Revolutionaries? Role models? Or simply selfie enthusiasts? However you see them, social media influencers are undeniably changing the conversation about cannabis. And they just might change the world.
Not so long ago, smoking weed was only seen on screen in goofy stoner comedies like Up in Smoke or Half Baked. The stereotype of the lazy, couch-dwelling burnout (i.e., Brad Pitt in True Romance) was cemented in place. The idea of a productive pot smoker seemed laughable to much of society—certainly, at least, to those who didn’t blaze.
That perception has rapidly evolved over the last few years. Shows like High Maintenance and Broad City have elevated the cultural conversation, showing people enjoying getting high together in a positive light. VICELAND’s Bong Appétit showcases top chefs preparing high-end, cannabis-infused delicacies. Snoop Dogg has a show with Martha Stewart, for pot’s sake. And humming along beneath it all, a tight-knit community of influential cannabis users has risen up to proudly, loudly support legal weed through the wonders of social media.
Influencers and artists are normalizing cannabis as a healthier alternative to alcohol and pharmaceutical drugs. They’re bringing cannabis consumption out of the smokers’ closet, with a call for legalization across the nation. It’s a bona fide movement. They’re sharing cannabis news, cultivation, art, events, interviews with cannabis consumers and growers, weed tourism tips, how to make edibles—and it’s all available with the tap of your finger.
These social media mavens work around the clock, carefully curating content. They’re on a not-so-secret mission: to educate curious minds about cannabis through freedom of expression. At one time, dissenters needed to take to the streets to make their voices heard in support of legalizing marijuana. Now they can amplify their message endlessly, broadcasting from home, streaming live from cannabis events, or just by hashtagging a smoking selfie #weed.
Despite the freedom and enormous reach of social media, users are still encountering weed-related censorship. Instagram often deletes cannabis-related accounts with virtually no notice, as does Facebook. In recent months, YouTube has flagged and closed a ton of cannabis-related accounts around the world. Though most were listed as informational, educational channels, they were shut down for supposedly violating community guidelines. YouTubers have had to protect their accounts by moving their marijuana-related content to WeedTube. Snapchat seems to be one of the few social media platforms that doesn’t censor its users.
Despite ongoing censorship of cannabis social media accounts and channels, the online weed community continues to grow. Social media is a great equalizer—everyone is free to express themselves. This can be toxic, as the Twitterverse proved with #GamerGate, or productive, as with the tidal wave of movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp. #LegalizeIt is getting louder by the day.
A New Brand of Activism
Just like stoners, millennials have endured the stereotypes. They’ve been deemed entitled, branded as being selfish and lazy. The reality is that millennials have welcomed a new kind of activism and creativity, afforded them by the 24/7 stream of social media. The millennial generation—and their post-millennial peers—make excellent use of the powerful online community, and, through their adeptness, activism is flourishing. Just follow Parkland shooting survivors Emma González and David Hogg on Twitter to see how brutal their teenage takedowns of formidable foes like the National Rifle Association are. They’ve been raised with social media, and as experts it’s natural they own the game. It’s a native language most of us will spend our entire adult lives trying to perfect.
It’s in that spirit of owning the conversation completely that cannabis influencers can change hearts and minds—and ultimately, one hopes, laws. It’s time for a national dialogue about legalizing marijuana across the country, as Canada will do this summer. Today, cannabis is legal for adult use in eight states and the District of Columbia. Several more states are moving towards making cannabis legal in 2018. The youth control the message, and it’s only a matter of time before that translates to real social change.
We caught up with six social media game-changers: Olivia Alexander, a.k.a. Weedbae, showcases her glam lifestyle and cannabis company, Kush Queen, on Snapchat. Rachel “Wolfie” Wolfson makes dope Instagram weed memes. Together, the duo sparks discourse about the benefits of the plant on their podcast and YouTube channel, The Budd. Whitney Bell incorporates marijuana into her artistic process, fueling her impactful visions. Watts curates whimsical, weed-centric artwork for high-minded Insta followers. And Alice and Clark, vlogging as That High Couple, provide a window into a healthy, fun lifestyle that just happens to include a whole lotta weed.
That High Couple: @thathighcouple | WeedTube: That High Couple