It’s Official: Weed’s Not Cool Anymore
A bud of Maui Afghooey medical marijuana. FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/GettyImages
If you ever purchase cannabis from a dispensary in Oregon—where pot has been legalized for adult use since 2016—you’ll receive an advisory message you probably won’t read. You’re just here for the weed, right? But say your curiosity commands otherwise. What you’ll read isn’t like the Surgeon General’s warning accompanying cigarette packs. The message’s author, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC), which regulates the distribution and sale of cannabis in the state, isn’t concerned with your health exactly. No, instead the OLCC warns parents and adults that consuming marijuana in front of children will make them look… too cool.
“Children want to be like their parents and other adults in their lives,” reads the OLCC’s officious, red-block lettering. “When you use marijuana in front of them, they may want to use it, too. You can keep them safe and healthy by not using marijuana when kids are around.”
No one’s positing that kids should use marijuana recreationally— but oh my , have times changed. Cannabis was once so dangerously cool, the youth’s drug of choice, embedded in the Summer of Love, the counterculture movement and college dorm rooms across America. This idea of marijuana as civil disobedience is dying, thanks to legalization. So what does cannabis as a culture, a lifestyle, a way of being, represent now? Do kids even consider it cool anymore? Does anyone?
Data from Monitoring the Future , an organization that has surveyed national drug usage rates of high schoolers every year since 1975, demonstrates how cannabis legalization has impacted teen consumption patterns. Since 2005, the number of 12th graders across the country reporting they’ve used cannabis in their lifetime has hovered below 45 percent. Legalization efforts over the past 15 years—during which 33 states have legalized medical marijuana and 10 states have legalized recreational use—have not changed that figure. Meanwhile, in 1980, 60.3 percent of 12th graders admitted to trying marijuana in their lifetime, the second-highest figure ever recorded.
A woman smokes marijuana in a pineapple during a rally demanding its legalization. RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP/Getty Images
If anything, the data indicates legalization discourages teens from using cannabis. Only nine percent of Colorado teens aged 12 to 17 used marijuana monthly in 2015-2016, a statistically significant drop of two percentage points from the year prior, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Washington, Alaska and Washington , D.C. also saw similar declines in teens reporting cannabis usage in the past month. In a flip of stereotypes, middle-aged parents are more likely to use marijuana than their teens, says the Center s for Disease Control and Prevention .
Seriously, teenagers just don’t do drugs like they used to. Outside of cannabis, last year represented the lowest-ever figure of lifetime drug usage from Monitoring the Future’s 40-year-plus dataset. So don’t worry parents—data suggests your kids don’t consider you, or your drugs, particularly cool at all.
“There’s an aspect of when pot was illegal, it was a forbidden fruit, rite-of-passage sort of thing,” Russ Belville, a longtime cannabis reform activist and owner of a Portland 420-friendly bed and breakfast , told Observer . “Now that pot is legal, it’s mom’s Chardonnay, it’s dad’s cigar. It’s not cool anymore. It’s kind of lame to the kids.”
That’s the case for Whittaker Bangs, a 14-year-old Denver teen attending Littleton High School. Both of his parents smoke marijuana, while his mom works as creative director at Grove Spaces, a startup opening high-end cannabis consumption spaces in Denver. He doesn’t use personally, and isn’t sure if he will when he reaches legal age.
“I don’t believe it is a boring activity, but I don’t think it’s something that I would be willing to drop everything to do,” he wrote over email.
American country singer Willie Nelson takes a drag off a joint while relaxing at his home in Texas. Liaison/Getty Images
That sense of mild anarchy is also disappearing from stoner culture, which is often mistaken for cannabis culture writ large. Consider Cheech and Chong, Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg. Historically cool guys, sure, but these are cannabis brand names now, each with their own line of weed products—no longer sticking it to the man, just doing business, man. These OGs of cannabis no longer qualify as producers of vibrant, vital culture in the cannabis space. Yet when most imagine someone associated with weed, it still isn’t mom and dad; it’s more likely Red Headed Strangers and Snoop to the Double G, baby.
When examining cannabis as a culture in 2018, you realize a gulf of misinformation exists between the mainstream consumer and the cannabis community. Who uses cannabis and what for are questions that don’t have easy answers anymore. Maybe they never did. But that myth of pot leaf stickers, Rastafarian flags and junk food binges was so pervasive, it fooled many into thinking they knew what a cannabis consumer was—a lazy stoner, a rebellious teen, an idyllic hippie. Now, thanks to successful activist efforts over the past 20 years, the identity of cannabis users has never been more difficult to categorize.
