In most circumstances, social norms are adaptively put in place. When appropriate they help us navigate our way through the world in a healthy, efficient way. As we have seen through this series, when maladaptive, they result in stigmatization based in fear and judgment. In this final segment, we’re going to discuss the ways in which all of us can do our part in eliminating the cannabis stigma.

Differentiating Between Healthy & Unhealthy Cannabis Use

Who?

The first thing we need to do as a society is differentiate between these two types of use and our attitudes, respectively. The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCDUS) has found that the most conclusive negative health impacts resulting from cannabis use have been with regards to pregnant women and children & adolescents which is why Canadian legislation has called for users to be 18+ and requires that warning labels advise against cannabis use during pregnancy. Check.

How?

Since cannabis smoke contains many of the same chemicals found in tobacco, a call for vaping has been made in cannabis communities. Vaping allows for cannabis to be combusted at temperatures that reduce the amount of harmful carcinogens and chemicals inhaled. As a bonus, vapourizers also emit vapour instead of smoke for use in public spaces because just as we are mindful of secondhand tobacco smoke, responsible cannabis users should be considering the same. Alternative smoke-free options also include consuming oils and edibles.

[Read: How to Use a Vapourizer for Cannabis]

Where?

Not in a car, not in a bar, not at work, not while children lurk. As discussed in the previous segment, the conversations surrounding sensible cannabis use ask that users mimic the sensible alcohol use society has readily accepted. While cannabis does not result in the same effects of intoxication, it does still produce psychoactive effects depending on strain that alter our normal state which makes its use unacceptable if driving, working, or caring for children. And unless you have edibles or oil on hand, use in a bar or any public indoor facility is a sure way to upset others (and rack up a fine).

When?

This is an important factor to consider, and we don’t just mean in terms of time of day. Addiction specialist and psychologist, Stanton Peele, listed guidelines for sensible recreational cannabis use in which two aspects stand out.

1. Cannabis is used as part of social interactions, not in isolation or as a remedy for negative feelings.

2. Cannabis use should contribute to, rather than detract from, user’s health, well-being, creativity, work, relationships, and social obligations.

Does that mean you can’t smoke a joint every once in a while before enjoying a night in on the couch? No. However, if this becomes the norm each day and you notice the latter areas being negatively impacted, then you should be asking yourself some hard questions and discussing matters with a healthcare professional.

Let’s Talk About Pot, Baby

You might have been hoping for something different, but the final ingredient in every stigma breakdown recipe is the same: conversation. Without conversation, preconceived notions cannot and will not be broken. With each average Canadian who talks about their healthy cannabis use, or asks a neighbour to learn more about theirs, there is one less stereotypical ‘stoner’ in the public eye. Since it may be daunting to be the first to speak up while this stigma is fresh, the CCDUS has extensive resources on nurturing these dialogues.

We particularly like the idea of a Conversation Cafe but we want to hear from you! How do you plan on holding space for these conversations?