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Should Stoner Culture Be Preserved?

May 1, 2019
(Leafly)

What does the label “stoner” mean to you? A quick Google search defines the word as “a person who regularly takes drugs, especially marijuana.”

By definition, the word “stoner” isn’t inherently negative or positive, but it does create a unique dichotomy. It can be either derogatory or endearing depending on who you ask, who is using the word, and how it’s being applied.

Historically, the term has been stigmatized through propaganda, political rhetoric, and Hollywood stereotyping. To many, the act of getting stoned is celebrated as code for enjoying the relaxing nature of cannabis, but others will argue that stoners are lazy, sloppy, and immature.

So how should we, as cannabis consumers of an uncharted legalization era, feel about the word “stoner”?

To get a wider perspective on this question, we asked Leafly’s social media followers. Let’s explore some of the recurring themes from those conversations.

(Leafly/Instagram)

Derogatory

If your perception of cannabis is negative, then that framework will likely be applied to those who consume or advocate for it.

“Stoner” has often been used to label cannabis smokers and box them into a single set of actions and ethos. A term some view as antiquated can be used as a slur when putting down the cannabis community, and it can ignore or overlook the therapeutic nature of cannabis.

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The derogatory use of the word “stoner” tends to imply over-consumption, a lack of intent, or simply the recreational aspects of cannabis consumption. But whether you’re enjoying cannabis for its relaxing “recreational” effects or using it for specific medical benefits, it’s still something that can improve your life—and that’s something to celebrate.

Cultural Caricature

The image of a tie-dye clad stoner is mainly the result of cannabis consumers being portrayed as hapless caricatures throughout Hollywood movies and other entertainment: the Jeff Spicoli-type who doesn’t have their shit together and only wants to get stoned, eat pizza, surf, and participate in non-conforming activities.

If you ask me, smoking weed, eating pizza, and hanging at the beach sounds like a great day, but I respect that others want more out of life. This exaggerated burn-out character is another way the stigma of cannabis leading to stupidity and laziness permeates pop culture.

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Cannabis Isn’t Making You Lazy, Your Bad Habits Are

Let’s be real though, some of the most motivated and innovative minds are passionate advocates for cannabis. The cannabis industry is full of creative risk-takers who love this plant and see a better future with it. So while the image of a non-motivated, immature stoner might not be wholly accurate, the rebellious and non-conforming spirit is alive and well in cannabis culture.

The path of Cheech and Chong helped break cannabis consumption into the minds of the mainstream, but it also plays on some of the harmful stereotypes that work against cannabis legalization. It’s important to laugh and not take ourselves too seriously, while at the same time, realizing the capability and responsibility we have to shape the image of cannabis consumers.

Badge of Honor

If you identify as a stoner, you likely wear it as a badge of honor. Many associate their deep affection, knowledge, and passion for cannabis with their stoner identity.

The label stoner can exemplify the level of knowledge and commitment you’ve made to the plant and the culture that surrounds it. Connoisseurs celebrate and discuss the many nuances of cannabis in great detail and in a similar fashion to wine drinkers and other respected sophisticated experiential products like food, drink, or cigars.

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The stoner badge of honor is an outward expression of your alignment with cannabis. Some choose to embrace it and aren’t afraid to let others know they consume cannabis. It can be a tool or label of your individual civil disobedience in the face of cannabis prohibition.

In this sense, a stoner is someone who is excited about everything cannabis has to offer and is eager to share it with everybody else. Personally, I take no issue identifying as a stoner and have embraced the opportunity to share the fact that cannabis works for me and can help others, too.

Endearing

Amongst friends, the term “stoner” can be endearing, if not a little disparaging at the same time. My friends, even the ones who smoke regularly, often call me the stoner of the group. That’s because they know my passion and excitement for the plant exceeds theirs. When they have questions or are hyped to show off the latest strain they’ve come across, I’m the stoner they call.

They might also poke fun at my stoner ways, but their label never comes from a place of disdain. This shows the important role tone plays when using a label with a history of minimizing a culture. It’s one thing to label yourself as a stoner, but it’s another to label others as such.

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What Does Your Stoner Poster Say About You?

Stoner Culture Evolved

When it’s all laid out in front of you, it’s easier to see how polarizing a simple word can be. It also becomes more apparent how much our own personal experiences influence our point of view.

Many of the people who responded to our questions on social media explained that the term “stoner” is worth reclaiming and evolving. I tend to agree.

Related

‘Stoners Aren’t Lazy,’ Says Man Who Biked 19,000 Miles While Stoned

The modern stoner can be a deep thinker with a mellow disposition—someone who is rational and intelligent, but also values being silly and lighthearted. Being a stoner can be as simple as living a lifestyle that aligns with cannabis or supporting laws that provide safe access for all.

Derogatory or flattering? Slur or respect? Do you consider yourself a stoner? If not, how do you describe your affinity for cannabis, or do you feel the need to? Your identity with cannabis is yours alone and something that you should find solace in.

Will Hyde's Bio Image

Will Hyde

Will is a cannabis expert and co-host of Leafly's "What Are you Smoking" podcast. He's a cultivator and former budtender who loves complex hybrids with piney and gassy terpene profiles. Follow him on Instagram at @the.avid.dabber

View Will Hyde's articles

  • jontomas

    No thanks. — To me, and I believe to most people, a stoner is someone who constantly consumes, thinking of little else in life. – I am a marijuana/cannabis consumer – period.

    • Slack Master D 🌴🚀🌱❤️

      I’ve always considered myself a stoner and I’m an accomplished 20+ year vet of the medical industry. Work that I have done has defined automation and data collection in certain aspects of healthcare. I definitely think of other things in life but I do enjoy Cannabis. Even though I’m on the medical program and have a legitimate need for it, I still identify myself as a stoner. Cannabis connoisseur just feels too stuffy and I’m way more than just a patient.

  • surrealistodefierros

    Stoners have led the fight for legalization from Day One. Stoners have also Paid the Price for the fact it’s been (and still is) illegal.
    Celebrate ourselves! Liberate ourselves from derogatory crap! Stoners rule, y’all. Tuff Gong.

  • Highway 69

    Well sure, if I use Will Hyde’s well written article to define myself — then I’m a stoner. I love getting high… Everyday.

    But unless it’s another stoner who is using the term to discuss our mutual love for all things cannabis, then I would probably shun the moniker like a drinker to the terms wino or alky.

  • John Ross

    I believe the stoner words to describe the effects give cannabis a bad rap. It shapes the perception. To me the biggest effect is simply relaxation but present that as ‘baked’ or ‘stoned’ and your otherwise mellow evening is now pretending to be a party. It over-blows the reality (when you’re a regular inhaler).

  • dave_the_suave

    to me, a stoner is a younger person, probably hasn’t fully matured, doesn’t think about adult things like say, taxes, never mind death!!
    but i’m now in my 60’s (how the hell did THAT happen??), have run my own business for over 30 years, have given up on flowers and only vape oils, would NEVER consider getting high in the middle of the work-day (as opposed to when I was in the late-teens / early 20’s when I smoked on the way in to work, at lunch, and on the ride home, not to mention my evenings).
    so that’s it in a nutshell. i am a consenting adult, should obviously be left the hell alone by the drug warriors, and resent being told what to do in my private life by some bureaucrat creep who only wants to do one thing with THEIR life, and that is to tell others how to live!!