Question the Cannasseur: Breaking Down Cannabis Stereotypes and Stigmas

image of a woman smoking marijuana while sitting outside among a beautiful green landscape, showing that cannabis consumers are normal successful people

Throughout modern history, the media and movies depicted cannabis consumers as lazy, unmotivated, and usually, uneducated society dropouts. As the legalization wave continues across North America, hundreds of thousands of legal cannabis consumers are proving the stereotypes wrong. In this week's questions from Quora, we'll dispel an age-old myth and make a plea for less judgment.

How does the use of cannabis affect our drive for success and overall ambition?

Maybe one of the biggest misconceptions about cannabis revolves around the concept that smoking marijuana is inherently demotivational in all circumstances; and that everyone who uses the substance is going to suddenly quit their day job to move into their parents’ basement. Fortunately, one of the ancillary lessons we've learned from legalization is this couldn't be further from the truth.

My Awakening photo of a nicely wrapped joint next to three small nugs of bud

I won't lie ? I was once fooled by the propaganda. In my early 30's I worked in Information Technology for a large financial firm in Iowa, who sent me to San Francisco for a project. Although I hadn't touched it in years, I wasn't naïve; I smoked marijuana as a teenager. However, it's an understatement to say I experienced culture shock when an after-dinner social with the executives of an affluent bank involved passing a joint and nibbling on cannabis-infused peanut brittle. I was flabbergasted ? you can use marijuana and still have a successful career? GASP!

My perception changed, immediately.

Today, after working as a budtender in the legal cannabis industry in Denver, I can say beyond the shadow of a doubt, the majority of cannabis consumers are successful, bright, ambitious people no different than their non-cannabis consuming counterparts. Much of my clientele, while working in the dispensary, included teachers, accountants, professional salespeople, successful freelancers, and accomplished entrepreneurs.

Cannabis Consumers are Professionals, Too image of a professional workplace meeting with sun coming through the window, everyone is dressed professionally

Ironically, an old joke said, "If you give a group of pot-smokers some cannabis and nothing to smoke it with, they'll suddenly turn into engineers." Well, the reverse is just as miraculous, give a group of engineers some cannabis, and you might be amazed at the results. Investors, entrepreneurs, engineers, doctors, and scientists are building the cannabis industry – driven, ambitious, and motivated professionals. Naturally, most of them have a story or reason they got involved in the industry in the first place.

As a journalist in the industry, I frequently attend cannabis and hemp conferences to interview the individuals who are behind the startups in the cannabis industry, and frankly ? I've never worked with such a motivated group of people. Being persistent and driven is a character requirement for cannapreneurs, advocates, and activists ? they are fighting the federal government for legitimacy... moreover, they are winning.

On a personal note, as a full-time freelance writer, if you're not self-motivated, you don't eat. Despite the fact I consume cannabis daily, I still manage to work every single day. In fact, I'll argue I work harder today as a freelancer than I ever did sitting in a cubical in the corporate world.

Which is an excellent segue into our second, yet very much related question from Quora:

Does being a cannabis smoker still have a stigma attached to it?

Unfortunately, the short answer is yes, in many circles, admitting to cannabis consumption, whether medicinal or recreational, comes with a scarlet letter. While recent survey results show 64% of Americans agree with cannabis legalization, the other 36% can be brutal. Although I love to advocate for cannabis, I learned early in my career as a cannabis writer to temper my answer when someone would ask, "What do you do for a living?" Because depending on my audience, I could get a very different reaction based on my answer. So whether I reply with, "I'm a cannabis writer," or just, "I'm a writer," depends on who's doing the asking.

Being a female cannabis consumer can even be worse in certain circumstances. I was once standing on a patio with my husband and his friends vaping a cannabis pen when one of the other wives came up, shaking her finger at me and said, "And YOU... I can hardly believe YOU!" Naturally, she was referring to my decision to smoke cannabis with the men over sitting inside drinking with the other women. She was clearly offended.

The Proof is in the Pudding image of marijuana in a jar on the counter at a dispensary, with a budtender in the background

Fortunately, as the industry matures, the stigmas are starting to fade. More than 160,000 people currently work in the cannabis industry in the United States, and statistics show the job opportunities are growing by nearly 700% year over year, making legal cannabis the fastest growing sector in the US. Obviously, an industry laden with lazy, unmotivated, undriven individuals could never create such explosive growth. Ancient stereotypes no longer fit the demographic.

The good news is as more of the professional, successful, driven individuals behind the cannabis industry find their success, others will start to see the light. Just as the anecdotal stories patients share are changing the public perception of cannabis medicine, sharing our stories of success, motivation, and a drive to change the world helps to end the stigmas associated with adult consumption as well.

If you have an important cannabis question for Leafbuyer, ask it on Quora and we might use it here to educate everyone!