Working at a dispensary, pot is not only my livelihood, it is something that I have a deep belief in and a medicine I personally use. My parental figures were my grandparents. Gram and gramps were the children of dairy farmers in rural Wisconsin. They moved the Oregon in the '70s and my grandma worked as a nurse and my grandpa as a machinist. Surprisingly, they've never tried marijuana before so I had my work cut out for me and a lot of stigma to break down. These are some of the successful tips I have for people still tip-toeing around being honest with their families about marijuana usage.
1. Understand the generational difference
If you are a millennial, trying to legitimize marijuana to a generation that was force-fed propaganda isn't an easy task. Before you tell your family or close loved ones understand where they are coming from. My family has a history of drug abuse and they just want me to make healthy choices. My family needed accurate data and education around marijuana. All of the garbage they were told about marijuana is vital to disprove which leads to my next point.
2. Know your shit
My grandparents won't change their minds easily, especially when it comes to "drugs" like marijuana. I started passively emailing them articles about marijuana and its medicinal purposes. I would send them articles explaining what marijuana really is, and also broke down marijuana chemically explaining the value of CBD's and what trichomes are. The documentary by Sanjay Gupta "Weed" is a great place to start. I wanted to give them information to digest and process passively by themselves. It's important to provide knowledge to those who have had no experience with the drug, so they can start making informed decisions around marijuana issues. Education should come in passive forms so your loved ones don't feel like they immediately need to respond or react. Let them sit with the information.
3. Prepare for multiple conversations
Getting your family to accept your marijuana use will take more than just one simple conversation. There might be tears, there will be frustration, but this is what it takes. This is education and it can be messy on an emotional level. When I first starting working for Brightside Community Foundation (a medical marijuana dispensary) I told them it was a non-proﬁt that specialized in helping people ﬁnd alternative forms of medicine to promote overall wellness. I was a coward but I knew if I attached marijuana to this job their support would immediately be compromised. Eventually my grandma took it upon herself to google Brightside and found out that what I meant by "alternative medicine," which was actually code for marijuana. At ﬁrst she was scared because she didn't want me getting in trouble, but did believe it had a medicinal purpose in society. At this point in time, I did not come out about telling her my personal usage of marijuana. I had to ease her into it. I couldn't say her baby granddaughter who just graduated from PSU not only works for a dispensary, but also is a raging pothead.
4. Come Clean
At this point the cat was pretty much out of the bag. When my grandparents asked me if I personally smoked weed, I took a deep breath, looked at the ﬂoor and said, "yes." I knew I had nothing to be ashamed of and I knew they weren't going to hate me for it, but saying it out loud to my family was heavy. I got the same look my grandma gives me when she talks about alcohol. She trusts my better judgement but she is still basically my mother and wants to make sure I am being smart and safe about it. It felt so good to be honest with the people that matter to me the most. Even though they might not be fully convinced, they still love and support me anyways. My point is that chances are, your family won't disown you. They need to be educated around the subject of marijuana in order to start making informed decisions and decide what is best for themselves as adults. Until we are able to comfortably talk with out families and loved ones about marijuana, legalization will continue to be a struggle.
5. Keep your family accountable
Even after I came out of the green closet to my family, I still work every day to chip away at the unwarranted stigmas that are still deeply ingrained within my grandparents. The other day I brought a delicious medicated pumpkin bar home. Before I put it in the fridge I labeled it "MEDICATED" and told my grandpa not to eat it because he will get high. My grandfather gave me a stern look and told me he understands when people use marijuana products for medicinal purposes, but was wary about my recreational use. Basically, he was giving me shit due his unchecked personal bias against marijuana. My response to his comments was that if I walked into the house with a six-pack of beer or bottle of wine, would we be having this same conversation? He quickly understood the double standard I was presenting and apologized. Rome wasn't built in a day and it's important to understand that these conversations will still come up. Stand your ground and work to educate those around you. This process will not resolve itself over night. Remain patient, have heart, and know that your family (and the rest of the country) is coming around. Don't give up now!