Every year, we gather together, friends and family, for the holidays. You may have a small family, you may celebrate with friends, you might have one of those crazy step-mom's that invites a hundred people. These close-knit gatherings are times to remember why you love one another, catch up on time missed, and learn about what makes each other special.
Family gatherings can be awkward, very awkward. Conversations with relatives about Politics, Social Opinion, or Personal Identity can turn a lovely evening of mashed potatoes and gravy into a viral video or end up on “Cops: Holiday Edition”. Since nobody wants to be remembered as the "pot-smoking cousin that ruined Christmas", much of our heartfelt “how-to-do’s” don’t even happen until we’re cleaning up leftovers or helping someone secretly wrap a holiday gift. But not every family lives their #HolidayTruth this way. Most of us have that endearingly naïve Abuelita or cranky Uncle Pete that asks the big pot-stirring questions at the most inopportune moments. And for those of us in the Cannabis Industry, things can become a bit dicey.
So how do you handle situations like this? Well, a bit of tact, and self-esteem go a long way. Remember, most of the people you celebrate the holiday season with aren’t mortal enemies or bullies, they’re people that actually LOVE you and just want to know what’s going on in your life.
I currently work with an ancillary business in the Cannabis Industry. When someone asks me what I do for a living, there are four options of how to approach the conversation that I'd like to share with you:
For example, use General Answers, stating "I work for a Non-Profit" or "I work in the Medical Field" -when asked specifics, I can elaborate that I work at a staffing or customer service based company. New Mexico has a Medical Cannabis Patient Program, so I’m being honest, and I’m also describe exactly what my job is, without using terms that will make any Jeff Sessions fans jump on their soapbox.
Not everyone has the opportunity to work at a great company like CannabisNM Staffing, but if you’re a budtender/grower/trimmer, you can still use this example.
Budtender: “I work in the Medical Field, I’m a patient support specialist”
Grower/Trimmer: “I work in the Medical Field, I assist in the preparation, handling and quality of medication before it’s sold or delivered to patients”
I can tell people “I’m in the Medical Cannabis Industry, I help the patient community” -This is what I tell close relatives, direct family, and friends. This usually leads to lots of questions, and sometimes disparaging jokes. Focus on answering questions, and give your best, sincere answers. Showing that you’re a great advocate, and educated speaks VOLUMES over playing tit-for-tat over crude jokes like “So someone pays you to smoke weed all day?”
Indirect Lies. Yes, in the beginning, I did this. I’ve only worked in the Cannabis Industry for just under a year. Most of my close circle are still IT and Security contractors or Federal Government employees, some of them have security clearances that prevent them from having direct family involved in activities that are deemed illegal by the Federal Government. Some of them have strong opinions about Cannabis. An indirect white lie about “Oh, I’m just working this customer-service job” or “I work with Medical patients all day” isn’t going to hurt anyone. It’s also going to cut down on the amount of #TRIGGERED tirades you’re going to have to sit through. So, if every Thanksgiving involves at least one 45 minute lecture on millennials destroying America or what’s “wrong with the Governor of XXXXX” – cutting your job description down to the basic facts will keep the Turkey from getting as cold as that Cranberry Sauce. You’ll give the rest of your family a reason to be thankful.
“Kick down the barn door and tell them what’s up!” -So, this was a suggestion from a friend. While it’s not my methodology, many folks I know feel that the “in-your-face” is the only way to make true progress. Marijuana and Cannabis are no longer considered a “cloak and dagger” operation, the freedom to declare “I am a patient” or “I help Cannabis Patients” should be a right to express, no matter the consequence. Being bold, and being strong about what you feel and working in the Cannabis Community isn’t for the faint-of-heart, but you might just be surprised by the reactions or support you’ll receive.
No matter how you spend the Holidays, just remember, tis’ the season to be jolly, and to be thankful for friends and family. Even if they’re close-minded jerks that hog all the gravy or tell everyone else what they’re getting for Hanukkah. The holidays are a season for sharing, caring, giving and reflection….for each other. So share with your family, show them you care, and give your best “self” to them, even if you’re secretly imagining giving them a swift deserving kick of Cannabis-know-how.