“Prior to legalization, everyone kind of had their [own] idea about what weed is, who it’s for, and why one might use it,” said Anja Charbonneau, editor-in-chief of Broccoli , a rigorously designed and edited cannabis magazine by and for women. “But now, we have all these different narratives to follow and to try to keep up with and new ways to try to identify with it.”
Yes, add the rapidly shifting culture of cannabis to the list of news items you can’t keep up with. We probably won’t understand how radical this time period is—somewhere between dismantling prohibition and real scientific understanding of cannabis—until years later. What happens when lawlessness, previously a defining characteristic driving who became a stoner, transforms into legislation? As Belville told me, “Prohibition created alliances and cliques and groups out of necessity that legality is beginning to erode.”
The exclusive cool kids club of cannabis is over. Moms use it, Elon Musk uses it, Canada says most of its police can use it (off-duty, of course). The number of Baby Boomers who have used it has doubled since 2006. Those aged 65-plus have seen a significant uptick in monthly marijuana users as well (that figure was virtually zero in the mid-2000s). Every demographic you previously wouldn’t have dared suspect of using cannabis is now experimenting with the plant. Perhaps, the OLCC should actually be warning teens about their grandparents lighting up.
Like all niche cultures assumed by the mainstream, marijuana has been shedding old skins and gaining new ones along the way. Ian Van Veen Shaughnessy, CEO of Rare Industries, told Observer that the cannabis world now “contains a lot of numerous and nuanced voices.” Under the Rare Industries umbrella, he runs Quill , a vaporizer pen that prioritizes micro-dosing and provides a considered, minimalist design. Quill’s brand, as well as Charbonneau’s Broccoli magazine, represents a new aesthetic coursing through cannabis—seriously considered, but playfully concocted.
Vaping cannabis is an alternative, and possibly healthier, method of ingesting the plant. Unsplash/Grav
Shaughnessy believes cannabis sits on the precipice of cultural reinvention, like coffee did in the ‘ 90s and craft spirits in the mid-’00s. He’d know, too. He owned a café, sold it, had a brief career as a competitive barista, then co-founded a micro-distillery in Chicago, before running Rare Industries.
“Coffee’s a great analogy for this because you’ve got all these great micro roasters, you’ve got a number of surprisingly great, pretty large companies producing some really good coffee as well. It’s not just one thing or the other, but it can contain all these multitudes, and cannabis is following the same path,” Shaughnessy said .
To be fair, cannabis was long overdue for a rebrand. If you’ve noticed, I have mostly referred to it as “cannabis” throughout this article. This was intentional, as it’s what serious operators within the space call it. Some outsiders poke fun at this, but also, i t’s literally the name of the plant. Whenever I hear someone say “pot,” I assume they’re over the age of 40 and probably used to be a hippie. “Weed” is serviceable, but also describes an unwanted presence in any self-respecting garden. No word carries more historical baggage than “marijuana,” a term with unknown Mexican origins. Harry Anslinger, the infamous anti-cannabis crusading bureaucrat, used the exotic-sounding word to stoke the xenophobic fears of white Americans to instigate prohibition in the 1930s.
Hopefully none of that sounds familiar to you today.
Thanks to prohibition and persistent federal persecution, our understanding of cannabis, including its functions, its molecular complexities and its mutability, is rather opaque.
“The most important rebrand is really just the stripping away, like , I don’t think we need to give cannabis a new identity,” explained cannabis journalist Lauren Yoshiko. “We need to get to know its original identity before the anti-drug laws started happening and the Mexican-American battles began because that , to me , is the best way, the healthiest way to help cut through the misinformation.”
Cannabis plants grow in the greenhouse at Vireo Health’s medical marijuana cultivation facility, August 19, 2016 in Johnstown, New York. Drew Angerer/Getty Images
“I think possibly using ‘cannabis’ as a word is another part of that puzzle of helping people understand that it’s just a plant,” she added. “I’m not trying to teach you about a new complex drug that you should be less scared of. I’m trying to remind you, it’s just a plant.”
