The Stigma Behind Drug Usage

Elizabeth Ordonez

Congress criminalized cannabis when it passed the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. This was later overturned in 1969 and repealed by Congress the year after. Fast forward to 2022, and use of cannabis is now legal in 21 states and the District of Columbia, with Maryland and Missouri being the most recent areas of the country to decriminalize it. With the gradual legalization of recreational and medical cannabis in the U.S., stigma around the drug may also lessen. As you drive on the freeway, you might see billboard signs advertising services delivering cannabis straight to your door, rather than just signs warning drivers about being on the road while high.

Lifestyle retail stores like Urban Outfitters now sell smoke- themed accessories such as decorative ashtrays, grinders and lighters.

Society is slowly but surely becoming more accepting of cannabis than ever before.

According to the Pew Research Center, 59% of U.S. adults think that cannabis should be legal for recreational and medical use, while 30% say it should be legal for medical use only. In contrast, only one in 10 respondents felt that cannabis should be illegal, regardless if it is for medical or recreational purposes. As many states are now legalizing cannabis, citizens are celebrating and fighting to break the stigma. Gallup found that cannabis legalization support, whether medical or recre- ational, has doubled over the past decade. Thirty-four percent of Americans supported cannabis legalization in 2001, com- pared with 68% in a poll earlier this year.

The rise of news sections dedicated to covering the canna- bis industry in major publications, such as the Los Angeles Times and Business Insider, may also be an indicator of grow- ing cannabis acceptance.

According to an article titled “Break that stigma” by The Daily Orange, the acceptance and celebration of “4/20” is viewed by many as a sign of how far society has come. Can- nabis entrepreneurs, university students and others expressed how they hope the normalization of dispensaries and public use is a step forward to combat the negative stigma associated with cannabis.

The trend of increased cannabis legalization and public acceptance may point toward a direction of erasing cannabis stigma in the future.