There once was a time when weed was rebellious and dangerous. The summer of love and counterculture movement ensured that cannabis was the drug of choice for young people across America, and beyond. But thanks to legalization, the nonconformity of stoner culture is melting away into a trendy, commercialized, and predictable, multi-billion-dollar industry.
Weed is great, and the fact that less people are going to prison for it is even better – but one thing that many smokers yearn for is the good ole’ days of solidarity and civil disobedience among potheads. Now that cannabis is more of an industry than a lifestyle, has it become a bit boring?
Is weed still cool these days?
For the record, I still love weed and smoke it regularly. I enjoy it on my own, with friends, at home, in nature, in the car, and pretty much anytime, anyplace. It’s relaxing and familiar, and for some reason, I find it a fun way to kill time. I smoke mainly blunts and the entire process of rolling and smoking a blunt is somewhat of an experience. But it’s also worth noting that I’m 32 years old and grew up during that period when smoking weed was still considered an act of defiance; a big f*** you to the man. Longtime cannabis reform activist and dispensary owner, Russ Belville, puts it perfectly.
“There’s an aspect of when pot was illegal, it was a forbidden fruit, rite-of-passage sort of thing,” he says. “Now that pot is legal, it’s mom’s Chardonnay, it’s dad’s cigar. It’s not cool anymore. It’s kind of lame to the kids.”
Think about some of historically cool stoners for a second, like Cheech Marin, Tommy Chong, Willie Nelson, Mike Tyson, and Snoop Dogg – or even some of the “younger” ones like Seth Rogen and Wiz Kalifa. Although at one point in their lives they were going against the grain with their pot use, each of them are now operating very successful and completely legal cannabis industry companies that offer a wide range of popular products.
What the stats say
Obviously, there’s very little in the way of data when it comes to determining what people actually think about pot. We know that people are buying it, and they buy a lot of it. The cannabis market was valued at $13.2 billion last year, and that doesn’t account for the huge number of people still buying from there dealers, either because it’s illegal where they live or simply for convenience. And although what is “cool” is largely based on personal perspective, one way to see what’s currently trending is by looking at what teens and young adults are doing. Based on recent data, it’s not weed.
Data from Monitoring the Future, an organization that has surveyed national drug usage rates of high schoolers every year since 1975, recently took a look at how these numbers may have changed post-legalization in various states. As per their results, “Since 2005, the number of 12th graders across the country reporting they’ve used cannabis in their lifetime has hovered below 45 percent.” During that same time period, cannabis became legal for medicinal use in 38 states, while 21 states of these states have also legalized recreational use.
Interestingly, the date indicates that legalization results in less teens using cannabis, not more as previously believed. According to data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, numerous states saw these declines, including Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and Washington D.C. In Colorado, the first state to permit recreational use, only 9 percent of teens between the ages of 12 and 17 used cannabis monthly between 2015 and 2016, a drop of two percentage points from the year prior. In a rather comical flip of the script, “middle-aged parents are more likely to use marijuana than their teens,” says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Another newer study came up with similar results based on legalization patterns. Dwight Mark Anderson, PhD., from Montana State University concluded that “teenagers are less likely to use cannabis in places where the drug has been legalized.” Anderson and his team looked at health surveys of US high school pupils between 1993 and 2017, and they published their results in the medical journal Jama Pediatrics in 2019.
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What real people are saying
Almost everyone I know still smokes weed, so my opinion is likely a bit skewed. Add to that, I hang out with people close to my age or older, so late 20s and up. And aside from my kids, I honestly cannot think of anyone that I talk to on a regular basis who is under the age of 29. So I definitely fit into that demographic of parents or everyday older people that smoke weed regularly.
That being said, I wouldn’t necessarily classify pot as “cool” either. When I was a teenager, absolutely. But these days, it’s just a product that I use on a regular basis because I enjoy the effects it has on me. That seems to be the case with most people I speak to, short of a few acquaintances who are actually obsessed with/addicted to pot. To find out what other people are thinking, I checked out good ole’ reddit. I found a few posts from people wondering what to do because they have grown bored of pot’s effects.
They asked if they should quit, smoke more, or move on to new drugs. The majority of commenters were suggesting tolerance breaks, which is pretty solid advice for someone who just wants weed to “feel like it used to”. Others suggested trying different products or strains, which are also great ideas. A very small number of people said they quit altogether because they just lost interest in smoking, which is also understandable – I mean, if you aren’t getting high, there’s no point in wasting your money on it… pot is expensive!
So, is cannabis boring now? Or is it still the cool, carefree drug it always was? Honestly, who the hell knows! Supposedly teens are using it less now because they associate it with their “boring” parents, but I don’t know any teens so I have no point of reference to gauge the accuracy of this statement. We know that studies are not always correct or unbiased, and teens are not always forthcoming about illegal things they are doing. And with so many varying opinions in this world, even within the same population demographics, it’s hard to say what the vast majority of people think about a product, especially in such a subjective way as whether it’s “cool” or not.
So, you can take this all with a grain of salt because what’s cool and what’s boring is very much a matter of opinion. However, when I meet someone else that smokes, regardless of how common that is in today’s day and age, there’s still a fun and exciting aspect to it. In my opinion, nothing bonds a group of strangers faster than a fun chat over a nicely rolled blunt.
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