Yoshiko isn’t alone in this writerly pursuit. This year saw literary authors like Michael Pollan and Tao Lin openly embracing cannabis and psychedelics, publishing How to Change Your Mind and Trip, respectively. Though Pollan was an early pioneer in elevating cannabis’ abilities as a plant, it’s Lin who situates himself inside the growing camp that considers cannabis a dietary essential. Shaughnessy and Magical Butter CEO Garyn Angel expressed similar sentiments to me, with Shaughnessy arguing that many newcomers reject this notion because they misuse cannabis their first try. Puffing a joint when you’ve never imbibed cannabis is like chugging three shots of Bacardi 151 for your first drink, Shaughnessy said.
In Trip , Lin successfully positions cannabis in its “millennia-long relationship with humans,” frequently citing psychedelic trailblazers like Terence McKenna and Kathleen Harrison. While marijuana’s proficiency as an anti-inflammatory is nothing new, Lin explains why that’s important for everyone, especially for those not in immediate physical pain.
A 2015 paper in Emotion referenced in his book “showed that clinical depression is associated with high inflammation,” Lin wrote over email. The “strongest relationship,” researchers noted, between inflammation levels and measuring positive emotions was found in awe, “followed, not closely, by joy, pride, and contentment,” Lin writes in Trip .
Marijuana for a calming effect is for sale at the Higher Path medical marijuana dispensary in the Sherman Oaks area of Los Angeles, California. ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images
Aesthetic-driven, plant-forward, health supplement. Cannabis may have lost its edge, but maybe that wasn’t as essential to its nature as we thought. When the lingering stigma of reefer madness dissipates, foundations of language and understanding can develop around cannabis. Much like popping open a beer after work doesn’t totally define a person’s lifestyle or value system, neither does using cannabis. We’re seeing “this entire mainstream shift in cannabis away from being something that stoners and hippies use to something that literally everybody uses,” Shaughnessy explained.
Everybody includes Republicans, rappers, veterans, socialists, seniors, weekend warriors, soccer moms, college grads and so many more. Cannabis clearly doesn’t have the burden of being “cool” anymore.
Pot was once so dangerously cool, the youth’s drug of choice, but the idea of marijuana as civil disobedience is dying, thanks to cannabis legalization. So what does cannabis as a culture, a lifestyle, a way of being, represent now? Do kids even consider pot all that cool anymore? Does anyone?
15 Reasons Why Smoking Weed Is Actually Really F*cking Good For You
As more statesВ join the movement to legalizeВ marijuana, smoking weed is becoming more mainstream than ever.
Unfortunately, marijuana still tends toВ get a pretty bad rap.
But if you ask me, there are all sorts of reasons why smoking weed is actually really good for you.
And I’m not just talking about weed’s ability to make you feel more creative or the fact that it helps you chill out, either.
Apparently,В getting high can also have a myriad ofВ health benefits.
That’s right. Sparking up can improve your health in all sorts of unexpected ways, and research showsВ that marijuana can improve your mood,В boost your energy, help you lose weight and even prevent certain diseases.
If you’re looking for yet another reason to justify your weed-smoking sessions, here are 15В advantages to getting lit AF on the reg:
1. Cannabis unlocks your creative potential.
A study found that cannabis causes psychotomimetic symptoms, which could lead users to make connections between ideas that aren’t exactly related.
This type of thinking is often crucial to creativity, so grab some ganja, and get those creative juices flowing.
2. Trees can be used to treat depression.
A study conducted by Rudolf Magnus Institute of NeuroscienceВ found that THC “reduces the negative bias in emotional processing,” which means weed could be used to help people cope with depression and other psychiatric disorders.
Plus, a study published by USC and SUNY Albany found that “those who consume marijuana occasionally or even daily have lower levels of depressive symptoms than those who have never tried marijuana.”
So if you’re feeling blue, brighten up your day by packing a bowl.
3. Weed can help you lose weight.
Although marijuana is notorious for giving you a mean case of the munchies, aВ study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that pot smokers are less prone to obesity.
Another study in the American Journal of Medicine revealed similar results, finding those who light up on the reg are actually a bit skinnier than those who don’t smoke marijuana.
In addition to giving you a smaller waistline, researchers also discovered that marijuana may boost your metabolism, increase fat loss and lower cholesterol. So next time you’re tipping the scale, try swapping out your salads for a different type of green.
