Photo: Alanna Rizza

Let’s finally kick the stigma around cannabis use

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By Bryan Meler

I went to a cannabis panel exactly a month ago, when Canada wasn’t yet the second country to fully legalize the plant for recreational use.

There were geezers everywhere, some trying to simply yell their way into discussion. But there was one elder, who asked with a smirk, something along the lines of will cannabis be just a phase, like tobacco and alcohol in the ‘50s, or even pills in the past?

His question was part of an evening where people viciously complained. One old fart said, that when he was high back in the day, he couldn’t drive straight. That he went all willy nilly all over the highway. Therefore, cannabis should be illegal.

If cannabis becomes just a “phase,” it’ll be because of idiots like him. Instead of that old man simply understanding that you shouldn’t drive while high, we’ll continue to give cannabis an unnecessarily bad rap.

Cannabis has the potential to be something special for Canada, and that’s what this issue is out to prove. Weed is that fastball right down the middle. Thing is: we just can’t have idiots distract us at the plate from knocking the stigma, out of the park.

Think about it: you’ve never heard someone say that tobacco or alcohol saved a member of their family (unless there’s a dope story attached). Instead, tobacco is linked to killing 37,000 Canadians a year.

Cannabis, on the other hand, has been linked with helping people who suffer from cancer and severe forms of epilepsy. Cannabis also won’t give you the confidence to fight someone three times your size, just because they bumped into you at a bar. Instead, you’ll be too focused on the nachos you ordered, or looking at Google Maps for the closest ravine you and your buds can explore.

Now, that’s not to say that cannabis can’t have its downsides, because everyone’s mind and body reacts differently. But as adults, as basic as it sounds, we get to make responsible choices for our sake. The same way we’re expected to do with other substances. Shocking, right?

In the meantime, we can continue to tap into the medicinal potential of cannabis. It’s no secret that it’s a safer and less addictive alternative than not only tobacco and alcohol, but also prescription drugs like OxyContin, Percocet or morphine.

Canada has the opportunity to change, but that starts with our perception around cannabis, which has been skewed for decades—remember when we used to think it killed brain cells?

I don’t want to sound like a hippie, but it’s crazy that in junior high, I could legally smoke (but not buy) a cigarette. But I was also made to think cannabis was going to destroy my life, and that eventually my pad in university would turn into a drug dealer’s den if I started smoking doobies at 15 (thanks, Mr. Lawler).

If we’re going to change that stigma, everyone just simply needs to chill. That means, don’t be a narc, or the idiot who lights up when they’re around a playground.

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