Well that’s awkward:
Like sex, talking to your kids about marijuana is not easy. Somehow talking to other adults, strangers, and lawmakers about marijuana is even harder.
Why? Your kids are a clean slate. You can give them factual information about the dangers of underage consumption and foster an open dialogue. Adults, on the other hand, have grown up with a wide range of experiences with cannabis. Some have no experience, or some experience, or lots. Others were taught about cannabis through misinformation: after school Public Service Announcements with eggs and greasy frying pans.
Why else is it difficult to talk to adults about cannabis? We’re afraid. Let’s be honest--we’re afraid of judgement from our Mommy Groups. We’re afraid of what our neighbors might think, our parents, our employers. We’re afraid to be labeled “stoners” or “burnouts” or worse: criminals. What if our credibility or character are unfairly judged? We’re afraid to lose our freedom.
So we tuck away our opinions, hide our use, and lie to protect other adults from the truth they can’t seem to handle: Cannabis can be used safely in the hands of responsible adults.
Like alcohol, like sex, and like the fireworks your uncle buys and illegally sets off every year.
Consequences of fear:
But at this point, our silence is causing harm. By hiding and lying, we fail to address issues that are crippling our communities like racially biased enforcement practices; even though use is equal among racial groups, Black cannabis users are 4x more likely to be arrested than White cannabis users (ACLU).
By remaining silent, we perpetuate the myth that only ‘bad guys’ use marijuana. As if cannabis users can’t be working professionals, community leaders, parents and even grandparents. By lying we feed into the myth that cannabis is something to be ashamed of.
Our silence is harming people who use cannabis as medicine. North Carolinians who might receive medical benefits from using cannabis are not able to use it. North Carolinians turn to illegal and unregulated sources for untested products that could cause more harm to their health.
Our silence is also harming those we hope to protect: our kids.
How can we impact change? How can we bring reform to our state?
We can get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
We can have open and honest conversations about the medical benefits of cannabis and the injustice caused by the war on drugs. We can discuss the tax benefits and decrease in opioid and alcohol addiction experienced in states with legal marijuana.
The Research Triangle Park in Raleigh-Durham is considered a leading hub of science and technology for the East Coast. How can this be true when we don’t allow scientific evidence to fuel our governing policy? Will we fall behind as more states implement pro-cannabis policies? Will we continue to lose out on economic and agricultural opportunities while simultaneously spending billions each year to police cannabis? Will non-violent drug offenders continue to spend years locked away with violent offenders, their lives ruined and families destroyed?
All this because we are afraid to speak the truth?
I have sworn off prohibited cannabis products so that I can feel comfortable lending my voice to the cause. I’d like to ask you: what will it take for you to feel comfortable with being uncomfortable also?