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Across America, and indeed across the world, the cannabis community strives to take down the ingrained stereotypes of so-called potheads that permeate popular culture. But if you take a look at closer look at cannabis (which we wish everyone would do), you have to wonder: How did people ever think that cannabis users were such lazy oafs in the first place?

Cannabis, the intellectual stimulant

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Far from being a downer, cannabis lightens the heart and mind. Over the many, many centuries of its use, it has always been hailed as a benefit for mankind. In the 1800’s, cannabis was highly praised in intellectual circles, from Samuel Taylor Coleridge to esteemed French poet, essayist, and intellectual Charles Baudelaire, who once wrote of hashish use,

…People completely unsuited for word-play will improvise an endless string of puns and wholly improbable idea relationships fit to outdo the ablest masters of this preposterous craft.

Every difficult question… becomes clear and transparent. Every contradiction is reconciled. Man has surpassed the gods.

Cannabis was so widely praised in that century that in 1876 the Sultan of Turkey presented the United States with a large quantity of hashish as a token of esteem at the World’s Fair!

Modern era minds agree

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Rather than slowing down aspirations and innovation, many of modern societies greatest business successes have used cannabis. Oprah Winfrey, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Hugh Heffner, Jay-Z, George Zimmer, Mark Cuban, John Mackey, Bill Gates, and countless others both admitted and still in the closet.

Business minds aren’t the only ones who enjoy the herb. Some of the worlds’ best and brightest also praise the plant. Harvard professor Lester Grinspoon wrote, in a reprint of his landmark book Marihuana Reconsidered:

I no longer doubt that marijuana can be an intellectual stimulant. It can help the user to penetrate conceptual boundaries, promote fluidity of associations, and enhance insight and creativity.

Included in the original edition was an essay by a person only referred to as “Mr. X”. That anonymous person praised cannabis for helping him have an epiphany into racism while showering and led to 11 essays in 1 hour. Mr. X turned out to be the pseudonym of esteemed scientific mind Carl Sagan.

So where did this “dumb & lazy” image come from?

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Lester Grinspoon also noted in his book that:

There is something peculiar about illicit drugs: If they don’t always make the drug user behave irrationally, they certainly cause many nonusers to behave that way.

That sums up the lash against cannabis in the early 1970’s. The Nixon administration, faced with overwhelming public criticism, realized they could not condemn being black or protesting the war.

Institutional racism had become obsolete and protesting was protected under the First Amendment. Instead, he and his cohorts decided to persecute an ingrained recreational aspect of both minority and counter-cultural communities. Cannabis became Public Enemy Number 1.

Suddenly, Black Rights groups and anti-war protestors were free game for the government to silence through arrest and incarceration. The government painted a picture for conservative America: All cannabis users were lazy, doped out hippies, sucking off the teat of society, rather than socially active Vietnam War protesters.

The comic stylings of certain films mocking that image only enhanced it in the minds of a public that didn’t catch the irony.

Drilling the lies home

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Over the years, Partnership for a Drug-Free America and Nancy Reagan’s Just Say No  campaigns have only deepened that stereotype. The “This is Your Brain on Drugs” ads were masterpieces of misinformation created by some of the greatest minds in advertising.

They lumped cannabis in with dangerous drugs like heroin, and few people realized the difference.

In 1997, inquiries revealed that major alcohol, tobacco, and pharmaceutical interests heavily funded the PDFA. Who would have thought? Subsequently, they stopped accepting funds from the first two.

But pharmaceuticals continue to pay them to push the image of cannabis as a dangerous drug. One of the biggest supporters? Try the makers of OxyContin, one of the most addictive painkillers in the world.

Political pressure continues today

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Even now, groups like Smart Approaches to Marijuana receive money from organizations who care about dangers to their profits more than the people. In addition, political powerhouses like Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who decried marijuana legalization until recently, get major support from the alcohol industry.

The manipulation continues, but people have begun to wake up. The public has played puppet to the whims of secret hands for too long. Those who use cannabis know the truth. Those who hold power do as well.

The difference is that they deny that truth until they have no other choice. Dear Debbie found that out quite recently. Now she cautiously supports patient rights to use cannabis in the face of losing her office to another candidate who actually does.

We need to spread the fear of the truth instead of the fear of lies. Cannabis doesn’t turn us into lazy idiots. It awakens our passion, creativity, and intuition. It is the manipulation by and the unquestioning support of those powers that be which turns us into lazy idiots.

Are you a successful contributor to your profession or proud pot parent? Share your story and successes with us to help spread the truth on social media or in the comments below.

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