What if we only had two choices when it came to alcohol - sober or drunk? No tipsy, no ‘2 glasses of wine’, no ‘just one more drink’. Either you’re sober, or fall-down drunk. If this was all we knew, would alcohol carry a stigma? Would more people stay away from it, or talk less openly about it?
Much has been said of the stigma surrounding cannabis. As we enter 2017, too many still feel obliged to whisper when referring to cannabis consumption. Or worse, don’t consume at all for some irrational fear of social retribution, or of repeating a bad experience from years ago.
I don’t whisper. To the contrary, as an entrepreneur in the industry I exercise my responsibility to talk about cannabis whenever anyone will listen. Over the last two years, I have learned how astonishingly little people know about cannabis - including those who have been whispering in their basements for decades.
People seem to think there are still only two gears for cannabis – stay sober or get stoned. And ‘stoned’ is where the industry runs into trouble. Stoned is the negative image brought to mind by those who perpetuate the stigma. I get it; it would likely be the same if we thought fall-down drunk was the only gear for alcohol. But we know this not to be true for alcohol, and it is even less true for cannabis.
Of late, we have been conditioned to think about cannabis as either medical or recreational. This may no longer be sufficient. Medical makes people think about disease and possible cures; recreational brings ‘stoned’ to mind. Yet there is so much more. Cannabis – depending how it’s consumed, when it’s consumed, what kind is consumed and most importantly, how much is consumed – can deliver a wide variety of positive, enhanced and safe experiences.
It’s from the people who have been using cannabis recreationally for years that I have learned the most about this. I’ve heard from those suddenly discovering that the right-sized edible has moved them off Ambien and into a healthy sleep pattern. I’ve heard from those surprised to find that a much lower dose than normal actually creates the perfect ‘background music’ to soothe what is otherwise high social anxiety.
I’ve also heard from those very pleasantly surprised to discover that a low-dose edible gave them mental energy unlike they ever experienced to knock out an all-day financially modeling session. And I’ve heard from those who realized that parsing out a fraction of what they might otherwise consume on a Saturday night gave them added focus to crush a work-out or a round of golf.
But what should we call these types of cannabis usage? I don’t know; call it wellbeing, call it therapeutic or call it your happy place. Just don’t call it stoned. New consumers, returning consumers and even heavy consumers have opportunity ahead of them to experience something different than they thought possible. And safely. Something that will bring a smile to their face. Now that’s worth talking about in 2017.