Coming Out of the Green Closet is a series of articles regarding being honest about your relationship with cannabis. These following articles are designed to offer simple talking points towards having these important conversations with those in your life and communities, if you choose to. Part one, Coming Out of the Green Closet: Talking to Friends and Family about Cannabis, will be from the perspective of an adult coming out to your family and friends.
Coming out of the green closet can be a big deal, or not. Maybe the thought of it makes you nervous, or maybe it makes you feel less burdened. How do you really feel about sharing this personal information with another person? Sometimes the person you need to be honest with first is yourself. Why do you want to tell others how cannabis makes you feel? Once you are honest with yourself and open the doors of that green closet to tell your mother, grandchildren, or peers, you stand in confidence. The green closet is different for everyone because we are all different. For some, the green closet is safe and secure. For others, it is suffocating and isolating. If and when you decide you are ready to come out, this series can be used as a guide to help make that transition easier for you and those whom you choose to share this information with.
Coming out of the “green closet” and being honest about your relationship with cannabis can be a tricky, and sometimes scary, thing to do. Especially if you live in a state where medical or recreational use of cannabis is still illegal. It can be difficult to convince the people in your life to have an open mind because of the negative connotations still associated with cannabis. In the simplest terms, coming out of the green closet means being honest about the magic and healing that happens inside your body when you consume cannabis. Cannabis is medicine; and like any other medicine, it is your private business. You do not have to disclose the type of medication you are using to anyone unless you choose to do so.
In more complex terms, coming out of the green closet represents the forces trying to prevent us from being truthful about all the energetic, balancing, healing, and spiritual ways cannabis can assist, heal, and guide us throughout every biological stage in our lives. These forces are sometimes called fear, societal expectations, and judgement. For example, your fear of losing your job if your employer finds out you use cannabis is real and valid. This fear can manifest itself as shame or anxiety and these feelings could possibly be preventing you from experiencing a deeper and more embodied cannabis experience.
Here are four questions to ask yourself before having those conversations:
- Why is it personally important for you share this information with others?
- Is this adult open to learning about cannabis?
- Why do you use cannabis?
- Are you using cannabis responsibly and with intention?
How you answer these questions will most likely determine how they view your cannabis consumption. If they are open to learning about cannabis, coming out of the green closet will be a relatively easy process. If they are completely against the idea of cannabis and you still want to try to convince them to see past the negative stigmas associated with cannabis you need to take baby steps.
The first step would be to find out why they feel the way they do. Really listen to them. Is it possible you could have contributed to their negative views? Can you help change or reframe their negative experiences? One example is my mother. She viewed my cannabis use as being something irresponsible and illegal because I started cutting class and smoking cannabis with my friends in high school. So technically, she was correct. I was a minor who was cutting school, buying cannabis from the “weed man”, and getting high. Everything about that situation was illegal, irresponsible, and potentially dangerous. I had to take responsibility for contributing to some of her negative views regarding cannabis. The next steps for me was to educate myself about cannabis and get a medical cannabis recommendation. I did both of those things and over time I was able to show my mother I was no longer using cannabis irresponsibly. Now she is completely compassionate and understanding about my cannabis usage. Look at what honesty, patience, and education can do!
If hiding your cannabis usage from your loved ones is no longer serving you at this point in your life, I applaud your bravery and honesty. I also want to remind you there are levels to coming out of the green closet. Some people want everyone in their life to know, including the Internet, their co-workers, and their neighbors. Others only want their doctor and select family members to know. No matter where you fall on the “coming out” spectrum, I want you to remember this process is all about you.
Additional resources for adults:
The Botany of Desire a documentary by Michael Pollan explores the relationship between humans and the cannabis plant from the unique perspective of the plant.
Ashley Asatu Barnes is a healer, truth teller, seed planter, collaborator, and creator of brave spaces. Ashley specializes in cannabis education, cannabis wellness, and cannabis therapy plans in the San Francisco Bay Area.