Everybody has prejudices, everyone is bias. Nevertheless, I don’t think I’ve ever met a person with as many biased prejudices as I had. Prejudice is a daily practice, like religion. They are judgements that have been established, following opinions and social norms that form according to the environment, the society, and the culture that we belong to. How are they transmitted? First, through family culture; second, societal culture; and third, how you react to those two influences.
I’m a 32 year old woman raised in a typical Spanish family. In Spain, the family is an institution, meant to always stay together. It is seen as normal for children to remain in their parents house until marriage, which in today’s world could take place in the late 20’s or even 30’s. It is not uncommon to see unwed middle aged adults living with their family as they did when they were children – the mother cleans, cooks, does the laundry, and takes care of the house and the adult children still follow the rules of the house and the culture defined by the parents. This style of culture doesn’t allow for future generations to think freely or to advance our country forward, instead, it instills the traditional culture and prejudices from the previous generation again and again. The result of this can be seen in our sports, from the famous bull fights to the lesser known but very legal cock fights on our Canary Islands. Family prejudice varies from culture to culture and family to family, but it is always present. Most of us are trying to be the perfect son or daughter, or at least to be seen as such. For me, coming out of the “Cannabis Closet” to my parents was difficult, they don’t understand and don’t really care to try to understand, yet. But, it’s time to be ourselves and let our families know who we really are, you might be surprised at how easy the prejudices are to overcome in the family and at the changes that take place from your honesty with them.
Prejudices follow social norms. Just as family prejudices, the social norms established by our culture guide our opinions and perceptions of the world. Even more, the State tells us what we can and can’t do in this society through the Law, an authoritative element that is used to control the population under the idea that we will live a better life, for us and our country. This social pressure influences us to such an extent, that we close ourselves off to any explanation or vision of health that doesn’t perfectly conform to a “healthy lifestyle” as defined by society. Marijuana is rejected because, according to the social norm, it can harm our very good and the good of our families and even the good of the whole country. The stereotype of the “stupid” or “lazy” stoner is a good example of how society has labelled patients to create prejudice in future generations. How can we change this? By continuing to push the industry forward, breaking down these prejudices by showing who we really are: mothers & fathers, sons & daughters, farmers, lawyers, doctors, artists, scientists…. The essential parts of a healthy and truly productive society.
I was a willing victim of this trap that suffocates free thinking. My social position and my family experiences made me blind to everything related to marijuana, but I chose to follow that blind path. The only experiential knowledge I had was based on simple observation of my peers. I didn’t involve myself more, I just said what the rest of the world said: “it’s bad,” or “it makes you stupid and lazy.” I found myself relatively comfortable in my thought process, though it wasn’t based on any real experiences I had, only observations from the outside looking in. Typical. I didn’t care about anything but to be right.
I couldn’t see that consumers of Marijuana could have a justifiable reason to consume. I only knew that they were disobedient to society and I wasn’t. But, as always, life has a way of putting you in your place. When someone like me, with an enormous list of prejudices, decides to try marijuana… it’s out of desperation. My biggest influence was my husband. Thanks to his influence, I began a journey where I slowly began to accept Marijuana and to, in turn, experience it’s amazing benefits. In my case, debilitating headaches had me at my limit and marijuana gave me revelatory benefits.
Breaking out of Prejudice
The first step to changing my deep rooted programmed opinion was to say to myself, “you know nothing.” Little by little, I began to form an opinion of marijuana based not on the prejudice I was programmed with, but on the actual people involved in its research and use. I began to see not only its medical benefits but also those that come from the time spent enjoying the plant with family and friends as well as in my alone time. I hadn’t realized the LIFE that surrounded the plant: artisans like glass blowers and wood workers, scientists, and farmers that spend hours and hours meticulously honing their craft while improving the overall quality of the marijuana experience for the rest of us. People that possess a sense of responsibility and growth. This plant has helped me to see things that I never knew existed, and even had argued against. It helped me to escape from an attitude and belief that had no real foundation, that I had willingly accepted because it was transmitted by my family, my society, and my extreme desire to be accepted by both.
Once I started learning and acquiring experience, I began to understand the plant better. I’m not referring to the obvious physical medical benefits and uses such as pain treatment, helping a cancer patient to find his/her appetite, or the treatment of Glaucoma. I’m referring to the less talked about benefits it can have on the mind. Marijuana can help us to see our lack of mental control, our lack of patience, our inability to regulate that “inner fire” that almost always controls us. Marijuana can help us to see things from another perspective, helping to free us from one of mankind’s biggest problems – one sided biased rationale. Marijuana can help us to see life, and to live it fully.
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