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Being The “Green Sheep” Of The Family Can Be Hard

Matt Weeks
Green sheep of the family shirt

Even as legalization spreads, there are pockets of total stigma against the leaf. Are you the green sheep of your family?

Some patients are reluctant to openly discuss their cannabis use with even their closest friends. Many also consider themselves to be the “green sheep” of their families. Negative attitudes toward cannabis can be a significant obstacle for green patients to overcome, often leading family members, friends, and co-workers to hide parts of their lives from their closest confidants.

But, as the cannabis closet continues to open, more and more people are coming out. Green sheep the world over are sharing their experiences. Some face pushback, but many others have been embraced or have even discovered fellow cannabis enthusiasts hiding in plain sight for many years.

If you’re considering opening up about being a green sheep, first stop and think. It may be helpful to think through conversations you want to have with your parents, co-workers, friends, or children before you just blurt out your passion in a normal conversation.

green sheep reperesented by girl smoking in beautiful forest

Why Being a Green Sheep Matters

If you’re considering talking about your cannabis consumption with those around you, congratulations! You’re doing a lot of good. Studies have shown that one of the most effective ways to change people’s minds is not through fact-based discussions or philosophical debates, but rather through personal exposure.

The more time homophobic people spent around gay and lesbian friends, the more their attitudes shifted toward LGBTQ groups.

It’s probable that cannabis will work the same way.

When someone’s only primary understanding of cannabis comes from the news, they may develop a sensationalized view of the substance. Instead of seeing it as natural medicine that has been a part of the human journey since the beginning, they may associate cannabis with illegal substances, criminal behavior, and slacker stoner movies.

Being an open and proud green sheep helps to normalize cannabis consumption. It also encourages those around you to develop a more nuanced — and accurate — understanding of cannabis in society.

Green sheep of the family shirt

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You Are Not Alone

According to the United Nations’ 2019 World Drug Report, one hundred and eighty eight million people across the globe are regular cannabis consumers. That’s about four percent of the world’s population. It is the most commonly used “drug” on earth, and demand has been rising steadily for the last twenty years. Increasing by roughly thirty percent from 1998-2017. And about twenty two percent of that total (or forty million individual consumers) reside in North America.

If someone has a problem with you being the green sheep of your social circle, it’s nothing personal. They’re against a staggering number of people — a number that keeps growing, as countries like New Zealand, Mexico, and Luxembourg have been pouring over Canada’s recent mass legalization efforts for tips and tricks to aid their own efforts.

The fact is cannabis has big momentum. It’s not a niche product. From August 2018 to August 2019, U.S. retail outlets saw $185.1 million in CBD sales, a three-fold increase over the same 52-week period a year prior.

That kind of growth doesn’t happen without a lot of demand. At this point, having strong feelings against cannabis isn’t about upholding societal standards, it’s about opposing progress.

woman smoking joint

How Green Sheep Can Help

Green sheep are not only in a position to free themselves of the baggage they’ve been carrying around in secret, but also to be advocates for curious neighbors and family members about the benefits of a cannabis-rich lifestyle.

As one RxLeaf reader put it: “My son is disabled, so we discuss marijuana/cannabis benefits all the time. I am very open and I educate my family and everyone else about it.”

And while the media often paints issues like cannabis as black-and-white, the truth is that most people fall somewhere in a gray middle area when it comes to cannabis use. A green sheep is the perfect information source to answer people’s questions — and perhaps open their minds about the issue.

Some people don’t like cannabis because it’s illegal, but have no issues with it in places where it’s been legitimized. Others are fine with CBD, but draw a line at full-spectrum cannabis. The point is, the cannabis debate is nuanced and constantly evolving. A curious grandmother may have more questions than opinions, and be surprisingly willing to listen to a family member who opens up about the help they’ve received from cannabis medicine.

green sheep represented by couple smoking together

How to Talk about Cannabis

But, no matter how supportive those around may potentially be, there’s always a chance you’ll face that anti-cannabis stigma. Being a green sheep isn’t always easy. So it’s best to have a game plan before you begin any sort of cannabis discussion.

First, know your laws. While moral questions are subjective, laws are cut-and-dry. If you can confidently point out how your state treats CBD, medical cannabis, and recreational cannabis, you’ll have the upper hand on the facts. That’s important.

Second, be sure to center your talk around yourself and your own experiences. If popping a CBD gummy bear helps you succeed at work, say that plainly. Don’t beat around the bush. Talk about how it reduces your anxiety, which improves your productivity. Or, if you use cannabis flower to relax and de-stress, talk about the benefits that a less-stressful life has had on you.

Be Personal About Your Cannabis Experiences

Tell your own story with real-world examples and benefits. Don’t make it a public policy argument or a conversation about mass incarceration. The more you can make the conversation about you — and not cannabis in general — the more support you’re likely to receive.

Third, prepare for the consequences. Green sheep are great people. They’re brave and they’re needed if we’re going to make substantial progress in this country. But that doesn’t mean they’re always treated fairly.

Sometimes, cannabis consumers can become isolated from their families or friends because of their medicine. So prepare for some pushback, but don’t give into a false narrative. If you’re willing to be a green sheep, you may have to suffer a little bit for your beliefs. But trust that you’re correct, there are reams of data to back you up, and public opinion is further edging your way every day.

And if you do have to go it alone, remember that there are communities, like RxLeaf, that are there for you.

So, go green sheep!

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Matt Weeks

A writer living and working in Athens, GA, Matt's work has appeared in various newspapers, books, magazines and online publications over the last 15 years. When he's not writing, he hosts bar trivia, plays in local bands, and makes a mean guacamole. He holds an undergraduate degree in journalism and a master's degree in organizational theory. His favorite movie is "Fletch."

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