical hero and then it was the villain. Parents were slamming cannabis, because if it’s an illegal drug, it must be bad, right? Wrong. They were so very wrong.
Throughout history, cannabis was used to improve health. In fact, you can trace the use of cannabis to over 2000 years ago. Romans, Greeks, Muslims, and Indians all use cannabis to help treat Inflammation, nausea, depression and even cure problems with the libido.
Spanish colonists brought cannabis to the Americas in the 1500s, and from then until the 1900s, cannabis had a wonderful reputation. Hemp was farmed to make rope while cannabis was used in medical cures for various ailments.
And then something happened that changed everything. Misinformation and prejudice spread like wildfire. As immigrants from Mexico entered the states, they brought cannabis with them. However, the Spanish called cannabis ‘Marihuana’ and used it recreationally.
While the cannabis in medications, which was legal at the time, was seen as perfectly fine, the ‘Marijuana’ used by Mexican immigrants was not okay. The public went mad with confusion, and large groups of people continued with their bigoted and racists beliefs.
Then, of course, fear and prejudice caused the press to spread rumors that this ‘Marijuana’ was causing immigrants to go crazy and kill people. So, in a nutshell, racism and stigma against people of color were the first indications that a ban on cannabis would be coming soon.
When these same people realized that cannabis and marijuana were the same thing, cannabis was taken out of medicinal products as well.
Starting in California, in 1914, marijuana was officially prohibited, followed by Texas. The stigma, it seems, ran parallel with the continued racism and bigotry within the United States. Billboards, radio stations, magazines proclaimed cannabis to be a dangerous drug. And authorities went as far as labeling minorities as the biggest users of marijuana. In 1936, a propaganda film spread lies and misconceptions about the herb into most homes.
All the way into the 80s, the “War on Drugs” had become a nightmare. Anyone convicted of possession of marijuana faced prison time, and now as we look back at all this, it’s obvious that this propaganda was used to keep as many minorities in prison as possible.
Since 1996, cannabis has gotten closer and closer to becoming legalized nationwide. Yes, many states allow recreational and medicinal use, but the stigma is still there. Marijuana is seen as “The devil’s plant” by so many people still, due to what their parents told them or warnings from others who wish to spread misinformation.
But there is hope, and there is change happening right now. This knowledge must drive us to continue advocating for the good use of cannabis products.
“As society continues to be met with data, science, and experiences that counter the propaganda that fueled the war on drugs, the stigma associated with cannabis will continue to fade away.”
-Juanjo Feijoo, of Weedmaps
Still, over 70% of non-users of cannabis confess to knowing little about cannabis, only information they derive from family and other sources. This ignorance is what keeps misconceptions about cannabis and fuels the continuation of stigma today.
We can all help eliminate the stigma surrounding cannabis use. The best tool we have is education. Pair that with determination, and we can all get things done in this area. Social stigma, for instance, is the discrimination against a person based on how their social characteristics are viewed. People who enjoy cannabis are often seen differently than non-users. So, in order to change how people who use cannabis are viewed, the herb itself must be seen in a different way. And there are other things we can do.
Talk about cannabis. Educate those who are ignorant about marijuana and show them results. It is important for Cannabis business owners to talk to prospective customers about the benefits of products in a legalized space. People are usually more open minded if they are already curious.
Share all the outstanding medical benefits of cannabis. If you have a personal testimony, share it with them. Many people are unaware of how cannabis can help with things like sleep, depression, and pain. Although it was used in the past for medicinal purposes, generations have lost so much since then.
Be honest about cannabis, as with anything else, it is not perfect. No, marijuana does not cause severe problems, but anyone can have what’s called a ‘bad high’. But understanding why this happens, and teaching novices how to properly use cannabis changes all that.
Keep pushing for legalization. As more locations welcome cannabis use, stigma will continue to decrease until it fades away. You can help by voting for cannabis and signing petitions.
All we want to feel when discussing cannabis is a good vibe. Stigma causes emotional pain, it slows down the legalization process, and limits amazing health benefits to those in need, but just out of legal reach. So, join us here at LucidaClub, and learn more about the positive aspects of cannabis. Try a cannabis infused chocolate or try a soothing cream – vibe with us. Help us end the stigma now, so we can all enjoy the rebirth of a revolutionary herb.