Now that the northern nation has officially made marijuana a legal part of its inebriation culture, Canadian cannasseurs are heading to the highest mountain, which is Mount Logan, by the way, to proclaim their lust for the leaf without any fear of being persecuted by their judgmental peers. Right? Well, that is debatable. While there are those stoned socialites of the Great White North who wear their passion for pot on their sleeve, a recent survey finds that a vast majority of the country’s population would rather keep their participation in the legal weed scene a secret. They’re just not ready for people to know they get high.
According to a poll published by Global News, 60 percent of the Canadian population would like to keep their pot consumption under wraps. The respondents said they would not be comfortable smoking a joint in public, even if it were at a cannabis café or other legally acceptable establishment, nor do they feel right admitting to their friends, family and co-workers that they like to smoke weed from time to time.
So, just because full-blown cannabis legalization is taking hold in Canada this week, that doesn’t mean that every part of high society is feeling relaxed about buying reefer through legal channels. Many of these cowardly consumers have become so marred by decades of prohibition that the stigmas connected to pot continue to resonate loud and clear. Like it or not, marijuana still carries negative connotations.
“Even if you look at all of the discussion since the announcement over a year ago, whether it be just talk around the water cooler or in various news channels or comment boards. There’s still a lot of chuckling and joking about who a user is, like making jokes about stoners or hippies,” said Jennifer McLeod Macey, vice-president at Ipsos Public Affairs, which conducted the poll on behalf of Global News.
Sure, weed is legal in Canada. The government has given adults at least 18 years of age permission to buy, possess and grow weed for recreational use. This means it is no longer necessary to conjure up some phony medical condition to get a monthly surplus of pot for “therapeutic purposes.” In fact, there is reason to believe that the nation’s medical marijuana is destined to crumble. The system implemented in Canada is very much like those pushed through in part of the United States – weed, medicine, whatever you want to call is now just for fun. But it is going to take a minute for many users to get over the social scars of being a pothead for so many years in the black market, being labeled a “druggie” by those people who bought into reefer madness. This is part of the industry’s responsibility. Getting rid of the stoner stigma and showing people a new way of looking at and using marijuana without guilt, embarrassment or fear.
But that will take time. After all, before this week, Canada endured 95 years of marijuana prohibition. The idea that these folks can now just step inside a dispensary and purchase marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol just seems, for the lack of a better word, weird, man.
Perhaps the industry should devise better terminology for retail weed outlets instead of continuing to call them dispensaries. It’s fine that industry leaders are trying to eliminate words like “stoner” and “pothead” from the equation. But, here’s some food for thought: There is not a single Canadian who gets their beer and wine from an “alcohol dispensary.” They hit the liquor store. The cannabis industry should do everything it can to lift the medical marijuana jargon from the scene and let weed exist in a world that is easy for the whole of society to embrace. Remember, new customers are crucial to the success of the trade. And everything we know about weed is about to change, rest assured. Constellation Brands, Molson Coors and other beverage companies are bringing cannabis-infused drinks to the Canadian market next year. Marijuana may be legal in Canada, but not until these types of products are available will it start to become more socially acceptable.
Let’s revisit this survey in a year.
TELL US, have you told your friends and family that you enjoy cannabis?