Talking Cannabis : A Thanksgiving discussion

By: Angela Viesti

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As we gather around the dinner table with our families and loved ones, an opportunity to spark change in the way they perceive cannabis presents itself. This isn’t always an easy conversation to have, so here are a few ways to prepare yourself for being a cannabis advocate during the holiday season.

Have empathy for your “audience”

Before you begin playing the conversation out in your head, consider where your audience is coming from culturally and generationally. Their opinions about cannabis may have been influenced by Reefer Madness or the “Just Say No” campaign. Perhaps they’ve seen too many members of their communities incarcerated for possession of the plant. Maybe they regard cannabis as a drug and subscribe to stereotypical views of “stoners”.

Understanding the root of someone’s beliefs makes for a more empathic conversation that could prove enlightening for both parties. Before asking others to be open minded, make sure you lead by example.

Respect for the Plant

By using its scientific name, cannabis,–versus “marijuana” (a term popularized in the prohibition era, intended to vilify Mexican immigrants) or slang terms, like “weed”–you establish your own level of respect for the plant. Some find it unnatural to use scientific language in casual conversation, but this display of reverence speaks volumes when changing people’s perceptions.

Start with Education

Most of the negative stigma surrounding cannabis consumption has to do with misinformation and propaganda of years past. Point to research and evidence of the therapeutic value of cannabis as a means to educate your loved ones. Be curious about their point of view: find out when they were first made aware of cannabis and how their life experiences shaped their perspective on it.

You may not win them over in your first attempt, but plant the seed now! Let it germinate and take root in their minds.

Introduce them to CBD

Most people have heard of cannabidiol (CBD), but few truly understand it. This is your opportunity to turn your folks on to CBD-rich cannabis- and hemp-derived products and to become their go-to-person on the topic. You don’t need to be an expert to point them in the right direction. Inform them of the low THC content in hemp (less than 0.3%), and how this means they won’t feel “high” when consuming CBD-rich products.

Point to any cannabinoid chart to show them how many active healing properties the CBD compound has. Introduce them to CBD skincare products and bath bombs.  Show them how tinctures and topicals have become a staple in your anxiety- and pain-management regimen. Being a wealth of knowledge on the topic will ease them of their weariness and could be the tipping point for their own exploration of CBD.  

The Historic Roots of Cannabis

Equipping yourself with history and facts about cannabis, prohibition, and legalization will help dismantle outdated stereotypes.

Cannabis has been used by humans for thousands of years, with roots in ancient Chinese and Vedic medicines. It was introduced to Western Medicine in the 19th century, but during the early 20th century, prohibition and criminalization of its possession and distribution began.

The HIV/AIDS crisis that began in the 1980s was the catalyst to Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, making California the first state to adopt medical cannabis laws to protect patients seeking relief from chonic illness and dignity during their final days.

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The Changing Law of the Land

Point out the obvious: There is a massive global shift in the way we view cannabis.In the 2018 US midterm election, Michigan, Missouri, and Utah passed medical and recreational cannabis laws. In October 2018, Canada became the first North American nation to legalize cannabis on a federal level, with Mexico steadily moving forward with new legislation.

Of course, a new global industry means new opportunities to capitalize, which makes for a hot topic in the mainstream conversation about cannabis. Remind your family that this is so much more than an industry: It’s a movement, and people’s lives–not just livelihoods–are at stake.

Come Out About Your Cannabis Use

If facts, research, history, and legalization aren’t enough to sway your relatives, consider how they might feel knowing that someone they love is reaping the benefits of cannabis medicine. This can be a scary idea, but becoming their real-life example of a cannabis patient could sway their views on who consumes cannabis and eliminate unjust stigmas.

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