Even as we creep toward the legalization of cannabis across the U.S., reversing the stigmatization of cannabis use remains a battle not yet won. Perpetuated by everything from media outlets to our own thoughts about our personal cannabis use, this stigma shows up in the ways we keep our consumption a secret from family, friends, and children, perpetuating the idea that consuming cannabis is inherently wrong and to be kept behind closed doors.
With internalized shame over our cannabis consumption comes an altered self-image which eats into our self-worth and overall wellness. Maybe you’re a mother who uses cannabis to destress, but internalized stigma says “I’m a bad mom for using weed to cope.” Consuming cannabis can seem self-indulgent, which can fill a lot of us with guilt. When left unaddressed, we can feel flawed or defective.
How can we rid ourselves of this internalized negativity?
First and maybe most importantly, we need to realign our relationship with cannabis and unlearn the negative stereotypes that the media and misinformation have created. We must reconnect with cannabis’ roots as medicine. After all, the plant was in the United States Pharmacopeia until 1941, when it was removed for xenophobic reasons. Another way that we can realign ourselves with cannabis is by rediscovering the plant as exactly that –a flower that grows and blooms in nature, like any other. Be mindful of the ways it can be just another tool in your toolbox, one that enhances your wellness and quality of life.
Stigma about our cannabis use can appear if we do not fully understand the physical, psychological, and emotional benefits of what we’re consuming. When I learned that cannabis is a vasodilator, meaning that it improves lung function rather than hinders it, as I’d previously thought, the confidence I had in this plant grew exponentially. With the ready availability of scientific studies from all over the world touting the pain-relieving, mood-elevating, nausea-reducing, and anti-inflammatory benefits of cannabis, positive reinforcement is easy to find. When we have knowledge about the benefits of cannabis to our bodies, we are less shaken by external judgement, and our internalized stigma has an opportunity to dissipate.
Another way to end negative associations with cannabis is to consume with mindful intention. Here’s a powerful meditation to help diminish stigma and feel secure in your cannabis use:
Take a few hits of a strain which you’ve selected with intention.
Inhaling, say: I am allowing myself to be present
Exhaling, say: I am allowing myself to be present
Inhaling, say: I am allowing myself to learn
Exhaling, say: I am allowing myself to learn
Inhaling, say: I am allowing myself to let go
Exhaling, say: I am allowing myself to let go
Inhaling, say: I am allowing myself to thrive
Exhaling, say: I am allowing myself to thrive
You can repeat this for as long as you need.
Integrating cannabis products into your daily surroundings is a sophisticated way to de-stigmatize cannabis, while enriching your home and creating conversation. Simply having a CBD-rich salve next to your bathroom sink as a hand cream can be enough to break down stubborn perspectives of cannabis as just a psychoactive plant. If you want to make more of a statement in your home, you may like Gold Leaf, a paper company for cannabis lovers that creates informative, visually pleasing prints to hang on your wall. Your visitors may not agree with you, but the goal is not to change anyone else’s mind.
Instead, give yourself permission to peel back the layers of your internalized stigma.
Remember: you’re part of a community.
Minelli’s practice and teaching is inspired by the simplicity of mindful movement and deep breathing. She discovered her authentic voice in guiding feel-good yoga classes with an emphasis on curiosity, non-judgment, and honoring your body by accepting it for what it is at this very moment – something she continues to learn as a constant student of yoga.
Her goal is to bring awareness to the mindfulness, healing, and bliss of cannabis-infused yoga, and guide others back within their bodies – back to a place of security, knowing, truth, strength, and power.