Confronting My Internalized Shame

If I want to work in cannabis (and I do) and be a part of breaking the stigma, I must first confront my own internal biases about it.

I love cannabis. But I don’t like talking about it, let along profess my love for it in public.

It feels wrong. Dirty, almost.

Much of that comes from my upbringing, in a white suburban neighborhood where the drug of choice was alcohol and the occasional cigarette or cigar. Pot was not a drug nice kids did, at least not around me. I went to DARE class, I watched the early 2000s propaganda commercials and I simply wasn’t friends with anyone who found it appealing. Until I went to college, weed wasn’t a part of my life.

Once I started smoking more regularly, it wasn’t something I spoke about outside my group of friends. It was illegal and the legalization wave was in its early stages; it was still a drug that wasn’t seen as conducive to living a “successful” life. Nice girls didn’t talk about it in public settings.

As I got older, my cannabis use increased. It helped me sleep, it calmed my anxiety, and it helped me find pleasure in meditative movement like yoga and hiking. Cannabis made me a healthier, happier person. But I was ashamed of it.

Not in comfortable company, but with people I knew professionally or on a friendly but impersonal level. Though we could talk about wine, beer, and liquor at length, I was embarrassed to admit I smoked (significantly more than I drank), as if the effects of cannabis were more toxic than alcohol. Well, in certain social circles it was regarded as so.

But cannabis has improved my life immensely. I have always known that I wanted to write, but after leaving my office job I was at a loss for what I wanted to write about. Nothing resonated with me and thought I tried companies of all kinds, there was no good fit.

It wasn’t until I sat down and started writing about cannabis in my personal life that I realized I already had a subject I was fascinated in and would happily research and write about for hours. I love cannabis, and I am endlessly fascinated by it. The history, the spread, the use, and impact.

Recreational cannabis is legal in 2 countries in North American and 11 states. In 3 years, the cannabis industry is predicted to be worth $80 billion worldwide. Yet cannabis is the driving incarceration force behind the war and drugs and the school to prison pipeline for the Black community. The cannabis plant can be used in everything from fibers and clothing to medicine and fun. It is a revolutionary plant and I refuse to apologize for my passion for it.

I know someone people will look down on it. I know someone people will wonder why I’ve chosen to align myself with an “illegal substance”. But cannabis changed my life and it has the power to improve the lives of millions of people- if we can break through the stigma stemming from a century of racist propaganda and allow ourselves to enjoy the full offerings of this revolutionary plant.

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