July 18th, 2019
Coming Out of the Cannabis Closet
My mom is probably the strongest person I know and can sometimes be the most intimidating. As a registered nurse, she agrees with its medicinal qualities as she administers it to patients. However, she’s against recreational use.
I took a risk and came out to her about my passion in the cannabis space. This is how my “coming-out” conversation went.
Read about my Mother’s Day Letter here to learn more about my mom.
She said… a lot.
- She heard from her friends that a group of tourists went to a tourist shop somewhere in Europe (they can’t remember where) and purchased a bag of chips and noticed that it made them feel “different”. They looked on the back of the bag and said they saw the word “cannabis” as one of the ingredients. This solidified her fears that the government can’t guarantee that cannabis is or can be strictly regulated and controlled. Therefore making it impossible to ensure that it won’t get into our daily food products.
- The only time when people need to consume cannabis is when they’re sick if you’re not sick then why do you need to consume cannabis recreationally?
- Cannabis is the same as Opium, it’s just slightly less harmful, but the addictive-life-ruining qualities are still there.
- Legalizing cannabis means that the drug will be made into candies and anyone can mistakenly consume it and get hurt, especially our children!
- What if someone walks into a store and doesn’t know that it’s a ‘cannabis shop’ and inadvertently purchases cannabis without knowing; what if the store clerk doesn’t know that there’s cannabis in the product?
- She called me a ‘druggie’ that was brainwashed by Justin Trudeau and that among other reasons, cannabis legalization was one of the main reasons it will be affecting her vote for the next election.
I’m trying to get into the industry and work as an entrepreneur and it was the same response – that it would be ok to work in the industry and not to consume it! I tried to explain that the reason for legalization is to eliminate the black market, so it’s regulated and controlled so her fears (all of the above) won’t be realized.
The story my mom ‘heard’ from her friends – so many holes in it that I couldn’t even address it properly, but she was convinced that it was true.
I tried to convince her (which I really shouldn’t have) that people don’t just unknowingly walk into a ‘cannabis shop’ and not know what they’re buying. Even if that happened, the likely-hood of the salesperson not advising what the shop sells is almost impossible! Plus, if you as a consumer walked into a shop and didn’t know what it was selling, wouldn’t you make an effort and find out? And if it truly made you uncomfortable then why would you purchase it in the first place?
The most frustrating comment was when she mentioned that people who should consume cannabis are those that are sick and if you’re not “sick” why do you need to consume cannabis. This comment really shows a side of cultural and societal setbacks and misconceptions related to not only Chinese Canadians. Defining what is an illness/sickness, just because someone is functioning ‘normally’ doesn’t mean they don’t have serious illnesses beyond physical health. A person does not have to be lying in a hospital bed to be considered sick. It painted a clear picture of what she thought of the term “recreational consumption”; mainly for the purpose of partying.
The opium comparison (I saw this coming), my mom referenced Chinese history regarding opium dens and that cannabis was a drug of choice for consumption in these dens. I tried to convince her that the proper legal cannabis plant is not harmful and that regulation will help to make it safe and that opium is on a whole other level of drug conversation. It came back around to the fact that both drugs require you to smoke it hence making them the same.
The topic of children accidentally consuming cannabis-infused candies, this is obviously a terrible thing to happen and unfortunately has happened. I explained to her that this goes back to responsible adult use and this can still just as easily happen if it were pills or alcohol but it’s up to parents and adults to safeguard these substances away from children.
One thing I wish I didn’t do was to compare cannabis to alcohol. I for one don’t drink very often, in fact, I’m trying to cut alcohol completely. So I end up bashing the alcohol industry and its negative health effects (I’m biased because I’m allergic/intolerant to alcohol and receive judgements about not being a drinker).
The most challenging part of that whole conversation was trying to understand my mom’s reasoning. I just found it so confusing; knowing of the medicinal benefits but not understanding the medical reasoning behind recreational legalization, or approving me to work in the space but not consume it, or not understanding the difference between cannabis and other substances related to health concerns, or being under the impression that the Canadian government is getting something out of legalization.
I have to admit that the conversation didn’t go as well as I thought because it did take a left turn and ended up becoming a bit argumentative. Although, I did notice one thing clearly, all of her questions and misconceptions came from one place – fear.
Fear of the unknown, and all the negative possibilities that would occur if this substance was not properly controlled and that the outcome would destroy lives and hurt people.
After taking a couple of moments to really think about what mom was saying, I’m still optimistic. Breaking down stigma for cannabis can only happen if we shredded away the cultural barriers and the practices of “no talk is good talk”. Bantering back and forth will help to layout “coming-out” playbooks and tools for others to do the same!
At least now, I know what I’m up against and can do the research I need in order to address these questions and concerns. Thanks mom!