Cannabis 101 

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Three Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Trick Friends and Family Into Trying Cannabis

When I was younger, I had one of those bosses who prioritized being liked by his staff over being an effective and respected leader. One time he strolled into the office with a tray of brownies and, with a dumb grin on his face, offered me a fudgey treat. Not being one to turn down food of any sort, I happily accepted. It was only after I had taken a couple of bites that he added, “Oh, by the way, I hope you like ‘special’ brownies.”

Yes, my boss had given me a pot brownie at work. Being a workplace noob at the time, I just shrugged and laughed it off. The brownie contained a pretty weak dose, anyway, so I wasn’t drooling out of my mind and type-miming on an invisible keyboard or anything. But as I’ve accumulated a semblance of maturity and some job experience over the years, I can’t help but look back on that moment and think “What the hell?!”

As “cool” as that incident seemed at the time, feeding cannabis to an unsuspecting person is wrong on a few levels, and here’s why.

1. Cannabis Should Be Taken Seriously

As cannabis steadily becomes more of a conversation piece, not just in the United States but worldwide, we need to start thinking about how our behavior shapes public image of this plant. If all we do is act like giggling fools and irresponsible consumers, it’s not going to help shape public perception of how cannabis is more than wacky tobaccy for deadbeat stoners.

Part of acting responsible involves taking cannabis seriously. Yes, I know that plenty of responsible, mature consumers turn to cannabis for recreational purposes, and that’s completely fine. But consuming cannabis should always be a choice—you should never, ever trick anyone into trying cannabis without his or her knowledge, whether that person is a friend, a family member, a neighbor, or a coworker. This isn’t about being a “buzzkill,” it’s about respecting people’s bodies and personal choices.

2. Freaking Someone Out Isn’t Funny

Think of it this way: you’re hanging out with friends and someone mixes you a cocktail. You eventually finish it and reach for another, but soon you’re feeling the effects of the one your friend made you. Soon you start slurring your words and feeling really drowsy, which is weird because you normally have a better tolerance for alcohol than this.

The next thing you know, you wake up on your friend’s couch the next morning and he’s laughing about how he slipped something in your drink when you weren’t looking, and how you were acting so “crazy hilarious” last night. He shows you pictures and a couple of videos (most of which are already circulating through social media) of you doing handstands with your pants around your ankles and shouting nonsense about talking lima beans and wooly mammoths. You don’t remember doing any of this, so your reaction is a justifiable mix of embarrassment and horror.

Of course, my hypothetical example could have been a lot worse—getting roofie’d doesn’t tend to end with little more than an embarrassing story. But the point remains the same—nobody wants to experience a significant change to their state of mind if it’s completely unexpected and outside their control.

Think about some of the effects certain strains of cannabis can bring on: dizziness, feeling tingly, being giggly, feeling aroused, getting sleepy, feeling hungry, being overly chatty. What about feeling anxious or paranoid? If you have never tried cannabis before and a friend or colleague slips you some without your knowledge, experiencing these sensations out of the blue are probably going to feel confusing and scary.

This is probably why you see a lot of people who accidentally ingest cannabis hospitalized, like a teacher whose colleague brought cannabis-infused food to a staff potluck without telling anyone—not because their life is in danger, but because they’re probably freaking out over the symptoms they’re feeling and don’t know what’s causing it.

3. Y’Know, the Whole “Illegality” Thing

I haven’t even gotten to the biggest reason why you shouldn’t dupe someone into ingesting cannabis: because it’s illegal. Sure, cannabis is medically legal in some states and recreationally legal in a handful of others. But the substance, whether we like it or not, remains illegal on the federal level, and it’s only legal in some states under a “trust but verify” approach that includes eight enforcement exceptions.

It’s not outside the realm of possibilities that one exception could be “Are you poisoning unsuspecting people with cannabis because you think it would be funny?” If the federal government sees repeated examples of adults abusing cannabis and using it to harm others (albeit temporarily, although you could be responsible for someone losing his or her job or ruining a relationship), that seems like a reasonable enforcement exception to me.

The last thing I want is for us to undo the decades of progress we’ve made and have to go back to square one because some idiots think it would be hilarious to secretly get their boss high at the office holiday party, or because someone wants his cousin to look dumb at the next family function. These juvenile actions aren’t good for the cannabis movement and they could get you in serious trouble. We’re talking arrests, possible jail time, getting sued, losing your job, losing friendships — is any of that worth it for a couple of laughs? I didn’t think so.

If you know someone who doesn’t want to try cannabis, respect that person’s decision and his or her boundaries. Respect the plant and its powerful effects, and respect the efforts of millions of activists and lawmakers who are trying to create a future where everyone can choose to have legal and safe access to this therapeutic plant.

photo credit: Theophilus Photography via photopin cc