The Token Smoker: Breaking Down Harmful Stereotypes

The token smoker’, a description I’ll never forget in this lifetime. When I was 20 I asked the love of my life what his impression was of me when we had first met. Just a little over a decade later, I have still to fully unpack those three words. If you have ever smoked cannabis, or cigarettes for that matter, it isn’t unusual to have this kind of comment. It is so easy to be reduced to an element of your lifestyle, a one dimensional smoke machine. Synonymous with laziness, no ambition, low class or social status, and general lack of intelligence. 

Women are used to this kind of scrutiny, each tiny aspect of our personalities dissected so that we can be properly categorized. A tattoo, a hemline, a lip colour, an attitude, any can label you one of ‘those girls’ - your own personal scarlet letter. The cannabis community is filled with intelligent, ambitious, unique, passionate women; most of which have their own stigma story. Whether it’s a friend, a lover, a family member, or simply a ‘concerned’ citizen, for some reason people feel it is acceptable to share their opinion on cannabis use.

Coming out of the cannabis closet can be made all the more complicated with the added weight of these cannabis stigmas. Despite the fact that nearly 14% of the population in Canada uses cannabis recreationally, with this number expected to drastically increase according to Stats Canada, there is a real lack of socially acceptable instances where you can openly consume cannabis unless you are with fellow tokers. Even when your core crew is supportive af an open cannabis user still encounters judgement, snide comments, and harsh looks on a regular basis.

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In wake of legalization in Canada on October 17th many amazing individuals are coming forward with their cannabis stories in order to dispel these harmful misconceptions about cannabis consumption. Stereotypes of lazy, unmotivated stoner are fueling people’s ignorance. A hilariously titled piece about how your boss is possibly stoned right now, starts to chip away at that sense of ‘other’ by placing cannabis users in relatable life situations. Empowered cannabis consumers all over the country are creating a safe space for people to be more open without judgement.

One of the best ways to dispel stereotypes is education, and there are some amazing resources out there just waiting for you. The cannabis community is possibly one of the most accepting spaces I have been a part of in a long time! People who have been typically left out of the conversation are, in my experience, the most welcoming individuals. If you aren’t ready to share your cannabis story, I invite you to include yourself in the conversation. Sometimes the most powerful thing a person can do is hang back and listen. I recommend these baller cannabis experts on your journey:

  1. High Friends Podcast - Gill Polard and Rachel Colic are the smart, boss (literally), driven, cannabis smoking women my mother told me just didn’t exist in real life. Their podcast is relatable, informative, and often hilarious. Bonus, they frequently feature other trailblazing women in cannabis on their show!
  2. Follow Abi Roach - She truly is the “OG canna-perneur” as her twitter bio states. Abi is so approachable for such a successful business woman and activist. She somehow manages to run multiple business ventures and still fight the good fight (which she was doing long before legalization was a buzzword). Her feed will provide you with motivation, laughs, vital information and keep you in the loop on laws and regulations.
  3. The Her(b) Life - Sorry to double down on you Gill! This was legit a resource that changed my damn life. I came in expecting a blog and got an organized, visually appealing, educational af, multi-median goldmine of information. I look forward to new blogs and can spend hours looking at older materials. Bookmark it, now.
  4. Follow Sabrina Ramkellawan - Sabrina brings the science, and she brings it hard. I have never been so intrigued than when I was listening to her discuss the sheer untapped healing potential of the physical cannabis plant itself. She shares interesting, factual articles and is quick to correct false medical claims.  
  5. Cannabis Amnesty - You shouldn’t be participating in the legalization/cannabis conversations if you don’t know where it started and those who are still paying the price for outdated laws. There is an undeniable racial basis in rates of arrests and convictions for cannabis offences. There can’t be justice in a world where wealthy white men profit from legalization while POC sit in jail and/or poverty for the same.

Stereotypes can be harmful, not just for members of the cannabis community, but for those who could benefit from using cannabis. Fear of being judged as ‘the token smoker’ fuels misconception, propaganda and creates unnecessary barriers. I challenge anyone reading this to look past the knee-jerk assumptions and one-dimensional caricatures of what they perceive a typical stoner to be. We are in an exciting time and I invite you to be a part of the conversation!