Outdated Stoner Stereotypes That Need to Die

Michael Ochs Archives/Stringer/Getty Images
Michael Ochs Archives/Stringer/Getty Images

To quote the iconoclastic voice of the baby boomers, “The times, they are a changin'.” While our parents' generation was the first to bring cannabis use out of the jazz clubs and into the public eye, the sad reality these days is most of them (cough, Maureen Dowd) no longer “get it” when it comes to the culture of recreational marijuana use, and have hung onto stereotypes as stale as the old “Dave’s Not Here” routine.

With four states fully legal, and others likely to follow, it’s time to get rid of some of the more ridiculous stereotypes, the ones that have lasted longer than even the schwaggiest weed. Sorry, guy on the couch, but you’re getting thrown out with the bong water.

Flickr/Joe Crimmings

They’re lazy do-nothings

Whether it’s an issue of productivity or the ability to get up and go, the trope of users being louts with perpetual couch-lock needs to take a hike. The lists of famous go-getters who’ve been known to partake from time to time are endless, and now that scientists are taking a serious interest in mapping the cannabis genome to determine which traits cause what kinds of highs, a future in which the average Joe can ask their budtender for a sprightly sativa that’ll put them on the path to becoming the next Michael Phelps doesn’t seem too far out of reach, right?

They automatically know everything about weed

It would be silly to assume that the guy drinking a 45oz Red Dog in a Steelers jersey has an encyclopedic knowledge of IBUs, initial gravity, and other arcane tidbits of knowledge associated with beer production, so it may be incorrect to also assume the guy who smoked you up in the back of his pimped-out Integra knows all the insider knowledge of where his flower was grown, its THC content, or, most importantly, which character of The Golden Girls it’s most likely to make you feel like after you’ve had a few puffs. Sometimes it’s best to enjoy the stuff and not ask questions. It’s not like it’ll kill you if you don’t, even if Maureen Dowd tells you otherwise.

Flickr/Suzie Katz

They only listen to jam bands

All you Deadheads and Phans have had your fun (phun?), but you’re ruining it for everyone else and it’s about time you moved on. Musicians of all stripes have been championing the good herb since the early days of jazz, so it should come as no surprise that the musical choices of those who partake now as diverse as those who use it to get their creative mojo flowing. The golden era of ‘90s hip-hop is an obvious touchstone, but everything from post-rock to electro-pop to indie folk is made for (and by!) those who toke these days.

They’re all a bunch of criminals waiting to strike

Aside from the actual smoking of marijuana, the only real crime that typically accompanies an eighth of kush and a Star Wars marathon is the decision to pop in Phantom Menace. And sure, some crimes are committed while the criminal is under the influence of cannabis, but we’re also sure a number of armed robbers chew gum, and we’re not calling Big Red users deranged criminals.


They have bongs on them at all times

The unseemly ritual of inhaling smoke and tar through a dirty glass pipe has long been a point of contention for health nuts who turned away from weed because it was gross, but the abundance of alternative consumption methods is sure to have them singing a different song. Plus, people only carry bongs around with them in movies. Movies that kind of perpetuate these stereotypes to begin with.

They only eat junk food

Between the culinary conquests of Action Bronson, the wide-eyed globetrotting of Rick Steves, and the trademark gonzo approach to gastro-journalism that’s made Anthony Bourdain a beloved household name, it’s safe to say that the palate of stoners has evolved to include more than just Hot Pockets and leftover pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Flickr/James Mitchell

They’re uneducated

Look, everybody smokes weed in college. Probably even at Brigham Young. So that argument kind of goes out the window. Hell, Steve Jobs dropped out of Reed College, then dropped out to change the world. You’re going to say dude was uneducated just because he was making pipes out of real apples before inventing the Apple you use to watch trippy videos when you puff?

Their visual stimuli of choice are blacklights and lava lamps

Thanks to advances in computing (Steve Jobs strikes again!) that have gifted the world with Netflix documentaries and the wavy, wonderful world of iTunes visualizations, the days of spacing out in front of a neon Sublime poster or a glass tube filled with undulating colored oil are finally behind us. Unless they make a Netflix documentary about Sublime posters and lava lamps.

Flickr/Thomas Hawk

They dress like the shop at a Woodstock-era Goodwill

Pharrell Williams exists, so this is basically an open and shut case.

They fetishize the ‘60s

The millions of bands that rip off the trippier moments of The White Album are great, and the halcyon days of the Woodstock era were irrefutably important in setting the wheels of cannabis culture’s widespread acceptance in motion, but let’s not get too bleary-eyed and nostalgic about all that peace and love nonsense. The hippie movement was a bust, and the weed available to “the kids” of today is likely to melt your parents’ faces off if they boldly pinch a nug in hopes of making their Jim Croce records more tolerable. Let’s all just move on to wishing we were back in the ‘90s like we’ve taken to with every other corner of pop culture.

Flickr/Chas Redmond

They’re anti-social

If stoners are supposedly shut-ins who do nothing but veg out in their dorms with their PS4’s all day, how do we account for the massive attendance numbers for events like Denver’s 4/20 Celebration, Seattle Hempfest, or the grandaddy of them all, the High Times Cannabis Cup? Even on a smaller scale, cannabis users are generally community-oriented folk who enjoy sharing their experience with kindred spirits. How else does one explain the success of a band like Phish?

They live in an old van down by the river

We all know it’s the stoners in the $3,000/month studios in mixed-use concrete buildings who are a greater threat to a pleasant city life than the guy who lives in a van down by the river. Trust me. I’ve actually lived in a van down by the river, I can say with certainty that only a few of my vandweller “neighbors” were active cannabis users. That’s why I’d go to friends’ fancy apartments to be social.

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Pete Cottell is a writer who did a lot of doobie-rolling when he lived in a van down by the river in Portland, OR. Follow him and his legalized shenanigans at @vanifestdestiny.