There’s no doubt that most cannabis users resent being dismissed as a “lazy, stupid stoner.” This sort of cannabis shaming can occur all too often by people unwilling to let go of ignorant stereotypes regarding cannabis use. Thankfully, we have moved a long way past Cheech and Chong, and people “coming out green” with their cannabis use continues to show that cannabis users can indeed be very successful in many different vocations.


Nonetheless, it’s important to pause and consider the different areas of life in which we may encounter cannabis shaming. Below we’ll take a look at four of these life domains and, as Psychologist Dr. Brené Brown puts it in her book I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn't), the “unwanted identities” that others can label us with that powerfully trigger shame. We’ll also see the positive identities that we ought to cling to, which enable us to navigate the pain and isolation of this devastating emotion. 


Parenthood

Understanding and tolerating parents who use cannabis largely remains uncharted territory, but it’s a reality that demands attention. Parents, especially mothers, are already at a high risk for shame, due to the rigid expectations that society projects.


Unwanted Identities that trigger shame:

  • Irresponsible/Selfish.

  • A bad parent.

  • Unfit to have kids.


Positive identities to cling to: 

  • A responsible cannabis user.

  • A good parent that gets a helpful assist from cannabis. 

  • Just as fit to have kids as anybody else. 


Family

Whether it’s due to a generational gap or a simple case of ignorance, cannabis users may often encounter shaming from parents, siblings, or in-laws. Indeed, the idea that families could congregate and socialize around a joint the same way they do with a bottle of wine seems like a pipe dream for many.


Unwanted Identities that trigger shame:

  • Immoral.

  • Trashy/immature

  • The “black sheep.”


Positive identities to cling to: 

  • A good person.

  • Classy.

  • A positive example of how cannabis can help someone. 


Career

Although we are beginning to see some hopeful legislative changes in this domain, the fact remains that using cannabis is seen by employers as a big liability. Moreover, in most companies, there are few things you could reveal about yourself that could get you passed over for a promotion more quickly than coming out as a cannabis user.


Unwanted Identities that trigger shame:

  • Unmotivated/unreliable

  • Unfit to lead/manage

  • A criminal


Positive identities to cling to: 

  • More motivated and reliable than most, especially after a good sativa-leaning strain :)

  • A competent leader/manager

  • A law-abiding citizen (or at least someone who is defying an unjust law)


Mental/physical health

This is perhaps one of the most prominent areas of shaming that cannabis users encounter. Although we advocate for responsible cannabis use and don’t deny that there are certain risks involved, categorically labeling cannabis users as mentally or physically unhealthy is certain to trigger an intense shame response in many people. 


Unwanted Identities that trigger shame:

  • More prone to illness

  • Drug addict

  • Unstable


Positive identities to cling to: 

  • Healthy, maybe even a great athlete.

  • A responsible user

  • Stable, as long as you don’t call after a session with Garanimals.



To conquer the intense pain and isolation of shame, it helps tremendously to understand the areas of our lives in which we may be shamed, the unwanted identities others may label us with, and the positive identities that we ought to cling to as our foundation.


To take a step further in your understanding of shame, consider sharing your shame story with us, or introduce yourself here.