Debunking stereotypes and rewriting what it means to be a stoner
Stoner stereotypes have existed as long as cannabis has existed. When you think of a “stoner,” what comes to mind? Like most people, you probably think of someone lazy, unmotivated, and perhaps careless, even reckless. Or, maybe you think of the stereotypical “Cheech and Chong” type who is always giggling and looking for a good time. The list goes on: the lazy couch potato, the perpetually hungover college student. But are these stereotypes accurate?
When it comes to cannabis consumers and stoner stereotypes, many stereotypes are floating around. While there may be some truth to these stereotypes, they are far from the whole story. In reality, people who enjoy cannabis come from all walks of life. They’re doctors, lawyers, stay-at-home moms and college students. They’re hard-working, ambitious, and driven people. In short, they are just like you and me.
So why do these stereotypes persist? This blog post will look at some of the most common stoner stereotypes and see if there’s any truth to them and see if we can’t debunk them once and for all.
Stoner Stereotype; Stoners experience reefer madness
This stoner stereotype is one of the older ones to date and probably the one that started it all. Although not as popular nowadays, we still need to address it because this was a very effective viral campaign to deter individuals from consuming cannabis. ‘Reefer’ is a slang term for marijuana (marijuana madness) that originated in the 1930s during a heavily stigmatized time for cannabis.
Let’s clear it up. We can confidently say that reefer madness is not a thing and that cannabis is not a plant known to insight violent behaviour and outbursts in consumers. It’s a plant known for its anti-inflammatory properties and calming effects. Suppose an individual is experiencing a reefer madness-type outburst after consuming cannabis.
In that case, it’s important to note that it’s highly likely that the individual may have consumed another substance influencing and amplifying an outburst. You’ll need to look at the entire person to judge their behaviour. And due to the declining popularity of this term, it’s safe to say that reefer madness has slowly been debunked as time has passed.
Stoner Stereotype; Stoners are Lazy
This is perhaps the most common stereotype of all. The idea that all people who consume cannabis are lazy slackers is simply inaccurate. It’s true that cannabis can make you feel drowsy and can lead to increased snacking (known as “the munchies”), but that doesn’t mean that all stoners are lazy.
Many studies have shown that cannabis increases productivity in certain people and helps them focus and be more productive. We also argue that the consumption of cannabis is for its calming and relaxing effects, so while it’s true that certain strains of cannabis can make you feel sleepy or more relaxed, we consider being ‘lazy’ as equal to rest. It comes down to the consumers’ mindset and intention behind consuming the plant.
Stoner Stereotype; Stoners Are Dumb
Again, this is not true. This stereotype is probably the most inaccurate of all. Many stoners are extremely intelligent. Cannabis has been shown to improve cognitive function in some people, and many famous people have consumed cannabis at some point in their lives (including Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Jennifer Aniston). Our post on cannabis and chess highlights the positive effects cannabis can have on focus retention and the ability to strategize through a game.
So while it’s true that cannabis sometimes causes short-term memory impairment, it’s not true that all stoners are dumb. So if you’re ever feeling inferior to your stoner friends, remember that they might be more intelligent than you!
Stoner Stereotype; Cannabis consumers look like potheads or stoners
This one bugs me a little and shows how far societal typecasting has gone when it comes to stereotyping cannabis consumers as potheads and stoners. It’s true; we have iconic historical and present-day individuals, experts, influencers, and celebrities who fit or may have even created these ‘looks.’ However, it’s a generalization to assume that cannabis consumers all fit into this mould.
I’ve gotten this a couple of times here and there, but it’s usually a statement I get from those that don’t know me at all and who I probably met at a networking event that’s non-cannabis related. And don’t get me wrong, I’m never offended when someone says that. I know it comes from a good place where they are pleasantly surprised.
Besides some of the most successful stoners we know, like Seth Rogen and Bob Marley, they are stoners of their own types. Besides their cannabis consumption, they have nothing visually in common. So, although there are the Rihanna’s and Snoop Dogg’s of the world. There are also the Martha Stewart’s and Woody Harrelson’s of the world who contrast but complement the look of a cannabis consumer. Who’s to say what a so-called ‘pothead’ or ‘stoner’ should look like.
Stoner Stereotype; the perpetually hungover college student
Another common stereotype is the perpetually hungover college student who smokes weed all day and night and never goes to class. While it’s certainly possible to find students who fit this description, it’s not accurate to say that all cannabis consumers are like this. Many people find that cannabis helps them focus and stay on task.
This stereotype crosses over into the party animal typecast; the assumption that all cannabis consumers frequent clubs and parties to let loose is false. Cannabis does have a reputation as a ‘social’ drug or controlled substance. However, due to the known medicinal properties of cannabis, many cannabis consumers are patients and consume cannabis as a medicine at home. So while some college students may consume cannabis to socialize at parties and events, not all cannabis consumers, in college or not, are party animals.
Stoner stereotypes still need work to be debunked
There’s a known narrative that cannabis is a gateway drug to all other drugs, a slippery slope down into an endless hole of drug-addicting self-destruction. This is a blanket statement covered in stigma. Like most stoner stereotypes, they are unfounded and based on misinformation and ignorance, and there are a lot of stereotypes about stoners that aren’t true.
So next time you meet someone who uses cannabis, don’t judge them based on these outdated stereotypes. Be sure to set them straight! After all, not all of us are lazy, hungover college students who are too dumb to function!—get to know them as individuals first. Chances are they’re just like you and me! A human being with a unique story, a perspective that isn’t recognized, a voice that has yet to be heard. It shows that you can never judge a book by its cover. It’s a fantastic journey to share and document.
Let us know in the comments which stoner stereotype you’ve been typecasted in and how you worked to debunk it!
Please note this article is written for general and public education purposes only. Although we conducted our research on this topic from sources that are believed to be reliable. We do not claim the information presented here is accurate. The team at Very Jessica Fung is not responsible for injury, loss, or damage, personal or otherwise, that could occur when consuming cannabis and/or drugs. Please review the VJF legal disclosure for more information regarding our content.