With more and more states embracing legalization, the stigma of marijuana seems to be diminishing. Unfortunately, after many years of propaganda and misinformation perpetuated by a failed “War on Drugs,” there is still a lot of damage control to do when it comes to Mary Jane’s reputation. With obscene roots in racism, classism, imperialism, prohibition has done far more damage than good. It has fed mass incarceration and prison-for-profit.  It has deprived the world of invaluable medicine. It has perpetuated horrible stereotypes and prejudices. But that’s where you come in. As a cannabis enthusiast, are you doing your part to roll back the clock and restore her honor? Here are three ways you can help spread the Ganja Gospel!

“It really puzzles me to see marijuana connected with narcotics… dope and all that crap. It’s a thousand times better than whiskey – it’s an assistant – a friend.”~Louis Armstrong

Education = Positive Reputation

Let’s start with being well-informed yourself. With the plethora of information available at your fingertips via the miracle of the world wide web, there’s no excuse for not being properly educated about the uses, effects, and benefits of cannabis. While we’re on the subject, make sure you haven’t fallen prey to any false information, like buying into outdated stereotypes. Keep an open mind and remember that people from all walks Cannabis reputation of life enjoy the awesomeness that is cannabis.

Once you’re properly educated, share, share, share, share! Whether it’s casual conversations or open forums or social media, get the word out! Arm yourself with facts. Share scientific studies and empirical evidence. Share the plethora of benefits pot has to offer! Be the purveyor of accurate, well-researched information that will counter the rampant propaganda that still permeates our culture. Creating a well informed society is the first step in obliterating the antiquated stereotypes and incorrect beliefs that continue to persist.

“I think people need to be educated to the fact that marijuana is not a drug. Marijuana is an herb and a flower. God put it here. If He put it here and He wants it to grow, what gives the government the right to say that God is wrong?” ~Willie Nelson

Activism

This step is crucial from two standpoints- first to further the progress of legalization and secondly to bring weed into an open dialogue in the mainstream. There are numerous ways to be a cannactivist. Don’t be afraid to dive in and find your niche! You’re sure to find a way to utilize your specific talents to contribute to the cause.

First things first, use your voice as a citizen! Write and call your representatives in local, state,and federal government. Educate your politicians and vote for people who will represent the facts about marijuana in the legislative process! By exercising your voice and rights, you can change Mary Jane’s reputation from a legal standpoint and that is a valuable step toward restoring her good name.

Once you’ve gotten involved with your politician’s directly, get others involved too! Organize and host events. Attend and invite others to protests. Share your story far and wide. Invite others to share their stories and offer them support when they do. This part requires courage and a willingness to put yourself out there, but it’s totally worth it. Not only will you break down barriers and change perceptions, but I bet you’ll also make some great friends! Speaking of great friends and having a network of support, don’t forget to get involved with local chapters of SSDP, NORML, or ASA!

“The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.” ~Carl Sagan

Responsible Use

We’ve all heard the saying, “Actions speak louder than words.” When it comes to changing preconceived notions about weed, this is imperative! Lead by example. Use cannabis responsibly and with consideration of others. Don’t belittle or pressure those who choose not to partake or who see things differently than you. When you partake, choose to do so in places where you won’t impose on others and leave the place better than you found it. Be respectful of your surroundings and don’t engage in activities that will endanger others while you are under the influence.

By taking steps to use cannabis with respect, you are obliterating negative cliches and contributing to the PR makeover that Mary Jane so desperately needs!

Responsible use promotes cultural acceptance and shatters the Cheech and Chong, lazy, unproductive, disrespectful stoner stereotypes. There is no better way to share the benefits of cannabis and provide an accurate context of it’s use than to practice what you preach. Show others that cannabis doesn’t create monsters but instead heals and balances. Be the shining example of a productive pothead and show people like Jeff Change cannabis' reputation through education Sessions that good people do, in fact, smoke weed.

So you see, you’ve got the power- the power to ruin Mary Jane’s bad reputation. All it takes is your intentional effort and a willingness to step outside your comfort zone. You’d be surprised by the difference one person’s actions can make. If we are going to overcome the years of oppressive and inaccurate propaganda, we need everyone to do their part. We need every voice to be heard above the roar of injustice the “War on Drugs” has created. So, lend your voice and help defend Mary Jane’s honor!

“I do not object to [marijuana’s] responsible use as a recreational relaxant.” – Sir Richard Branson

Amber Faust

About the author: Amber Faust is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in natural lifestyle pieces and sociopolitical commentary. Amber is a lifelong activist for social justice and environmental issues. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, painting, drumming, meditation, and yoga.