This week, I finally convinced my father to try a cannabis salve for his arthritis. You would think after four years of reporting on the marijuana world, I would have made headway on this long ago. After all, like over 85 percent of Americans, my dad supports the medical use of marijuana in a general way, and has been complaining about his achy joints for several years. Weed topicals don’t even get you high. But somehow it just never happened.Then, on Sunday morning, he texted me: “I put the rub on my knees. It works!”
“Duh!” I responded. Cannabis is a powerful medicine, even if we still know very little about what conditions it works for and why. As baby boomers like my father struggle to figure out how to age gracefully, it’s very possible that legal pot could play a major role in alleviating a wide range of pains and discomforts, from chemotherapy to throwing out your back.
And yet people over 65 are the least likely to support cannabis legalization. Not every grandma gets gently handed a bong and turned into a YouTube star. Even the people who are cool with weed often don’t know very much about how they might go about integrating cannabis into their own wellness routines.
So I wanted to offer up some of the collected wisdom I’ve managed to gain during years of conversations with scientists, doctors, patients and caregivers. Just as I hoped a few weeks back that my fellow stoners might help spread the gospel about how to be a good weed citizen with their canna-curious friends, this guide aims to provide you with the tools to help introduce someone to the world of medical marijuana.
Considering the information available online about medical pot is all over the place, here’s a sort of cheat sheet for anyone trying to navigate conversations with reluctant parents, relatives and friends – regardless of access to a legal dispensary. Perhaps after listening to your grandmother ramble on in too much detail about her psoriasis, you’ll feel emboldened to take her aside and suggest a calming cannabis cream. Maybe you’ll talk to your insomniac uncle about acquiring a vape pen. It may sound difficult at first, but remember: taking a few minutes to have this conversation could vastly improve someone’s quality of life.
Start simple: acknowledge that cannabis has medical properties.
A lot of people are under the impression that the “medical” part of medical marijuana is a euphemism – an excuse to legalize the drug so that hippies and stoners can get high. To a certain extent, this is politically true. Activists in the 1990s knew that AIDS and cancer patients were more sympathetic than all of the young black men being disproportionately fucked over by the war on drugs, and hoped that a California ballot initiative for medical use would ultimately open the door to full legalization. They were right, but by allowing wink-wink doctor’s recommendations for everything from anxiety to a stubbed toe, they managed to convince a whole lot of people that medical cannabis was a joke. As a result, as recently as last year we still had reporters for major newspapers out here asking stupid questions like “Is there a legitimate reason for people to get medical marijuana?”
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