Stand and Be Counted: Why Cannabis Nerds Need to come out of the Shadows, and into the Light

Ducks Rock

Stoner. Pothead. Hippie. Burnout.

These caustic epithets represent the crumbling relics of three generations peppered with the buckshot of sensationalism and hysteria.

The myth that all Cannabis users are incapable of leading productive, gainful, and enriched lives is borne by the misinformed or the malicious. This association with misspent youth and squandered potential simply does not play out in practicality.

In 2014, Cannabis users span demographics of top politicians, designers, artists, financiers, engineers, lawyers, doctors, and developers. Their ranks include some of the most impactful leaders in history. If one chooses to believe that Cannabis use inhibits impactful contribution to society, he or she must acknowledge that there is much evidence to the contrary.

Cannabis consumption still remains a largely closeted activity even in the context of legitimate and physician-supervised medical therapy. An estimated 17% of Canadians admit to using Cannabis habitually, and almost half of all North Americans have tried it.

It is highly likely that one of the three people sitting closest to you right now are habitual users, if you aren’t yourself. With such an expansive user base, why is it so rare to have an empowered discussion with a co-worker, strain comparison with a new friend, or a healthy debate at the dinner table?

If one chooses to believe that Cannabis use inhibits impactful contribution to society, he or she must acknowledge that there is much evidence to the contrary.

It would not be out of place to engagedly recount an exciting guys-night-out to a craft brewery, or a weekend in a vineyard with girlfriends, while conversing at a Monday morning water-cooler. Less common intra-office banter might include a description of a rare landrace Sativa, or a relaxing night with a vaporizer and a sketchbook.

Workers who use Cannabis to help treat the symptoms of one or more of a wide range of medical conditions, under doctor’s orders, face stigmatization and social repercussions that would likely not be associated with more conventional treatments. How do you personally contextualize the social legitimacy of a pair of ibuprofen pills versus a bud of medical Cannabis? Apples to apples, the gravity of their side effect profiles appear surprisingly skewed in favour of Marijuana.

Some of the most impactful influencers in history have openly touted their usage of Cannabis. From Barack Obama to Nancy Pelosi, top-level American politics has been forced by blatancy to shed it’s not-even-once anachronisms of non-inhalation. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs incited a revolution in how we communicate, and put computers in virtually every household in the Western world. Both might have been consuming Cannabis on a weekly basis.

Carl Sagan could be the most pivotal astrophysicist of the 20th Century. Stephen Jay Gould helped us revolutionize our understanding of Evolutionary Biology. Both of these men claimed frequent Cannabis use, and happened to share another trait: 99th percentile IQ’s. From Michael Phelps to Lebron James, the list of professional athletes who have openly consumed Cannabis is long and growing.

To suggest that Cannabis use comes without risk is a dangerous and misinformed assumption. Cannabis abuse is very real, and it can lead to symptoms of addiction and a slew of dangerous and socially destructive side effects. Like any psychoactive compound, Cannabis’ powerful effects necessitate respect, education, and regulated intake.

When consumed in moderation, and in a transparent relationship with a physician, there are strategies to mitigate these risks. Furthermore, when compared to the risk profile of narcotic opiates, painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs, or even nausea suppressants, the argument can be made that Cannabis consumption may have a lower risk profile than many of the drugs that we consume daily.

If integral contributors to undeniable social progress have consumed Cannabis in a manner that appears to have mitigated its associated risk, and furthermore they take pride in their passion for its rightful place, studied in the context of legitimate agriculture and science, then why are we so fearful of our shared opinions?

The recent and ongoing legislative changes around the world representing liberalizing attitudes towards freedom of choice, individual sovereignty, and the social realities of Cannabis use enable an environment where enthusiasts can finally come out of the shadows and into the light.

If you believe, as we do at Tantalus Labs, that Cannabis has a rightful place being scrutinized by medical science, agricultural science, and dinner-table conversation; now is your chance to speak out. We want to amplify your voice. Consider this an open invitation to contribute to the discussion. If Cannabis has affected your life, for better or worse, we want to let your voice be heard. Talk to us at [email protected], and be part of a conversation that we believe will define a generation.