My grandmother is curious about trying marijuana for the first time, but she has a long-time stigma against cannabis (thanks to the war on drugs!). How can I help her enjoy her first experience without scaring her or overwhelming her with information?
— Ganja Granddaughter
I get it! In fact, I've sort of been in the same situation myself. My brother's girlfriend's grandma (!) has awful rheumatoid arthritis and lives in a state where medical cannabis is legal. Yet, she had a lot of misconceptions about the plant, and it took us a bit of convincing before she was able to find relief from cannabis consumption. Eventually, it seriously helped her manage the pain from her RA.
Many of us "youngins" grew up sneaking a bowl or two (or two million), so when cannabis started to become legal in various states, it was pretty easy for us to adapt and accept. Legal pot? Yes please! It was especially exciting for many people who had previously been illegally self-medicating. Finally, we could be out of the cannabis closet, so to speak. Sure, weed isn’t totally accepted by millennials, and there’s still blowback against legalization. But for people who grew up in the years after Nancy Reagan, “reefer madness” sounds as dated as using typewriters.
The same can't be said for all generations. Some folks grew up in a culture of fear and propaganda when it comes to cannabis, and a lot of them absorbed all the negative scare tactics that branded the plant as a gateway to other drugs and a surefire way to become a burnout. So, it can take some effort to help someone like your grandma break through these misconceptions and myths.
One positive way to slowly introduce someone to cannabis is by explaining all the various benefits and uses of it, but without getting too "inside baseball." Explain to your grandmother that cannabis is just a plant, and that it can be the basis of very helpful medicine, like many other plants are. You could even get into a very basic discussion about THC vs. CBD, and how some cannabis strains or products feature mainly CBD and little-to-no THC, so she wouldn't even be getting high.
If there's a dispensary by you that has topicals, that might be a really great way to start. The idea of smoking anything might be too much at first, especially if you're dealing with somebody who is struggling to overcome their learned prejudices regarding cannabis. Some lotion or a salve is a way to show that this plant truly has real, medicinal benefits without getting you high as a kite. In my brother's girlfriend's grandmother's case, the lotion was a really great way to have her experience the healing properties of cannabis and caused her to be eager to learn more.
Our next step was edibles. We started her incredibly low and slow, controlling the dosage as best we could. Once it took effect, there was really no denying how much it helped her. She was able to experience less pain and could have more freedom of movement than before, without any unpleasant side effects of the other medication she had been trying.
She still won't smoke cannabis, and that's totally okay. She eased herself in and found a method and dose that is working for her. Who knows, the same might happen for your grandmother -- maybe she’ll even see how well it works and start ripping bong hits with you in no time!
So, to reiterate: Keep it simple, go slow, and be there to help guide them rather than push. Focus on the proven medicinal qualities, and don’t linger on explaining stoner culture or even debunking myths, which could distract her. I hope you help your grandmother find relief soon.