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Has ‘Stoner’ Become A ‘Dirty’ Word?

For many a decade, every high school has had a “stoner” group. That’s what they were called and it carried a connotation that had the phrases “burn out” and “ne’er-do-well” attached to it, too. One might affectionately chide a friend with, “You’re such a stoner!” if they forgot to bring something over or had another kind of memory lapse, but again, it’s the underlying meaning that makes some cannabis imbibers cringe.

The answer to the original question is, yes, yes it has. Being called a stoner puts most marijuana users on the defense. It feels like the person using the offending word is part of the vestiges of prohibition, and that may just be the case. Even among friends, “stoner” can have ripples beneath the surface that feel judgy to the person being essentially called a name.

There are other ways to refer to someone who smokes, vapes, eats edibles or some combination thereof. But don’t go looking for synonyms, though, they’ll steer you even deeper into the unpolitically correct. Merriam-Webster lists its companion words as, “addict, dopehead, doper, druggie (also druggy), fiend, freak [slang], head, hophead [slang], hype [slang], junkie (also junky) and user.” Its only antonyms are “nonaddict” and “nonuser.”

While pot smoker works in some situations, you wouldn’t call someone who has a couple glasses of wine with dinner a drunkard or even a drinker. What you’d simply call them is by their name or, situationally, by their job title.

The truth of the matter, what we all know, is that people who use cannabis are just that—people. There are so many marijuana users both now and in the past that no derogatory word is appropriate for any kind of generalization. It’s been proven time and again that the lazy, befuddled stereotype simply isn’t true. And the investor and business types who’ve ran toward the Green Rush likely don’t want a moniker, either.

Even if you have dreads to your knees, have been smoking reefer since 14 and live in a hemp yurt, you may be stereotyped culturally, but it still doesn’t make you a stoner, a burnout, a junky or any other “name.” So how do we differentiate the users from the nonusers? Well, just like that, but if you want to keep it simple, ask their name if you don’t already know it.

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