How to Navigate a Family That Doesn’t Understand Cannabis
With the legalization of marijuana, a lot of people are being more open and accepting of cannabis usage. The world is changing one day at a time — in a good way. You can buy THC-infused cupcakes after a ten-minute drive. Little pot leaves wink at you from grocery store shelves, advertising CBD lotions, tinctures, and vapes. Dispensaries have rewards programs. Things are going great.
So, why do so many cannabis users still have to deal with judgment from relatives?
The stigma surrounding cannabis is slowly beginning to lift, but that doesn’t mean that it’s gone. Instead of getting baited into the same old discussion with your relatives, you need to make a plan before all of those vaccine-approved family holidays come back in full force.
Before you find yourself once again debating your life choices with a relative, it is important to remember that these issues are almost never entirely about cannabis use. While your family might very well disapprove of your cannabis use, that probably isn’t why you are so bothered by it.
Plenty of people have negative opinions about cannabis, so what makes this so different?
It’s simple. This is personal.
Unfortunately, successfully navigating this problem requires you to take a step back from the issue. You can’t always fight a cannabis problem by using Family Fight Club techniques.
What it Looks Like
When our relatives voice their opinion about our cannabis usage, it can come up in a lot of different ways. Anti-cannabis views can vary from subtle and passive-aggressive all the way to full-on character attacks.
- Looking away or rolling the eyes if you mention cannabis
- Making disapproving noises when it is mentioned
- Repeatedly asking when you are going to stop using it
- Continuously sharing misinformation surrounding cannabis use as facts in order to convince you to stop
- Blatantly demanding that you stop using it
- Making derogatory remarks regarding your “drug problem”
- Intentionally speaking ill of cannabis or its users in front of you
Ways to Navigate the Issue
Where cannabis is involved, tensions can be high. It is important to remember that your family likely wants to fight more than you do. People who dislike cannabis are often very vocal and fairly aggressive about it because they’ve been supported in their ideology for literal decades.
Clearly tell them to drop it
One of the best and most direct ways to handle the issue is simply to dismiss it from the conversation. If you know for a fact that your family will not change their opinion and simply wants to fight about it, clearly state the boundary and refuse to discuss it further.
Change the topic
In the same way that you might dismiss an annoying acquaintance that keeps trying to discuss their most recent MLM scheme by suddenly asking about someone else’s new hobby instead, you can simply change the topic. Refuse to be baited into the conversation and move onto something else. If they continue to push the issue, there is no disputing that they are in the wrong.
The sad truth is that there is a lot of misinformation surrounding cannabis. For decades, various groups have waged war on cannabis and worked very hard to fill people with fear. It is an unfortunate truth — but what is taught can be untaught too.
For those of you who have families that are open to talking and are fairly open-minded, it might be time to have the talk. It can be difficult and frustrating to explain what seems like an obvious set of facts to you, but some people need it. Show your family that what they know is wrong — and use sources, don’t just disagree with them. Show them the proof.
Appeal to authority
For people who are more susceptible to fanatical beliefs, authority can be a highly effective play. Show your family all of the talented individuals throughout history who have used cannabis.
A lot of people are surprised to learn that world-changing scientists like Oliver Sacks — who redefined medicine with experimental treatments and has been published in hundreds of medical journals — or Francis Crick, the molecular biologist responsible for determining the structure of DNA — also smoked pot.
The fact that so many big names in science have been cannabis users is a great way to shut down the ridiculous trope that marijuana rots your mind.
Tell them how you feel
For some families, the best approach is the family approach. Tell them how their negative language makes you feel. Explain to them that cannabis is a part of your life that isn’t going anywhere and that you don’t appreciate the constant animosity and tension these discussions cause.
If your family thinks that they are doing the right thing, this can help them to realize that they might be wrong.
Remind them that you aren’t XYZ
A common issue with cannabis use in families is that your relative might know someone who smoked weed and had some pretty serious issues. The average person does not have problems with cannabis use, but some people do.
It might be that your family knew someone who smoked weed but also treated their body as an ongoing chemical cocktail, and now they can’t tell the difference. Maybe they knew someone who smoked pot and grew up to be a total loser. Remind them who you are and explain that cannabis isn’t negatively impacting your life.
Consider the Other Side
Not every family member that disapproves of your cannabis use has a problem with cannabis specifically. Unfortunately, any time we face a situation where someone close to us expresses concern, we must consider both sides. While plenty of people use cannabis without issue — and with many benefits — that isn’t the case for everyone.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Has cannabis influenced my motivation levels?
- Do I spend the majority of my day smoking cannabis for non-medical reasons?
- Am I showing up to family events high?
- Are my obligations being met?
- Am I not myself when I smoke?
- Am I progressing at an appropriate rate in my life?
The reality is that for some people, cannabis is a problem. There are some people who use cannabis to shut out certain feelings or to avoid obligations. Some people use it in a medicinal capacity without consulting a doctor. And, some people have other problems that simply match the negative stereotypes that come with cannabis use.
While some relatives dislike it when someone in their family uses cannabis because of their personal issues with cannabis, others are simply worried about a series of behaviors.
If you can’t smoke weed and manage your daily affairs or move your life forward, cannabis might not be right for you — or, there might be more to discuss.
When it comes down to it, the best way to navigate family tension surrounding any topic is to remain calm and refuse to be baited. No family problem has ever been resolved by screaming I’m right.
You are an adult and it is your legal right to smoke, vape, and eat edibles when you want to. You don’t need their permission, so avoid falling into the temperament of a child arguing with their parents about curfew.
Some people simply will not change their minds, and we have to accept that.
Just remember that others will. Don’t give up without a fight.