How the Word “recreational” hurts the Cannabis industry.

The cannabis industry is all about language, and “recreational” is a bad word (just like the word “sponsorship”). It’s a word that denotes a culture of partying that implies an impression of irresponsibility
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“Recreational” is a word that gives cannabis a bad name.

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, By any other name, would smell as sweet.”. Such valid words were spoken by maybe the most hopeful and famous fictional woman ever. We all know how that ended for her and her boyfriend of a week. I can’t help but wonder (insert Carrie Bradshaw) if we have another option to pick from to replace the word “recreational” in “recreational cannabis”. Because the word “recreational” hurts the cannabis industry and gives it a bad name.

Here’s Why and How

According to dictionary.com, “recreational” is: “relating to, or denoting drugs taken on an occasional basis for enjoyment, especially when socializing.”The Merriam Webster Dictionary describes recreational drug use as “a drug (such as cocaine, marijuana, or methamphetamine) used without medical justification for its psychoactive effects often in the belief that occasional use of such a substance is not habit-forming or addictive.”. That’s pretty self-explanatory as to what kind of culture we are put into when we use the word “recreational” to describe a space of consumption for cannabis. The cannabis industry is all about language, and “recreational” is a bad word (just like the word “sponsorship”). It’s a word that denotes a culture of partying that implies an impression of irresponsibility and an unhealthy lifestyle when used in the context of recreational cannabis. Time and time again, I would go to coffee with someone in or out of the cannabis space discussing the industry, and the topic of the word recreational always came up as a negative. A word that sets back the industry and this is why. The word “recreational” hurts…

1. Recreational Cannabis Consumers: The People 

The people (you and I) that consume cannabis are those that face the most adversity. It makes the consumers sound like they live society-destructive lifestyles that hurt everyone. Or in layman’s terms, criminals. In reality, these are healthy people with responsibilities, just like everyone else. Cannabis, when used responsibly, can help someone without being intrusive to their lives. However, because of the meaning of “recreational”, it attaches a very negative weight of cultural baggage that should not be the focus. Instead of focusing on questions like “Why weed?” We, as a society, need to focus on pivoting that conversation and make it about “How can cannabis help the consumer?”. 

2. The Recreational Cannabis Industry 

Cannabis is separated into two categories; medicinal and recreational. The stigma associated with the recreational market is being told and retold by a level of biased news media outlets. Which shines an incredibly loud and large light on the mistakes and unfortunate outcomes of certain negative cannabis-related situations. Not that there is anything wrong with informing the world regarding illegal activity. However, this has enormous condemning consequences for the industry, especially to those trying to make a difference. If it means anything, many of us are trying to legitimize cannabis as a respectable industry that’s safe, above-board, and profitable. All the while facing huge setbacks that are incredibly challenging even post-legalization.  

3. The Future of Recreational Cannabis

It’s a fact that cannabis will change and influence the future. Whether everyone believes it’s for the better is still in question. And is entirely dependent on how we decide to navigate and manage the industry from this point onwards. The first step would be to pivot the meaning of what the word “recreational” denotes in the context of cannabis. With clear language and communication, this would be the societal realignment that the cannabis industry needs to move forward.  What that replacement word is, I honestly have no idea, but we got to call this out and push for something better because we can’t just settle on this. The cannabis industry has been very much about language and pivoting the kind of conversations we are usually accustomed to so as not to offend sensitive ears and break the law (to say the least). I say we put it to a vote. But first, we need options, so write your choice below! Stay tuned for part two to find out the winner of the best option!

Be Blunt, Be BAE, just B.

Jess

📸Photography by Jason Chih

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