Editor’s Note: This article is a combination of two previous articles, originally published February 7th and 8th, 2015, formatted for Twelve High Chicks’ year two layout. Content and intent have not been changed.

What if mainstream non-users think that all female cannabis users sit around in bikinis and long socks, smoking bongs? It’s far-fetched, but at one time mainstream non-users saw propaganda like Reefer Madness and believed that.

Thinking of the Children

I wonder how non-consuming parents are going to accept our stance on legalization — even with education, regulation, and control/prevention keeping it away from children — when it is so strongly linked to sex.

You can pick up any number of cannabis magazines and see advertisements featuring scantily clothed, beautiful young women, and online it’s easy to find young women blowing dabs into video cameras with next to nothing on. We are so desensitized by sexualized mainstream media that a teen girl in a thong, smoking a bong, isn’t shocking.

I am far from a non–sex-loving woman: whatever floats your adult boat. But I have two teenage daughters that I no more want to currently see up a pole than in a magazine with a bong between their legs. There are bong stores attached to sex stores, or that started out as sex stores with glass products in the back room. These places are supposed to be over-18 only, but some, if not all, of these establishments don’t ask for ID. My 16-year-old bought papers from the local bong store, as well as brass knuckles and other “novelties.”

So nevermind trying to keep your child away from porn on the internet or trying to teach them about natural and healthy sexual behaviour; they’re exposed to sex toys, porn movies, and prohibited weapons when going for a bong.

There are books easily available about pussy tokes, sexy marijuana games, and experiences that some people might find appalling though others find them entertaining. Is this the message that the entire pot industry is now giving, that pot-consumers are heavily into porn? The stigma of being a pothead and dirty hippie still sticks, how is the average person’s perception supposed to be changed about pot-consumers when to this stigma they can add “porn addict”?

We have a right to freedom with our bodies — that I am not disputing, nor am I pointing fingers or criticizing what cannabis industry moguls have done. Capitalism is alive and well and sex sells. But while not every young woman strives to be a bud babe any more than to be a playboy centrefold, in order for them to educate themselves about marijuana many will pick up magazines or search YouTube.

Do we advocates want to be perceived the same way as advertisers?

Advocates versus Advertisers

There are many conservative and religious areas of Canada where discussing sex is still taboo. To the people there the word “marijuana” reminds them of DARE assemblies in school. Many do not drink alcohol, some don’t even drink coffee. The combination of sex with pot just feeds right into the views of these non-consuming conservative voters, making legalization of the plant way more difficult. Conservative anti-drug ads are more appealing to conservative Jane and Joe Canada.

For some this should be a non-concern, a non-issue: why are we asking what people do in their bedrooms or what they read? We live in a free country. But to the soccer mom that must hide her sexuality, as well as her bong, in her closet, or to the religious couple that hides their alternative lifestyle choices from everyone, it matters. And it matters to people that still listen to their conservative parents about whom to vote for, without considering the why. These are people that won’t vote for legalization of sexualized pot use.

Marijuana is beneficial in so many ways to so many people. Patients need this plant as medicine, even the courts are recognising this and recovering patients’ rights to grow their own medication and to medicate in hospitals.  However, while advocates promote marijuana as a health benefit to the mainstream — medicine for epilepsy and extracts for childhood epilepsy alongside chemotherapy for cancer and all kinds of other things — stores, magazines, and books all advertise, in and to the mainstream, with sex.

Child pornography, human trafficking, and missing and exploited women are major crimes in Canada that are linked to gang activity. And anti-drug ads link this violence to all drugs! How can a non-user accept the sex angle of pot advertising on top of that? To conservative people this is distasteful, immoral, and against everything they have been taught. These are also people that will vote on the topic of legalization.

There is no blaming cannabis for any of this, this has been going on since long before the bong was thrown in there. But pinup girls weren’t meaning to change laws or convince politicians to fund medical marijuana research. Remember at voting time who must be appealed to in order to finally repeal ridiculous laws and end prohibition.

Voting is a start and votes won’t be gained from showing conservative Canada a girl in a bikini with a bong.