A Conversation with My Family About Cannabis

A few months ago, AB sat down with her grandmother and great-aunts and asked them a few questions about cannabis. This week, I asked the same questions to the next generation, my mom and my aunts and uncles. My family lives in Michigan, not Colorado, so some of the questions were changed to reflect that. Michigan does allow for medical marijuana, but adult use hasn’t made it to the ballot yet.

My family ranges in age from 47 to 54. Most of them live in a suburban area of Michigan, except for my mom, Jean, who lives in a more rural area. They grew up in the era of reefer madness and came of age at the height of the “Just Say No” campaign. Everyone who responded has kids, some of whom went through the DARE program. Now they’re witnessing the end of prohibition. That’s a lot of different messages over the years, but it sounds like everyone is open to learning more.

First, a huge thanks to my family for taking the time to answer my questions. Uncle Dick and Aunt Deb actually sat down and discussed this as a family with my cousins (aged 16 and 18). I thought this was an excellent idea, and I can’t wait to share my cousins’ answers in a future post. One of my aunts survived cancer and took the time to check if any of the drugs she took during that time contained cannabis. (None of them did, nor were they derived from it.) The responses are below, with my comments in the footnotes. (To read the footnotes, just hover over or click on the numbers you’ll find throughout the post.) I tried to leave their responses exactly as written, but I did make a couple edits for clarity and privacy.

What is your first memory about cannabis? Do you remember your first time hearing about it?

  • Jean: I suspect it would have been Jr. high, but it wasn’t called cannabis, it was pot.
  • Kathie: I really don’t remember a first time hearing about it. I think I grew up in a home that sheltered me from hearing about it much. I was born in 1966 so I felt like the people 10-15 years older than me were the original, stereotypical “hippy” generation. My own kids didn’t do the DARE program. Probably the most common phrase I’ve heard as a parent is to “talk early and often” to kids about drugs, sex and all other things that give a parent cold chills.
  • Linda: Probably high school, hearing whispers about someone who smoked ‘pot’ or was using it outside in the smoking area at school. Yes, there was such a thing in the mid-late 70’s.
  • Kim: Probably High School – late 70’s early 80’s. There was a smoking court at the high school for the cigarette smokers. Some of them smoked their weed out there too.
  • Dick and Deb: We didn’t hear of it as “cannabis,” it was referred to as pot or weed. It was high school and the “stoners.”

What was the attitude and viewpoint of your friends and community at that time?

  • Jean: The attitude was, keep it quiet, it’s not legal, but it’s cool. The community felt that the bad kids were smoking pot.
  • Linda: It was an illegal drug that ‘stoners’ used was the attitude in high school. Later as I met young professionals using it, the attitude was that it was just recreational. Those young professionals all left it behind when they had children.
  • Kim: It happened – it’s just the stoners.

Have you ever experimented with cannabis?

  • Jean: I first tried pot at age 16 with my cousin at her school dance. Didn’t care for the out of control feeling. I definitely don’t like smoking it because I detest smoking. The smoking part is what kept me from making pot a habit. I did smoke it here and there at a party through life, the last time being about 10 yrs ago.
  • Kathie: The one time I actually tried it I got nothing from it. Probably didn’t inhale enough or whatever. I go with the Bill Clinton story of “I didn’t inhale.” Just kidding, at least I’m honest enough to admit I attempted to inhale… Other times that I was exposed to it I didn’t have a problem declining. I was never in a high-pressure situation to use it. Plus, these college years were the era of the “Just Say No” campaign so it wasn’t hard to say I wasn’t interested.
  • Linda: Only a puff or two as a joint got passed around way back in my early 20’s. I failed to see the charm.
  • Kim: No.
  • Deb: Once, and did nothing for me, so never bothered again.
  • Dick: Never tried.

Has your opinion about cannabis shifted at all over time? Has the recent legalization avalanche changed your views at all?

