Weed Words

Weed Words: Stoner – From Shame to Fame

Episode 141

Show Notes

The Evolution of a Complicated Word

What comes to mind when you hear the word “Stoner?” In today’s episode of Weed Words, we look back on the evolution of the word — from its shame-ridden roots in the early 20th century to its, well, rebrand! Over the last decade, cannabis enthusiasts have begun to reclaim the term as they speak out about having happier, healthier, and more productive lives that include weed. But even as cannabis is quickly legalizing and the meaning of the word is changing, not everyone has hopped on the bandwagon quite yet. Tune in for more exploration.

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Ellen Scanlon (00:00):

This podcast discusses cannabis and is intended for audiences 21 and over. Welcome to How To Do The Pot, a podcast demystifying cannabis for women. I’m Ellen Scanlon. Today’s episode is part of our series called Weed Words, where we pick a tricky, telling, or thought provoking term, or sometimes it’s a funny fictitious or factual phrase. And we explore all the ins and outs of that weed word so that you can do the pot with confidence.

Ellen Scanlon (00:37):

And if you’re someone who has done the pot or who’s been around people that have, you’ve probably heard this word before. Maybe you use it as a way to describe yourself, or as a way to describe what you are not. Today’s Weed Word is stoner and it not so surprisingly carries a lot of weight. But what interests me most about it is that stoner means different things to different people. We asked around, did a few Instagram polls, thank you to everyone who participated. And we got a lot of mixed results, which we love. Because as our individual and collective relationship with cannabis evolves, so does our relationship with this word.

Ellen Scanlon (01:28):

We asked the How To Do The Pot community if you have ever been called a stoner before. More than two thirds of you answered yes. Then we asked if you felt that the word stoner was negative. Again, more than two thirds of you answered yes. But these two questions weren’t the full story. Hopefully, you know our DMs are always open and a lot of you slid in and elaborated on what the word stoner means to you. Your definitions were so good, we reached back out and asked if you would be willing to read them on the show. Here’s what you, our listeners, had to say.

Speaker 2 (02:05):

I don’t take being called a stoner in a negative way because I am a stoner. And to me, a stoner is someone who just loves smoking weed. In the morning, before work, after work, before the grocery store, even someone who knows how to balance it throughout their day, I guess, but they just love smoking weed.

Speaker 3 (02:30):

Being a stoner means using cannabis in your daily life and appreciating all that cannabis has to offer.

Speaker 4 (02:37):

People associate the term stoner with laziness or a lack of motivation, perhaps someone that sits around all day without a job and mooches off their family and friends. But I think the term itself is probably 50 years old and the new generation of cannabis consumers probably don’t even consider themselves stoners. I think the new generation can use cannabis and go be productive at work, or have a great gym session, do activities with friends and families and it’s perfectly normal.

Speaker 5 (03:11):

It’s supposed to have this negative connotation, but every stoner that I’ve met is amazing.

Ellen Scanlon (03:20):

So what makes a stoner, a stoner? Is it how frequently you consume, whether that’s once a week, every day or multiple times a day? Or maybe it has to do with the time of day. Do you wake up and smoke first thing, have a little in the afternoon or only try it at night? Are you a stoner when you show signs of having consumed cannabis, things like bloodshot eyes, smelling like weed or having a ravenous case of the munchies? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a stoner is “A person who regularly takes drugs, especially marijuana.” So if you’ve listened to our Weed Words episode where we tackle the complex history of the word, marijuana, you’ll understand how this in itself is already a complicated definition, but how did we get here? After this break, I’ll fill you in.

Ellen Scanlon (04:22):

We love podcasts and we know that finding your favorites isn’t always easy. So we have started The How To Do The Pot Podcast Club. Periodically, we’ll share our favorite podcast and interview the host of some really great shows. Some about weed. Some not. If you’d like to put a podcast on our radar, please reach out at hi@dothepot.com or you can DM us at Do The Pot.

Ellen Scanlon (04:48):

We love sharing stories about women and on the podcast, Femlore, hosts Mindy and Rachel are your storytellers for some of the most important folklore stories of our culture, rereading them through a feminist lens. These are stories you may have heard 100 times, but Mindy and Rachel offer them to us with a twist, asking how the stories we tell influence today’s culture and how we view women. How have these stories like Snow White, Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, just to name a few, shaped who we are. Listening to Femlore feels like crawling into a cozy chair in your pajamas with Mindy and Rachel telling you stories from your childhood and giving you a totally new way to think about them. Check out Femlore wherever you listen to podcasts.

Ellen Scanlon (05:42):

The phrase, stone drunk, became popular in the 1920s during prohibition. It was synonymous with words like smashed or bombed, which were used to describe a wild night. Stone drunk was then a way to describe people who looked battered, worn, beaten, almost like they’d been stoned in the capital punishment sense of the word. While it’s not exactly clear when the slang word, stoned, switched from being an alcohol related term to having cannabis connotations, it’s believed to have something to do with jazz musicians. In as early as the 1930s, songs like Weed Smoker’s Dream and Reefer Man became popular. I’ll play a snippet of a song called That Cat Is High by The Ink Spots. So you can get a feel for the vibe of this era. (singing)

Ellen Scanlon (06:50):

And remember Harry Anslinger, the godfather of Reefer Madness who was notoriously racist, anti-cannabis and planted the seeds for the war on drugs. He has something to do with it too. The Oxford English Dictionary first cited stoned as being under the influence of drugs in 1953. This was inspired by the glossary section of Anslinger’s book called The Traffic of Narcotics. We’ve come a long way since the 1950s and today the word, stoner, has a wider definition. As listeners you heard before have shared. Alyssa Yeoman, the Marketing Director at Leafly gave me her opinion of the word, stoner.

