How to have a discussion about therapeutic cannabis with family and friends

You’ve made the decision to be in the cannabis program and it’s helped you. A lot. Now you want to know how to tell your family and friends that you regularly use cannabis, but you’re just not sure how to have that conversation.

Even though cannabis may give you relief from your symptoms and may have gotten you off of some of your medications, and even though it has made a positive difference in your life, it’s still difficult to talk about using a substance that has been painted as something that only “bad people” use.

No one wants to appear bad or wrong, especially among family members.

The first thing you need to decide is if it’s important to tell people. You wouldn’t necessarily start a conversation about a health condition and what medications you are on with “Hey, neighbor, have I ever told you that I have a cardiac condition and need to use beta-blockers?” Your health and your medications are really nobody’s business.

As a result, many therapeutic cannabis patients keep quiet about their usage, but when you live with family members sometimes you have to let them know about your cannabis use. For some, it’s an easier discussion than others. However, you might be surprised at your family’s reaction. In a recent poll by CNN 84 percent of Americans support legalization of therapeutic cannabis.

So how do you begin that tricky conversation?

Honesty works best

Tell your family members that you are taking therapeutic cannabis because a doctor determined that it was the right choice for your condition. If you have been taking medications that haven’t worked in the past, mention those as factors for your decision. Family members don’t want to see you in pain and if they know that cannabis helps you, they will be more willing to accept it.

Remind your family members of how you were before you started the program – it might be that your pain and/or anxiety is much better now – point to differences that your family can see.

Elevate the conversation about cannabis

Explain that recreational cannabis is much different than therapeutic cannabis. The goal of recreational cannabis is to feel euphoria. The goal of therapeutic cannabis is to use the lowest dose possible in order to manage your symptoms. The therapeutic program provides safety, purity, and measured doses of cannabis products. You are not taking “street drugs” when you use therapeutic cannabis.

Elevate the conversation by using therapeutic cannabis program terms instead of slang:

  • Euphoria – not high
  • Pre-roll – not joint or blunt
  • Flower – not pot or weed
  • Concentrate – instead of hash or crumble

Be there for your family

Remind your family members that you are still there for them. Just because you are using cannabis you aren’t going to act weird or strange. They can still rely on you to help out and be around.

Make it positive

Tell your family members that you are in the therapeutic program and that you have found it helps you. If you can point to the changes in you from before and after starting cannabis “Before I started using cannabis I had a lot of pain and I was grouchy and now my pain is under control and I’m happier.”

You know that piece of advice to smile when you are on the phone because people will be able to hear the smile in your voice? Approach the cannabis discussion with a positive attitude. Do not act like you are doing something wrong; instead, come to the discussion with the conviction that you are doing a good thing for your body and that you are taking control of your health journey. Make your body language match your message.

You want your family to be there to help make it work

Enlist your family to help you. They don’t have to partake with you, but they do have to give you time to smoke or use products if you need it or give you time for the cannabis to kick in before everyone goes somewhere. Cannabis is not like traditional medicine – you don’t just take a pill three times a day and expect it to work. Cannabis affects everyone differently and it can even affect the same person differently on different days. Let your family members know that you see your health journey as a team effort and you want them to be there for you as much as you want to be there for them.

Set ground rules and boundaries

Let your family know that you will stand by any ground rules that they decide. No smoking in the house? Got it. No using products around Grandma? That’s fine. Assure your family that you will be respectful of them just as you are asking them to be respectful of you.

Assure everyone that your cannabis products will be locked and kept out of sight and reach of children.

Ask for honest feedback

Encourage your family members to ask any questions they have of the program or your usage. Ask them to tell you if they see anything that they don’t like or that makes them uncomfortable. It’s important to keep the lines of communication open.

Use a catch phrase

Instead of saying “I’m going to go outside and smoke a pre-roll,” you might want to come up with a less charged phrase along the lines of “I’m going to take my medicine now” – that way family members will know what you are doing and there won’t be any awkward discussion.

Ultimately it’s your decision to do what you want with your body. If your family members still have an issue with you using therapeutic cannabis products, then it might be a case of case of “we’re going to have to agree to disagree.” Respect their feelings about the program and either be discrete or use cannabis products out of sight of others.

Wendy E. N. Thomas is a candidate for the New Hampshire House of Representatives Hillsborough County, District 21. She is also in the NH Therapeutic Cannabis program. Thomas agrees with the State-wide Democratic platform of legalizing cannabis in New Hampshire, she would also like to see the Therapeutic Cannabis program expanded to include Anxiety, Lyme Disease, and insomnia (for starters.) 

Thomas also understands that people need to know about what cannabis can do, how to keep it away from children, and how to use it responsibly (in the same way that the alcohol industry talks about responsible drinking.)

All opinions reflected in this article and any future articles on the Democratic cannabis platform are the opinions of Candidate Thomas and do not reflect any company or industry.

Thomas works at Prime ATC in Merrimack as a Patient Liaison. The contents of this article are not sanctioned by Prime ATC or any of its affiliates. Contact Thomas at .