June 23, 2024

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Are Nicotine and Cannabis Engaged in a Popularity Contest?

3 min read
marijuana joint closeup

closeup of marijuana joint and buds on a checkerboard table with a shallow depth of field


As a professional writer who spends a lot of time covering medical and recreational cannabis, I am always on the lookout for news stories that could provide fodder for my own pieces. Every once in a while, I run across a headline that gives me angst. A case in point was a recent article from the Seattle Times. The headline states “Seattle No.

That about says it all, at least from the author’s point of view. But what does it say about our nation as a whole? What does it say about the hypocrisy of demonizing nicotine but celebrating cannabis? Seriously. A popularity contest?

In Utah, there is no popularity contest. That’s because, according to Provo’s Deseret Wellness, only medical cannabis is allowed. Recreational marijuana is off limits. That is not the case in Seattle. Marijuana is a recreational free-for-all there. A popularity contest anywhere in the state doesn’t seem so abnormal.

Nicotine and Cannabis by the Numbers

For the purposes of context, let’s look at some of the numbers reported by the Seattle Times. According to survey data they cited, about 20% of the city’s adult population reported using cannabis within the previous thirty days. Just 13% had consumed nicotine by way of tobacco or vaping.

To the anti-smoking crowd, this is good news. After all, tobacco is one of the worst evils ever perpetrated on humanity. But wait. Isn’t smoking still the most preferred consumption method? Smoke is smoke. Why is tobacco a great evil but cannabis is the best thing in the world?

The anti-vaping crowd doesn’t have a leg to stand on either. They realize that vaping is significantly less dangerous than smoking, so they choose to demonize nicotine. You have seen the TV commercials depicting vapers as being so hooked on nicotine they cannot function without it. Try suggesting the same thing about cannabis and you can expect to be crucified.

The Culture Wants It Both Ways

As it turns out, Seattle takes second place in the nicotine vs. cannabis popularity contest. Portland, OR has a higher ratio of cannabis users compared to their nicotine counterparts. There, nicotine consumption is about the same at 13%. But 21% of Portland’s adult population uses cannabis. Sacramento, CA ranks third with a total adult population of cannabis users at about 20%.

Looking at these numbers alarms me. I am surprised so many adults use cannabis. But even more alarming is the fact that our culture wants it both ways. We continue the crusade against tobacco and nicotine but openly embrace marijuana and THC. The inconsistencies are glaring, but people refuse to see it.

The hypocrisy in the nicotine-cannabis debate is strangely similar to the hypocrisy of waging war against fossil fuels and plastics. The same people who would love to see fossil fuels and plastics go extinct would never give up their cell phones and electric cars to make it happen. Plastics are byproducts of fossil fuels. Cell phones and electric cars would not exist without them.

A More Important Question

This post posed the question of whether nicotine and cannabis are engaged in a popularity contest. But a more important question is why so many Americans are so enthusiastic about using substances with psychotropic properties. Why do so many people want to alter the way they feel by taking drugs?

I have resigned myself to the fact that such questions will never be answered by the culture. So I’m left to point out the hypocrisy of at all. But hey, someone has to do it.

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