Our new home came with a lovely weathered upright piano. The previous owner is an old theater friend and had no intention of moving the demonically heavy contraption, and although I have not played in years, I decided to learn a cover song every week. This week I chose a seemingly random tune from my younger days, I liked it then because it had a “swear word” as a title. I learned the basic structure on Monday and headed off to work the next morning proud of my minor achievement.

On my lunch break, I ventured across the street to my neighborhood store to gather some random items for my family at home. The woman at the counter sees me frequently in my work badge and cannabis company shirts and has even jokingly commented about how the smell “clings to the workers,” but today was different. I am confident this sweet cashier in her 50’s meant no ill will when she noticed the baby wipes and toy and said curiously “Oh, you have kids? How can you use that stuff (making a small joint smoking motion) and be responsible for them?”

Breaking the Stigma of Cannabis 

In the past, I would have been deeply offended and entered into a loud and defensive rant, but today I didn’t. When my mouth opened to respond an advocates voice came out full of compassionate points backed up by facts. I explained to her what cannabis provides for me personally and the benefits that have resulted at home. I was able to share my experience with this woman without worry because I live in a legal state.

Unfortunately, my friends in less accommodating states (looking at you Idaho) often avoid these interactions. Did I change her mind? Probably not. But I did take a step to normalization, I reacted appropriately to judgmental observations, and I hope that momentum can continue in me.

I finally understand what Meredith Brooks was saying in that song. “I’m a bitch; I’m a lover; I’m a child; I’m a mother; I’m a sinner and a saint… I DO NOT FEEL ASHAMED”!

As cannabis workers, parents and consumers it is up to us to put genuine effort into ending the stigma surrounding our industry and adult cannabis use as a whole. This is the story of one tiny step, but with a million tiny steps together we will move mountains!