Despite CO Pot Legalization, Many Users Fear Stigma, Job Risk


The rapid changes in Colorado’s marijuana laws have caused many people across the state to re-evaluate their relationship with cannabis, reports the Denver Post. Those who are curious about marijuana and plan to try it include people who have never used it, as well as those who smoked decades ago, before marriage and kids. They say they now plan to buy some marijuana because it’s easy, convenient and legal. The continuing stigma surrounding marijuana use — not to mention very real risks to their jobs — keeps many cannabis newcomers from stepping fully into the light.

A 52-year-old man who plans to try pot for the first time didn’t want any part of his name published. “My hesitation comes from 50 years of negativity associated with drug use and concern about my name being in a news report,” he wrote in an e-mail. Prof. Peter Adler of the University of Denver, who has studied the sociology of drugs, said Colorado’s legalization of adult use and purchase of marijuana will probably lessen the stigma. “Some of that still exists,” he said. “It’s a very political issue, and people don’t understand exactly the effects of marijuana. But I don’t think there’s any question that the passage of the law in Colorado is a sign of things to come for the destigmatization.” Even marijuana advocates warn that there can be serious consequences for cannabis use in Colorado. Employers can fire employees for off-the-job use, and landlords can evict tenants. Marijuana use can impact a person’s government benefits or a child-custody case.

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