Question the Cannasseur: How Has the Perception of Pot Changed?

Question the Cannaseur - Q and A on mirror whiteboard to answer cannabis questions

In the era of cannabis legalization, many people find themselves questioning multiple aspects of the cannabis industry and the herb itself, but they may not know who to ask. While everyone knows at least one person who consumes cannabis, they may not know a cannabis connoisseur with access to trustworthy insider information.

Quora app on a phone in a pocket -- Piotr Swat / Shutterstock.com
Piotr Swat / Shutterstock.com
As an active cannabis journalist and advocate, I have made researching and learning about cannabis my life. I follow the studies, watch the headlines, and track, as well as write daily about industry news. Over the last three years, I have acquired a large network of resources and information while devoting my career to helping advance the cannabis industry through educating others as a journalist and freelance writer.

Cannabis Questions and Answers

As a new segment at Leafbuyer, each week we are going to answer those burning questions you have about cannabis, cannabis laws, and the industry in general. Using the social media platform called Quora, we are selecting questions each week from readers like you and answering them in detail here at Leafbuyer.

Want to see your question become a topic? Ask me on Quora, and you might see your answer here for the entire Leafbuyer audience to read.

In this inaugural article, we are going to look at the changing perspectives regarding marijuana over the last several years.

Q: With the legalization of cannabis do you still consider cannabis a gateway drug?

Actually, as a cannabis journalist, I often have the opportunity to speak with some of the leading minds in the cannabis industry. Just a couple months ago, on assignment, I was interviewing Dr. Jeffery Chen, the lead scientist at UCLA's Cannabis Research Initiative and I asked him a similar question – his answer was impeccable:

"Cannabis is not a gateway drug – it is a gateway herb."

Through legalization, research, and learning a new approach for appropriate, responsible cannabis consumption, people are learning a new way to look at plant-based, herbal remedies for health and wellness. His perspective spoke to me personally, because that is exactly how my husband and I view cannabis today.

To be clear, as a cannabis consumer for most of my life, I have never considered cannabis a gateway drug. I maintained a 20-year career in corporate America while smoking cannabis recreationally, and I have never tried – or wanted to try – heroin.

cannabis lotion

However, when we moved to Colorado and gained the ability to be choosy about the products we use, we also started to learn a whole new way to use the herb. Over the course of two and a half years, through taking accountability for our own health and using cannabis more like a dietary supplement and less like a recreational drug, my husband and I eliminated 13 prescriptions – including my husband's 10-year dependence on opiate pain relievers for a failed spine – and lost nearly 200 pounds between the two of us.

Today, I will use a honey and herb electuary for a cold before I'll buy over the counter medications, and I pay attention to ingredient labels and ask questions about the hidden toxins found in common commercial products.

So, through my own personal experience, I would agree with Dr. Chen – cannabis is not a gateway drug, it is leading more people better health and wellness than it is leading people to harder drugs.

Q: What changed public perception in the U.S. regarding marijuana?

Perception changed really fast. Just a short time ago marijuana was seen as a dangerous drug almost on par with heroin. Now, that's no longer the case.

While the legal cannabis industry has definitely been gaining steam over the last couple of decades, it's important to note Oregon actually decriminalized marijuana in 1973, so the movement for legalization has been happening for more than 40 years. However, the changing laws are only part of the changing perceptions. Several factors are contributing to ending the stigmas:

The Science

Maybe the single most important factor in ending the negative perceptions of cannabis is the research on the plant over the last three decades. After Israeli scientist Raphael Mechoulam and his team of researchers discovered the Endocannabinoid System in the early 1990's, the research on the plant has accelerated tremendously. Although research has been severely restricted in the United States, other countries don't implement the same restrictions, allowing much more in-depth research.

Additionally, as states continue to change laws regarding cannabis other research centers and universities are adding cannabis initiatives to their programs. Scientists and researchers are leading the march in changing what we know about cannabis.

The Stories

As more and more people speak out about how they choose to consume cannabis in a way that doesn't result in Reefer Madness insanity, the stigma changes. The stories of children who are finding miraculous treatments for severe seizure disorders caught the attention of many people. Other stories of people using cannabis to treat a wide variety of treatment-resistant conditions from chronic pain, inflammation, neurological issues, as well as gastrointestinal disorders and even autoimmune diseases.

Mother holds daughter's hand

Additionally, as cannabis consumers continue to speak up about how they are choosing to use the herb, they continue to prove marijuana consumers are not junkies. Today, busy professionals, soccer moms, and even World War II-era grandparents are finding a responsible way to consume cannabis that isn't focused on being impaired or altered in any way. In fact, many people are learning to use cannabis in a way that leads to better health and wellness.

The Internet

Prior to the mid-90's, most people relied on getting their information through mainstream news channels, where information was thoroughly censored and vetted as appropriate by the rules of the Federal Communications Commission. Under the regulations of the FCC, any programming which encourages "imminent lawless action" is prohibited and because cannabis is a Schedule I drug in the eyes of the federal government, you won't see stories encouraging the use of cannabis.

Mainstream media is still hesitant to report on the cannabis industry or the stories associated with it, thus leaving much of the information sharing up to freelancers and alternate news sites. However, thanks to advocates, bloggers, and journalists sharing cannabis success stories, cannabis news, and industry information across the internet and social media – the truth finally has an opportunity to proliferate.

As good, upstanding people continue to dispel the stigmas, slowly the perception of cannabis, and the people who consume it, will change.

Check out a new Question the Cannasseur blog on Leafbuyer next week.