People’s attitude and relationship with the cannabis plant are changing. More people regularly smoke weed now than ever before. Couple this with the stigma of being a ‘stoner’ no longer being a bad thing and we start to paint a picture as to why people blaze up. Also, having a few drags of a spliff is also more socially acceptable and in some case a medical necessity. And as acceptance of cannabis use grows greater and greater, the apparent risks associated with smoking weed have steadily decreased.

One of the driving factors of weed becoming more mainstream is the fact that prohibition in America has been slowly lifting over the past 24 years. Since California legalized medical marijuana in 1996, a whole host of other states and countries have followed suit. It is clear that the United States is the driving force in cannabis legality throughout the world. Since that fateful day 24 years ago, 33 States have legalized cannabis for medicinal use and 11 for recreational use. We are smoking for a whole host of reasons, but medically is now one of the main ones.

But what starts people off smoking weed in the first place? Is there a predetermined interest in the plant, the high or the effects? Do people look at it as an alternative to some medication they are on? Or do some people just grow up loving a toke of a joint after a long day at school or work?

The interesting thing is people don’t just all of a sudden want to start smoking weed. Where you grew up, who you hung around with and where you go to college or work has a big impact of if you ever toke up. This is without even mentioning being prescribed cannabis for a medical issue.

A person’s social circle is one of the biggest influences when it comes to experimenting with cannabis. Somebody adjusting to a new school, college, occupation, or area will be forming new friendships and dealing with new experiences. This increases the odds of them being around people who smoke weed. And if smoking weed is a normal activity within their social group, it is more than likely that they will give it a try at some stage.

Having the opportunity to smoke without judgement is one of the major factors why college students will try cannabis. Moving away from home, no parental supervision or social stigma and an increase in privacy all play huge factors in why college students will experiment with cannabis.  According to the National College Health Assessment, almost 40% of college students have tried cannabis and usage actually increases the longer they are in college.

One interesting fact, and we can completely see the correlation from our own experience, is that there is a strong link between cigarette smokers and weed smokers. According to the American Journal of Public Health, young adults are 10 times more likely to smoke weed on a daily basis if they smoke cigarettes.

On top of all the immediate influences we have that influence us towards smoking weed or at least trying it, there is a multitude of external factors that play their part. With more and more new medicinal uses for cannabis, it is becoming more likely that a specific ailment somebody has can be treated with a few drags of a certain strain of weed.

Depictions of cannabis use in pop culture, social media, the stock market and the benefits that can come from the tax revenue are all external factors which have slowly been changing people’s perception of weed and having them come around to ending prohibition. At the end of the day, it is a plant that grows in the ground with nothing else added, why should we be told we can’t consume this?

“Changes in marijuana policies across states legalizing marijuana for medical and/or recreational use suggest that marijuana is gaining greater acceptance in our society,” – Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The perception of cannabis use is changing in America, according to a CDC report, in 2014 2.5 million Americans over the age of 12 had tried weed for the first time. More and more people view smoking weed as less risky, more acceptable and the new social thing to do.

The funny thing or perhaps the most obvious thing is supporters for cannabis legalization are Americans who have smoked weed previously. What we are seeing now is that as cannabis becomes legal (medicinally and recreationally) in more states, more people will try it. This will then lead to more and more support for federal legalization. Then once America legalizes recreational weed federally, countries around the world will follow suit. Before we know it, the whole world will be back smoking the herb!

What we are trying to say is people smoke weed for a variety of different reasons. Some to treat their anxiety and mood disorders. Some to deal with stress, sleep difficulties, pain, depression and even concentration. Some to feel good, ease boredom, relieve tension or frustration, seek deeper insights, escape problems. Some people choose to smoke weed as a substitute to another unhealthy vice – alcohol, cigarettes or other drugs.

But what we can all agree on is most people see weed as a product that fulfils a specific need in their life: relaxation, pain relief or socially. And if that’s the case, shouldn’t we grow it and distribute it legally, tax it and reap the benefits of something that makes you hungry and happy.