You are a do-er. You have a long list of responsibilities and an even longer list of things you want to accomplish. You are a dreamer. You have aspirations, some lofty and some that are turning into plans. You mean well. You’ve done things you aren’t proud of but you’re trying to learn from them. You know failure. You have invested time and effort (and at times your heart), only to come out empty-handed. You’ve known success. For all the growth failure has given you, you also know the sweet reward of winning. You’re growing. You may be 18 or 80, but regardless, you’re changing and learning everyday. You think independently. You question things and understand that life works in shades of grey. You like experience. You seek new thoughts or events to stretch your mind and change your perspective. You are a worker. You may not even be employed, but you are putting energy into something you find valuable every day. You are a part of a whole. Daughter, son, mother, father, friend, lover — you have a community that supports you and you them. Is this you?
Cannabis is a part of your life, but it is not your whole life. It’s a resource that adds value to your life. You may depend on it medically or you may covet it like you do your morning espresso. And just like your coffee, you appreciate high quality and only settle for blackened char at the most desperate of times. Depending on the occasion, you like it alone or with friends. You are thankful for cannabis, but if it were to disappear, your life would go on, maybe just with more difficulty. Your relationship with it is personal, irrelevant of what friends, family, or regulatory bodies have to say. You want the freedom — socially, politically, and ethically — to enjoy a flower that has supported you like a friend. Is this you?
This morning I put on my Leafly beanie. Pairing it with my thriftstore-bought Pendleton flannel that, although accidental, is so incredibly hipster, I had to smile. What a loaded get-up. I started mentally walking through my day: who would I be seeing, what kinds of people would I be around, who would I potentially offend by representing Leafly. The disgust I feel towards society as a whole in necessitating this inane thought process is only surpassed by the annoyance of having to answer people’s inquiries about my beanie. More often than not, beanie questions come from people who are critically uninformed on cannabis, leaving me in the unfortunate situation of either attempting to educate them in less than 30 seconds; delivering a standard, nonpartisan response that generally sparks further questioning; or — what I usually opt for — mumbling something incoherent and hoping they catch the subliminal “please leave me alone.”
Although occasionally antisocial, this aversion to discussing my beanie is really a product of the chastisement it usually elicits. Although I don’t mind the occasional social and/or political cannabis discussion, the conversation usually evolves into — sometimes silent, sometimes aggressive — disapproving condescension. Deflecting generalized assumptions about who I am or enduring a verbal onslaught of misinformation are two things I try hard to avoid. And I know I’m not alone.
Amid this thought process about my beloved beanie, I was struck with the ingenuity of Leafly. It’s truly beautiful. Unlike most controversial statements, Leafly is subtle. People who know Leafly give me a knowing smile (that I’ve fondly dubbed ‘that beanie acknowledgement smile’), sometimes a thumbs up, or if I’m especially lucky, a high five. You see, Leafly is a best-kept secret and my beanie is the clue. Those who don’t know Leafly have no idea it’s connected to cannabis, but for those who do, an instant connection is formed. In a time when touting your support of cannabis can be bold, these connections are gold. I can know nothing about someone, but as soon as they reveal that they’re Leafly-privy, we understand each other. Not only do I know that you are connected to cannabis, but I know you have a higher level of understanding. I know that we could probably be friends. And that is just one of the amazing aspects of the cannabis culture.
Within the industry there is a lot of talk about the ‘cannabis closet’; even in one of the most cannabis-progressive cities in the world, judgment is deeply rooted and too often harshly felt. It’s easy to feel alone. We can all use support. Even if your relationship with cannabis is entirely personal, I assert that you will benefit from connecting with folks who face the same challenges you face. And we’re everywhere, across generations and social divisions. Each beanie acknowledgement smile is an inspiring reminder of that.
If you are at all familiar with the cannabis community, you know that acceptance and openness is prevalent. We may scoff at the hippie origins, but we need to respect what that has given us and hang on to it as the industry grows and the culture evolves. Yes, peace and love for all is idealistic, but the environment those attitudes foster is one founded in kindness and authenticity, two attributes at times detrimentally undervalued. Cannabis consumers are genuine people, and more often than not, incredible friends. And that’s why I wear my beanie, because for every judgey finger pointed in my face, a fist pound and heart-felt smile are right around the corner.
Is that you?