There’s a certain path that new slang terms or memes can generally be relied upon to take: They grow from obscurity – maybe you hear one from a socially well-connected friend, or spot it on Twitter. Soon you’re hearing it from more and more people, and exactly at the moment when everyone tires of it, a politician drops it awkwardly into a speech, or a huge corporation co-opts it in a marketing campaign. Then one day your parents text you “it’s lit,fam!” and you know that particular bit of culture has arrived at its final destination.
The popularity of cannabis is… not dissimilar from that. Its availability and ubiquity has been on a massive upward surge ever since recreational use was legalized in California. Now, getting weed delivery in Los Angeles – the largest legal marketplace for cannabis in the country – is just about as simple as getting food delivery. Politicians now joke about having used it, and fast food restaurants are targeting users with munchie-centric ad campaigns.
You probably know where we’re going with this.
There is going to come a time when your parents ask you about cannabis. Or when you realize that one or both of your parents has a medical issue that could be addressed by cannabis. Or when one of your more loose-lipped cousins blurts out that you’re a cannabis connoisseur at a family gathering (“I thought everyone knew!”).
You should be prepared for the talk, especially if your family isn’t a particularly open one. It might be a challenging discussion, but here are a few things to keep in mind to smooth things out:
Be honest and don’t prevaricate. If your parents are coming to you for advice about pot, emember: You (probably) don’t work for the cannabis industry, so not really under any obligation to bring in new customers. Weed isn’t for everyone, and you know your parents better than the best budtenders in the world, so don’t be afraid to tell them if you don’t think weed is right for them. And don’t be afraid to let them know about the aspects of weed you think might not agree with their tastes or constitutions.
Your elders might not be the prudes you think they are. Like, come on – even if your parents weren’t around during the sixties, they were around in the seventies, eighties or nineties. Don’t assume that just because they’re old and don’t smoke weed that that means they never smoked weed. Heck, they probably stopped because you were born, you big party pooper.
But then again, they might be. If they did come through the eighties, they might have picked up some of the just-say-no culture that arose in that decade. They might be uncertain about cannabis because it’s been legally unavailable for so long, or they might not be fans of mind-altering substances in general. If that’s the case, you’ll need to accept that it’s going to be awkward.
Use facts and logic, but remember they might not respond the way you want them to. They might dig in deeper. If your parents are conservative about cannabis, you’ll want to be ready with the kinds of facts they need to help unlearn generations of misconceptions. But beware of the backfire effect: That’s when people who have deeply-rooted beliefs only dig in deeper when presented with evidence that contradicts those beliefs. It’s something marijuana legalization advocates have dealt with their entire careers: Give someone a librarian’s ransom in facts and evidence, and they’ll still just say it doesn’t feel right to them. If that’s the case with your folks, you might not get very far.
Remember that they’re very likely on other medications. If your parents are elderly, they may have a whole host of little pill bottles on the kitchen counter. Most of us take some kind of medication or other, but as we age and our bodies begin to tenderize, those medications tend to increase in number. Not only might your parents have to keep track of their medication, but also keep track of the way those medications’ side effects interact with each other. Working pot into that equation might be a no-can-do. Your parents should check with their doctors before making a decision.
Remind them that cannabis is a painkiller. Getting old sucks. That’s something we can all agree on. Your knees start to hurt, your lower back aches, and your joints get stiff – for starters. But cannabis to the rescue, man. You don’t need to have advanced arthritis for the painkilling effects of pot to be useful. It might be especially useful for an aging work force, many of whom have jobs that keep them on their feet. Cannabis might be exactly what your parents need.
Don’t forget that Mom and Dad like have fun. We keep talking about the medical and mental health benefits of cannabis, and we haven’t noted yet that using cannabis is a BLAST. Anything that alleviates anxiety and boosts creativity tends to be, you know… fun. And your parents deserve fun!
Offer to join them. If your parents are thinking of smoking weed or using edibles for the first time, one of the best things you can do – other than offer them the wisdom of your experience – is be with them when they try it for the first time. And by “be with them,” we mean do whatever they need you to – whether it’s getting high with them, or keeping a clear head yourself and sitting for them if they’re nervous about how it’ll feel.
Remember: Take it slow. If cannabis is a contentious subject for you and your parents, the best way to address it is to keep the lines of communication open. If you leave this conversation feeling downhearted, there’ll be other chances to address it in the future. Just the fact that you’re bringing up the topic with them means there’s always hope.
It’s an ongoing conversation. Whatever the circumstances under which you’re talking to your parents about – whether it’s admitting to them that you use cannabis or offering to be their guide into its world – remember that you’re there to be a resource for them. Being a resource means being there to answer their questions and give them advice. You’re a good kid. You can do it.