It’s the holiday season, and for many of us, that means spending time with family. And I don't mean the family you choose—I mean the family that might hit you up for a spare organ at some point because you are a genetic match. Those people. Yeah.
Time spent with difficult family members can make it a challenge for me to fully embrace the sentiment of the season, i.e., goodwill towards my fellow man/womxn/they/them. That goes double for those I disagree with on certain issues, which as of late is getting reeeeeeeeally hard. Hard like Wolverine's claws—which, for the sake of certain family members and their seasonal-edition holly-crested MAGA hats, it is lucky I do not possess. Serenity now.
And even though the majority of Americans favor the legalization of cannabis, it's not unanimous, and thus most of us share a bloodline with a prohibitionist who will cluelessly yell about how legalizing all this goddamn dope will unleash multiple post-apocalyptic end-of-days scenarios, involving gay cannabis plants molesting unborn children.
And while it may be tempting to retreat into a second glass of wine (don't be stingy with the pour) or respond with an Oscar Wilde-style bon mot ("fuck you, cousin Carl") there is a better way.
So, when the topic comes up, here are a few humble suggestions in making your case for cannabis with your prohibitionist family members.
Oh, and start by always using the term "cannabis" in place of "marijuana," unless you're talking about the regulatory agencies that have the word in their name (such as the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program). The first step to getting woke is language, and the racist origins of the word "marijuana" are well documented. Phase it out whenever possible.
It's true: A regulated cannabis industry produces jobs. There are already more than 100,000 people employed by the cannabis industry nationwide, and it's estimated that by 2020, that could grow to 300,000. And that's based solely on the current number of states that have a program, not accounting for other states that may pass their own legislation in the coming years. A legal cannabis industry also produces tax revenue for police, schools, and drug treatment programs.
Talking point: Communities are stronger and safer when more of its residents are employed, and these are jobs that will stay in the state.
Snark option: "You remember 'jobs,' Uncle Sal. That's what your wife has three of so you can pursue your 'art.'"
A new study from the University of Connecticut and Georgia State University shows that states with a medical cannabis program experience a 15 percent drop in alcohol sales. And it's not a short-term effect, either; with reduction still in place 24 months after the programs began.
Talking point: The health risks associated with cannabis use are far fewer and less severe than those of alcohol use, and there are other associated benefits for public health and safety.
Snark option: "Looks like your husband is trying to make up for that 15 percent reduction tonight, Debbie."
Everyone, regardless of political affiliation, agrees that we are in the midst of a national opioid crisis. So it's awesome that states with medical cannabis programs are seeing an average reduction of 23 percent in opioid-related hospitalizations. Another study showed that those same states saw a reduction in opioid-related deaths by as much as 25 percent.
Talking point: We don't want people in the hospital or dying from opioids, and cannabis can really help with those things.
Snark option: None. This is a nightmarish tragedy that we are not sufficiently addressing.
Some states, such as Alabama and Georgia, have very specific regulated cannabis programs that allow patients—such as those suffering from seizure disorders—to use high-CBD/low-THC products for relief. Using non-psychoactive cannabis products like CBD oils to treat children with seizures is something that's happening in conservative southern states, even in Attorney General Jeff Sessions' home state of Alabama. That's right: Even Alabama recognizes that cannabis has medical uses.
Talking point: If it can help sick children and not get them high, there isn't any harm in allowing it.
Snark option: "Hey, Aunt Suzy, speaking of sick children: Does your sneezing son need to touch every single roll in the basket?"