History Of The Marijuana Stoner Stigma And 4 Ways To Cope


Stoner Stigma is when someone views you in a negative way because you use cannabis products. Unfortunately, these views toward people who smoke or use cannabis products are very common.

As many people know, stoners are a class of society that has been stigmatized for decades as lazy, disheveled, usually, tie-dye wearing smelly hippys that have a tendency for spending a lot of time in the fridge at home while smoking weed. However today this is certainly not the case as the majority of “stoners” are hard-working, law-abiding members of society and the times are changing.


History of the Stoner Stigma


When did the stigma towards stoners begin? Was it, the cult movie Reefer Madness made in the 1930s or was it the stereotypical stoner characters played by Cheech and Chong sequels during the ’70s and ’80s.

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Personally, I think it had a lot to do with both of these iconic films, and both were produced with different objectives in mind. Reefer Madness was a film originally financed by a church group intended for parents as a morality tale while attempting to teach them about the dangers of cannabis use amongst the youth. The film Reefer Madness was a huge flop into insignificance and by chance in the 1970s rediscovered and gained new traction as unintentional satire amongst advocates of cannabis reform policy.


The 1970s was the culmination of the hippie and free love era, especially drug and counterculture movements. The duo of Tommy Chong and Cheech Marin found commercial and cultural success during this time through their standup comedy shows, studio recordings, and feature films.

These early successes culminated with the release of their first feature-length movie in 1978, Cheech and Chong: Up in Smoke. It quickly became a cult classic and due to the success of sales at the box office warranted two follow up sequels: Cheech and Chong’s Next Movie in 1980 and Nice Dreams in 1981. All these films created by the duo were hugely successful amongst the youth of those days who were interested in making love, not a war while smoking reefer!


cheech and chong stoner stigma


Today Cheech and Chong are stoner icons and making it big in the commercial cannabis industry. Some people argue that Up in Smoke helped shape and cast in stone the stoner stereotype and furthermore counter-productive for stoner culture.

Nevertheless, the Cheech and Chong iconic films are not only cannabis cult classics but also a fundamental piece of the patchwork of cannabis history. It also acted as a proverbial middle finger to the government’s “War on Drugs” and spawned a revolution of cannabis culture even though decades of Harry J Anslinger propaganda had been ingrained into societies.


Stoner Stigma 2020


A drastic shift in society’s perception and usage of hallucinogenic drugs has occurred in the last decade or so. One of the most widely used and naturally growing hallucinogenic drug is marijuana.

Despite evidence of both ancient and modern cultures using cannabis for spiritual and religious purposes, recreational use of cannabis is a common practice amongst college students and even some past US presidents have smoked marijuana on campus while some even inhaled! Cough… Bill Clinton, we all know you inhaled.

The negative opinions of marijuana are beginning to shift especially since many US states are legalizing marijuana for both medical and recreational US.


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WorldWide Legalization


Federal legalization is not just happening in the USA. Countries like Uruguay and Canada have been the first to legalize cannabis for medical and recreational use amongst their adult population. While many countries like South Africa, Chile, Argentina, Estonia, have decriminalized cannabis use for adult use.


federal legalization of marijuana


Countries like the Netherlands and Portugal have for decades shown that a more laissez-faire approach to not only cannabis use but other drugs that can boost economies, reduce crime and improve the well-being of communities. Other countries are quickly investigating more liberal laws towards cannabis use, possession, and cultivation amongst their citizens, but also speedily researching the medicinal properties of cannabis too.


Recreational use has been legalized in 11 states in the US, while a further 15 states have decriminalized. 33 states have decriminalized medicinal use of cannabis too. As more states legalize, the positive shift of societies old stigmatized reefer madness will continue, already today the majority of adults in the US think cannabis should be legal.


Media and Celebrity Status Revolution


Many professional athletes are openly using cannabis for either recreational or medicinal use. This is due to sports bodies and organizations also relaxing their cannabis rules, therefore, allowing these athletes to use cannabis. Michael Phelps the Olympic gold medalist that swears by using his favorite bong and a long list of other sports stars use or advocate for both recreational and medical marijuana. The World Anti-Doping Agency ( WADA ) in recent years removed the cannabinoid CBD from its list of banned substances. But with the decriminalization of cannabis in many states, they are under pressure to remove other cannabinoids like THC.


I’m a hardworking, tax-paying, kid-raising, church-going citizen of this country… and if I work hard all day long and want to go home and relax with a joint, that is my civil liberty.” Rick Steves


Rick Steves, Martha Stewart, Paul McCartney, Joe Rogan, Tommy Chong, and Snoop Lion are a small number of a growing list of celebrities that advocate and openly use cannabis. Their use of cannabis does not seem to hinder their career but rather promote their careers, so one can ask why smoking weed for the average worker in society is still stigmatized. So much so, some workers can lose their jobs or go to jail for using cannabis either recreationally or medically.


celebrity stoner stigma


Many people with professional careers are still not able to come out of the cannabis closet for a number of reasons mentioned above. Until cannabis is decriminalized on a federal level and the draconian laws that heavily penalize pot smokers or cannabis companies, cannabis will still face challenges to finally be accepted by society, on the same level as a cold beer.


In most cases being a professional pot smoker in today’s world takes a lot of discretion, creativity and skillful mastery to prevent people from knowing about your habit. It’s proven that in states where cannabis has been legal for some time that the stigma totally fades and rather seen in hindsight as a failed “War on Drugs”. Take for instance Colorado and California where cannabis has been legal for a number of years, it’s been normalized into most industries and brought in many positive benefits to these States.


How to Cope With Stoner Stigma


Cannabis culture is long past the days of stoners like Cheech and Chong, however, the stereotypical stoner will always be part of the modern progressive culture. It’s really up to you and how you deal with stoner stigma when relating it to family, friends, and society. Cannabis culture is much more accepting but it will still take many decades in the future for society to forget about the brush most stoners have been painted with.


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Here are 4 Ways to Deal with Stoner Stigma:


  1. Don’t let stigma create self-doubt and shame. Stigma doesn’t just come from others. You may mistakenly believe that use is a sign of personal weakness. Seeking counseling, educating yourself about your condition and connecting with other like-minded users can help you gain self-esteem and overcome destructive self-judgment.
  2. Don’t isolate yourself. If you use cannabis products, you may be reluctant to tell anyone about it. Reach out to people you trust for the compassion, support, and understanding you need.
  3. Join a support group.  Internet resources that help reduce stoner stigma by educating people, their families, and the general public.
  4. Speak out against stigma. Consider expressing your opinions at events or on the internet. It can help instill courage in others facing similar challenges and educate the public about stoner stigma.