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.
What does the word "stoner" mean to you? Let us know below. 👇 We're working on a little something and would love your input. 👀
— Leafly (@Leafly) April 18, 2019
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.