4. Lighting up can lower your risk of diabetes.
A study published in The American Journal of MedicineВ found that people who smoke marijuana had lower insulin levels and insulin resistance levels by 16 and 17 percent, respectively.
This suggests that cannabis may play a role in regulating blood sugar, which can decrease your risk of developing diabetes.
5. Cannabis keeps you calm, cool and collected.
Researchers interviewed Swiss inmates who regularly smoked marijuana in prison and found that marijuana made the inmatesВ calmer and less stressed. Plus, marijuana use among prisoners also prevented violence and acted as a “social pacifier.”
I guess they don’t call it a “peace pipe” for nothing.
6. Sparking up is a great social activity.
Weed serves as a great icebreaker since it reduces social anxiety, encourages you to open up and makes you more accepting of others.
Plus, let’s be real: There’s no better way to spend a night in with your friends than hotboxing your basement, ordering pizza and watching all of your favorite TV shows.
7. Pot can make your periods suck less.
When it comes to managing premenstrual symptoms, marijuana could be a natural alternative to Midol.
StudiesВ have found that THC is an analgesic and antinociceptive agent that can alleviate the pain of those killer cramps and pounding headache.
Plus, marijuana has also been found to have anti-inflammatory propertiesВ that can help with the bloating that occurs around that time of the month.
8. Getting high doesn’t give you a hangover.
A night of drinking beers with your BFFs will leave you feeling pretty shitty the next morning. However, unlike drinking, smoking weed doesn’t result in a deathly hangover.
So you can get lit with your squad and still feel pretty amazing the next day.
9. Marijuana makes food taste a million times better.
There’s nothing better than getting stoned and stuffing your face with an endless array of snacks. But have you ever wondered why marijuana makes food taste soВ magical?
A study published in Nature NeuroscienceВ found that, thanks to THC’s effect on the brain’s cannabinoid receptors,В food appears more appetizing as a result of a heightened sense of smell.
Therefore, it’s probably a good idea to stock up on bagel bites and Dino nuggets before you spark up.
10. Smoking a bowl can boost your energy.
There’s a stigma surroundingВ marijuana use that it makes you lazy. However, not all strains of cannabis turn you into a complete couch potato.
Research has supported a link between the brain’s CB-1 and CB-2 cannabinoid receptors and dopamine. Essentially, small doses of marijuana won’t hurt your efficiency level, and an increase in dopamine levels gives you the focus you need to get your shit done.
If you’re looking for a little pick-me-up, swap out your coffee and smoke a Sativa-dominant strain like Sour Diesel or Jack Herer, instead.
11. Smoking weed can help you fall asleep.
Everyone knows weed helps you unwind.
While there is considerable debate over the long-term effect marijuana has on sleep cycles, someВ feel that smoking a bowl before bedtime actsВ as aВ better sleep aid than other substances, like alcohol and certain sleeping-inducing medications.
(Unfortunately, though, it’s said that marijuana’sВ effectiveness as a sleep aid decreases with increased usage.)
12. Marijuana can also eliminate nightmares.
Marijuana is also known to disturb the sleep cycle and suppress REM sleep.
Since dreams occurring during this type of sleep, marijuana can be used to interrupt this REM sleep and eliminate your full capacity to dream, thus eliminating your nightmares.
13. Everyone respects someone who can roll a blunt that’s lit AF.
Every pothead knows rolling the perfect joint or blunt is basically a form of art.
Learning how to roll an impressiveВ blunt takes a lot of time and practice to master, so people will always respect a stoner who has decent rolling skills.
14. Smoking weed makes you worry less.
An article published in a 2010 Harvard Mental Health Letter also suggestedВ marijuana alleviated symptoms of anxiety when administered in small doses.
The article also mentionedВ that small doses of THC act as a sedative, decreasing symptoms of anxiety. So the next time you can’t stop worrying about something, break out the weed.
15. Ripping the bong can actually be good for your lungs.
A study published in theВ Journal of the American Medical Association indicated that marijuana smoke is not detrimental to your lungs.
In fact, past studiesВ found lighting up can briefly increaseВ your lung capacity in the short term. you know, from all that inhaling you’re doing.
As more statesВ join the movement to legalizeВ marijuana, smoking weed is becoming more mainstream than ever. Unfortunately, marijuana still tends toВ get a pretty bad rap. But if you ask me, there are all sorts of reasons why smoking weed is actuallyвЂ¦