By Jointly’s CEO David Kooi
The stigma against cannabis is dying a well-deserved death. My purpose in this series is to lend a hand in defeating the stigma once and for all - using data, logic, and mathematics. I will propose four hypotheses based on the same, that lead to laws that form a new theory.
That theory, the Theory of Purposeful Cannabis Consumption, is a framework meant to free the modern cannabis consumer to pursue the better life that is possible through purposeful consumption, without guilt or prejudice.
For decades in America (and to this day), cannabis use was demonized. Cannabis consumers were stigmatized. Growers, sellers, and consumers of cannabis were made into criminals.
The stigma posits that cannabis consumers are not productive members of society. The stigma suggests that cannabis consumers are not good mothers, fathers, friends, teachers, or employees.
Cannabis, according to the stigma, makes you less.
For our purposes here, we’ll express the stigma this way:
You + Cannabis < You (read as: “you plus cannabis is less than you”)
Some helpful definitions
This is not a scholarly or scientific article, but I will borrow from science to make my argument. Let’s define “fact” “hypothesis” “law” and “theory” in the context of this series.
Fact: An observation that’s been confirmed so many times that one can accept it as “true.” (true in quotes because science always leaves room for new evidence)
Hypothesis: A tentative explanation about an observation that can be tested.
Law: A description of how some aspect of the world behaves, usually involving math. It explains how, but not why.
(This one is especially important because when I say “laws” of consumption I mean things that are true and proven about it - not that there are laws about how you should consume.)
Theory: An explanation of some aspect of the world that’s well-substantiated by facts, tested hypotheses, and laws.
How we will defeat the stigma with data
The stigma - “You + Cannabis < You” - is a hypothesis. It is not supported by sufficient evidence. Propaganda is not proof.
To disprove it, we will prove that the opposite is true. What is the opposite?
You + Cannabis > You (read as: “you plus cannabis is greater than you”)
I’ll propose 4 new hypotheses to replace the stigma’s false and misleading hypothesis:
We will prove these hypotheses are true with data. We will elevate them to laws, together. The result will be the logical and mathematical end to the stigma and its replacement by the Theory of Purposeful Cannabis Consumption.
The proof that cannabis, consumed purposefully, makes you more, not less.
A call to action for a new language and conversation about cannabis as wellness
Because of the stigma, we have become culturally ignorant of humanity’s existence-long relationship with plant medicine. We lack a common language for talking about the benefits of cannabis.
Today’s distinction between “medical” and “recreational” cannabis programs contributes to our continued misunderstanding. Medical cannabis, to many, implies that cannabis is used in treatment of a condition. This is partially true, but limiting and misleading. Recreational cannabis, likewise, implies that non-medical cannabis consumption is about fun or partying. While this is also partially true, it is again limiting and misleading. I will explain why.
By proving the four Laws of Purposeful Cannabis Consumption, my aim is to help create a common language for moving the subject forward.
This presentation is not just about the data to destigmatize. Not just about removing a stigma. It’s about elevating cannabis to its proper place in its relationship with humanity.
Cannabis, consumed purposefully, can be a partner in our wellbeing. We have the data to prove it.
Proving that your cannabis habit is a healthy one
When I started using cannabis in 2012, I didn’t tell anyone about it other than my partner and closest friends.
Why did I not consume cannabis until 2012? When I was 37 years old? Why did I not tell anyone about it? I grew up with the stigma firmly ingrained. I believed that cannabis had a negative impact on people’s lives. I considered myself a high performer. An athlete. Successful in work and business. Active. Now I was “using drugs”? It didn’t fit. All drugs are bad, right?
I kept my cannabis consumption hidden from view. What if people found out I was a “stoner”? What would they think? What would it say about me?
Through cannabis, I found better wellbeing, better sleep, better health, improved relationships, free-flowing creativity, improved focus, and surprising victories in a long battle with social anxiety.
However, at the same time, I felt guilty.
I now understand that I was not alone in feeling that way. There are 50 million cannabis consumers in the US. That’s out of 260 million adults. We’ll call it 1 in 5 that have consumed cannabis in the last year.
A brief thought experiment
How many people do you know, in total? On average, your answer will be about 600 people. Next: How many of them do you know use cannabis? Not 1 in 5, I bet. That would be 120 people. Look at your friends list on Facebook or wherever you inventory your friends these days. Which 20% of them are the stoners?
(The success of this mini thought experiment will vary depending on your age, geography, and the religion of your parents - some groups of people are more open, others are not.)
Cannabis consumers are all around us. They are your friends, your co-workers, your neighbors, your teachers, your boss, the people working for you, the people at your church.
They’re all around us. They just don’t talk about it.
Cannabis consumers - here’s the good news: We have the data to prove that your cannabis habit can be a healthy one. You already understand that cannabis is additive to your life. You know that when you get high, that’s not all that you are. We have the data to prove that you’re right. The data to free you from any lingering guilt. To accept yourself. Because cannabis, consumed purposefully, makes you more, not less.
Why should you listen to me?
First, a disclaimer. I am not:
Why listen, then? After being that kid in your Statistics class who enjoyed it and wanted more, I’ve spent most of my 25-year career using data to solve problems. Putting that to work in cannabis, together with the team at Jointly, we have created a data-driven framework for helping people discover the better life that is possible through purposeful cannabis consumption.
With gratitude and respect for the people who have been fighting this battle against the stigma long before I got here, I’m happy to report that, together with our community of over 250,000 users, Jointly has built the data set that proves that these new 4 hypotheses are true. I have an obligation to share and synthesize the data. The data prove that the voices who have been calling for legalization, de-stigmatization, and acceptance have been right all along.
As a trained statistician, I do feel qualified to say this: The stigma is statistically significant bullshit. (See, I told you this wasn’t going to be scholarly.)
The 6 parts of this series
Please forgive me for breaking this up into 6 parts. It’s too many words for a single article. A better writer could have fit it into fewer pages. You’re stuck with me. Here are the 6 parts:
I welcome criticism. I welcome opposing views. As a good Bayesian, I am happy to update my positions when presented with new information.
Thank you for your time and I hope you find something useful here. Please share it with your friends who consume cannabis. Please share it with a skeptic.
A note about people 21 and under
Cannabis is not for children. There is good evidence that cannabis is bad for brain development.
And, if any children have wandered here into Jointly Magazine, here’s my message for you: You only get one brain, kids. No matter what else happens in life, you’re gonna need that brain. Enjoy the joys of childhood. Let purposeful cannabis consumption be one of the joys of adulthood. And, while I’m at it: I understand childhood is hard. If there is anything that is hard for you - and anything that is hurting you, talk to someone about it. There are people who want to help.
Note: there are certain cases where doctors and parents decide that the risks from cannabis do not outweigh the benefits for a given child. Circumstances vary, but it is usually having to do with the apparent ability of cannabis to control seizures. Also, this use is typically about CBD, the less offensive cannabinoid.
Read the next part of the series: Plant.