If they don’t already know, telling your loved ones you use cannabis can be a daunting conversation. Cannabis, a plant with decades of stigma surrounding it, has earned a less than favorable reputation. Beginning in the 20’s (the era of prohibition), and intensified by the release of Reefer Madness in 1939, cannabis has been demonized. However, times have changed and cannabis is becoming less taboo every year. Currently, there are five states that have legalized marijuana, 24 states who have legalized medicinal marijuana and 15 states that have decriminalized it.
So, considering cannabis’ bad-boy reputation, how do you tell your loved ones? Here are some tips to make the process as smooth as possible.
1. Make it relaxed. Sit your friend, spouse, parent or loved one down in a space that is comfortable and pleasant for a potentially serious conversation. A private, quiet space will be best so that both sides can be heard during the talk.
2. Pick the right time. When approaching someone to talk, gauge their mood. Did they just go to a yoga class? Or, did they just break-up with their boyfriend? In general, people are more open to talking when they are in a good mood. If they are feeling positive about their own life, the other person will probably be more receptive to hearing and understanding you.
3. Know their perspective. Before you have the conversation, it will be helpful for you to be prepared and know how they might react. If they are extremely conservative, it will be good for you to know so that you aren’t completely caught off guard by their potentially negative reaction. Some easy ways to find out what their perspective might be is to bring up current news in politics and gauge their reaction to issues of legalizing cannabis.
4. Educate. There is no wrong way to start the conversation, but opening with the facts about cannabis can help strengthen your defense. You could say, “Did you know there have been no reported cases of a death caused by cannabis?” or how about, “Did you know that outlawing marijuana costs taxpayers $10 billion dollars every year?”
5. Reassure them. Assuming you are telling people because cannabis is a significant part of your lifestyle (whether that be for medicinal or recreational purposes), show your loved one that you haven’t changed. Cannabis has often been thought of as a “gateway drug” and a substance that will destroy your life. But, there are many individuals who smoke and live productively. Proving to your loved one that cannabis won’t affect your daily life, or long-term goals, can be reassuring for them.
6. Be upfront and remain calm. If your loved one has questions, answer them honestly. They may be as simple as, “How do you smoke cannabis?” or “How do you feel after smoking?” No matter how simple the question might be, answering their questions openly proves that there is nothing to hide about cannabis-use.
7. If a conversation isn’t working, try and let someone else talk for you. On Netflix and YouTube, there are documentaries that can help to enlighten your loved one. Check out Culture High on Netflix and on YouTube, all three segments of Sanjay Gupta’s CNN special, Weed.
It is important to remember that using cannabis is a personal decision and explaining yourself and letting your loved ones know isn’t asking for permission. Being open with your family and friends has a much larger impact. State, and ultimately federal, legalization not only entails recreational use, but impacts our country’s economy, prison system, and healthcare; the consequences of cannabis prohibition are endless. Although it may seem insignificant, being able to say to the skeptics, “I smoke cannabis,” can help to diminish the stigma that prevents legalization. Say it loud and proud!