By Bryan Punyon
Special to Toke of the Town
It’s turned into a joke, you know.
I listen to standup comedians all the time, cracking jokes about how easy it is to get a cannabis medical authorization, how “anyone” can just waltz into a clinic and pay for a Green Card.
Sure, they usually go on to talk about how harmless pot is, and it makes for effective humor because it’s widely accepted at this point that cannabis isn’t as bad as some people and organizations have made it out to be. Even in rural towns in Tennessee that I’ve visited, when people hear about me being an MMJ patient, their reactions are more of curiosity and interest than treating me like a drug addict.
For the most part, one of the biggest victories for the legalization movement has been the public shift in mindset from cannabis being a horribly addictive substance used by pushers to hook kids into a life of crime and debauchery (thank you, Reefer Madness: The Musical), into a more constructive mindset where the majority of the public have realized that it has medicinal benefits and isn’t as bad as other drugs in recreational use.
One of the major causes for this shift has been the rise of more publicly available MMJ resources. As public awareness of dispensaries and authorization clinics has risen, so has public knowledge about qualifying conditions and acceptance of the medicinal use of cannabis.
This reduction of social stigma for all cannabis users, recreational and medicinal alike, has been a major boon for the cause, as some who were previously cautious now have an avenue to show support for the cause without automatically being labeled “counterculture” or “hippie,” and others, seeing the effects of medical marijuana on those they know and care about, begin to change their minds about the plant. If political progress on a cause means causing a cultural and perception shift in the minds of the public, then congratulations: the Pro-Cannabis team has largely won that battle.