Coming Out of the Green Closet: Talking to Your Family About Your Cannabis Use

How open are you about your cannabis use? Now that 29 states have legalized cannabis either medicinally or recreationally, this formerly taboo topic is finally starting to become normal—however, many patients still shy away from addressing it with their family. If you’re considering having “the (cannabis) talk” with your family this holiday season, here are a few things to keep in mind:

(1) Is there any reason that you shouldn’t talk about your cannabis use? Regardless of how uncomfortable the conversation might feel at first, honesty is usually the best policy. The most effective way to combat the misconceptions about cannabis & the individuals who use it is for more of us to be open about it—the main reason that the stereotype of a “lazy stoner” even exists is that those individuals were the only ones who were open about their use. When we hide out in the “green closet” from our families & friends, we help perpetuate the “lazy stoner” image by not providing an alternative one. The only situation where you might want to avoid the conversation? If you live in 1 of the 21 states where cannabis isn’t legal in some capacity.

(2) Consider your audience. Who are you planning on having this conversation with—your parents? Siblings? Grandparents? Nieces/nephews? Your kids? Depending on who you’re talking to, you’ll want to tailor the conversation. Take what you know about that person into account—are they familiar with cannabis? Or is it something they’ve always seen as a drug? Meet them where they are at & be patient—for many people, coming to the understanding that cannabis is medicine is a huge step in itself!

(3) Focus on the benefits you receive from using cannabis. The easiest place to start is probably the medical reason(s) you choose to use cannabis, especially for family members who may be initially skeptical. Tell them about how you felt before using cannabis & how you feel now. Your family doesn’t want you to be sick or in pain—even if they aren’t fully on board with the cannabis part of the equation yet, it’s good for them to see you feeling better because of it. By letting your family see cannabis impact your life positively, you’re directly combatting the misconceptions they may have had about it. (Say what you will, but it’s hard to deny that cannabis works when you see someone you love free of the anxiety or pain they usually experience.)

(4) Be open to answering questions. If your family has no prior experience with cannabis, they’re likely to have questions. This is great, because it means that they want to have a better understanding of cannabis & why you use it—they aren’t just shutting you out & refusing to talk about it further. It can be helpful to think about some of the questions your family may have in advance—“Isn’t cannabis addictive?”, “What are the negative side effects of using cannabis?”, “Can you overdose on cannabis?”, etc. While some of these questions may seem ridiculous to you, remember that they’re asking you because they don’t know & they want to. (You can also send them to if they’re interested in doing some more reading about medical cannabis & the cannabis industry!)

(5) Don’t stress. Perhaps the most important thing to remember during this conversation is not to stress. Take a deep breath & think about how relieved you’ll feel when you no longer have to hide your cannabis use from your family. Cannabis has always had this amazing ability to connect people—even if you won’t be lighting up with your parents anytime soon, you can still share the positive impact cannabis has had on your life with them.

For those of you who still feel like it’s not the right time to have the conversation, whether you aren’t ready or your family isn’t, it’s okay. Try building up to talking about your personal use of cannabis with conversations about cannabis in general to test the waters—who knows, your family may be more accepting than you originally thought they’d be!

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