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Old Stoner Stereotypes That Are Fading (and Why)

Countless old stoner stereotypes that once ruled pop culture depictions have been crumbling under the weight of cannabis culture's reality.

Stoner stereotypes have existed since the beginning of the subculture. Back in the early 30s, Reefer Madness forewarned that, if you smoked pot, you—yes, you, straight-laced perfect child—will turn into a bloodthirsty serial killer who might, without provocation, throw a baby out a window or stab people... 

That stereotype may have been too ridiculous to stick, but many more did. While some of these stereotypes may have some grounding in reality, the simple truth is that they were never really reflective of reality—and people are seeing that now. Countless old stoner culture stereotypes that once ruled pop culture depictions have been crumbling under the weight of the stoner culture's reality.

"Those Annoying Stoners..."

Occupational hazards remain a problem for most stoners. Bong water can leave stains, and knocking that stuff over on a sofa is a real pain in the derriere. Or, if you're outside the stoner culture, waking up to find your high friends raiding your fridge. Or, worse, using a table as an ashtray. For most people, getting high can cause issues.

But now things are starting to change. This once prevalent stoner stereotype is losing relevance. Fast. The rise of vaping reduces the need for ashtrays, and you can't spill bong water if you're vaping, not... bong-ing. But if all that smoke is annoying, then how about just falling back on edibles? The truth is that stoners have options now, and don't HAVE to fall back on traditional joints and bongs. 

No luck on friends raiding your fridge thanks to munchies, though. Hey, they gotta eat.

"All You Wanna Do Is Get High!"

Ah, the addict. The most classic of all stoner stereotypes. All they do is smoke weed. Every day is 4/20. Blaze it. They eat pot brownies for lunch and dinner, with weed pancakes in the morning served with cannabis syrup.

The truth is that, like any group defined by a common interest, stoner culture exists on a spectrum. Drinkers, for example, span from casual drinkers who will have a sip every once in awhile to full-blown alcoholics who drink nonstop all the time. Unlike drugs like cigarettes, though, marijuana is not addictive—at least, not on a chemical level. The desire to be high can be overpowering for some individuals, but most young potheads outgrow this. Stoners consume cannabis in a more responsible manner as they mature.

"Tie-Dye Shirts—Ain't Tie-Dye the Sigil of Potheads?"

I am not sure where this originated from. Personally, I blame the hippies. Because yes, obviously stoner culture has remained stagnant and unchanging since Woodstock—though I'm sure this stoner stereotype had grown old by then, too. 

Of course some stoners like wearing tie-dye, but, then again, so do a lot of teenage girls into The Beatles. Actually, this stoner stereotype has shifted away from stoners and more toward said teenage girls. So congratulations. The shirt no longer is an emblem of potent edibles and lit pot. It's now a sign of puberty, body image insecurity, and the results of psychological bullying. 

... You sure you guys don't need these brownies? It'll help carry you through this rough time...

"You Stoners Never Cut Your Damn Hair!"

Ah yes. The long-haired stoner look. This is one of the classic stereotypes. I figure this also dates back to the hippies who smoked pot and refused to cut their hair. Natural look, I figure. That, or how metal bands back in the 80s never cut their hair. Whatever the case may be, it's a classic stereotype that, if you smoke pot, you aren't cutting your locks.

Of course, this again is fading as time passes. Plenty of men have long hair now. It's not fair to call all of them potheads, is it? Nor is it fair to call a gender fluid boy just growing out his (or her) hair a pothead, either. And many potheads are clean-shaven with crew cuts, so... this stereotype is receding as fast as an aging stoner's hairline. 

"You're Getting Weed? Aren't You Scared Your Dealer Is Gonna Shank You or Somethin'?"

This PSA is one of many. They are the culprit for this stereotype, which, sadly, does have a very real basis in reality. Or at least it did back in the 80s, when PSAs like this bombarded children who just wanted to watch Thundercats and Transformers

Now, it is irresponsible for me to lie and say that there aren't shady drug dealers. Dangerous dealers. Of course there are, and many people are hurt every year thanks to very cruel people. However, thanks to marijuana legalization, many "dealers" are now professional businesses that operate well within the law. Pot dealers can now just check into the office, punch in, and work in a cubical to get you weed. What an odd, unrealistic stereotype about stoner culture! It can be... legit?

"You're Always So Paranoid Looking!"

The paranoid pothead. Not an uncommon stoner stereotype, and for good reason. Many people do not want to get caught smelling like marijuana. Back in the 80s, a person could spend more time in jail than a serial killer just for holding a gram or more of marijuana on their person. Not to mention that pot does release chemicals in the brain that can make you behave in more paranoid ways.

Of course, thanks to legalization of marijuana in many states, the only reason you have to be paranoid is if you smell like cannabis in your mother's basement, and momma's going downstairs. If you happen to live in a state where marijuana is illegal, so long as you are using it in the privacy of your own home, you should be safe. Hell, just consume an edible if you're worried about the smells. If you're just feeling a general sense of paranoia, there is material you can read online to keep you from freaking out.

"Stoners Don't Amount To Nothin'!"

The burnout. The stereotypical stoner who spends all day too high to accomplish anything. They will remain seated on the couch in a cocoon of Cheetoh crumbs. No accomplishments. No pursuits. Assuming they even finished high school, they will never amount to anything until they put aside their filthy habits.

But wait, says everyone in the stoner culture, as they pull out their spreadsheets of every accomplished individual known to have inhaled their fair share of marijuana. No one could say James Franco or Seth Rogan aren't "accomplished." Stephen King became high and drunk while writing his books (he has no memory of writing the novel Cujo thanks to being drunk and stoned). But if those aren't good enough for you—well, I could go down the list (Oprah, Martha Stewart, Steve Jobs), but I'm just going to cut to the big name here (yes, bigger than Oprah)... former-President Barack Obama. Yeah. And he's just the only president who admitted to using pot. You can't convince me that LBJ wasn't smoking any Mary Janes in the Oval Office.

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