For decades, there has been a strong stigma surrounding cannabis and cannabis users. Fortunately since legalization, the way that people view the recreational drug and its many users has been changing quickly.
According to Leanne McPhie and Paul Thompson, co-founders of Little Leaf Cannabis Co. Inc., the negative stereotypes are starting to fade.
Negative Stereotypes of the Past
Since cannabis use was illegal for so long, people who used it were on the wrong side of the law. Recreational users were unfairly often portrayed as lazy and unreliable.
“Politicians, law enforcement, and the media propelled the stigma of cannabis users as stoners, which became ingrained in the general population,” explains Paul. “They were perceived as criminals that would perform deviant acts in society such as theft and murder.”
Leanne adds, “These ideas and labels got stuck with the general public for decades, but things are definitely starting to change. Kids that used to hide their cannabis use from their parents are now encouraging their parents to reconsider.”
Doing Business Through the Stigma
When Leanne and Paul first opened Little Leaf, the reactions from their friends and family were quite varied.
“Many people were supportive and wanted to learn more about our intentions. Other people would offer their congratulations but weren’t very interested in hearing about it. Some people were shocked that we were cannabis consumers at all,” they explain.
Now, three years after legalization, much has changed in the ways that people view cannabis. Not only are more people open to the idea of recreational cannabis use, but many are becoming connoisseurs and enjoying the subtleties of the different strains available. Others, who may have been against cannabis when it was illegal, are starting to try it for health and wellness reasons.
“The stigmas are fading as more and more individuals are curious and educating themselves on how cannabis can be used for their specific health and wellness purposes, with seniors as the fastest growing segment,” says Paul. “In the past, we had an image in mind of a typical consumer. Today, not so much. With the multitude of uses that cannabis offers, many people are opening up to learning and seeking advice on how it may work for them.”
“I am floored daily by the people who come walking through the door. If I met them on the street, I would never guess in a million years that they were cannabis users,” Leanne says.
Future of Cannabis in Society
Both Leanne and Paul can see how quickly times are changing. Cannabis is becoming more and more mainstream every day. The old stereotypes are fading fast.
The two have high hopes for the future of both recreational and medical cannabis.
“We hope that effective and extensive medical research is conducted on its benefits for specific medical conditions in order to move away from opiates and other ‘lab-made’ chemicals,” they say. “We also think more people will turn to cannabis recreationally as an alternative to the physical and mental effects caused by alcohol.”
In order for the stigmas surrounding cannabis and cannabis users to continue to fade, the illegal production of unregulated cannabis will need to be eliminated, but that is a topic for our next conversation with Leanne and Paul.
To learn more about the Little Leaf. Big Experience. visit them online or in the store which is located at 804 Ontario Street in Stratford.