Dear Mother,

I'm a 41 year old professional woman who has been smoking pot for 29 years, so it is very much part of my identity. Sometimes I feel strange using the word "stoner" to refer to myself, but that is most certainly what I am. Is that an archaic term or something only to be used for 22 year old boys?

— No longer a "Stoner." Maybe.  


Dear Stoned but not a Stoner,

I feel you. As a fellow professional (who is also a mother!), I completely understand the dilemma of trying to find a way to describe yourself without conjuring up images of black light posters and nag-champa infused tapestries. Sure, we may consume the occasional bowl of midnight cereal like consummate stoners, but there has to be a better way to refer to ourselves these days, right?!

In an age where cannabis consumption is starting to come out of the shadows, the stigma surrounding it is beginning to dissipate, albeit slowly. But despite the fact that laws are changing, providing legitimacy to marijuana in a way it's never really had before, terms like "stoner" are still loaded words with strong — usually negative — meanings attached to them. Let's take a look at the various phrasing that folks use when it comes to being a person who enjoys a little herbal refreshment now and again (and again, and again).

Stoner: Unfortunately, through various media depictions, Stoner has come to mean a smoker who is so burnt out that he just kind of floats through life, eschewing all responsibility. As we all know, the majority of those who use cannabis are hard-working folks who maintain jobs, have families, obligations and various responsibilities. Unless we can rehab what Stoner means, this one might not be the best fit, and should be best left to those 20-somethings who are still figuring stuff out.

Pothead: Like Stoner, this one also has a bunch of negative connotations. Potheads are seen as goofy, careless, unreliable, and worse. The feel surrounding this word is someone who doesn't have their act together because they smoke, which is clearly NOT the case with you, dear reader!

Toker: Basically just another euphemism for Stoner and Pothead. Although, Toker does seem to have a leg up, since it was name checked in a Steve Miller Band song (okay, that probably just makes it worse?).

Many of these terms tend to conjure up an image of a lazy, hapless, flaky person with zero responsibilities. As you and I (and many others!) know, not everyone who enjoys marijuana is like that. In fact, many of us hold down jobs (some even multiple jobs), pay bills on time, raise families, work in a variety of professions from the service industry to academics, the medical field, the arts, and even in government! I think it's time we take back the terminology. While we can work on turning Stoner into a positive, I think we should also come up with some new terms to use when identifying as someone who enjoys marijuana. Here's what I've dreamt up.

Cannabis aficionado: This one has the air of respectability, and indicates someone with a deep knowledge of cannabis. Plus, aficionado is such a chi-chi word that it elevates the term, surrounding it in a cloud of fanciness.

Marijuana enthusiast: What's not to love about this one? An enthusiast sounds happy, positive, and interesting.

Friend of Mary Jane: Good for the suburban set who may need to fly somewhat under the radar. Can be tricky if you actually have a friend named Mary Jane.

Granted these are all just fancier ways of saying Stoner, but for some, it's all in the branding, no? Let's get creative — Please feel free to suggest your own!