Stoner Stereotype: The Truth Behind The Myths

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Stoner stereotype
Author avatar By Parker Curtis
February 28, 2022
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We’ve all heard of the jobless, unkempt, lazy dropout stoner stereotype. Then again, many consumers strongly attest to increasing concentration and motivation over a longer period than without cannabis use.

Who’s telling the truth? Could most marijuana stereotypes be made-up myths that stand flat-footed against the experience of actual humans? How did we get from a miracle herb used in US pharmacopeia over a century before prohibition to a monster drug that supposedly makes you spaced-out and almost catatonic?

Many misconceptions of marijuana do travel, but the truth comes out eventually. Buckle up as we clear the smoke.

Smoking weed
Smoking weed

Stoner stereotype: are they real?

It’s wrong to view every typical stoner negatively. We’re peace-loving folk that put on our headphones and hours later realize music wasn’t playing. We also do this sober.

There’s a good kernel of truth to many group beliefs—a correlation between perception and reality. For example, most Canadians are nice and polite. Notice we used the word most here? But when it comes to stoner stereotypes, most don’t fit a majority of cannabis users.

Let’s roll it back to the dark ages in America to understand where most negative stoner stereotypes originated.

It’s quite unfortunate that the federal government has strenuously vilified weed and its users since the 1930s. But why did past and present Washington regimes do this? Let’s look deeper.

The negative stoner stereotype started with a man labeled a racist hate-monger—Harry Anslinger. He became the first director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN), later becoming the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) from 1930 to 1962. That’s 32 years of pothead stereotype propaganda.

Anslinger was looking to fund his newfound organization from a cash-strapped government during the recession. The opium he associated with Asians wasn’t enough to tip the scale, but a new opportunity presented itself in cannabis.

People loved this stuff, so Anslinger started using the rarely used term marijuana to make it sound more Mexican. He attributed terrible crimes to the stereotypical stoner and ignored contrary opinions.

Anslinger perpetuated racist statements like marijuana caused white women to seek sexual relations with “negros”. Yeah, that was a stoner stereotype. It’s unbelievable how citizens believed this, but understand it was a time when people were very susceptible to racism.

Richard Nixon became president (1969–1974) and started the “war on drugs” to target African-Americans and hippies, considered the anti-war left. As the counter-cultural leftist movement became louder, he felt paranoid about his grip on power and went after weed with an iron fist.

Nixon connected the counter-cultural free spirits and marijuana to disrupt their campaigns, labeling the peace-loving, vibrant color-clothed hippies “good for nothing criminals.” The flashy fashion still embodies a stereotypical stoner look today. Not too bad, eh?

Nixon’s regime propped up weird scientists like Robert G. Heath and fired anyone with a contrary opinion. They spread so many conspiracy theories about pothead stereotypes. His administration introduced the Controlled Substances Act, which classified weed as a schedule one narcotic—a designation reserved for extremely dangerous drugs with no accepted medical use.

Ronald Reagan came to power (1981–1989) and started the “just say no” campaign led by his wife. His administration pressured other countries to decriminalize weed and poison the land that grew it.

Reagan truly believed potheads are annoying. There was a vibe that marijuana and crack cocaine users are always high and only wanted to be “welfare queens” living on food stamps.

During Reagan’s time, the prison population exploded as mandatory minimum sentences for simple possession meant judges’ hands were tied. Most marijuana monster myths are taught in schools and shown in the news.

The negative stoner stereotype is engraved in our minds to make many have a less than favorable attitude towards cannabis. It’s only a matter of time before the federal government stops saving face and makes partaking in weed a guilt-free pleasure for all.

Maybe what’s holding back the current administration is the pharmaceutical industry. It views cannabis as a threat and intends to keep it labeled a dangerous drug with no medical benefits.

Rolling a weed joint
Rolling a weed joint

Does marijuana make you lazy?

Not necessarily. It all depends on the user and what they are enjoying. We shouldn’t saddle all stoners as lazy because this falsehood comes from a myth perpetuated through the lens of a pothead stereotype.

