Changing Times: Why People need to tear down the stigma around marijuana

Why is it that if a parent comes home from a long day of work and indulges in a glass of wine or a beer it’s socially acceptable but if they smoke a joint instead it is suddenly irresponsible? Why is it that if a WHS parent is asked if they would rather their children drink alcohol or smoke weed, most will likely say alcohol in a heartbeat? Why is it that there are still thousands of Americans in jail cells for merely marijuana possession? Why is it that there is still an immense stigma around weed despite it being legalized in eighteen states including New Jersey?

First and foremost, I would like to say that I am in no way promoting the use of Marijuana use amongst the WHS student body due to Morse v. Frederick. This Supreme Court case, commonly referred to as the “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” case, ruled that it is not against the First Amendment for public schools to censor student speech that they believe encourages illegal drug use.

That being said, after long work hours every day, adults like to treat themselves and more times than not, they do this with a drink of alcohol. Some people however, don’t enjoy alcohol or don’t drink for other personal reasons, and instead enjoy smoking weed, which can reduce anxiety and improve sleep. Additionally, according to Fatherly, anecdotal evidence suggests weed may be better for engaging parents in play with their kids. Alcohol tends to disconnect parents, but dads who use weed during playtime often report more relaxation and engagement.” Despite this, cannabis use amongst parents is still frowned upon in most communities, something that needs to change.

When asked if they would rather have their child use alcohol or marijuana, the obvious and reasonable answer for parents is neither. But, a 2017 survey by Marist Poll and Yahoo News found that more than 70 percent of parents would rather their children drink alcohol than smoke weed. This is mind-boggling to me. Most parents are stuck in the past, thinking that their children will be hippies or stoners if they smoke weed every once in a while. Their views are flawed as in reality marijuana is much healthier than alcohol as it comes from a plant. Additionally, it is much safer than alcohol as there are more car accidents and deaths attributed to alcohol than weed. I don’t think adolescents should partake in any illegal substances but once again we see how the stigma around marijuana causes false narratives amongst parents. 

According to, in 2020 there were 40,000 Americans incarcerated for marijuana offenses; one of the main reasons why the United States ranks first in people incarcerated per capita. This is a ridiculous statistic given that more than half of states have decriminalized marijuana. The weed stigma is keeping these innocent people away from their families which needs to end as other people are committing actual crimes but still roaming the streets. 

Alcohol has been legalized since 1933, so it is understandable that it has been normalized in society. However, it is time that the citizens of New Jersey align with the changing times and tear down the stigma around weed so that it can be normalized in society as well.