Here's What to Say When the Thanksgiving Dinner Conversation Gets to Cannabis

As much as you can expect to spend some quality time with your family and loved ones around Thanksgiving, you can also likely anticipate some family drama or awkward dinner conversations. The holidays can be a stressful time of year — a time, which for many, might warrant smoking a joint out back with your cousin before returning to the chaos of Thanksgiving dinner prep.  

Reeking of weed at the dinner table would garner little response in my family, but in others, it might raise a few eyebrows. So whether our families are 420-friendly or cannabis naive, Thanksgiving is as good a time as any to broach the topic with them.

Here are a few tips for talking to your parents, grandparents, and crazy uncle about cannabis.

Start with the history

Did you know the US Constitution was written on hemp paper? That cannabis was grown in America long before the pilgrims even settled in? That Queen Victoria and even the ancient Egyptians used cannabis medicinally for menstrual cramps and childbirth pains?

These are just a few questions to start the conversation. Then ease your way into modern history, how ‘Reefer Madness’ demonized "marijuana," a term used racistly to associate cannabis more closely with its Mexican consumers, as well as with black Jazz musicians. And when Richard Nixon launched the Drug War in 1971, even his right-hand man John Ehrlichman admitted the racial roots of prohibition.

"We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities," Ehrlichman later recalled. "We could arrest their leaders. raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did."

Describe the benefits of medical marijuana

Ask grandma if she knew she had an endocannabinoid system — a network of receptors throughout her body specifically designed to interact with the compounds found in cannabis.

Feel free to run through the seemingly infinite list of conditions cannabis has been proven to help with: cancer, AIDS, epilepsy, PMS, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, and so forth.

And point out that more than half the country has recognized the benefits of cannabis, as now 33 states and Washington D.C. have legalized cannabis to some degree. Meanwhile, scientists in places like Israel are leading the world in medical marijuana research, conducting clinical trials and making technological strides in cannabinoid medicine applications and research methodology. Even the US government (in a grand display of hypocrisy, given federal prohibition) holds a patent on medical marijuana and since 1978, and has been sending joints to medical marijuana patients as part of an Investigational New Drug program.

Talk about CBD

At this point, even if someone doesn't quite know what CBD is, they have probably heard about it. Explain to your family that CBD is a prominent chemical compound found in the cannabis plant that will not get you high — yet, it's still therapeutic for a number of conditions like epilepsy, pain, inflammation, insomnia, and so on.

CBD could even be taken as a daily supplement for general wellness. While CBD comes from cannabis, it can be derived either from marijuana or hemp, the former of which contains more than .3 percent THC, and the latter devoid of psychoactive properties.

For the canna-curious, CBD is a gentle introduction to the cannabis plant.

Even non-consumers and politicians — across the aisle — support cannabis legalization

More than 60 percent of Americans support legalizing marijuana, while only 13 percent report to be regular consumers. (Moreover, 43 percent admit to having tried cannabis at least once in their life.) According to a Civilized culture poll, 63 percent of non-consumers (and 95 percent of consumers) believe cannabis legalization has had a positive economic effect.

Meanwhile, legislators across the political spectrum from Bernie Sanders to John Boehner support ending prohibition (you can tell your Republican uncle that Boehner is even on the advisory board of the cannabis company Acreage Holdings). Cannabis legalization has long been a bipartisan issue, bridging the gaps between left and right, young and old, and everyone in between. Not just for stoners anymore, cannabis can enhance the health and well-being of everyone from your dog to your grandparents.

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Few other entrepreneurs in the cannabis space have their hands in quite as many ventures as Lorne Gertner. Currently dubbed the "godfather of the Canadian cannabis industry," Gertner told Civilized, "If we could live through normalization, we could change the world." Hailing from the fashion industry, this Toronto native says he's on a mission to "make the world a better place through cannabis and design excellence." The only catch is, well, normalizing cannabis — and that's where Gertner's keen eye for style comes in. "In the old days, you were going to be different or you were going to be normal," said Thom Antonio, Gertner's friend, creative director, and collaborator of 35 years.

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