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How to successfully come out of the "cannabis closet?" With 7 conversational insights

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 PC: Pixabay

PC: Pixabay

The landscape of cannabis is rapidly changing, allowing stigmas of old to change tide and shift out of consciousness. But with the changes come awkward conversations and challenging experiences, which is what occurred when I told my mom I accepted a job in the cannabis industry. See how my decision to work in a highly controversial industry changed the relationship with my mom and get my thoughts on the best ways to tell someone you love about your cannabis use.

Growing up in a small town in the Midwest, raised with conservative Christian values didn’t equate to consuming the herb very often, or ever, prior to my mid-twenties. I was a high-level athlete who never rocked the boat; I received straight A’s in high school and always did what I was asked, my siblings tolerated me, but my mom loved me. I was the “golden boy,” if you asked any of my brothers or sisters.

Shortly after graduating in 2014, from Michigan State University I moved westward to California where I coached wrestling for 1 season at Stanford University, and developed a taste for the controversial plant many of us love today. I eventually left my wrestling career behind and moved north to Marin County, Ca. When I told my mom about my decision to work in the industry she was aware of my use and wasn’t too keen on me or any of my siblings using it. She believed it to be mostly negative.  

I called her one morning and told her how I was going to be writing articles and managing social media accounts for Nice Guys Delivery, and the first words out of her mouth were, “that’s not going to be on Facebook is it?” I think I fell out of “golden boy” status in that moment.

Positive change manifests from open and honest communication

Telling my mom, I worked in the cannabis industry could have been destructive and downright bad, but I tried to keep the conversation light and informative. I may have side-stepped her questioning tone in the moment, but since have eased tension surrounding the topic quite a bit. I found highlighting the benefits of my decision and taking the time to explain why I enjoy cannabis helped alleviate some of her concerns. I talked about the research going into it and the benefits people were saying they felt from it, I told her I could receive health insurance from the company and that it was completely legal in the state I was working.

She asked quite a few questions but never tried to control the situation, which I’m grateful for. Since our initial conversation she’s changed her view a lot. She still doesn’t like the idea of her kids using the plant for recreational purposes, but I don’t believe she views it as the destructive force she once did. She recently began asking questions about CBD and whether or not it would be a good option for her, and when I go home for holidays I don’t feel like I have to hide my consumption habits any longer.

I may no longer be the “golden boy” in her mind, but at least she has a more accurate representation of me and what I’m into as a young adult, strengthening our relationship for the future.

Below is a list of conversational insights to consider when faced with a similar situation and you're worried about damaging a relationship after coming out of the “cannabis closet.”

  1. Enter the conversation with an open mind. We as people commonly project wrong beliefs about what we think someone else thinks, rather than simply being open and honest about our thoughts and allowing the person to form their own opinions. No two minds think exactly alike.
  2. If at all possible talk in person rather than phone or other methods of communication. I called because I live 2,500 miles from where my mom lives.
  3. Explain the plants long history used across multiple cultures throughout the world.
  4. Highlight the science and discuss the positive aspects of the plant but keep it simple and try to avoid jumping directly into the extended canna-lingo because that approach can produce a negative response in some people. It’s never a good idea to make someone feel dumb, even when done unintentionally.
  5. Set and setting matter. Approach the conversation when the person is relaxed, in a good mood, and has a moment to listen to what you have to say. I don’t recommend discussing this stuff during a busy or highly stressful time.
  6. Prepare for the unexpected. You might find that the person you’re talking to is a user themselves. There are still plenty of closet smokers in 2018 - through opening yourself and talking about your beliefs you might inspire someone else to do the same.
  7.  Always respect their opinion. You may not change their thoughts after one conversation, and chances are likely you won’t. But the way you respond to their reaction goes a long way in the way they perceive cannabis in the future.

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