Holiday Herbs: Cannabis Politics Around the Holidays

The holidays are a time for meals, festivities, and gatherings of family and friends. These times which inspire conversations around the turkey or menorah (or however you choose to celebrate the winter holidays) are also notorious for bringing together different views and politics.

For those who use cannabis products for medicinal purposes, perhaps this choice doesn’t quite fit at the table with the mashed potatoes and the gravy. For those of us with leanings towards the leafy green medicine, the stigmatization of cannabis can be a hard topic to digest. So, here’s our outlet: Let’s talk about politics – cannabis politics.


Cannabis politics…is cannabis really still political?

With different states taking new positions on cannabis use and its subsequent regulation, medicinal products are still broadly discussed. While using Tylenol or Advil might not seem like a political move, the preference of cannabis and hemp derived products over pharmaceuticals is still subject to strong political and social beliefs.

Though some communities or regions of the United States might experience cannabis use as regularly and freely as alcohol consumption, the days of cannabis prohibition are still very much reflected in the lives of cannabis consumers, medicinal or otherwise.

So, while the politics of cannabis might seem more mainstream than previous years, the debate can still mean challenging terrain for the medicinal user in different social settings.


How does this stigma affect medicinal patients?

For those who use cannabis medicinally, one of the hardest things might be the secretiveness and the seclusion surrounding your medicine. This guilt and even shame, of pursuing a medicine that doesn’t fit with the family’s traditions, can be a challenge.

While there might not be any easy way to navigate this, perhaps family time is actually the perfect space for feeling proud of the medicine you use and the way your life has been affected.

Most of the stigmas surrounding cannabis are based on historical fanaticism that has long been disproven. However, the same arguments continue to be recycled year after year. Finding out what concerns people have about cannabis might create inroads for productive conversation. You never know when someone might start coming around to cannabis.

So, maybe 2018 is the year to start talking politics – cannabis politics. At the very least, you can take comfort in the fact that many people are struggling with the same awkward conversations!


How can you identify a cannabis sympathizer?

Anyone can be a cannabis sympathizer and respect the benefits of medicinal products. Here’s a funny story: My conservative mother, who is also interested in herbal remedies (you know, lemon balm and St. John’s wort) found herself in need of some alternative healing solutions. A quick search for herbal stores online provided her with a list of businesses in her area. (You can see where this is going.) She headed to the first one on her list and bumbled into the small establishment. As she entered the shop, she quickly noticed that this wasn’t like any herbal store she had ever been in. She was immediately embarrassed – it was a dispensary!

What a trip for a conservative mom! But, to her credit, she did conclude her story with a statement about how she has observed cannabis products helping people with serious cancers and ailments. When she spoke of cannabis helping people, it was my turn to be shocked. I couldn’t be hearing this from my mom!


Pass the cannabis, I mean the candy canes!

Cannabis might be a challenging topic to breach with your conservative relative across the dinner table, but the use of cannabis products does still challenge people’s opinions and beliefs.

The political nature of the plant has not been discarded with recreational legalization in a select number of states, nor with medicinal provisions for patients. But, things are changing. Perhaps you found yourself recommending cannabis products to a friend or relative this holiday season. Or, maybe you had a relative reach out to you about your experience with CBD solutions. Respecting each other’s beliefs about cannabis might mean treading lightly around the topic, if you get there at all.

From my family’s dinner table, it seems that my mom’s experience in a dispensary might be one small step toward normalizing the presence of medicinal cannabis in our community. Maybe next year she will be educating others about its effects – who knows?

However your family celebrates and medicates, the personal journeys we are on with cannabis will continue into the new year. Take strength in the fact that many of us are having awkward conversations about cannabis, but inevitably cannabis heals!


Happy holidays!

Nicola Walters is a freelance writer and website developer for Humboldt Harvest. She spends her time hiking, climbing, and teaching, and as an advocate for cannabis education.