There is no shortage of iconic reference points to describe the stoner weed lifestyle: Cheech and Chong, The Grateful Dead and Bob Marley come to mind if you think about easy laughing, elation and heightened awareness.
The cannabis community of the 1960s emerged out of the social and cultural upheaval that accompanied the Vietnam War and America’s first lurching attempts to reconcile its racist history.
Today, the cannabis industry is emerging as a global trend with billions of dollars in sales. Smoking marijuana is now only a small part of an industry that is transforming cannabis use into a mainstream product. First, cannabis possesses special medicinal qualities (without the side effects found in many pharmaceuticals) that is propelling huge research and development efforts. Second, social acceptance for cannabis is spreading along with legalization for adult/recreational use. Today, a total of 29 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico allow for comprehensive public medical marijuana and cannabis programs. Eight states have legalized recreational/adult use of cannabis.
Another factor influencing social acceptance is new forms of consumption. Edibles and oils that contain various amounts of THC, the chemical compound that creates the “high” in marijuana, are more accessible to consumers. For example, pain sufferers can get relief by eating cannabis brownies with low THC and avoid much of the “merriment” sensation associated with marijuana.
“It’s inevitable. Get with it,” said a customer who would only give his first name, Eric. He sees it as an herb with fewer side effects than prescription pain medicine.
Public opinion about legalization of marijuana has shifted in its favor. The Pew Research Center finds that 57% of those polled support the legal use of marijuana compared to 32% in 2006.
The cannabis industry is also growing. In 2016, the legalized marijuana business reached close to $7 billion. That number is expected to increase to more than $21 billion in five years, according to Arcview Market Research, which describes cannabis as the “fastest growing industry in the world.”