A sativa strain gives you a mental joyride, while indica calms the mind and relaxes your body. Sativas are considered wake and bake strains for morning and daytime use when you need to be active. Check out the couch lock weed guide, and get a list of the most energizing strains.

Use indicas to relax in the evening or to get some shuteye. About a third of Americans have problems sleeping, and they could do with a more natural alternative to pills—like weed.

The typical stoner is punctual, well organized, and reasonably motivated, like every other person on earth. Just ask Bill Gates. Many successful people have kept quiet about their enjoyment of weed because they know that reconfiguring society’s image of pothead stereotypes by themselves is an uphill task.

Are potheads annoying?

Five drunk guys in a bar will start a fight, but five stoned guys will start a band.

We’ve already established that marijuana was banned because it was harmful to an intolerant society, not the individual. A stereotypical stoner is willing to forego beer, wine, spirits, and cigarettes in favor of marijuana. Why? Because it offers an inspirational delight to the senses that no other substance can replicate.

What does a pothead look like? Not every stoner has Rasta-colored garments, Bob Marley posters in their room, or plays video games because we’re all different. Most people who smoke weed are just fine to be around; you won’t even know they are on it.

Some stoners manage to sneak weed in every conversation because they think it gives them an extra element of cool, sucking the fun out of everything.

There are even pothead stereotypes that usually say, “whoaaa duuude, that’s rad duuude.” This vibe normally dies down as the user grows out of it or reads our weed etiquette guide.

11 stoner stereotypes and why they are not true

Myths are persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Prejudice and discrimination against users means research on marijuana stereotypes has been speculated in labs rather than conducted in the field.

Let’s demystify some common misconceptions of marijuana users.

Stereotype 1: Weed is a gateway drug for junkies

We’ve all heard this popular marijuana monster myth. It perpetuates that stereotypes of potheads are more likely to try harder drugs after building a tolerance. However, cannabis doesn’t make you crave stronger stuff because it’s actually a gateway to happiness

The main thing pushing a stereotypical stoner towards hard drugs is black market weed dealers that sell illegal narcotics. Prohibition creates the connection, so the correlation is not causation here. 

The typical stoner in legalized states doesn’t need to search for marijuana in a dark, dingy alley when they can get it at a posh dispensary or online. Organized crime, wanton arrests, and opioid addiction rates always decrease after states legalize marijuana use. Coincidence?

Stereotype 2: Stoners are lazy criminals that don’t want to work

Stoner stereotypes are often cast as busted criminals or lazy gamers living in their grandmothers’ basement, which is wrong. Film depictions of weed users are outliers, not a true representation of most consumers.

The negative stoner stereotype saturates our TVs and seeps into our psyche. It skews perception, allowing damaging lies to flourish. And why is the stereotypical stoner in mass media always on an indica? Is it because movies have to exaggerate to convey a certain point? Could the character look less “high” if they acted normal?

Smoking weed on the couch
Smoking weed on the couch

Stereotype 3: Medical marijuana patients only want weed to get high

The wellness benefits of cannabis are undeniable. The junkie medical stoner stereotype is dead and buried because there are CBD-only cannabis strains that are incapable of making the user high.

Patients who want to get their medicine without feeling ripped, for example, kids who have seizure disorders, use CBD. Strangely, the argument that people want X to get high never applies to prescription painkillers, which kill more than 10,000 users a year.

There’s no record of a typical stoner having died from cannabis use.

Stereotype 4: Marijuana users are dumber due to brain damage

Some people believe smoking weed or even breathing in second-hand smoke makes your brain cells die. A US government-funded study by Dr. Robert G. Heath, published in 1974 (Nixon’s’ era), probably started the “stupid stoner” stereotype.

Heath strapped gas masks on rhesus monkeys, forcing them to smoke an equivalent of 63 joints in 5 minutes. Electrodes wired to the monkeys’ minds showed that they had suffered severe brain damage.

According to “Dr” Heath, the cause of death wasn’t the obvious suffocation and carbon dioxide poisoning but rather the detrimental effects of cannabis. He also claimed to have successfully converted a homosexual man into a straight man by zapping his brain with electrodes.

