Parker* is a 21-year old man who grew up in Utah in the Church of Latter Day Saints, and after having some medical issues that required treatment in California, he found that medical cannabis was a useful tool for managing his symptoms. Now Parker’s back in Utah and has to medicate in secret due to the stigma associated with cannabis use, which he feels is especially taboo due to his Mormon upbringing.
He started dating a young woman and hasn’t “come out” to her about his cannabis consumption. He asked me, “How do you bring up cannabis in a relationship where they might have a very different, if not extreme, point of view? Furthermore, how do you bring up stuff like this with close friends without accidentally destroying the pre-built relationship?”
These questions are complicated and multi-faceted. I reached out to a few people, including a writer, a budtender, and a friend who grew up in a conservative family, for their insight. First, you might want to check out Leafly’s suggestions on how to disclose your cannabis consumption to a family member, as many of the strategies are applicable in this scenario.
Shape Your Approach
The second step comes from H.D. Roslin, writer and communication ninja. She suggests beginning with a personal inventory by asking yourself the following:
- What motivates the desire to share this aspect of your life with this person? In what ways do you envision it serving you?
- If they respond in ways that are not charitable, are you prepared for that and have supports in place?
- Could their rejection harm you in any way?
After answering Roslin’s questions for yourself, you may find that cannabis is not actually a subject you want to broach with this person, which is an entirely valid choice.
Listen to Your Partner
If the answers to these questions positively reinforce your decision to broach the subject, Roslin advises, “[The listening phase] is crucial. What do you need or want from them? Open with that, explicitly. Be prepared for either response (positive or negative), and accept their response as certain the first time–in other words, don’t keep revisiting the subject on multiple occasions hoping they’ll change their mind. Allow them to express their needs and preferences regarding your private use if they have any (e.g., “Please don’t come to dates with me high,” or “Don’t bring substances into our sex life”). Honor those preferences, or if you are unwilling to do so, terminate the relationship or your cannabis use.”
For more on creating relationship agreements with a non-cannabis using partner, check out my article on navigating discordant cannabis use in intimate relationships.
Honesty is the Best Policy
I also spoke with Andrew Mieure from Top Shelf Budtending, who suggests being as honest as possible. “Make sure to tell them that you are medicating and that it isn’t just to be ‘high.’ Talk about your accomplishments and how cannabis has helped you achieve them. Perhaps show data supporting cannabis use as a positive thing, share a story, or put them in contact with other patients who can explain it better than you could. Sometimes a support network can go a long way.”
Mieure brings up a great point here–social proof is a powerful convincer, so being able to cite studies, articles about public figures, or even just a mutual friend who is a cannabis consumer can go a long way toward normalizing it. You could even use some of the tenants of Christianity (or the applicable religion) to support your position. Mieure shared his insights gleaned from coming out to his Christian family members, noting, “Having a Christian upbringing, you could argue the fact of ‘every seed’ being used for humanity from the Book of Genesis. Once I was able to get that off of my chest and stopped hiding it, it started to become normal, even around them.”
Don’t Be Afraid to Be Picky
The final option, and the one I choose to employ in my own dating life, is to select partners based at least in part on their willingness to accept the part that cannabis plays in my life. I have a “potential deal breakers” conversation on my first date with a prospective partner. Some may suggest waiting longer, but the first date has always worked best for me. Getting things out on the table up front saves time and reduces the chances that Person A starts to develop feelings, only to find out that the Person B has made lifestyle choices that the Person A cannot abide.
Have you ever come out to a partner about your cannabis use? How did you approach the conversation?
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*Name changed upon request