A few weeks ago I gave a presentation at a groundbreaking virtual event deemed the "TED-talks of cannabis" called the Cannabis Health Summit. There I had the pleasure of meeting Steve DeAngelo, founder & CEO of Harborside Health Center, president & co-founder of The ArcView Group, author of The Cannabis Manifesto: A New Paradigm for Wellness, to name a few of his accomplishments (if you haven't heard of him and are interested in cannabis, do yourself a favor and google him). DeAngelo spoke about the importance of using appropriate terms when describing our cannabis experiences, and I couldn't agree more.
I have been consuming cannabis for over half my life. Since I first became familiar with the plant, a lot has changed. Biggie and 2pac are a distant memory, we elected our first African American president, and cannabis is legal (well sort of). I always had a dream that one day, I could start a legitimate business doing something in the cannabis industry. Well, that day is here and now it's time to discuss this new vernacular that I believe will help people better understand the effects and experiences that one gets from consuming cannabis.
Currently, there are two different types of cannabis users, medical and recreational. When I have asked recreational users why they use cannabis and what effects they get from it, typical responses have been, “It calms me down”, “It makes me a happier person”, “It helps me sleep better”. To me, these answers would not fit the definition of “recreational use.” These are all words and phrases that one would associate with health and wellness. I would argue that all of us are medicinal users, it just depends on the severity of the condition you are treating on whether you feel comfortable calling cannabis "medicine". The bottom line is that we are all using cannabis supplementally to positively impact our lives.
Another phrase that I would like to see expanded on is “getting high” or “getting stoned.” I will readily admit, when I was younger, the way I used cannabis was drastically different than I do today. I was getting stoned, I was getting as far from my sober consciousness as possible and in those states, I was definitely slower and more debilitated. But today, with healthier delivery methodologies and larger variety of strains that do specific things, I would say that the experience I receive from cannabis is one of being more connected, focused, opened, and/or motivated.
I believe these new adjectives more accurately describe the cannabis experience. When we use words like "faded", "stoned", or "shit-faced", to me, it sounds more like a self fulfilling prophecy. Here is a good example: the feelings you get when you are either nervous or excited are very, very similar. You are fidgeting, you feel butterflies in your stomach, you might sweating just a little bit. In either case, the feeling is the same but the words used to describe the feeling have complete different meaning. Depending on how you view this feeling, it can drastically affect the outcome of whatever you have to do.
I believe this plant has so many positive benefits that I have made a conscious decision to use these words that more accurately describe my experience. Sure, some people scoff and think that I had one too many other worldly experiences but as whole, more people have responded by saying how they also feel that these adjectives I use better describe THEIR experience. I believe that if we can evolve the words that we use, it will help people that are just getting familiar with the plant have a better first experience and more diverse vocabulary to articulate and explain how they feel. Once you give people this new vocabulary, I believe it will be much easier to explain to someone who has no familiarity or might be anti-cannabis why and how the plant helps you. What words would you like to see used in the cannabis industry to more accurately describe what cannabis does for you?