The word “Millennial” seemed to have popped up out of nowhere years ago and quickly rose to become a buzzword. Given Generation Y’s – usually referred to as “Millennials” – dominance on social media and the context of social media’s relevance to the world today, alongside easy access to the Internet, they are easily the purveyors of what’s in or what’s out, both online and offline.
The clamour for the legalization of marijuana use, for instance, was something that Millennials pushed for, both in the streets and on social media. That being said, with this age group (a Millennial is someone born between 1981 and 1996) leading the charge, can we conclude that weed is now an “old people” thing?
What Are The Youth Up To These Days?
Generation Z, the age group that follows Millennials, is not really known to be into alcohol or drugs. In fact, these post-Millennials are preoccupied with other things, and this places them very much on the opposite side of the spectrum when compared to their predecessors. The youth of today, at times, described as “Digital Natives,” have their mobile phones, gadgets, yoga, health drinks, and room decor to serve them their daily dose of escape.
For example, Max Daly of VICE.com writes about how drug use has fallen off by half since 2001, and it’s quite surprising, given the more liberal behaviours we see in society today, along with the growing openness to substance use. I mean, look at us; you can even score your weed supply from a dispensary for wholesale in Canada, and all this from the comforts of your home, right?
And really, while it holds true that the Snapchat Generation may be drinking, doing coke, or smoking weed, the general lot of these tech-savvy, selfie-taking teenagers are products of an effective anti-substance (ab)use campaign. As Chloe Combi, the author of Generation Z (2015), says: “It’s not uncool to say, ‘I don’t take drugs or drink.’ It’s perfectly acceptable now.”
Combi adds how Gen Z’s attitude towards drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes is influenced by how habitual use affected this generation’s parents negatively, prompting the kids to dismiss these substances outright.
So, Is Weed an Old-Fashioned Thing?
Before anyone says that weed is only for old people – that’s not true, because the youngest Millennial is now 23-years-old. Not a teenager, but also not a geezer – just old enough to buy weed legally. And with the legalization for recreational cannabis arriving in Canada and some states in the U.S., Millennials are now toe-to-toe with the Hippies in taking the title of the “Stoner Generation.” Here are some facts:
- In a study from the Tylt that had 6,000 Millennials as its sample, 84 percent believe that marijuana use should be made legal; 87.6 percent believe that weed is safer than alcohol; 85.6 percent believe that weed is beneficial to one’s health; and 93.2 percent believe that weed is better for athletes, as opposed to painkillers or opioids.
- A survey from Environics Analytics show that the relationship between Millennials and weed goes beyond one’s socio-economic class: 41 percent of Canadians under 35 have tried pot at least once; 29 percent of Canadians over 19 have tried cannabis; and with the amount of weed Metro Vancouver consumes in a year, we can roll up to nearly 58 million joints.
- Pewresearch.org says that 74 percent of Millennials in the U.S. believe that marijuana use should be legalized.
In comparing Millennials to other generations, whether it’s their parents or their kids, Gen Y definitely takes the cake when it comes to cannabis use. With Reagan’s infamous campaign against weed, the Baby Boomers and Gen X-ers had been swayed to “pass up on the doobie.” On the other hand, Millennials grew up witnessing how cannabis manifested itself into 1990’s-2000’s pop culture, thus, giving them the mind to puff first, and then “pass the doobie.”
By the time Millennials reached their teenage years, the stigma of cannabis use was well on its way out – the lazy, useless stoner stereotype remained to be just that: a stereotype. And with the advent of technology, information about cannabis has become readily available in the palm of our hands – like the data bulleted above – they’re all from the internet.
So, while the Boomers and X-ers may still see smoking pot as a sin, and the Snapchat kids prefer their social media and weird memes, Millennials are embracing the progress and smoking their legal weed.