Marijuana in Pop Culture: A Key to Destigmatizing Weed in Society
Cannabis is one of the most controversial and polarizing issues worldwide. Some vilify weed with a clenched fist, some are relaxed about it, while the other end of the spectrum venerates it as a cure for all ills.
Over the years, legislative battles have been fought over its legalization. There have been a few wins, but in most countries, possession could lead to serious jail time. And despite the growing evidence of medicinal cannabis being more effective and safer than conventional drugs, patients still battle stigma and misunderstanding.
In popular culture, however, weed has long crept out of the shadows, with personalities in music, film, fashion and even social politics spreading the gospel of ganja. And it doesn’t matter if you’re in it for the healing or the high, you’re in the club.
Mainstream Marijuana: From the Streets to the White House
Quite a handful of A-List celebrities are immersed in cannabis culture. Top of the list are Rihanna, Snoop Dogg, Miley Cyrus, Brad Pitt, Whoopi Goldberg, Woody Harrelson, Seth Rogen and of course, the OGs of celebrity stoners Willie Nelson and Bob Marley, to name a few. Given the massive influence these people have on society, their openness about the positive attributes of marijuana might have catapulted it to the mainstream.
There’s no denying that the digital world has had a hand in the growing acceptance for weed.
Surely, the videos of ganja-smoking nuns and Instagram posts of weed influencers have inspired many to roll a joint. The digital economy has also allowed people to get high or medicated on the down low. In Canada, for instance, you can buy bulk shatter, special strains and a dizzying array of edibles and topical online.
On top of that, social media and online peer-reviewed journals have also expanded people’s understanding of the healing benefits of the plant and its many derivatives.
But beyond the limelight, cannabis is helping millions of people cope with debilitating conditions, like cancer, epilepsy, pain, auto-immune diseases and mental illnesses. It is for this reason that activists, like Steve DeAngelo and notable politicians, like Bernie Sanders, advocate for the herb and lobby for more lenient regulations.
A Diversifying Cannabis Portfolio
The most heated debate about marijuana is whether it’s a healing herb or a dangerous drug. This is largely due to the fact that the most popular delivery method, which is smoking, poses potential risk for lung damage, says John Benson from the University of Nebraska Medical Center. He adds that it’s harder to regulate THC intake when smoking pot, but people prefer it because of the instant high it gives compared to oral methods.
To curb this, dispensaries and cannabis innovators have come up with ingenious ways to partake weed. There are now a wide variety of oils, sprays, inhalants and edibles available. But as far as alternatives go, smoking is still the quickest way to get the THC into your system. One solution points to concentrates, like shatter, wax and hash oil, which are either whole plant or isolated extracts that have been rid of impurities, plant matter and pesticides. Dabbing and vaporizing are the preferred methods to consume these THC-packed concentrates and are believed to be safer than smoking. While there’s not enough scientific evidence to back this claim, these healthier alternatives have given cannabis a newfound, positive reputation.
It may take a long time, if not forever, for prohibitionists to see the good in cannabis, or to realize, as what DeAngelo notes, the “…ability of cannabis to extend patience, to encourage tolerance and open-mindedness, to heighten appreciation of nature, to engage self-examination, to teach more peaceful ways of resolving conflict …” But if liberalized laws have stemmed from the efforts of pop culture icons, enthusiasts, scientists and leaders, it’s possible for old stigmas to chip away in the near future.