Many feel a sense of freedom after being honest about their cannabis consumption, especially with family. The holidays are coming up and for many, the holidays mean a lot of family time. For those that haven’t “come out” of the cannabis closet, the holiday season can be a perfect opportunity to start having the conversation.

If you have a decent relationship with your family, it is likely they will take your cannabis revelation pretty well. But if you have any concerns about your family’s receptiveness, there are a few tips that will help you stay calm and get through a potentially difficult conversation a little more easily.

Don’t get defensive.

A lot of our family members, especially those from generations before us, grew up being taught that cannabis is a dangerous drug with dangerous consequences. While times are quickly changing, we can’t expect everyone to be on our timeline. Go into the conversation with a bit of compassion, understand that some of their established biases may come out. That’s okay; these conversations should be more about being open than being right.

Start personal.

Explain how cannabis helps you. Chances are, your family is more interested in your relationship with cannabis than anything else. Take the time to explain why you choose cannabis, whether it is for medical reasons, mental health reasons, or simply an alternative to other vices. If you can help your family understand your personal reasons for choosing cannabis, it’s likely they will be more empathetic towards your use.

Know the basic facts.

We know a lot more about cannabis now than we did before, so use these facts to your advantage! Get up to date on some of the big talking points. Mention that the United Nations couldn’t find a single instance of cannabis-related overdose throughout the world, despite it being the most consumed drug on the planet. Explain that we come equipped with an entire system in our bodies for processing cannabinoids and that our bodies even make natural forms of many chemicals found in cannabis. Facts always trump opinion, so come prepared with a few.

Explain the broader benefits of legal cannabis.

Even if your family members don’t buy into the idea that cannabis is a wonder-plant, there are logical benefits, beyond medicinal, for legalizing cannabis. Let them know that medical cannabis states saw a 23% decrease in opioid addiction after legalization. Bring up the fact that legal cannabis can provide hundreds of thousands of jobs, millions of dollars in tax revenue, and keep hundreds of thousands out of jail for minor offenses. Giving them a sense of the big picture may be helpful.

Manage your expectations.

You can’t expect your family members to want to share a joint with you immediately, but bonus points if they do! It may take time for them to fully accept your cannabis use and that is okay. Manage your expectations before starting the conversation and realize changing their minds may only come with time. Again, this conversation is more about being open than it is about getting immediate acceptance or being right.

About the Writer

Tricia Cleppe is a freelance cannabis content strategist and writer. She previously worked as Senior Manager of Marketing for New Frontier Data, a leading cannabis data & analytics firm. She began her career in cannabis as a Digital Strategist for the LA-based cannabis non-profit Spark The Conversation, on whose board she sits.