Alyssa Yeoman (07:34):

Yeah, I think to me now it means a lifestyle. I do think there’s still a stigma that’s associated with the term stoner because everybody envisions just someone sitting on their couch doing nothing all day. But I think I’ve seen this influx of even the t-shirts that say hardworking stoner on it. Until there’s a better word to kind of describe the community I’m a part of, I’m going to continue to use stoner, but I know that I’m in a position of privilege to be using that term stoner because it comes from a place that’s oppressive, being stoned, people use that as a argument against weed and still do. So right now it’s just the only term. I think it’s a little bit better than pothead. I’ve tried weed head out a couple of times and it just doesn’t seem to catch on.

Alyssa Yeoman (08:24):

So stoner is kind of what I’ve been left with. And I think there’s a little bit, although the term, stoner, comes from the stigma, I think there’s like a rebellion aspect. There’s a rebellious aspect in using the term stoner, because it’s like rock on stoner vibes. We’re still here. Say hello to the stoners in your life. And it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re someone who’s smoking all day or anything like that. It can mean anywhere between someone who just has a fondness for weed and not smoking all day. You could just enthusiastic about the plant. So until we have better words, I like [inaudible 00:08:59]. That’s more regular, [inaudible 00:09:02]. I think stoner is kind of our best bet.

Ellen Scanlon (09:06):

While the term stoner may have started in a place with a lot of stigma, it’s now a word that’s being reclaimed by the cannabis community. Today’s most iconic stoners don’t have disheveled hair, squinting eyes, a permanent smile plastered on their face or a checked out view of the world. Because like the word, stoners today have evolved as well. They’re mothers, athletes, entrepreneurs, artists, accountants, entertainers, and politicians. And many people admire the happy, optimistic, joyful take on life that cannabis helps to enhance. A list of famous stoners today includes Rihanna, Kendall Jenner, Seth Rogen, Whoopi Goldberg, Dave Chappelle, Jennifer Aniston, and one of my personal favorites: Snoop Dog. Yes. I love Snoop. I am proud to say that seeing Snoop was my son’s first concert and we had the best time. Snoop even stopped by to say hi to us after the show on the way to his amazing weed bus.

Ellen Scanlon (10:18):

Snoop is maybe the best example of a stoner who has really crossed over into the mainstream and not just through his music. He’s an investor, an entrepreneur and had a cooking show with Martha Stewart that was a match made in food heaven. Because while I’m sure Martha does know her way around a kitchen, if you’ve listened to our munchies episode, you know that stoners also make really good cooks.

Ellen Scanlon (10:53):

I think that Alyssa Yeoman said it perfectly. Being a stoner is being a cannabis enthusiast. And while the word’s origins may be negative and sure some people still mean it that way, today, people who love weed have also made the word their own. Because what if being a stoner means living a happier, healthier life with cannabis, maybe it soothes an autoimmune disease, helps you get to sleep, reduces anxiety, stimulates your appetite, inspires better sex, or just makes you feel good. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to feel good. I think that the cannabis community challenging the negative stereotypes and taking the word back is a great step toward breaking the stigma that still exists around weed. It can feel very liberating to realize that you deserve happiness. And if there’s one word that I think goes hand in hand with cannabis, it’s happiness. And like with everything, consuming cannabis responsibly is important too. The frequency or the amount can vary from person to person. And while you continue developing your relationship with cannabis, I hope you’ll take the time to consider what feels right for you.

Ellen Scanlon (12:10):

I’ve been sick a lot this year and struggled with very slow recoveries. Hopefully you can’t hear it in my voice. I really haven’t felt good enough to do much and I haven’t made a lot of time for fun. And the other day I was feeling really bad, sore throat, headache, cough, all of it. My husband, JP, asked me very kindly, “Ellen, are you taking enough cannabis?” Until he asked the question, I hadn’t really thought about it. I was just trying to get through the days, but I realized I hadn’t consumed any THC for weeks. And when he asked the question, I couldn’t help but wonder, why didn’t I think of that? I love hot tea, and so I brewed myself a cup with about a teaspoon of cannabis infused THC honey.

Ellen Scanlon (12:58):

I get mine from the California based company, Potli, and it did wonders for me. I felt so much better. My mood lifted, and that gave me just enough perspective to see that my health was the cause of a lot of my discomfort. Not that the sky was falling. It was a very nice thing to realize. It helped me relax and give myself some space so I can continue to get better.

Ellen Scanlon (13:30):

For a lot of us, cannabis is healing and I’d ask you to consider why consuming cannabis should be a source of shame, especially if it’s done in a way that’s improving you mentally, physically or emotionally. So stoner isn’t really a word that I use a lot, but it is a word that a lot of cannabis enthusiasts love and embrace. And like your relationship with weed, I’ll leave it up to you to figure out what feels right.

Ellen Scanlon (14:04):

This has been stoner on Weed Words. If you liked this episode of Weed Words, we have a favor to ask. If you could tell two friends about this show, it would really help us grow. And we’d love to know what does the word stoner mean to you? And what’s your relationship to the word? If you have any questions about anything we’ve covered in this episode, please reach out to us at hi, that’s H-I, at dothepot.com or DM us at Do The Pot. Thank you to Morgan Victoria, Lo Friesen, Christina Perez and Jamie Hagen who generously sent us voice memos, explaining what the word, stoner, means to them. For lots more information and past episodes, visit dothepot.com and that’s also where you can sign up for our newsletter, which comes out every other Friday. And if you like How To Do The Pot, please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts. It helps more people find the show. Thank you to our producers, Madi Fair and Nick Patri. I’m Ellen Scanlon, and stay tuned for more of How To Do The Pot.



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