Ah the Holidays: smells of your favorite foods tickling your nostrils, the sounds of family laughing, kids playing, maybe the game is on and everyone is enjoying themselves. That’s when you and maybe that one cool cousin you have “go for a walk” and return to the festivities ready to feast on the Holiday meal. That was my reality for many years while I was using cannabis unbeknownst to my family. Cannabis was such a positive part of my lifestyle, except for how it was keeping me from being able to be totally honest and totally myself with my family, so eventually I decided it was time to tell them. This is my story of how I did that and some thoughts on how you can approach that conversation with your own family this holiday season.
I grew up in the midwest and come from a conservative religious family. In fact, my entire community growing up were primarily conservative and religious folks to varying degrees. If you’ve grown up in similarly conservative or religious traditions, you can already feel my anxiety at the thought of trying to tell my family I smoke the “devil’s lettuce.” I still remember the day I told my mom, I took her out to dinner with no intention of telling her I smoked weed and there was a moment when we were chatting and laughing and I felt really connected as family; I had missed that feeling since I was constantly hiding a part of my life from her. That was the moment I decided to come clean and in the least nuanced delivery of such news I said, “Mom, did you know that I *used to* smoke a shitload of weed?” I didn’t want to tell her I was still currently smoking just in case she didn’t receive it as well as I’d hoped. She laughed, was surprised, and we got to dive into a conversation about one of my favorite topics, cannabis. Now I know I got off pretty easy and family dynamics are complicated. Your case might be much different, but here is how I suggest to best go about it if you strongly feel you should come out of the cannabis closet to your family.
Open the Conversation
Cannabis legalization is a hot topic and often abuzz on most news outlets as legalization and the cannabis industry continue to expand and evolve. This is a great place to open things up: find a way, whether it’s the news, passing a dispensary (in a legal state), seeing CBD in a health store; whatever it is there are plenty of ways to casually bring the topic up. Once the ice is broken, just ask and listen. Ask them what their thoughts are on cannabis and hear them out; they very well could be archaic and shaped by the years of demonization of cannabis they were taught by their parents, teachers, and leaders. That’s ok, they have a right to their feelings and opinions even if you don’t agree, and if this is their response, likely they just are greatly misinformed about cannabis as a whole.
Educate Your Family
This step takes some self-discipline. If you’re just smoking weed for fun, I would implore you to take the time to dive into some of the benefits of cannabis; education is the key to acceptance. I started with CBD, it’s a hot new buzz word in the arena of natural wellness and there’s a good chance someone in your family could benefit from using CBD. I told my parents what CBD was, how it differed from THC, and how it was beneficial to so many; that intrigued them. So much so that they started using CBD themselves and my mom, who used to have shoulder pain that kept her from being able to extend her right arm fully above her head, is now off of other painkillers and can fully extend that arm without pain. That was a huge win in shifting their perspective and it helped them realize that maybe they haven’t been told the whole truth about all this pot stuff.
Represent Cannabis Well
This is all on you, my friend. There is a clear stereotype of who cannabis users are and how they act. If you play into that stereotype, you lose all the power you have to change someone’s negative opinion of cannabis. I believe there is nothing more important we can all do as cannabis users than represent it well, as we use it in a healthy way that improves our lives and spurs us on toward our goals and dreams. My parents were open to talking about cannabis because they saw that I wasn’t on the couch every chance I got binging Netflix; I was out there doing the things I wanted to do, working hard, and creating opportunities to grow as a person. When your actions tell the story of your drive and ambition and THEN you tell someone cannabis is a regular part of your life, that speaks volumes. Most importantly, respect the wishes of your family, if you aren’t in a legal state when visiting family, be discreet and if they don’t want it in their house, respect that. If your family gets to a place where they are willing to test the waters of cannabis, don’t dose your friends or family or give them a bong rip that is going to destroy their lungs. Be their guide, take the time to find out what they hope to get out of the experience, and choose the best method to introduce them to cannabis. How someone is introduced to cannabis has the power to forever shape their views on it.
Lean on the Cannabis Community
This information won’t apply at all to some cannabis users who are die hard stoners and proud of it. If you’re a “smoke in my lungs till I die and I don’t care who knows it” type of go-hard you probably don’t care what your family thinks or if they know. But for some of us, this is a more fragile topic in our family system. Some of us fear what our families will think; will they distance themselves from us? Can I have an open and honest relationship with my family and be transparent about my cannabis use? It can be scary and intimidating, but I promise you it is freeing to live honestly. You might find quick acceptance or it might take years of battling it out to change your family’s perception of cannabis. Just know you are supported and loved by your cannabis community; lean on them for information you can use to help educate your family and teach them the truths about cannabis. Share information, share your experience, be open about how cannabis has improved your life. The more we treat cannabis normally, the quicker it will become normal. Moving cannabis out of the shadows and the black market days, spreading the truth of the benefits of cannabis, and sharing your own story will make a difference.
Most importantly, if you’re not ready, don’t rush into telling your family. It took me time and many conversations to get to the place where I felt comfortable and ready to accept the consequences of telling my mom. I know your situation could be very different from mine and if you have questions or want to know more about how you should approach your family, please reach out to me; I’d love to help anyway I can. You can DM me on Instagram @fortheloveofsmoke, email me directly at email@example.com, or get in touch with The Cannabis Cactus and they will get us connected. I hope you all have a wonderful Holiday season and if the time is right I wish you all the best in opening the conversation on the topic of cannabis with your family. If you do have that conversation, please feel free to reach out and let me know how it went; I would love to connect and hear your stories.
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