Whether it is with your cool mom, your “a bit off” aunt, or with that one cousin who you are pretty sure does way worse things than you could ever do, when discussing your cannabis use with your family, it may feel as if you are trying to disarm a bunch of landmines after you’ve stepped on them. Now I would never suggest that you tell your family in one swift “mic drop” move, it is vital to discuss your usage with your family for two reasons. Firstly, so they understand why you need it, and secondly, so we can all work together in the journey to remove the stigma from cannabis.
Something someone told me when I was first debating having “the talk” with my family, is to remember the exposure they had to cannabis. In the case of my grandparents (based on their age) they recognize marijuana as the drug that termed “a gateway to crack and heroin” – which is a direct quote from my grandmother. Other members of my family have been quoted as saying the cannabis is the “dumb drug” and why would you want to use something that would take away your mind? My biggest fear when dealing with this conversation is trying to negotiate these misconceptions and not just disprove them but help them understand that cannabis has benefits, they may never have heard of or understand my desire to use cannabis.
Before you go to discuss this with your family, go in with a plan. Be prepared for every offensive, ill-advised question they may ask you. While there is no perfect way to tell your family about your cannabis use, I have a four-step plan that worked for me and gave me the most favorable result with my family.
1. Go in Prepared
While this may sound like a ludacris statement, but the more information you have in your Rolodex – backed up with credible scientific research and testimony – that your family cannot immediately refute will immediately give you a stronger case. Don’t talk down to your family, speak casually and relaxed. If you go in all defensive as it were, they will shut you out without even bothering to listen to what you have to say.
In my case, I suffer from high-functioning anxiety. A few years before I started using cannabis, my health insurance changed. And not in a positive way; this made it unrealistic for me to be able to pay my medical bills, so I stopped taking my medication completely, cold turkey. After that, I began supplementing in cannabis after I did a lot of research and found that I could attain the same relief that my anxiety medication had at less than half the cost – maybe even better. I made sure to explain not just the benefits of cannabis, but also my condition so that they understood not only what cannabis is but so they understood my situation and needs to live as they do.
2. Create an Open Dialogue
Allow them to ask questions and don’t feel stressed about not having the best answer. Though we cannot all be experts on the entirety of cannabis and products/uses/etc., we can be an expert on our needs and how cannabis can be beneficial. While you are still going to be asked about the possible risks, and you will most likely have to make them aware of those too. But when that happened to me, I merely pulled out my old medication, and after reading them the label, they were shocked that the FDA approved medication I was prescribed was actually potentially far more dangerous than the cannabis. The looks on their faces were something else to behold.
3. Be Prepared for Rejection
Despite all of the information, all of the research and all of the effort you put into trying to help them understand, there is still a chance that they will not understand or choose to disagree with your reasoning. And that’s okay. This conversation is not going to completely change their viewpoint just like that, but as long as you keep the door open, they may come back to you in a month, a week, maybe a year with a new perspective after they take the time to digest the information. Regardless of their decision to understand or not, they are your family, and the healthiest thing you can do for them and for yourself is to let them know that you are happy and healthy and that they are always welcome in your life. Handling this situation like a mature adult can do more than you could ever imagine.
4. Have Personal Talks with those Closest
With certain family members, I knew I had to be a bit more delicate in how I told them about my “lifestyle choices.” As a sign of respect and love, I made sure with those individuals to pull them aside and have a personal conversation before I addressed the group. These conversations typically went much better than expected, purely because of the respect that was given. This was essential when talking with the patriarch and matriarch of my family.
So, what can we do? Is there an ideal scenario or way to discuss cannabis use with your family? Maybe not, but there are for sure several tips and tricks that helped me negotiate my identity with my family, and hopefully these tips will help you as well.