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The Destigmatization of Marijuana Part I

This blog aims to explain just exactly what destigmatization is and what it means in the new world of legalized (in many states) marijuana. First off, a definition of that ten cent word, destigmatization: the action or process of removing the negative connotation or social stigma associated with something; freedom from public censure or condemnation; the process of making a person or thing socially acceptable. Denver’s Altitude Dispensary and proponents for the legalization of weed would like to destigmatize marijuana for various reason. 

When something that was once illegal and eventually becomes legal, it is easy for it to have a negative stigma to it. I feel like we are trained to believe that all things that are illegal are inherently awful and dangerous and bad. And while that may be true for many illegal things—murder, rape, robbery etc, it is not necessarily true of every illegal thing. Marijuana is one of those things. 

Marijuana was not always illegal. In fact, it wasn’t until the 1920s when prohibition on the flower started. Before that it was legal and enjoyed for its many benefits. And now, in many states, it is again legal and enjoyed. With such a long history, it is easy to see why there is a stigma attached to it, but I fear it is often one that most people don’t quite understand.

Now that it is legal again (hooray!), weed shops in Denver want it to become destigmatized. I liken it to the end of alcohol prohibition. Alcohol was at one time and for a long while stigmatized, likely because of the prohibition of it. If our government tells us something is bad, we tend to believe it. 

However, when prohibition of alcohol ended in 1933, somewhere along the line destigmatization of alcohol happened (phew.) 89 years after prohibition, bars are kicking, liquor stores are on nearly every corner and America’s favorite pastime appears to be drinking—at BBQs, baseball games, tailgates, and just about any celebration you can think of. I’m certain the same will happen for cannabis too, I just don’t want it to take 89 years. 

Denver marijuana dispensaries don’t want it to take that long either. It’s bad for business. And even if business is booming, it could always be better. But how do we as a country or a state begin to destigmatize something that, for 80 some years, has been considered bad and dangerous simply because our government decided to outlaw it? We will discuss this and other ideas surrounding destigmatization in the next few blogs.

What I can say, is that is it not going to be easy. Again, to compare it to alcohol, I do not know when after prohibition exactly the stigma wore off, or when it became something to celebrate and with which to celebrate. I only know that it eventually lost that stigma, as is plainly clear when you walk into any bar during a sporting event. Denver marijuana dispensaries along with dedicated proponents for the legalization of marijuana are prepared to fight the long battle to destigmatize the most controversial of plants.