Today is a Monday, and I’m angry. “How aren’t you angry on a Monday?” might ask every person in the world. But I’m not angry because it’s Monday, I’m angry because as someone in the Cannabis industry, I can’t help notice the either intentional or unintentional continued stigmatization that people of note talk about the cannabis with. And I’m not sure which is worse. If it’s unintentional they are hindering the growth of a multi-billion dollar industry. If it’s intentional… I don’t even want to think about that.
Now what do I mean by this stigmatization? Whenever there are talks of the opioid epidemics or a shipment of a certain illicit substance that was seized by police, it is rarely referred to by its nicknames or street names unless it’s to let people know what words to be listening for. Instead we hear things like, “there has been a spike in the percentage of teens who say they have tried MDMA, or Molly.” Yet, with cannabis, the narrative is different.
These different names, while attention-grabbing, are perpetuating the negative look that many associate with the plant. In just the past few days, I have found articles that refer to the plant as Weed and Pot. Even worse still, everywhere you look, authors are trying to stand out and grab readers with punny titles about “Pot ETF’s growing like weeds”, but in the end it all leads to people continuing to view cannabis in a bad light. CEO’s of major cannabis companies are doing live interviews with banners underneath reading “Pot Co. CEO” and it explains why there hasn’t been a bigger shift in the stigma regarding cannabis.
So how do we change this? Regulation aside, the first and most obvious solution is to get consistent. We are not talking about weed, pot, ganja, grass, or bud – we are in the Cannabis industry and we are talking about Cannabis. The simplest example I have of the impact a change in vernacular can have comes from conversation with colleagues and people in my everyday life. In the last 2 years of being involved in the Cannabis space, I have made it a habit to only use the word Cannabis when talking about the plant conversationally or in a business setting. The amount of times people tell me I sound professional, fancy, or something of that nature, whether it be condescending or not, proves this impact.
We, in the industry, have a responsibility to show this emerging market off in the best possible light. It’s why every flight starts with a safety video and the pilot giving the passengers a rundown of the flight destination, altitude, and duration of the flight. Do you really need to know the altitude you’ll be flying at? Probably not. But it presents the aviation industry in the best light. So, let’s present the cannabis industry in the same positive light. Because how something is presented will be a critical component of swaying the public view of cannabis from the stoner duge it has been known as in the past to what it should rightfully be recognized as today – medicine.
So – why can’t we just call it Cannabis?