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Medicating During the Holidays

The holiday season is upon us. In my experience during this time of year, regardless of what you celebrate, people want to hang out. Holiday parties abound and attendance seems to be expected. Tis the season of spending time with people you don’t normally spend time with and if you’re like me, this can be the perfect occasion to take advantage of the recreational benefits of cannabis. However, over the course of my life I have definitely found myself in situations where I’m the one who’s consumed the most cannabis at any given gathering. I thought it might be fun to share some of those stories and how I made it through. My hope is that you might learn something from my… I can’t call them mistakes because I wouldn’t have done anything differently, but let’s say my experiences.

My first experience with being “Most Stoned at the Party” was my 18th birthday. Cannabis had already been a part of my life for a few years but I was still in stealth mode – or so I thought at the time – around my mom, Ask Mama herself. My curiosity regarding cannabis peaked in my early teens. It wasn’t a subject that ever really came up in our household and when it did, I don’t remember the conversations ever being stigmatizing or demonizing towards cannabis. All in all, my exposure to cannabis when I entered high school, from media and conversations, was fairly minimal. The time I saw and smoked my first joint was the first time I had seen or smelled cannabis.

A few years later, when my 18th birthday rolled around, my mom took me out for a very nice dinner. We took her (relatively) new convertible out to eat fancy steak and seafood and on the way home my mom and I shared a handful of one-hitter hits. Not only was I sharing a special birthday evening with my mom, but I also got to share cannabis with her for the first time! I was ecstatic, partially due to the fact that the quality of cannabis that my mom had was far superior to anything I had prior. I don’t remember what we talked about on the way home, but I do remember my growing panic as we pulled up to the house, the kind of panic that hits you in waves of uncomfortable giggles. Parked in front of our house was a half a dozen cars. It was a surprise party. I was about to be stoned in front of people for basically the first time. We pulled into the driveway, laughing so hard we were crying and I had to make a pit stop in a bush before we could go inside. The party went smoothly and aside from my initial, giggling panic, I made it through just fine. If anyone suspected anything, they never said anything to me about it and I fondly remember that night as one of the best. Looking back, being around a group of people that I knew cared about me was the best place I could have been and it helped take the stress out of a new situation.

Something as simple as being around people that make you genuinely comfortable can take the edge off of any situation, cannabis related situations included, but unfortunately not every holiday party you’ll be invited to is going to be packed full of people you like most. You’re more than likely to end up somewhere where some people may even – gasp! – disagree with your cannabis use. I’m definitely not exempt from these scenarios either, and some of them can hit close to home.

My parents divorced when I was young and as I got older I began to identify the two halves of my family; my dad’s side of the family is more “traditional” and “conservative” whereas my mom’s side of the family is more “nontraditional” and “liberal”. After my 18th birthday I began to more regularly acquire and use cannabis but only my mom’s side of the family was aware. At that point I was an adult, making adult decisions, and one of those decisions was consuming cannabis, which I sometimes did in the company of my mom, my aunt (her sister) or my friends. It wasn’t uncommon for my mom, my aunt and myself to use cannabis together at a family gathering or holiday party, the same way another family might share a six pack or a bottle of wine.

When I still lived in Arizona, I always did my best to spend time with both sides of my family during the holidays and Thanksgiving was always a big one, mostly because we all like to eat. One year, I spent Thanksgiving morning and afternoon at my grandfather’s with my mom’s side of the family, chatting, eating and recreationally using cannabis. It eventually came time to leave and head over to my “dad’s side of the family Thanksgiving celebration” and I was, as we called it, “sufficiently medicated.”

On this particular Thanksgiving, I went from my grandfather’s house to my dad’s sister’s house where the rest of my dad’s family was finishing up their dinner. My cousin was the only one, at the time, who knew for certain that I used cannabis and she gave me a knowing look when I arrived. She could tell when I was medicated but I could always trust her to keep it between us. We spent the next few hours at the table, eating little sandwiches made from dinner rolls, mashed potatoes, turkey and gravy and until I decided to take a nap on their pullout sofa bed.

But just because the night went seemingly well doesn’t mean that I wasn’t anxious the whole time. I often felt judged or embarrassed about a thing that I enjoyed responsibly when I was around my family, but I also wasn’t comfortable in my life as a cannabis user yet. The medical legalization of cannabis played a huge role in my confidence level rising and my dad’s family were much more receptive when I would show up to an event visibly medicated.

Now, it is important for me to say that while my dad’s side of the family is the more conservative side of my family, I have no recollection of them ever villainizing cannabis or cannabis users, but I was always well aware of the fact that they disagreed with it. I was always under the assumption that that side of my family objected primarily because, at the time, all cannabis consumption was still illegal in Arizona. I’m sure they had some beliefs regarding cannabis and its use that are attached to stigma but I have no firm memories of them sharing those opinions with me. Even when I was openly working for a medical cannabis co-op, we had a sort of don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy. They hardly ever mentioned it to me and if they did, it was usually to poke fun – although they did have genuine questions sometimes. I knew that my dad’s side of the family was not necessarily supportive of my cannabis use so I did my best to be respectful of their comfort levels, especially when I was going to spend time at one of their homes. I used to carry eye drops and body spray to make sure that I wouldn’t smell and that my bloodshot eyes wouldn’t be too shocking.

Having family members, acquaintances or friends that disagree or even outright object to your cannabis use can be complicated and stressful. It took years for me to develop the kind of relationship with my family that I have today where I feel comfortable enough to bring up the subject of cannabis use.

There are definitely benefits to recreational cannabis use before a party or a gathering – I think we all know how much better a turkey dinner can be – but I think most of us have been in a situation and had the thought, “I am too stoned to be here right now” and worried what people might think, say or do. Fortunately, cannabis culture has rapidly changed for the better, and in my experience, most people who don’t use cannabis aren’t going to go out of their way to make you feel like a jerk if you do. So get good and stoned (responsibly, of course) and go to that holiday party or family dinner. If your cannabis use gets brought up in uncomfortable circles, maybe that’s a good time to discuss your experience with cannabis. It may not be for everyone, but there are ways to talk to everyone about it.

The recreational benefits of cannabis are, in my opinion, one of the best things about cannabis. Of course I use it medicinally, but all of the side effects are basically awesome. Not only does it make me physically feel less pain, but almost everything is more enjoyable – including holiday parties and family get togethers. I hope that this holiday season, if you’re so inclined, you enjoy a little of the recreational goodies of cannabis and you do it guilt free. Guilt is for after the holidays when none of your pants fit anymore.

#December2019 #Holidays #Mahoney #Family #Medicating #Kelly


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