It’s one thing to enjoy cannabis culture in all its forms, from growing to selling to consuming. It’s quite another to rely on cannabis for medical purposes. While it may sound shocking to you, a cannabis fan who may have purchased seeds from Growers Choice before, some individuals solely turn to cannabis for its medicinal benefits. They don’t necessarily “like” it…but they need it.
In these cases, a person may feel stigmatized by medical cannabis use in the same way mental health and medication hold a stigma as well. How do we end the stigma of cannabis use, especially for health? How do we get people to see the positives even though many still label cannabis a “drug?”
Medical Cannabis & Other Drugs
Approximately 8.4 million Americans smoke cannabis on a regular basis, whether for recreational or medicinal effects. With so many people on board the cannabis train, isn’t it about time we drop the overbearing, nosey questions? Quite frankly, it’s none of your business as to why someone chooses to benefit their health with cannabis.
You wouldn’t ask a person why they take Vicodin, right? Or Amoxicillin? These two drugs, according to MedicineNet, belong in the top-10 most-prescribed pharmaceuticals in the U.S. Maybe, one day, cannabis will be listed there as well. That would actually be great news considering cannabis would be the only all-natural form of medicine on the list.
The Drug Stigma
So, where does the medicine-related stigma come from? It may have to do with our own personal beliefs. Some say that if you can’t pronounce a medicine’s name or its ingredients, so to speak, then you shouldn’t put it in your body. Others claim all-natural remedies aren’t nearly as effective as pharmaceutical drugs.
We hold onto these “health” beliefs so strongly that we often lay them onto other people. But this is a mistake. From cannabis use, we know that what works for you may not hold the same benefits in another person. A strain that helps alleviate your anxiety or insomnia may trigger unwanted side effects in another. We cannot adopt this “one size fits all” model when it comes to health.
The Problem With Stigmas
As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day. We cannot expect to end a stigma overnight. It may take years and continuous effort to break free from medicine and cannabis stigmas the same way we’re finally learning to open up about mental health issues. People have experienced mental health issues for hundreds of years…but only recently are we exploring therapy apps like Talk Space and sharing our stories with the public.
Before we can attempt to end a stigma, we must first know why it’s crucial to do so. Firstly, stigmas prevent people from speaking up and getting help. It may deter them from medicine or therapy or cannabis when they truly need it. We should encourage others and build each other up to get help, even if it’s not on the way we’d personally do it. Help doesn’t come in a “cookie-cutter” format. It comes in countless forms, paths, and journies that all lead to the same end goal: getting better and feeling better.
How Do You End A Stigma?
While we may never fully “end” a stigma, we can certainly do our part to normalize cannabis use and diminish the presence of a stigma. Below are some ways we can practice normalizing cannabis and accepting other peoples’ forms of health practices.
- Know the facts and do your research
- Think before you speak and choose your words carefully
- Practice listening to others before chiming in
- Educate yourself and then share that knowledge with others
- Talk about it openly to the people you trust most
- Include others so you don’t have to fight this battle alone
I personally know someone who felt embarrassed to admit that they need medical cannabis. This person never wanted to try cannabis for fun or recreational purposes—she was prescribed it by her doctor and had to overcome her own personal stigma to become a regular cannabis user. Do you know anyone who’s struggled in the same boat? How have you helped someone overcome the cannabis stigma?