I’m a 27 year old bud tender in Southern California (he/him), and I moved here from Jonesboro, Arkansas to follow my dream and passion of working in the cannabis industry. While my work is challenging, – and California is so expensive – I love them both and am so happy I came here.
The problem is when I go back home to visit my family in Arkansas. They are very religious and conservative, and are not accepting of cannabis as a medicine – they still call it ‘dope’ and think it’s a ‘gateway drug’! – and as I see more evidence in my life and those that I work with and serve, of the medicinal and spiritual powers of the plant, it’s become more difficult to avoid arguments and toxicity. Can you give me some advice on how to handle this – especially with Thanksgiving coming up?!?!
– Daniel from Jonesboro
Congratulations on finding and following your passion! You seem fulfilled with your choices. This dynamic of yours is one many can relate to, even if the details are different.
Big picture: This is a swing of the pendulum. Think about it, Daniel, you were living in their world, according to their systems and all was predictable and comfortable. Then you moved to a state with a different culture, to work in a provocative industry that is in the midst of a paradigm shift. So, the pendulum swung to the completely opposite position. This is common when change occurs. It can be scary and unsettling for some (your family in this case) and liberating for others (you in this case). Ideally the pendulum could move to the center but that may not be possible. Based on your age, I’m going to assume that you made this life change in the past few years, so they are still adjusting to a world that is completely foreign to them.
The smaller picture: you can’t change them, they can’t change you, and no one here needs to change. For now, there are some things that you can do as you navigate this. First, seek to understand them. For some reason, your decision and cannabis lifestyle triggers fear in them. While you would probably like to educate them to assuage their fears, at this point it doesn’t seem that they are open to that. Fear is worthy of compassion so to soften your anxiety around this, move into that space a bit if you can. Second, don’t engage. That doesn’t mean you are ashamed of who you are or what you believe, it just means you aren’t engaging in an unproductive, aggressive, domineering exchange. If they continue to try to engage or even bait you, and you can’t seem to shut it down or take it anymore, then you have some other things to consider down the road.
But let’s stay focused on the present for now. This could be a fluid situation and the landscape of this can change over time. Third, remember, nothing changes until you do. Stand confidently in your beliefs and the choices you are making. If you fully embrace this aspect of you it will;
1) Make you less combative and defensive
2) Have more compassion for the fear that motivates them even if you can’t relate to it
3) Will give you courage to make uncomfortable decisions down the road if this doesn’t change.
You want to see your family. If you didn’t, you would not travel to incur the expense and hassle of traveling over the holidays. So, try to have a little patience, a little compassion for the fear that imprisons all of us, don’t engage and see how this evolves. Take care of yourself as you traverse this, and if it gets toxic, do what you need to do for you. Sometimes these dynamics change, and change again and yet again — because humans are intricate beings with complicated emotions.
I wish you luck with your professional pursuits and personal resolutions, Daniel.
Hope you enjoy your holidays and enjoy some good food!