High Opinion: Why I Wear Cannabis Gear To My Kid’s School Events

There’s a lot of awesome brand and dispensary merch up for grabs. Here’s how we can use it to shatter old harmful stigmas.

My best friend growing up was made to turn at least two t-shirts inside out by teachers at our middle school.

The first one had the photograph of Janet Jackson topless save for two anonymous hands that appeared on that legendary Rolling Stone cover, while the other one paid homage to the classic Brand Nubian line, “A 40 and a blunt, that’s all she really wants” to instead say “… all I really rant.”

While I still don’t think America is ready for eighth graders to advertise their drug and alcohol use, it’s a different story for us parents. As a proud forever puffer, I have never shied away from wearing Cypress Hill tour tees or cliche pot leaf accessories to troll prohibitionists and do my part to help push green toward the mainstream. But now that we are several years into legalization, there’s a more nuanced purpose to my drug-inspired wardrobe choices.

The obvious analogy is beer. Parents have been using hats and t-shirts from breweries to express themselves for ages and for various reasons. Growing up in New York City, I remember having friends whose proud Teamster fathers wore Budweiser gear and drained Bud Light tall boys in protest of the union busters at Coors. While in modern times, yuppies, slobs, and stylish hipsters alike sport tees of their favorite micro suds brands to signal superiority over simpletons who sip mass market mucus.

People have made public statements about pot use via threads and props for ages—from giant marijuana leaf belt buckles and backpacks to tie dyes and hoodies with the cover of the Dr. Dre classic The Chronic, it’s always been easy to spot heads who were voted Most Likely To Get Stoned in high school. In the current era of recreational cannabis, though, and especially in states where more and more adult-use stores are opening, it’s finally time to move past simple statements. We’re diving into a more nuanced realm, similar to craft beer, in which cannabis consumers will increasingly be willing billboards for companies we love.

Which brings me to my kid’s school, the playground, youth sporting events, and places of those sorts. By wearing shirts and caps that display my favorite dispensaries, I am subtly showcasing my interests. If you don’t inhale, maybe don’t ask me about it. But if you do get high, let’s talk. Sort of like the way you might ask someone with a Celtics jersey if they watched the game last night. (Though unlike parents who fill thermoses with beer and booze on the Pop Warner sidelines, let’s wait until we’re back home in the basement or garage to get loaded together.)

While I have been known to make iconoclastic gestures in the past, that’s hardly my intention here. I’m not trying to shock anyone; on the contrary, I’m displaying what the new normal should look like. Considering that studies suggest younger cannabis users are drinking less and less alcohol, I wouldn’t be surprised if in a few short years there are more people repping Treeworks than Tree House at little league games.

Even with legalization, normalization is more important than some skeptics may realize. False information about cannabis may not lead to as much incarceration as it once did, but misconceptions about weed continue to impede the industry and negatively affect regulations that impact consumers. Just consider the obsession with stoned driving compared with the lack of attention given to those who drive under the influence of prescription drugs.

Prohibitionist lies have also kept cannabis from reaching its medicinal potential. So much so that the US Department of Health and Human Services is taking the initiative to beat back the stigma by developing a Resource Center for Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research intended “to reduce barriers to conducting research on cannabis and its constituents.”

Not to mention that a lot of this dispensary gear is pretty nice, even artistic and collectible. And free in many cases. As long as I can passively resist dangerous stigmas by simply adding a few pot shop snapbacks and crewnecks to my rotation, then I’m happy to be the dad dressed like Berner at the bus stop.