Marketing and other media don’t always prioritize men’s health and wellness. Images of men fumbling with beauty products or “pushing through the pain” – even when it leads to injury – are pervasive. This messaging may contribute to a real disparity between men and women’s health outcomes.
Women live an average of five years longer than men in the U.S. There are several theories behind this gender gap:
Approximately eleven percent of men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime, and one in 250 men will get testicular cancer. About four percent of men have PTSD and nine percent experience depression. Cannabis may provide relief to men experiencing these conditions.
For thousands of years, men from all walks of have used cannabis to deal with various wellness issues. As cannabis is legalized throughout the country, communities spanning lifestyles, industries, and cultures are publicly advancing cannabis as a legitimate source of pain relief. Athletes are among the most notable of these groups.
“These guys prescribe me Xanax bars, ambient, and painkillers,” Dallas Cowboys defensive end David Irving said on Instagram. “I’d much rather smoke weed.”
Irving was suspended for cannabis use but credited the plant for helping him perform. “Every game you seen me play in, I was medicated,” he said. “I don’t see you or any of my coaches or previous coaches complaining about my play.”
Irving isn’t alone in his advocacy for cannabis. Professional athletes including offensive tackle Eugene Monroe, quarterback Jake Plummer, and MMA fighter Nick Diaz belong to a growing cohort willing to publicly defend their experiences with cannabis and its beneficial impact on their wellness.
Athletes aren’t the only professionals who use cannabis to improve their lives. Innovators across industries incorporate cannabis into their wellness regimens to relax and connect to their creativity. That includes contemporary creatives like Wiz Khalifa, Toby Keith, Dave Chapelle, Steve Huffman, Elon Musk, Quentin Tarantino, and Jordan Peele.
But enjoying cannabis isn’t just a “celebrity” pastime. It’s for the everyday man, the man in the spotlight, and the man in the margins.
Weed was initially outlawed in the 1930’s because fearful nationalists associated it with people of color – Mexican immigrants and then Black jazz musicians.
Trumpet player Louis Armstrong talked about his intimate relationship with cannabis to biographer, Max Jones. “We always looked at pot as a sort of medicine, a cheap drunk and with much better thoughts than one that’s full of liquor,” Armstrong said.
Like many Black men who consume cannabis, Armstrong used the plant to manage the stress and overwhelm of poverty, racism, and daily life. Also like many Black men, he was a victim of cannabis prohibition.
“Vic and I were blasting this joint – having lots of laughs and feeling good, enjoying each other’s company,” Armstrong recalled about being arrested for pot possession. “Just then two big, healthy [detectives] came from behind a car nonchalantly and said to us, ‘We’ll take the roach, boys.’”
Armstrong spent nine days in jail for cannabis possession. That was in 1930. Roughly 81 years later, the criminal justice system sentenced Bernard Noble to 13 years in prison for possession of 2.8 grams of cannabis.
Thousands of Black men – brothers, sons, fathers, friends – are arrested for cannabis possession every year. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Black men are disproportionately more likely to be arrested for cannabis possession than white men even in states where cannabis is legalized.
Now that the law and society are embracing weed, it’s vital that Black men who turn to cannabis for physical and mental relief are not excluded. Black men have higher rates of cancer, are more likely to have untreated depression, and are at increased risk of comorbidities including depression, affective distress, and disability as a result of chronic pain than white men. Black men who seek to use cannabis as part of their health maintenance should do so without the fear of racially motivated arrest.
Cannabis prohibition was built on fear and misinformation. Legalization is an opportunity to lay down a fair foundation and to encourage conversations about healthy behaviors and improving health outcomes for men.
“The quoted statements herein reflect the experiences and opinions of those quoted, may not be representative of the experiences of others, and are not a substitute for professional medical advice. Patients should consult with their physician first if considering medical marijuana to treat any physical or mental illness, condition, or disorder, or to use medical marijuana in lieu of any medication prescribed by a physician. Results may vary and those described here may not be representative of the experiences of others. Medical marijuana availability varies by state and, where available, is subject to individual state regulations and limits. For use by adults 21 years of age and older. Keep out of reach of children.”