These days, I’m seeing more indicators that cannabis is becoming “normalized.” As a byproduct of legalization, the social acceptance of marijuana is taking off in increasingly interesting ways. It’s not just that lawmakers and regulators are no longer afraid to speak openly about how to regulate cannabis or even that politicians no longer feel the need to hide in the cannabis closet. It’s that the public at large is beginning to view cannabis as just another lifestyle choice, like having a beer or a cup of coffee.
Here are what I currently see as the five top indicators of cannabis normalization:
- Cannabis tax money is being used to benefit schools and a canna-scholarship fund is in the works. States are making buckets of money from marijuana revenue and they are using significant chunks of that money to assist public schools and youth programs. Out of the $66.1 million in marijuana tax revenues generated in Colorado in 2015 (in Washington, it was $70 million), $40 million goes to school construction and $12 million is designated for youth and substance-abuse programs. And, thanks to marijuana, college-bound students in Pueblo, Colorado, will have access to almost $2 million in additional scholarship funds after 60 percent of Pueblo voters approved a measure for a 5 percent excise tax on Colorado’s marijuana suppliers, from which 50 percent will goes to college scholarships.
- Cannabis-themed weddings are now a thing. There are probably few grander social events than a wedding. And even The Knot is reporting that Mary Jane is making its way into nuptials and wedding receptions. So, when you RSVP to your next wedding, if it’s in Colorado, Oregon, Washington, or D.C., don’t be surprised if you see cannabis instead of cocktails and dedicated vaping areas at the reception — and be sure to watch out for marijuana-infused menus and desserts (including the cake!). If you think I’m kidding, you can even get a marijuana-friendly photographer with lots of experience capturingmarijuana-themed weddings. And if you’re a bride-to-be and are hard-pressed for marijuana wedding themed decorations, party favors, or invites, don’t forget to check out Pinterest’s “Classy Cannabis Wedding Ideas.”
- Canna-crawls are a vacation option in select cities. My firm has blogged extensively about marijuana tourism in places with legalization. The fact that a canna-crawl (or any other number of cannabis-friendly tourist activities) is available speaks volumes about the public’s interest in cannabis and its legalization. It also says a lot about people’s lifestyle choices that they want their vacation to include indulging in marijuana. So, move over pub crawl, canna-crawls are here to stay.
- There’s a cannabis dating app (and a slew of other canna-friendly apps and technology, too). The app “High There” has been described as the Tinder of cannabis. Ten years ago such an app would have likely been seen as a gateway mechanism to get you hooked on hard drugs. Today though, it’s perfectly socially acceptable to “swipe right” to find dating prospects who like cannabis and want to share that common interest. There are also a ton of other apps and tech-friendly gadgets and services out there to unite you with other like-minded cannabis users and aficionados. For more on the emerging area of “CannaTech,” gohere and here. If the marriage of cannabis and technology doesn’t scream normalization, what does?
- Multiple states will likely legalize marijuana this year. Undoubtedly, 2016 is going to be a big, if not huge, year for legalization. California, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Arizona are all set to have marijuana legalization on the ballot and all or most of them are going to succeed. The mere fact that more people’s initiatives are coming through for legalization shows that more people want marijuana legalized. Most recently, more than half of Americans (for the first time ever) expressed support for all-out legalization. Without a doubt, with more legalization comes more normalization.