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Cannabis has long been an inherently polarizing topic. In the context of medical use, physicians and patients continue to struggle with how best to approach treatment in a society that, for the most part, still frowns on the alternative therapy. For adult recreational users in Canada and American states where legalization is now a reality, the subject remains a tough one for many people to tackle, particularly when family is involved.

Inevitably, it’s always best to aim for transparency when making the decision to use cannabis for medical or recreational purposes, which can no doubt lead to a set of challenges. For parents using medical cannabis, speaking with their children about their choice can be a tricky prospect. On the other end of the spectrum, it can be equally uncomfortable for young adults to relay the fact they’ve started consuming cannabis, even in jurisdictions where it’s legal for them to do so.

Both of these scenarios beg the same question: how does one talk to family about their cannabis use? Though the reasons for adopting treatment, or starting adult-use consumption, may be completely different, the means of broaching the topic are nearly identical. And there are a number of safeguards and best practices that can be used in order to respectfully, yet confidently, have that conversation.

In a society drenched in alcohol and drowning in alcoholism (3.3 million deaths related to the substance in 2016), the irony is almost palpable that parents still find it difficult to tell their kids about their cannabis use. But there is a solution: honesty. As cannabis has shifted from a stoner culture to a veritable therapy, more and more parents have started to open up to their children about cannabis. The best way to do so, experts say, is to dive in head first and to bridge a responsible dialogue. Lying about it, on the other hand, can sow the insidious threat of distrust into the relationship.1

Because there are so many people using cannabis for medical purposes, it can be beneficial to cite statistics and share both the general reasons people use cannabis, and the particular reason that mom or dad is using it. Even if the primary reason is bordering on the recreational – relaxing at the end of the day, say – it can be helpful to address the fact that millions of people do the same, and that when used appropriately, cannabis can be extremely helpful.

On the other side of the table, many young adults are beginning to grapple with the question of how best to speak with their parents about their use. Though many of the same attributes –honesty, open dialogue and reasoning – can be affixed to this brand of dialogue, there are definitely a few subtle differences that should be noted.

Let’s assume the parents of a young person using cannabis for medical reasons are already in the know about their son or daughter’s treatment option. But what does that mean for people of adult age who are consuming for recreational purposes? How should he or she bring the topic to the table, especially if the household they live in, or were raised in, is one that doesn’t celebrate use of the drug?

Experts suggest that preparing for the conversation as one would a test on the subject is the best means of building a bridge to empathy. It’s best, they say, to come to the table with three things: science, statistics, and, of course, honesty. While the last item is something of a foregone conclusion at this point, the first two can require a bit of research. But remember, the more knowledge one can lend on the topic, the more likely parents are to accept the decision being discussed.2

A discussion about cannabis doesn’t necessarily need to be one-sided, either. With more and more older adults seeking out alternative or supplementary treatment options, often times their children can be one of the first resources they can turn to for guidance. In this instance, experts say, it’s best again to cite data, underline statistics, and be willing to open a transparent dialogue about the benefits, and potential pitfalls, of using cannabis.3

References:
  1. "Parents who smoke pot." https://www.todaysparent.com/family/parenting/parents-who-smoke-pot/
  2. "The ultimate guide to talking to your parent about weed." https://www.royalqueenseeds.com/blog-the- ultimate-guide-to-talking-to-your-parents-about-weed-n623
  3. "Medical marijuana: A beginner's guide." https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-features/medical- marijuana-a-beginners-guide-199355/

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