Stereotype 5: Stoners are poor addicts that only think about weed

Hey hey hey hey, smoke weed er’ day. That’s just a joke, not a stoner stereotype. Addiction is an uncontrollable and strong craving for a narcotic, even if the drug user harms themselves or others.

A stereotypical stoner hardly ever gets an intense craving. Yes, a minute number of weed smokers may display an addict-like tendency, but it’s certainly not comparable to cocaine, heroin, cigarettes, or alcohol addiction. Find out how much weed is too much and whether you need to adjust.

Stereotype 6: Pot makes you less ambitious

Many people associated with the stoner stereotype have achieved great things. Barack Obama, for example, became president, yet he used to smoke in his younger days. Bill Clinton smelt it but didn’t inhale.

British business magnate Richard Branson still enjoys cannabis. Rap legend Snoop Dog can be seen blazing blunts in everything, including his pajamas. Carl Sagan said he got many brilliant ideas and connected with the cosmos via weed.

More notable examples of successful potheads include Joe Rogan, Steven King, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Is it bad to be a stoner? All These successful guys would probably give you the same answer. NO!

Stereotype 7: Stoners usually overdose on marijuana

It’s near impossible to smoke too much and have a weed overdose, even if you tried. According to numerous doctors, there’s no record of any marijuana stereotype ever ending up in the hospital or, worse, having died from cannabis use.

Unlike opioids, marijuana doesn’t influence the parts of your brain that control breathing. You’d have to consume 1,450 pounds of cannabis in 15 minutes for it to become lethal, which is quite frankly impossible.

Even if the cannabinoids were in edibles, you’d sooner be ailing from the sweeteners or bread you consumed long before the weed could physically hurt you.

Stereotype 8: Cannabis users are weak sloths that always slouch

The lazy stoner stereotype is an exaggeration because many cannabis users have peak fitness levels. Think of Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time.

Another example is Sha’Carri Richardson, the rising star in US track and field. She couldn’t compete in an important competition after testing positive for THC. Why does the World Anti-Doping Agency say marijuana can enhance performance if the consensus is that the pothead stereotype is weak?

Stereotype 9: Stoners are always cracking up for nothing

Okay, so maybe this stoner stereotype isn’t all a lie. Many cannabis enjoyers make comments that feel philosophical, but they turn out to be garbage upon sobering up. Users can also start telling a story and then feel it’s taking too long or take a tangent and cannot be bothered to speak anymore. Don’t we also do that sober?

Here’s a thought, write down (h)ideas of things you think about while stoned and laugh at your silly self when you’re sober.

Stereotype 10: Stoners are always paranoid over small things

Yikes, was that a spider in the corner of another room in a completely different house? Indeed, some stoners usually get anxious. However, this effect normally dies down with time and after the typical stoner gets used to the bud. 

Some strains such as XJ-13 illicit conversations so you can speak candidly about your troubles to a friend. A problem shared is a problem halved. You can learn more about how weed affects people differently on stages of being high

Stereotype 11: Stoners like to eat a lot when blazed

After laughing, the stoner stereotype likes to head over to Taco Bell. But then again, some people lose their appetite when they smoke.

Most cannabis strains bring on the munchies, but others like Durban Poison repress hunger. As a result, you can use this sativa to work out and diet to lose weight.

Marijuana munchies
Marijuana munchies

The changing face of cannabis

Foolish lore shapes our stoner stereotype outlook. Almost a century of slander has made some people believe cannabis consumers can’t be part of a high functioning society, have careers (not jobs), mortgages, and mouths to feed like normal people.

Pot shops in legal states are raking in huge profits on the same streets where earlier non-violent weed entrepreneurs earned prison sentences. Head into one such establishment, and what you’ll see shall make you question the stereotypical stoner look.

People from all walks of life buy weed nowadays, from grandmas, business executives, soccer moms, and the IT guy. You too can choose from a wide selection of cannabis seeds strains in our store and grow your own. Join other trailblazers on our Homegrown Forum, where you can engage cultivators and share your love for cannabis.


About the author: Parker Curtis

Parker Curtis has around a decade of cannabis-growing experience, specialising in soil-less and hydro grows. He’s mastering outdoor, greenhouse, and indoor grows.