I bought my parents a package of edibles for Christmas last year. Not as a joke or poorly conceived gag but as a genuine attempt to establish a normative association with cannabis. Given the impending legalization of cannabis later this year, it was me starting a casual conversation. They chuckled and accepted the chocolates, shooting a quick furtive glance at each other. After a surgery in February left my mother in pain she turned to the edibles, wary about the addictive nature of the pain medication she was prescribed. Later she told they worked wonders for pain relief and it was this moment in my family, that the scope of cannabis expanded beyond the stoner cliche, into something more tangible and believable.
With this piece, A.Side wants to present you with a hypothetical situation and the tools to get you through it: Your parents sit you down with the stash you thought was so expertly hidden, so how does the conversation go? You’ll be 19 come August and you just want them to ease up or least, give you back the $60 in cannabis they just found. Obviously the following scenario isn’t full-proof, but rather a guide to lead the conversation when “The Talk™” inevitably happens.
Begin by highlighting the boring, realistic nature of cannabis use. It seems counterintuitive, but goes along way in quelling any fears they might have of their child and the dangerous gateway drug pot has been advertised as for years. Be semi-honest: normally you stream the seminal classic Half Baked while eating gigantic bag of flamin’ hot Cheetos on the couch, before passing out in your room.
Then again your parents aren’t stupid, and they press you on why you feel the need to smoke pot, it is still illegal after all. Before breaking out a multiphase history lesson that begins with the rephrasing of their delightful question: why shouldn’t you smoke pot? You instead list the numerous health benefits of cannabis, ranging from general stress relief to scientific research that CBD infused creams and oils can help treat forms of arthritis. Then there’s the personal examples: Chris from your time playing rep hockey uses a CBD oil-based cream to help with a lingering shoulder injury; Betsy your old babysitter, you know for a fact kept THC-infused gummies in her purse and she was your grandmother’s age.
They’re still giving you skeptical hippo eyes, and you probably won’t see Betsy again, so you tell them to do their own research before launching into the history lesson you so lovingly prepared years ago for any situation requiring a teachable moment.
You start with the notion that the history of cannabis hinges on an issue of control, beginning with the overwhelming systematic oppression directed towards the plant and its users starting in the early 1900s. They start to speak, cutting each other off and stumbling over their opening salvos. Before a swift rebuttal is given, you hold up a hand and continue with your first point.
Through it’s illicit classification and utterly preposterous propaganda like the 1936 film Reefer Madness, the U.S government used scare tactics to condemn cannabis, often connecting people of colour and the plant with a criminal element. “Marihuana,” as it was originally known, was an excuse to control minority communities moving into the states shortly after the Mexican revolution.
It’s here where Mom and Dad pause you for the first time.
“How do you know this stuff?” Mom asks.
Your dad’s brow is furrowed and you can tell he’s wondering just what the hell they’re teaching in college these days.
“Google,” you reply quickly before moving onto your next point.
Big business also lobbied for the ban of hemp—a byproduct of cannabis—as a natural resource, with newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst worried about hemp affecting his paper mill business.
The conversation volleys back and forth about the invention of the decorticator, a machine invented by American George W. Schlichten that reduced labour costs significantly while increasing hemp yields on a massive scale. Already investing millions into the construction of lumber and pulp mills, Hearst and other lumber barons saw a hemp as a giant threat to their bottom line. Add in the fact hemp was versatile, cheap and easy to grow; government and big business had enough cause for concern to stir up a moral panic.
Mom and dad stop you again
“Enough with the history lesson,” dad sighs rubbing his temples “what’s your point?”
And it’s here, with trepidation, that you drop the mic.
There’s a reason you almost never see the rich kid crash his car while stoned off his gourd throughout film and television. The angsty teen always gets gets drunk and drives daddy’s Benz into the giant oak tree he should have seen coming. The heightened hysteria surrounding cannabis and the disaster that’s been the U.S war on drugs has led to an oversimplified and exaggerated negative perspective on cannabis in the media.
Alcohol has been able to distance itself from this type of moral panic since the end of prohibition in 1933. You note that it’s this same type of negative conditioning pot is intimately connected with except the plant has never been given the chance to right itself in a similar fashion.
Sensing the conversation teetering on the edge of a cliff, you continue with cautious optimism. And as a self-proclaimed momma’s boy, you direct your attention to her.
“Look ma, this conversation is as much about getting rid of social taboos as it is reconciling a terrible history, while creating new parameters for discussion not rooted in fear and anxiousness in the process. Our fear isn’t based in its illicit status, if it were you would be just as upset with me drinking. But I’ll be 19 in August, so what is this really about?”
She looks over your dad, who seems like he really doesn’t give a shit at this point. The Raptors are playing and he’s itching to catch the last quarter.
“Is there anything else to this little presentation?” she asks with a sly smile.
You lay out the final point, the omission that cannabis will ever be on par with alcohol, which is easy to understand why. The societal pushback on smoking in public has cannabis guilty through association, and only time can soften the stigma
“Also nobody wants their chicken parm tasting like OG Kush,” she says laughing.
The conversation ends on unclear terms. They haven’t outright supported your cannabis use, but they do give you the jar back, mom snagging a small bud before screwing the lid back on. You leave the living room happy, wondering what the fuck just happened.
Buying my parents edibles was an attempt at a establishing a new reality that acknowledged and moved past our historical conditioning . Later this year, we shouldn’t be celebrating the legalization of marijuana for it’s material purposes, but what legalization represents culturally and historically: a mea culpa for the last 82 years of ignorance and condemnation. Also, if this plan actually works either A) you’re far more silly than I originally thought, or B) you have some cool ass parents.