CULTURE

What Is a “Stoner” and Is the Term Really Offensive?

Time to re-assess the label "stoner."
Time to re-assess the label "stoner." /

Call someone a "stoner," and you never know what's going to happen. 

One could hear an enthusiastic "hell, yeah" bellowing from the guts of some red-eyed rebel throwing devil horns to the sky from across the way – or get verbally assaulted on social media by some faceless goon who's ticked off that someone out there would dare be so insensitive to the cause.

Stoner undoubtedly triggers individuals differently within the cannabis community. It's been tossed around for decades by militant anti-drug warriors, rednecks, and conservative politicians as a way to demean the average marijuana aficionado. 

That said, stoner wasn't always a negative. Once upon a time, it was used by an old school legion of pot-smoking, Cutlass Supreme-driving, Rush fans and considered a badge of honor. 

But today, more often than not, it's regarded as a dirty word that cannabis advocates are fighting to remove from the language of high society.

Yep, so much as utter the S-word in some circles, and you're as good as canceled. In mixed company, the toking term is considered somewhere between deep-seated prejudice and a hate crime. 

What is a “Stoner” anyways?

Many feel that “stoner” is akin to pejorative terms used to slander various races, sexual orientations, and those caught up among the social downtrodden. 

"Stoner has historically been used as a word with negative implications," Rachel King, Chief Development Officer at California-based cannabis edibles brand Kaneh Co, told The Bluntness. "It generally insinuates someone is lazy, apathetic, and mindless."

But is that real?

Well, by definition, a stoner is anyone who is perpetually high on drugs or alcohol. It could be a gutter drunk, a person blasted out of their mind on coke or smack, or just a weed fan with an overzealous outlook on being stoned. 

All y'all wake and bakers out there – you just might meet the criteria of a stoner. 

Don't worry, though; there's absolutely nothing written in the terminology that indicates a person actually has to be lazy, unemployed, or unambitious to qualify. Nope, a stoner can be a go-getter, creative, and even happy. They just have to be high all the time.

The shifting cannabis lexicon

"Regular cannabis users are becoming more vocal about how cannabis accentuates their day-to-day lives," King declared. "The tides are turning, and experienced consumers are showcasing that they are also productive, capable, contributing members of society. The word ‘stoner’ is definitely shifting in our lexicon."

Perhaps this is why not all cannabis consumers agree the word carries negative connotations.

Sure, some do, in fact, take offense to it. But most of the guff is from the same people who seemingly waste their days trolling social media, arguing semantics concerning pot's progress.

They are the diehards; those who reject the word "marijuana" based on its racist roots; those who only refer to it as cannabis and only cannabis because, well, that's the name God intended it to have, and the ones who believe weed should be regulated like tomatoes, not alcohol. 

You get the gist of it. 

Stoner is one of those words that goes unappreciated by the pot purists, the nuts of the nug, if you will.

"It is not a badge of fucking honor!" a Reddit user by the handle OffGridPower declared when responding to our thread. 

"Stoner was a very derogatory term to help support anti-weed propaganda and the American View of cannabis and those who used it. I grew up with the word being used to negate someone else's views because they smoked weed."

Meanwhile, others aren't quite as uptight. Rather than get upset, they wear the stoner badge with pride. "I own that shit," a man named Brian told The Bluntness. "I know I'm a stoner, and I love it."

Reddit user iTaylor04 doesn't see a problem with being labeled a stoner either: "It's someone who regularly gets stoned, especially stoned to the bone. Not negative at all in my eyes," they said.

An Arizona-based cannabis advocate, Jenny, told us that while she isn't a fan of the stoner moniker, she isn't going for the jugular of those who opt to make it part of their vocabulary. "I prefer Cannabis Connoisseur," she said. "But we all know that's just a churched-up way of saying Stoner anyway."

Context is everything

Interestingly, most of the cannabis consumers we talked to for this article agreed that whether they are offended by the term really depends on the person using it. 

If Tommy Chong were to call them a stoner, that wouldn't be a problem. However, if it spewed from the mouth of Senator Mitch McConnell, well, that would be freaking war. "It just depends on who is saying it," Jenny said.

It is understandable how the word can be construed as a negative. 

Many cannabis advocates have presumably bought into the name-calling they've played victim to all these years and don't want to be associated with other labels society uses to discuss those who've gone too deep within their inebriants of choice. 

For them, stoner strikes the same chord as words like alcoholic, junkie, or crack head. And maybe it does, at least for those still hunted by the term defined by their roughneck past. 

But that's not how many entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry are choosing to move forward with it. Nope, they are taking stoner back, allowing it to be positive.

"I don't find the term ‘Stoner’ offensive," Roz McCarthy, CEO and Founder of the brand Black Buddha Cannabis, told The Bluntness. "Furthermore, the term ‘Stoner’ is subjective depending on that person's perspective. I believe people deserve options and choices in life, and not labels."

McCarthy understands this mindset is a tough sell. "I know that some brands and companies within our industry prefer not to use the word ‘Stoner’ and/or any messaging related to the word,' she said.

Nevertheless, she isn't putting too much emphasis on the stoner label or any other for that matter. "When building a brand or a business, you should be focused on core customer demographics like age, gender, etc.," she said. "Let's stop labeling and let people just be people."

It's hard to argue with that.

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