When you wear the leaf, what are you saying to the rest of the world?
Cannabis prohibition affects the way people perceive the iconic hemp leaf. Clothing and accessories sporting the leaf have come far since the head shop t-shirt had its heyday. Now, fabulously green options are abound. But wear those hemp print leggings out in public and experience firsthand the diversity of beliefs about the leaf.
When it comes to pot leaf depictions on clothes, perceptions fall into three basic categories: positive, negative and indifferent. Those with a positive (and dare I say accurate) perception of cannabis associate the leaf symbol with advocacy, social change and medicinal choice. For some it’s a representation of personal liberties, the belief in a better day and the hope of a brighter world. But for a lot of us, it’s not all that dramatic.
For many, the pot leaf is an indication of a shared enthusiasm for natural remedies. Sometimes it just means you like to smoke cannabis. All of these fall easily into the positive perception category. Then there are those negative (or, misguided) perceptions people have when they see you adorned by the leaf motif.
For the misinformed, the hemp leaf represents crime, addiction and the corruption of youth. Negative perceptions can include everything from government interference and regulation (a necessary evil?) to the end of American culture as we know it. When you pass one of these naysayers on the street, they may view your clothing choice as a blatant defiance of the status quo.
A number of people will see you wear that hemp leaf skirt and think: ‘Oh, a hemp leaf skirt.’ Whether they have more important things to worry about or fail to recognize your blazing green fashion statement, some folks simply don’t care. They may not even recognize the many medicinal properties of cannabis. They don’t follow politics or stay abreast of current events. It’s not that they are for or against legalization. They don’t hold strong feelings one way or the other.
Perhaps buying and wearing clothes and accessories that feature a hemp leaf design is the quintessential expression of consumer confidence in a product. In the face of misinformation and blatant condemnation, a section of the population chooses to wear a diversely perceived symbol. The hemp leaf is globally recognized, eye catching and simple, natural and celebrated. Fashion designers and trend watches recognize the hemp motif as adding value to a product. Consumers recognize the leaf’s value as a social commentary.
It’s not like consumers and nature lovers just discovered the seemingly controversial watermark of weed. Since the 1960s, the hemp leaf design has made its way into the consumer clothing world. There are no indications of it going away any time soon.
When we choose to sport the leaf, are we doing it for ourselves or others? Are we seeking out kindred souls or passively protesting the negative thoughts of strangers? Is it a normalizing of the cannabis culture or just fashion capitalizing on a trend? Whatever the motivations or perceptions, we can all agree choosing to wear the leaf has its consequences. Let’s keep hoping one of them is broad acceptance.