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It’s that time of the year again, when families and friends travel far and long to gather together to rejoice and give thanks for the blessings in their lives. A time for us all to slow down; and quite frankly, gorge ourselves with delicious nourishment, pastries and wines. Among these self indulgences, could cannabis possibly be taking a seat at your dinner table for the first time?

The cannabis movement is evolving and how involved you choose to be is entirely your prerogative. Coming out to your family about your cannabis intake can be a troubling scenario; assuming they have a negative view on the matter. Regardless of how old or independent we become, there’s still a small part of us that doesn’t want to disappoint our loved ones, but why should our cannabis consumption be framed as a disappointment? Let’s explore the facts – we’ve come a long way since Reefer Madness. Medical and recreational marijuana have become more mainstream than ever before, the NFL has opened up to medicinal research, SXSW introduced cannabis into topic panels this year and Coachella debuted a “Marijuana Oasis” allowing attendees to medicate without feeling persecuted. Not to mention with shows like Weediquette on Viceland, middle America and the rest of the world are getting a front row seat to the positive effects of cannabis for those suffering from illness, PTSD, autism and more. Even Academy Award Winner Kathy Bates got in on the action this year with her interpretation of a dispensary owner in the Netflix Original series Disjointed. Whether or not you consume this herb, a great majority of people within and outside of the United States are familiar with the numerous medical benefits this healing flower provides. Cannabis users are no longer being shunned by society for their enjoyment of consuming. Still, preparing yourself for what could be your big “coming out” moment is highly recommended.

First things first, know your message and your audience. Meaning, being well-informed about cannabis and its unique effect on you. Counteract their misconception about our beloved plant and help defeat the stereotypes about those who consume it. Express all the positive qualities cannabis brings to your life such as expanding your mind, relieving stress and tension, sparking creativity, battling insomnia or revealing that consuming CBD helps relieve your social anxiety or chronic pain? Speak on it. Perhaps using sativas make you a more motivated and active person? Share that. Whatever your experience is be honest and open with them about why you choose to self medicate with cannabis. Timing is also key. Every family is different and flows within its own dynamic. If things are feeling tense to begin with, maybe skip getting on your soapbox this year for a more relaxing time or at least wait until their bellies are full and their wine glasses are empty to share your story. Your family’s reaction to your vulnerability may surprise you. It might feel uncomfortable at first and you may not see eye to eye but that’s completely normal, too. It may take them some time to adjust to the idea of an “altered” version of you.

Not too long ago, I came out to my mother about my own relationship with cannabis. I live in California where it’s medical and soon to be recreational next year. My mom lives in New York City where the marijuana movement is moving quietly and far too slowly. She plays no part in this culture, still concerned that cannabis could lead to “other addictive substances”. To be fair, she’s never been high in her life and goes solely based on hearsay. I, on the other hand, have been self medicating with cannabis for nearly a decade.

Around two years ago, I found my consumption hard to omit when I began working at a dispensary called The Green Easy. Not because I was smoking more (although I was smoking more) but because I wanted to share with her all the incredible knowledge I was obtaining and good we were doing for the community. Things definitely got heated for a moment and looking back it probably wasn’t the best conversation to have while I operated a moving vehicle but I didn’t let it deter me. I needed my mother to realize that even though I willingly partake in something she may not comprehend, I’m still the same person I’ve always been. Both our voices grew with anger but our emotions stemmed from different places.

Like any good parent, my mother’s reaction was due to her concern for my health and well-being but like any confused and reactive human it came out completely wrong. As much as I tried to explain the medicinal facts about cannabis and the government’s agenda to hide these facts, I could see she wasn’t open to hearing it… maybe her head shaking furiously back and forth was what tipped me off? Unfortunately, our conversation left me feeling unheard and misjudged. On the bright side, it also left me feeling lighter yet stronger than ever before. I felt brave and no longer ashamed of my consumption. Although our first cannabis talk didn’t go too well, I never let that stop me from living my truth and expressing it to her numerous times since then. To this day she does not like my participation within the cannabis community but ultimately has no choice than to accept it. She may not agree with my lifestyle but at least she respects me enough to be capable of making the right decisions for myself. Which is great since I’m typically medicated for a lot of our conversations. I don’t do it to be disrespectful or detached in any way and this may sound strange to most people but I love calling my mom when I’m high. FYI she’s probably gonna be really surprised by that confession. I just feel like when I’m high, I’m more present and patient with her, which leads to greater talks and a better understanding of one another. That’s all you can really hope for when it comes to spending quality time with your family.

So if this holiday feels like the right time for you to come out of the cannabis closet and let your cannabis flag fly, simply remember to state the facts, be yourself and maybe pack an extra joint or vape pen in case you unexpectedly need to share or simply “sneak away” from the holiday madness.