Throughout the decades, many teenagers have found themselves face to face with furious (or sobbing) parents who accidentally happened upon a bong or a baggie of weed. It’s an uncomfortable chat at best, and it often ends in tears, yelling, grounding, and threats of military school.
Thankfully, the narrative is changing around cannabis consumption, and you could even find yourself in a strange position relative to your parents: you might be trying to convince them to try cannabis for medical reasons.
Medical cannabis is legal in many states to varying degrees, and a lot of older people now use it to find relief for the everyday aches and pains that accompany old age. That said, the “marijuana is the Devil’s lettuce” stigma runs deep, and it might take a lot of convincing on your part.
If you think that your parents or grandparents could benefit from medical cannabis, here are some ways to open up the conversation.
You don’t have to smoke it anymore.
One of the main deterrents for medical cannabis is that people think you need to smoke it for the benefits. That simply isn’t true anymore. One new(ish) way to use is via a dry herb vaporizer. Vaporizers give you the best of the bud without combusting the flower to make lung-harmful chemicals like tar.
Additionally, there are now cannabis sprays and lotions to help alleviate aches and pains in localized areas. Using edibles and tinctures can also provide whole-body relief without needing to light up at all. Of course, if smoking isn’t an issue, a cigarette one hitter can give near-instant relief without using a lot of weed, but it’s important to know that there are other options.
You don’t have to get high.
Many older adults have a misconception that all pot users are stoned out of their minds. While there are still people who get toasted regularly, the vast majority of people who use weed use it in small amounts for specific reasons.
THC, the compound that gets you high, helps with certain ailments (nausea, for instance), while the other primary chemical, CBD, is more effective for pain relief. By choosing THC-dominant or CBD-dominant strains of cannabis, your loved ones can find relief for many problems that come with old age.
You can potentially substitute cannabis for some OTC and prescription drugs.
Let’s start by saying that any medical cannabis – especially if you want to substitute it for current medications – should be discussed with your doctor before you start.
That said, the potential for medical cannabis is looking more and more promising. Contrary to what people used to think, cannabis isn’t a “gateway drug” that can lead to harder narcotics. Instead, it seems to keep people from turning to harder drugs like opioids because it does so well on its own.
One study by the American Public Health Association showed that people born between 1947 and 1964 are at a significantly higher risk of overdosing on prescription opioids. Medical cannabis could potentially alleviate that problem due to its non-existent risk of overdose and low addiction rate in adults.
Some common ailments in older adults that medical cannabis can help include:
- Lack of Focus
- Loss of Appetite
- Parkinson’s Disease
There are also several states that allow medical cannabis to help manage the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, including improving mood, increasing appetite, and helping with sleep. At this point, however, many of the results in regards to cannabis and Alzheimer’s are anecdotal and require more scientific research.
You don’t have to do it alone.
Another big fear is having a bad reaction to cannabis, so assure them that they aren’t alone. If you use pot for medical or recreational purposes, you can suggest using it together or offer to monitor things when they use it. It’s comforting to know that there’s someone available in case they have a bad reaction.
Additionally, remind them that you are always available if they have questions. Some older people aren’t very good at using technology to answer their questions, so offer to help them look things up. Accompany them to their doctor appointments whenever possible, and make sure that they ask the right questions regarding how their other medications interact with cannabis.
People react so differently to cannabis – what works for one family member could have a completely different effect on another. Using cannabis for medical purposes isn’t a one-and-done step. There’s a lot of trial and error, adjusting dosages, and finding the right strain for the desired result. It takes time to find the best solution, but assure them that you’ll be there every step of the way.
If you ever had to sit and listen to your parents lecture you as a teen about the dangers of smoking weed, try not to hold it against them now. There are many benefits to medical cannabis, and if you feel your parents could benefit from it, now is the time to start that conversation.