Talking to even the most laid back parents about weed in India can be daunting! The topic is often misunderstood and extremely controversial. Beliefs like ‘weed is as bad as heroin or coke’ or how it is ‘extremely addictive’ are common misconceptions about the drug in the minds of Indian parents, which makes us go to extreme lengths to keep it a secret.
Back in high school, I’d always come up with excuses on why I needed some extra money to score stash or why I’d have red eyes after hanging out with my friends. However, as I grew up, graduated college and earned my own money I realised it was ‘high time’ (pun intended) I had an open conversation with my parents about cannabis. While I don’t dabble in it as frequently as I used to, I was keen to change their perceptions about it. More so because personally, I felt that the news and media had villanized it in the eyes of Indian parents. After ample research on how to bring about the topic ... here are some useful tips on having a successful conversation about cannabis with your parents.
Do your research
Before approaching this topic with your family, it is paramount that you do your research on it. As important as you think knowing how 'dank' the weed is or how to roll it is, it's not the only knowledge you need to have about cannabis what do. Instead, try researching on what it is made of, what does it do to your body, whether it is addictive or not, it’s medicinal uses and so on. This will only help you face your parent's repetitive questions about how safe it is later on.
Now that you're equipped with all the information it's equally important to finding a good time and spot to have ‘The Talk’ with them.
Decide when, where and with who you want to have the conversation
Timing is crucial in almost everything we do and it especially crucial when you are trying to have a conversation about weed with your parents. Bringing it up during an important family function or when your dad is stressed about work is clearly the wrong time and will only lead to more fights.
Parents always play ‘good cop-bad cop’ even if they don't want to admit so, so think about who you want to have this discussion with. From personal experience, I suggest talking to the parent who is more approachable as it will help convince the other parent about the point you're trying to make. Sort of like a divide-and-conquer situation. If you have a good relationship with your siblings you could also consider including them in the conversation.
The place you have this discussion is important. You wouldn't want to talk about it in a loud setting where you all will be screaming over each other, so pick a place which is comfortable and quiet and preferably where only your family is present. That could save a lot of embarrassment if the discussion doesn't go as planned.
Once you have these logistics sorted, it is time for you to decide what exactly you would want to achieve from this conversation.
Think about the goal of the discussion
Before you start approaching the topic with your family, think about why you want to have this conversation. Understanding that will help guide the way to starting a conversation about weed with them but it will also help you stay focused. Is your goal just to change the opinion on weed or do you want them to be accepting of your smoking habits? You should be realistic about your goals, a conservative parent might just outright say no and not entertain the discussion if you lead with ‘I smoke weed and I'm educating you about it but I will smoke it freely around the house now’. Start small and build up from there.
Sayoni tells Bingedaily that before she thought about talking about this with her parents, she tried remembering her past experiences with them about it. "I was petrified before talking to my father about weed. I tried thinking about instances where the topic has come up before and it helped me gauge what I want from having the talk with him. With everything going on in the news, he thought weed was a drug as bad as heroin and coke and I wanted to change his perception about it. He'd often say only drug addicts are seen smoking weed and that's what I wanted to change. He has always been strict with me, so I figured I will try smaller steps and start by helping him have a positive attitude about the herb before I talk about anything else”
Approach the topic in a subtle but direct way
Subtlety is an art that you should master before talking to your parents about weed. While you don’t want to directly hit them with the ‘I smoke weed and I'm here to talk to you about it’, you also don’t want to beat around the bush and loose focus. You could come up with a few conversation openers like -
- Have you ever tried marijuana?
- What do you know about marijuana?
- Have you ever thought about trying marijuana?
- Have you heard the latest news about marijuana legality?
These will help the conversation flow freely and more organically. On the plus side, you also get to know whether your parents have been experimental with weed before.
Malvika tells Bingedaily “Once I found out that my parents were chill about the idea of smoking weed, I gradually told them I had tried it once or twice. They were taken aback but not surprised. They figured that since I had been talking to them about it more frequently, I had tried it too. In a way, having open discussions with them mentally prepared them for this conversation which is why it went relatively smoothly.”
While some parents will be much more open to the idea about weed, they might be wary about their own child smoking it.
Listen to your family’s concerns with an open mind
Whether it is alcohol, cigarettes or weed, any parent will be apprehensive about their child getting into a habit. For them, no young person should get into ‘bad habits’ early on in life and they might even put up crazy theories about why they're against you smoking but be patient and hear them out. You can point out facts and explain to them the exact way in which weed affects your mind and body but hearing them out will make them feel understood and will prevent a heated argument.
While you have your friends and the internet to teach you everything there is to know about weed, your family is likely to have formed their opinion through stereotypical portrayal in the media. It is your job to address those opinions and try and change them. Listing out the positives about the herb will help you do that.
Bring out the medicinal used of marijuana and it’s benefits
This is the point in the discussion when you put all your knowledge about weed to use. Indian parents may not be properly educated about medical marijuana and how it can be used in a positive way. Listing out the positives of weed to your parents will help them understand the ways in which cannabis is good for the body. Talking about how it enhances creativity, helps you stay happy, combat period pain, how it could improve your job performance and how it is NOT an addictive drug may nudge them in the right direction.
You can even talk about how marijuana is not all about getting high. CBD oil is a derivative of cannabis and as of 2019, low THC hemp-derived CBD oil is legal in India. You can focus on how cannabis consumption in this way will not get you high but will help in dealing with chronic pain. While this may sound gibberish to your family, educating them about the benefits and legality of CBD oil might give them some peace of mind.
Focus on why YOU choose to smoke and how it helps you
“Even though I listed out each and every benefit of marijuana to my mother, she was still adamant on not seeing my point of view. I was frustrated but then I made her understand the reason why I chose to smoke it. I was facing a writer's block and had to come up with content for my job and when I explained to her that it helped me creatively. I also explained to her how it helps with my mental health and anxiety and she slowly but surely started seeing things from my point of view” says Sayoni.
Parents are often worried about their teens coming into bad company and blindly following their actions in an effort to seem ‘cool’. Explaining to your parents that as a young adult you can make informed decisions about products that will help you out in a positive way might warm them up to the idea of you using it. Forging a connection and showing them that you can be trusted with this decision will increase their faith in you.
Build assurance and trust
While a parent's concern may feel overbearing, it is instinctive. While marijuana may not be addictive, hitting the joint excessively could have negative effects . Have an open and honest conversation with your family that you have self-control and use it merely as a recreational substance, just like social drinking.
When I told my parents that I started socially drinking, they were worried that it might escalate into frequent drunk nights where I lose control. I had to slowly build their trust in me by showing them that I know when to say no to someone offering me a drink and that I can hold my liquor. The same thing can be done when you are talking to your parents about your cannabis use. While you may already know it, assuring them about safe and moderate use will give both of you some peace of mind.
Talking to Indian parents about controversial topics may be anxiety-inducing but it is not impossible. If you feel they would be willing to see your point of view, go ahead and have the ‘cannabis conversation’ with them. Whether it is just changing their opinion about consuming it or trying to convince them to make your house a 420 friendly household, talking to them with a firm but calm and patient voice will surely help your case in one way or the other.