So, you’ve discovered that cannabis might transform your health. Maybe you’ve just found out it’s available on prescription in the UK, perhaps you’re already a regular user, or have tried it out and found it’s the medicine for you.
Getting hold of cannabis isn’t really the issue for many people. It’s widely available, whether that’s through legal routes or other avenues, if you can afford to pay for it. But the stigma that simply shouldn’t exist in this day and age, in the face of a wealth of evidence of safety and efficacy, is a large part of what stops people from trying (or openly using) cannabis to treat whatever medical need they have.
If you’ve reached the point where you’ve decided enough is enough; it’s time to be loud and proud about how cannabis helps you, or to bite the bullet and get that cannabis prescription instead of the pharmaceutical drugs that haven’t been working for you. You might be faced with a new problem: What your loved ones think.
Now, there will be plenty of people who see this and say “who cares?”. Surely what you use as a medicine is nobody else’s business. Well, this is quite true, but if you have family or friends who are staunchly anti-cannabis this can present a seriously contentious issue that can come between loved ones unnecessarily. Rightly or wrongly, it’s just the situation 100 years of propaganda have left us in, and just because you feel strongly about something doesn’t mean you’re happy to wage war for it, or lie about it. No one needs that stress, particularly people who are already suffering.
So, what can you do about it?
If cannabis works for you, or you feel it’s worth a good shot, it’s not reasonable that you should be forced to forget about it because of what others think. What’s more, doing so only feeds into the skewed perception of cannabis we’re all trying to push against. But tackling the subject is often easier said than done.
It’s OK if you’re struggling with this. You’re not alone. People face difficult talks with loved ones every day – whether that’s about cannabis use, coming out, drug dependency issues, mental health, or just something you feel you need to get out in the open. And you may be pleased to hear there are things you can do to make these conversations a little bit easier.
To help, we’ve spoken to wellbeing coach Vikki Rimmer to find out some professional guidance you can use to talk about cannabis or any other issue.
It’s important to help yourself first before helping or sharing sensitive news, so take some time to get yourself into a good place. Do some deep breathing exercises, centre yourself and do whatever you need to do to be calm. It’s important that you appear positive and confident, if possible, as you are the barometer for the other person. If you’re in a calm, centred space, it will be easier for the both of you to deal with the sharing of the news.
Is the timing right? Try to have your conversation in a space where you feel relaxed and at a moment when you have enough time to say what you need to say, giving the other person time to listen and perhaps respond. If you can’t do it in person, then arrange a good time to call prior to sharing the news. No one likes to be caught off guard.
Try to be aware of when the other person needs space to talk. Remember this is a conversation, not a lecture, so it’s important to allow them to ask questions. Be ready to stop and answer as needed, giving the other person the space they need to express their feelings, letting them know that you are listening too.
Give the other person the space they need to express their feelings, letting them know that you are listening too.
Don’t assume their position. Be prepared that the reaction may not be what you expected, and allow yourself to be okay with that. They might be shocked which can present itself strangely – some people will laugh (and it may feel inappropriate), some people go quiet and need time to process what’s being said, some will cry. You might find they’re far more receptive than you’re expecting! Whatever the reaction, be aware that it is appropriate for that person at that particular moment.
Make sure that you have looked into whether there is extra support available for you and the other person/people. When discussing cannabis, could refer your loved ones to Medcan Support for a wealth of educational material, information on cannabinoids, safety and side effects and clinics. You might also find that you need the support of others – other members of your family or a good friend. Don’t tackle it alone if you don’t feel you have the strength to remain calm. It’s not a weakness to seek help, it’s a strength and that’s what friends are there for.
Finally, know your facts. When it comes to cannabis, misinformation is the enemy. There’s a horrible amount of it still littering our media and lingering from past ‘education’ – especially for older generations. It’s hard to argue with facts and science – and there’s loads of that to share. You could point out that there are over 41,000 studies into cannabis proving safety and efficacy, or that there are now over 50 countries with comprehensive medical cannabis programmes and millions of patients worldwide. While you’re at it, you could even explain some of the history of prohibition – look up Harry Anslinger for that, if you haven’t already! That should give you a great jumping point to get people questioning what they think they know.