  • Jean: I never had a negative opinion of cannabis, but my opinion has shifted over time. Seeing the evils of alcohol, the drunk driving accidents, the livers that have given out makes me say, “pot has to be better for you than alcohol.”1 The legalization avalanche hasn’t changed my views but it has reinforced my thoughts. I wrote a paper in college on the medical benefits of marijuana. At a concert, while waiting in line, I signed the petition that got the ball rolling to legalize medical marijuana. I am a firm believer in cannabis and I don’t even use the stuff.
  • Kathie: The recent news of it makes me know that I need to educate myself on it more. It’s such a complicated issue, I should have more informed opinions!
  • Linda: I’m sure there are some medicinal benefits from cannabis, and I wish it would get the research it needs. Legalization is ok if they put a generous tax on it that can go toward research, and maybe drug rehab programs. The medical marijuana thing in MI was poorly carried out, in my opinion. I know too many strong healthy people who paid 100 bucks to a low life doctor to get a medical card just to try to keep out of trouble with the law.
  • Kim: I think the medicinal use is interesting, and a different animal than recreational use. The legalization has only changed my views in that I believe our laws are a mess. Federal says one thing, state another, and none of it meshes well.
  • Dick and Deb: Not really, don’t want the kids using pot. Changed views, slightly, but still don’t want the kids to try, at this point. Would have to do more research as to what the legislation says.

Have you considered using cannabis in the last few years?

  • Jean: I have never given more thought to using cannabis than I have in the last few months. With you and your company making truffles and tinctures etc. One thing that stops me from experimenting is the statement I heard or read years ago that stuck in my mind. “Why do you need to be changing your state of consciousness? What’s wrong with who you are, just the way you are?” If cannabis can be used for pain or stress relief, I would certainly consider using it. Recreationally, probably not.
  • Kathie: Why? I have red wine.
  • Linda: No.
  • Kim: No.
  • Dick and Deb: No.

Where do you get most of your information about cannabis?

  • Jean: Lately, my information on cannabis comes from Medicine Box. Sure is a lot of information there! Before that, it was random newspaper or magazine articles. I only read them because they were there, not because I was specifically looking for the articles. I feel like you are so involved with the stuff and I believe in the stuff, I should be more educated on the stuff.
  • Kathie: I would go to the internet with the understanding that it’s hard to find unbiased information. People believe what they want to believe.
  • Linda: Most recently, National Geographic.
  • Kim: News – newspaper and television.
  • Dick and Deb: You.

Do you have any friends or know anyone in your life that uses cannabis?

  • Jean: I know lots of people who use cannabis. Some have their medical cards, but it’s generally not used for medical reasons. I used to work with someone whose 26 yr old son has serious seizure problems. She started showing interest in cannabis to help him. We don’t work together anymore so I don’t know how that’s going.
  • Kathie: I suspect I have nieces or nephews who use it…2
  • Linda: Yes.
  • Kim: Yes, for recreational purposes.
  • Dick and Deb: We friends that have tried, whether in high school or college. A friend uses it for medical purposes but moved out of the state to a state that has not passed legislation for medical use.

If you were to try cannabis, what form would you be most likely to start with? (Edibles, vapor, joint, topical, tincture, etc.)

  • Jean: If I were to try something new?….I’d try a truffle because truffles are delicious. With having the first time I tried pot result in a feeling of out of control, there’s hesitation. I feel like the edibles are ways to change your state of consciousness that I’m not interested in.
  • Kathie: I don’t see a need to use it.
  • Linda: Ummm…Edibles?
  • Kim: Do they make a supplement?3 I would go for that – swallow the medicine (which might mean edibles). I would not smoke.
  • Dick and Deb: Edibles.

How would you go about trying to obtain it?

  • Kathie: I’ve never looked into getting it. Especially with laws being so unclear. I wouldn’t want to risk anything by trying to get any.
  • Linda: Only a completely legal way. I have too much to lose.
  • Kim: Carefully, so as not to get busted. I would probably try and find a legal way to obtain it. Dispensary. Contact Jill and find out if MI residents can purchase from CA legally.4 That kind of thing.
  • Dick and Deb: Depends on what it is used for, but we would contact you, to start.

Would you vote to legalize if it makes it on the Michigan ballot in 2018?

