This week, I helped my mother pick out her first order from the medical cannabis dispensary, but I have to say it was quite the journey to get here. Talking to your parents about cannabis isn’t always easy.
You see, my parents (and many of our parents) grew up in an era where everyone assumed cannabis use would make you stupid and lazy. They thought it was just about getting high. And that’s also the message they passed on to me. But in today’s world, research has shown cannabis can have incredible benefits for health and well-being (and doesn’t actually make you lazy or stupid1).
If you are anything like me, your own experiences with cannabis may have gotten you thinking – could this help my parents too? But even if the research shows cannabis might help with your parent’s health issues, it can be hard to even broach the conversation after a lifetime of being told cannabis is a bad idea.
Still, it is possible! Seniors are one of the fastest-growing medical cannabis demographics2. With the right approach, you may be surprised by how interested your parents might be to try out cannabis.
Start the Conversation
Starting the conversation is often the hardest part. Parents build habits with their children. So if you start talking about cannabis out of nowhere, you may get the same response you did as a child. So it’s important to frame things intentionally.
One way to start the conversation is by sharing your own cannabis use and how it helps you. You can even demonstrate it by being around them while you are using cannabis.
For example, when I told my parents I was using cannabis for my chronic anxiety, they seemed worried. So, I decided to demonstrate how helpful it was by using a bit before meeting them for dinner one night. My parents had never seen me on cannabis, so all they knew was that I was happy, relaxed, open, and less grumpy than usual. Afterward, they commented on how it was the best dinner ever. They had had such a good time. “Yes,”‘ I agreed. “It was great! I had some cannabis before dinner, and it took away the anxiety that usually drags me down.” It surprised them because it wasn’t how they expected cannabis to affect someone. Still, it became clear to them that cannabis was something that was helping me.
After that, it was only a matter of time before they started asking questions about how it might help them.
Another ideal way to start the conversation is to share medical studies that show benefits for their medical conditions. By going straight to the research, you are framing the discussion around science and medicine and have the experts on your side.
This is a big leap for some, so be slow and patient. You may not win your parents over in one conversation. Sometimes dropping small positive mentions of cannabis over a more extended period can work better.
Ease Common Concerns
Once the conversation has begun, you may find your parents have particular worries about cannabis.
Many parents say that they used cannabis when they were young, and it made them feel anxious, confused, or non-functional. They’ve heard the stuff today is even stronger, and they want to be able to function. If this is your parent, let them know the cannabis that was around in the ’60s and ’70s was mostly landrace Sativas3– which are particularly likely to affect your mind or spark anxiety. Today’s market has many options, some of which are stronger, but some of which don’t negatively impact your mental functioning at all4 5. It’s just about finding the right choices for them.
Others worry about legality. For these parents, walking them through the legalities in their area6 can help ease their worries.
For others, they don’t want to smoke or inhale cannabis. Let them know about the other options. Topicals and sublinguals are both great options for seniors to try.
Help Find What Works
If your parent decides that they are interested in trying cannabis themselves, help them to find the right options for their needs. Ideally, you walk them through every step from finding a doctor to give the recommendation to going to the dispensary to trying cannabis.
Starting slow is helpful, so don’t just hand your mom a joint or give your dad a high-dose edible. Begin with something that won’t give them a high, like a topical for their pain relief7, paired with a CBD tincture or a terpene blend. If they need more pain relief, move to a CBD/THC tincture8 – always keeping the dose small, to begin with, and slowly increasing as required.
Then help them to tailor their cannabis regimen to their needs – enlisting a consultant if needed. For example, you might suggest cannabis products with terpenes like myrcene9 and linalool 10 to aid their sleep. You could also recommend products with alpha-pinene 11and limonene 12 to promote focus and improve memory or cognitive function.
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