I can recall in vivid detail the very first time I came out of the cannabis closet to my parents. In truth, the moment only arrived because of an honest mistake.
After acquiring a job in the emergency room with a local hospital at the age of 19, I told my parents that I would soon be drug tested before I was officially hired as a certified nurse’s assistant. After passing the drug test, I would only need to undergo a routine physical before I could begin working.
“I hope you’re going to pass that drug test,” my mother said with a grin and a wink. My father stood idly by, rolling his eyes with a sigh that suggested we move on to another topic. Though my parents were never against the use of cannabis, neither of them had tried it before in their 50 years on Earth. Truth be told, cannabis was a taboo conversation in our household; it was something we knew existed, but consciously ignored.
“Of course I’ll pass the test!” I exclaimed to her in return. “I haven’t smoked any weed in weeks, just in case this very moment would come.”
The cat was inadvertently let out of the bag. Right then and there, my parents suddenly knew that I used cannabis in some form on a consistent basis. As I stood there with a smile on my face that felt similar in nature to a child’s after they’ve been caught misbehaving, internally my heart began to beat at such a rapid pace that I was sure it would soon explode from my chest. I was caught using cannabis, and now it seemed as if the world might end.
In that very moment, a flurry of questions passed through my head. Was I about to receive the grounding of a lifetime? Was my father reaching for the phone, preparing to call the police? Would my family still see me as the same person!? Much to my surprise, nothing changed. After I exhaled with a sigh of relief, we all began to laugh at the mistake I’d just made. And then we simply moved on.
Coming out of the cannabis closet can be a rather scary moment for many of us. Whether we mistakenly admit to using cannabis just as I did, or instead choose to discuss the topic openly, doing so can feel as if you’re turning yourself in. While cannabis is an often-discussed topic here in the Pacific Northwest, many areas of the country still consider cannabis to be taboo.
I assumed that coming out of the cannabis closet would be a frightening experience. So why weren’t my parents upset by this news? And why was coming out far less eventful than I once assumed it would be?
Simply put, it’s because I was leading a productive and successful life. I was performing well in school, I’d held a steady job since the age of 17, and I was now gaining an opportunity to follow my passion by working in healthcare. I was the antithesis to what my parents grew up believing was your average, unproductive stoner; the kind you see in cult classic movies that couldn’t care less about school, work, or priorities. I was still me. And cannabis didn’t change that.
So what should you do if you’re looking to come out of the cannabis closet? You could reveal such news to your family in accidental fashion just as I once did, or instead you could act with a bit more preparation in mind. Assuming you’d like things to run smoothly, let’s discuss how we can come out of the cannabis closet after taking some time to plan things out.
Step 1: Finding the Right Time & Place
Finding the right time and place is one of the most important aspects of revealing that you use cannabis to family and friends. For instance, disclosing such news isn’t exactly ideal if you’ve booked a reservation with family to an upscale restaurant in town. It also wouldn’t be a great idea during a funeral, for obvious reasons.
When you decide the time has come, consider who will be present and what the mood will be. For many of us, this may be a holiday dinner with immediate family that are more likely to understand where you’re coming from. Spirits will be high, drinks will flow, comfort food will be consumed, and you may even have siblings there to lend support, should you need it.
And if dropping such a bomb seems unnatural or uncomfortable, find a way to segway into the cannabis conversation. Discuss an upcoming marijuana initiative that your state will soon be voting on, or instead explore treatment options if a family member is experiencing regular pain or discomfort. In whatever manner you choose to bring it up, just make sure it’s done in a pleasant environment that lends time for honest discussion.
Step 2: Prepare for Reactions
So you’ve finally shared the news, and now you’re waiting to hear what others have to say in return. For me, coming out of the cannabis closet was a tense situation that my parents took well. They understood then, and continue to now as I work with a cannabis company that’s expanding across the country. Had I known that they would be so supportive, chances are I wouldn’t have found myself nearly as worried when I let the secret slip.
At the end of the day, it pays to prepare for surprising reactions. Good or bad, these responses can be important aspects that shape your relationship with cannabis. After my parents accepted my use of cannabis at 19 and my career working within the cannabis industry later on in life, I was positively impacted and encouraged to continue following my passions.
But what should you do if the reaction you receive is negative?
Step 3: Discuss How Cannabis Has Impacted Your Life
Though my parents never questioned my use of cannabis, or my work in the growing cannabis industry, I chose to openly discuss my positive relationship with cannabis anyway. I revealed to them that using cannabis helped me relax in times of stress, and that it allowed me to sleep when I felt restless. Cannabis kept me engaged with tedious tasks and at times connected me with the outdoors and others.
Of all the steps listed within this article, Step 3 may be the most important one of all. If cannabis has made a positive impact on your life, don’t be afraid to verbalize the benefits and the ways it’s served you. Just like so many of us partake in yoga classes for countless reasons, so many of us also choose to incorporate cannabis into our lives as well. If your family was once hesitant around cannabis, the testimony you provide may be the very information they need to feel comfortable around this popular plant.
Step 4: Understanding the Risks and Benefits of Cannabis
Oddly enough, both of my parents have worked in healthcare for much of their lives, but neither of them know the health risks or benefits associated with cannabis. As a therapeutic drug with the ability to treat numerous medical conditions, cannabis is slowly making a case for use as a tried-and-tested medical option to relieve pain, alleviate discomfort, and far more.
Understanding the risks and benefits of cannabis is an important facet to the cannabis conversation, as family members and friends may have questions that you should be comfortable answering. For instance, if my grandparents disliked cannabis because they didn’t want to smoke it, it would be in my best interest to inform them that cannabis comes in many forms, some of which don’t require smoking at all. Or if instead my sibling was interested in using cannabis for pain relief but didn’t want to feel high, I could then discuss the many options that seek to alleviate pain while ensuring the user retains cognitive function and remains clear-headed.
Because cannabis is a topic that’s still controversial to many, you as a user are acting as an ambassador on behalf of cannabis. Balance your knowledge with an awareness of the risks, and be sure to calm any potential woes that may arise during conversation. If you’re not sure where to begin, review Diem’s Top Cannabis Questions, Answered for more information that you can then share with others.
Step 5: Always Remain Understanding of Others
Despite your best efforts to educate, inform, and alleviate worries surrounding the topic of cannabis, at times you may encounter family and friends that won’t agree with your usage or association with cannabis. As a writer that frequently covers the evolving world of cannabis, it’s my job to establish myself within the industry as I learn something new and pass on such information to others every single day. And admittedly, some of my closest friends and family don’t like what I do.
But that’s okay.
At the end of the day, cannabis is still for everyone. It was grown and appreciated for so long because we all stood to benefit from using it in some form. At times, however, we will undoubtedly encounter those that simply don’t understand, or don’t want to. While it may make sense to grow a little frustrated by such opposition, remember that others will have opinions outside of your control. So long as you remain informed and pass on the necessary evidence that reduces the misinformation surrounding cannabis in the world today, you’re always doing your best. And if someone disapproves of your cannabis use, you can always mellow out with a toke or two. They don’t know what they’re missing.