Although many people have accepted—and even advocate for—the use of medical marijuana, the stigma associated with the plant still remains. If you are a patient who is considering (or perhaps already utilizing) cannabis as part of your course of treatment, talking to your loved ones about your decision may be challenging.
Understandably, some family members may be concerned about the legal ramifications of your choices. After all, cannabis is still federally classified as a schedule 1 drug. Others (especially older relatives) may associate cannabis with “Reefer Madness” and other outdated propaganda. They may worry you are likely to veer down a depraved path of escalating drug use, or that you are in some sort of danger.
The antidote to these fears, of course, is knowledge and education. If you are at a place in your life where it’s time to talk to your family about medical cannabis, read on for some helpful advice.
Decide When and Where to Hold the Discussion
If you have a large family, it might make sense to hold a group discussion. But before making a big announcement at the next family reunion, consider who is likely to be present. The last thing you want is to initiate a conversation that degrades into a political battle.
If it’s just one or two family members you are concerned about approaching, it might be a better idea to arrange something one-on-one. This way, each person can feel comfortable sharing their thoughts in a non-judgmental setting.
Whatever you choose, make sure you go into the conversation with an open mind and heart. Ultimately, it’s your body and your choice, but you can validate the other person’s feelings by patiently allowing them to express their fears and anxieties up front. Listening calmly without getting defensive will speak volumes about your credibility and your character. After all, you want the talk to be productive.
Anticipate Questions and Negative Reactions
While you’ve probably done a substantial amount of research before reaching this point, know that your loved one has not. They likely have stereotypical images you might need to address. For example, they might picture you smoking a joint when you are actually using a tincture or edibles. Talk with them about the various methods of delivery and why or why not you have chosen one over the other.
If you have a medical issue that you hope to manage with cannabis, discussing the latest research can help. If you are choosing medical cannabis at the suggestion of your doctor, you should bring that up too.
Since many concerns revolve around cannabis legalities, share what you know about the regulations in your state. Reassure them that you have safeguards in place (such as a legal medical marijuana card) to avoid prosecution. Let them know that you take their concerns seriously and that you are committed to obeying the law.
What to Do When Children Are Involved
If there are kids in the house, there are additional issues to address. Parents of teenagers might find it particularly tricky to explain their cannabis for fear it might give their kids the green light to start smoking pot.
It’s important to explain that you are using cannabis to treat a medical issue and that you are also using it legally. Pointing out the distinction between underage marijuana use as a means to “get high” and responsible management of a health concern might not be easy. You will want to be open, but firm. Articles like How to Talk to Your Kids About Cannabis by Bonnie Schiedel can help.
Remember, it’s never too early to start a conversation about cannabis. Some would argue that hiding it only makes the “secret” more attractive. What’s Growing in Grandma’s Garden is a book that’s perfect for helping parents start a dialogue about cannabis with younger kids.
If your spouse or partner is worried that your medical use of cannabis will affect your parenting, it’s essential to reassure them as well. Let them know that you plan to use marijuana appropriately (not in front of the children) and that it won’t affect your ability to be a good parent and attend to your family responsibilities. Lastly, make sure you have a plan to store your cannabis in a safe and secure place to avoid accidental misuse.
Ultimately, It’s up to You
If your family is resistant to your plans after you’ve done all you can to allay their fears and reassure them, you’ll have to make a decision that works for you. While you can help your loved ones to see that cannabis could be a potential solution to your health issues, only you know the level of pain, anxiety, or debilitation you are experiencing. You dont need to apologize for choosing to deal with it in a healthy and responsible way.