  • Jean: No doubt, I would vote to legalize it.
  • Kathie: Probably not. I have mixed feelings. I know it’s a divisive issue and some have strong opinions on it. And I’m not sure the two sides will ever meet somewhere in the middle. While I agree it’s crazy to prosecute someone for a small amount of “recreational” marijuana I’m not sure legalization is such a good idea. The Mom in me has read too many books about addicts who start with alcohol and marijuana. I wouldn’t want to see any of my loved ones be negatively affected by it.5
  • Linda: Yes, if it’s presented in an organized, controlled way, regulated and taxed like alcohol, and provisions made for medical research.
  • Kim: Yes, but only after I understood that the laws would not turn against people they way they already have. The medicinal use laws that we have now seem to change regularly in an effort to fix them. Needs to be right the first time.
  • Dick and Deb: We would have to read the legislation to see what it involved.

Have you noticed any differences – good or bad – in Michigan since medical marijuana became legal in 2008?

  • Jean: Haven’t noticed any changes. I was wondering how it would affect employees coming to work. The, “Oh but, I’ve got my card” hasn’t been an issue. Everyone that smokes pot at work doesn’t come to work under the influence. Except for maybe that one day which was 4/20 🙂
  • Kathie: I haven’t stayed up on it. I’m only noticing the issues that come up when people claim to need it or grow it for medical reasons but they don’t have the right licenses.
  • Linda: Wow, has it been that long!? No significant differences in my life, except knowing people who claim chronic pain (eye roll) so they can get a medical card. Like a child fake coughing so they can have a cherry cough drop. I don’t think anyone should have to pay for a card for medical marijuana. Or wine, heaven forbid! If cannabis will ease the symptoms of an ill person their physician should write a prescription for whatever form and strength of cannabis will help and they can take it to a pharmacy to get their drugs. I feel like we’re a long way from that yet. I can’t imagine a health insurer covering that prescription.6
  • Kim: I have not noticed any differences – good or bad.
  • Dick and Deb: It seemed there were more people out there that used it than we really knew about. Especially with cops now looking at the “medical” permission to grow and use marijuana.

How do you feel about the current state of cannabis – the difference between state and federal legalization?

  • Jean: It’s just plain stupid that some states are legal, but the government is still calling cannabis illegal. Maybe the government should just get their nose right out of it or catch up with the times and they need to do it in a hurry.
  • Kathie: In general it’s probably better to have states make their own decisions on it.
  • Linda: It seems messy and confusing. Maybe there should be some federal regulation to clarify its status, put a hefty tax on it and provide funding for research.
  • Kim: See number 4 – a mess. Not sure if a federal law is needed, or simply federal leeway to allow states to enact and enforce their own laws.
  • Dick and Deb: We have not idea what differences are at the state and federal levels. It hasn’t affected us personally, but if it did, we would be researching everything.7

Is there still a stigma among your peers about using cannabis?

  • Jean: I feel with my friends, there is no stigma, but if I looked deeper I’d probably have to say there is still a stigma out there.
  • Kathie: There will probably always be that attitude/stereotype.
  • Linda: Not as much as years ago, but still a little. Myself and others in my peer group (middle-class professionals who are non-users) believe that those we knew in high school using cannabis, and still using it today, are missing some brain cells and ambition. I’d love to see more research to back that up or debunk it!8
  • Kim: Not really. There has always been the user group, and always will be.
  • Dick and Deb: Yes.

Would you be comfortable discussing cannabis with your doctor or other healthcare providers?

  • Jean: I would be comfortable discussing this with my doctor. I saw a cancer doctor last year to have my blood work analyzed. I heard her talking to a nurse about getting the medical marijuana form for someone. I was pleasantly surprised by this. She was an older doctor in sensible shoes that I didn’t figure would prescribe!
  • Kathie: If I thought I needed it for medical reasons I would ask but I would ask first about other options. And I understand that there are medical forms of it that are different from actually smoking it and getting the high.
  • Linda: Yes, mostly because I accompanied an acquaintance to a number of doctor appointments, and he always mentioned it. The doctor hardly batted an eye, let alone lectured. They just reminded him that it wasn’t good for his lungs.9
  • Kim: Yes, but only as a legal option. I am pretty boring that way.
  • Dick and Deb: Depending on the circumstances, yes.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts and experiences! I love you!

Image credit: Sensi Seeds

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