In April, Los Angeles-based marijuana company MedMen ran a $2-million ad campaign to deter people from using the word stoner. They displayed billboards showing teachers, police officers, CEOs, athletes and even nurses with the word stoner crossed out underneath them.
This campaign aimed to remove the stigma and negative connotations surrounding the word stoner, which perpetuates the 70s-era stereotype of marijuana users as lazy or unsuccessful.
The words we use to describe groups of people have an impact on how they are perceived in society, and in some cases, I agree that we should watch our language and phase out harmful words so as not to alienate or negatively impact vulnerable demographics.
But are cannabis users a vulnerable demographic? Is it now necessary to update the surrounding terminology?
Whether or not one uses marijuana is fundamentally a personal choice. Despite current research into the biological predisposition toward drug use and addictions, it is still a conscious decision for which we are responsible, just as with any of our other actions.
Additionally, there is no universal consensus on the wide use and legalization of marijuana. Weed is still a very controversial topic in Canada. The fact that it will now be legal to use the drug speaks very little about popular opinion, especially on the Prairies.
A survey from Dalhousie University in Halifax, N.S., showed that while 68 per cent of Canadians support marijuana legalization, that number is lowest on the Prairies at 54 per cent.
In the spirit of good debate, I believe that both sides of this argument should be able to use the words that align with their views. Terms that carry positive connotations help to communicate pro-marijuana arguments, while negative connotations are better at conveying views against marijuana.
Stoner is defined by most dictionaries as someone who habitually uses drugs, specifically marijuana. So if your opinion on weed is that it’s an addictive illicit substance rather than a medical substance, maybe stoner is a good word to use.
Political correctness has no place being inserted into a topic as controversial as marijuana. Everyone has a different opinion they want to share, and they should be allowed to use the words that fit their needs.
If cannabis supporters want to sway the public to their side, they can do so through open and honest debate. Getting rid of negative words does not get rid of negative opinions, and nitpicking about labels under the false pretense of being offensive or politically incorrect is just plain lazy.
Graphic: Jaymie Stachyruk / Graphics Editor