As we approach summer, cannabis continues to proliferate across the U.S. and the globe. Within the next few months, cannabis will be fully legal in Canada for both medical and adult use.As cannabis awareness continues to spread, it’s incumbent upon us in the industry to help shift the negative cannabis stigma and stereotypes that have been ingrained in society through decades of anti-cannabis propaganda.
We have a unique opportunity to rewrite the narrative — to erase the negative, false perceptions of lazy, dirty “stoners” and replace them with more realistic images of normal, everyday individuals who incorporate cannabis into a healthy lifestyle.
One of the first places to start this change is with the lingo we use. Every industry or field has its jargon — and for too long, the parlance of the cannabis community has been influenced mainly by its illegal status, which has only fed into the negative stereotypes and perceptions of our community.
To that end, here’s a list of five words cannabis professionals should eliminate from their vocabulary — as well as modern, more positive replacements.
5 Words Cannabis Industry Professionals Should Stop Using
1. Pot, Weed, Ganja, Reefer, Grass, etc.
First and foremost, we need to stop using any of the estimated 1,200 slang terms for cannabis and call it what it is: cannabis. Of course, it may be hard to eliminate some of your favorite terms completely from your personal life — but in a professional setting, you should always refer to the plant as cannabis.
Alternatively, when working in your cannabis retail store, you should also call products by their brand name or strain name.
This reference to someone who consumes cannabis is dated and generally holds a negative connotation, typically conjuring an image of a sluggish, tie-dyed T-shirt wearing person with no drive or ambition — which is certainly not reflective of the spectrum of consumers, including plenty of smart, educated, motivated and highly successful individuals.
Instead of “stoner,” use “cannabis consumer” or “cannabis enthusiast.”
3. Pot Shop / Weed Store
In line with number 1, cannabis retail locations shouldn’t be referred to as “weed shops,” “pot shops,” “reefer stores” or any other such slang. Generally speaking, adult-use or recreational stores are called “cannabis retail stores,” and medical cannabis locations are called “dispensaries.”
Local law may also dictate what you can and can’t call your retail location; for instance, in British Columbia, non-medical retailers are not permitted to use the term “dispensary,” as it denotes medical cannabis.
Another classic cannabis slang term, “joint” refers to a rolled cannabis cigarette. But in the modern industry, they’re called “pre-rolls” — because companies are packaging their cannabis pre-rolled for consumers to enjoy.
5. High, Stoned, Baked, etc.
These terms all refer to the psychoactive effects that THC has on cannabis consumers. Again, like numbers 1 and 2, these all tend to have a generally negative connotation associated with using cannabis as a form of escapism or even likening it to hard drug use.
These days, industry professionals prefer the terms lifted, medicated and elevated. Obviously, medicated can refer to being under the effects of medical cannabis, but it can also apply to adult-use as well. Within your own operation, you should discuss which term works best for your brand voice.
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