When the stigma endures

Labels have been ever-pervasive in our society, whether it’s about sexual orientation, the neighborhood you grew up in, the after-school activities you engaged in, or even the hobbies we pick up as adults; these all lend themselves to helping outsiders define us. Stoner, pothead, burnout, druggie; these are all terms I used to hear in high school to describe a certain sub-group of kids. It always stuck with me because we were all “burning” at parties, the beach, and even before school. Consumption was as diverse as the income brackets of my classmates’ parents. 

I don’t know if we ever see ourselves as clearly as someone on the outside looking in. I, for instance, wouldn’t call myself a stoner, but others would. I set out to find that moment when consumption became less about the stigma and more so a way of life. Personally, for me it was in high school. My group of friends would buy a half E, all chip in a few bucks, get high and giggle all Friday night. The first time we didn’t finish it, someone in the group suggested I take the rest home, and the next weekend when making the routine pick-up I procured my own little stash. Not long after, I had convinced my mom to let me smoke at home vs. the mean streets of my mostly white, wealthy neighborhood. It’s my longest relationship, spanning 5 years, with no sign of a break up. 

Cannabis is on the uptick, and yet the way we discuss consumption outside of the community still seems to be riddled with this couch-zombie, munchies-obsessed, lazy stereotype. I have friends, co-workers (obviously myself who smoke every day) would rather smoke than drink and are the same people work a 40-50-work week while maintaining a social life. Though I can’t count myself in the “maintains a social life” column, I would rather fulfill the take-out, couch potato stereotype then put on pants. But I digress. As the thin veil between consumers and none begins to fade, all this proverbial pothead can hope for is the stigma to fade with it. 

Alexandria Kostoff