A funny thing happened the other day while I was talking to my mother. She’s nearly 70 and I’m almost 40 years old. We got to talking about the legalization of cannabis in Canada and she immediately turned her nose up in the air and began to rant about how inappropriate it was that an entire country made it okay for people to gain access to weed. She lived through the 60s, so I would have thought her outlook on this conversation would have been more opened-minded, but that’s when I realized there will be an entire generation of people who grow up in a world where cannabis use is normalized. And that got me thinking: how do you bridge that gap between what people think cannabis is and does with what it actually is and does.
This isn’t your mother’s weed.
First, I think it’s important to acknowledge that the cannabis products people are buying and consuming today are a far cry from what our parents were smoking in fields in the 60s. Legalization is about much more than the government benefiting from the high tax rates, although, that is definitely happening. Legalization is about control sources and working to protect people. But that’s my 40-year-old perspective. My mother’s 70-year-old perspective is that legalization encourages young people to try smoking pot. Ummm, young people are already smoking pot, Mom. If it’s going to happen, shouldn’t there be controls around it and shouldn’t there be regulations about what kind of cannabis people have access to? She disagreed wholeheartedly.
This isn’t an epidemic.
My mother’s point of view is one that is influenced by the stigma of cannabis. There are no two ways about it: people who aren’t sitting down to listen to the facts about what legalization means for a country like Canada are pleading ignorant. They’d rather not engage in the discussion, shut down any other opinions that don’t align with their own and ignore the fact that this “problem” could actually be a solution in many circles. With the introduction of government-funded cannabis dispensaries, you’ve got to wonder if this isn’t the right track? When the government started supporting Methadone clinics for people addicted to crack and other hard drugs, people also thought that was going to mean everyone was going to get addicted to drugs. Instead, by providing a safe and controlled environment for people to gain access to the drugs they need, safety has improved and people are getting the help they need. It’s not perfect, but it’s a step in the right direction. My mom thinks that legalization weed means it’s going to be sold on every street corner. But isn’t that what the government is trying to stop?
There’s no right or wrong answer here.
What I found most profound about my conversation with my mom about cannabis in Canada is that she believed she as absolutely right and I was happy to just engage in the conversation, not fully knowing if I was right or wrong, or if she was right or wrong. The generational gap on this issue is wide and deep: younger people are more open to the possibilities surrounding cannabis use in Canada and the world over. With dispensary marketing efforts on the rise, it is quickly becoming part of everyday life. We don’t see it as the threat that our parents do or did. My mom’s not stiff, by any means, so I was surprised to find that she was holding fast on the issue of cannabis legalization. I’m sure it has something to do with generational thinking, shame, and stigma about some joints she smoked when she was younger. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer when it comes to this kind of situation, but I do think that it is right to listen to the opinions and views of others to help us frame an opinion for ourselves. Without information, and by cutting ourselves off from other viewpoints and believing that we are right and everyone else is wrong, we lose the opportunity to engage in conversation and understand our role in this new way of doing things.