Friday June 10, 2016
The number of people who support marijuana reform is steadily growing. As of October, 2015, 54 percent of Americans reportedly favor marijuana legalization up from 21 percent 30 years ago. But what about the other 46 percent? For those of us who are connected with the opposition – be it family, friends or fellow PTA members – heading into a conversation about marijuana reform may be difficult to escape from unscathed.
But you can talk to non-supporters about marijuana reform without completely losing your cool – and you may even change a few hearts in the process – just by using effective communication strategies. These tips can help.
Consider the Arguments Against Legalization
Opposing views on marijuana are based on very different perspectives on the issue. For example, those who favor reform often cite health benefits and relative safety of cannabis use whereas those who oppose reform believe it is dangerous to individuals and society as a whole.
The most common arguments against marijuana reform, according to the Pew Research Center, are as follows:
- Marijuana use is detrimental to the individual, the family and the community: Many who oppose reform believe that marijuana is a dangerous drug that can wreak havoc on people, their families and the community as a whole, but this has not been proven. In fact, marijuana legalization may actually improve a person’s health, strengthen the family and boost the local economy.
- Marijuana is dangerous and addictive: Many things can lead to addiction – marijuana, prescription drugs, sex, shoe shopping – but that doesn’t mean they should be banned because of the small few who are at risk. In fact, compared to other popular substances, marijuana is less likely to lead to addiction and it’s easier to overcome marijuana addiction, as well.
- Marijuana legalization is bad for youth: Many opponents suggest that legalizing marijuana would send the wrong message to youth by essentially justifying drug use. One such opponent suggests marijuana would cripple our nation’s mentality by teaching young people to self-medicate with pot instead of teaching them to address issues directly.
Because the movement is young, it’s difficult to determine the impact reform will have on youth, but from what we’ve seen so far, marijuana reform has done more to keep pot away from kids than the black market ever did.
Throw in Some Major Advantages
The benefits of marijuana reform far outweigh the drawbacks so it’s important to highlight the advantages of legalization, too. When having the great marijuana debate, be sure to tip the scales even farther in favor of reform with some of these impressive stories and statistics.
- The industry is going to be huge: The legal marijuana market took off with a bang, growing a whopping 74 percent in the year 2014 and continuing exponentially. Some estimate that by the end of the year 2016, the legal marijuana market will be worth $6.7 billion nation-wide. If the trend continues (and it will), the industry could be worth as much as $21 billion by the year 2020 – more than twice the worth of the National Football League!
- Cannabis is already saving the lives of children: A few years ago, CNN published a story outlining the amazing benefits of cannabis on young Dravet Syndrome sufferer, Charlotte Figi. Crippled with as many as 300 grand mal seizures each week, the five-year-old was at the end of her rope forcing her parents to consider alternative medication: medical marijuana appropriately named Charlotte’s Web. Since beginning her cannabis regimen, Charlotte’s seizures have dropped to only two to three per month serving as an inspiration to thousands of families across the nation. Many others have followed the Figi’s footsteps by moving to medical marijuana states in search of refuge for their ill children, as well.
- States with a legal marijuana market are doing great: 420-friendly states have benefited from legal cannabis in more ways than just an economic boost. Colorado unemployment is lower than the national average, real estate prices are through the roof, schools are improving and expanding, suicide and overdose deaths are dropping and people are just plain happier now that we’re being treated like adults.
- Cannabis is playing a large role in ending the drug war: Thanks to legalized marijuana, Mexican drug cartels and the drug war in general are taking a major hit. With so much production in the US, Mexican growers are feeling pressure including competitive pricing and varying quality of product. With a decline in border seizures, more and more Americans are sourcing cannabis domestically, potentially saving lives in this ongoing battle.
Practice Positive Communication Strategies
Now that you’ve armed yourself with helpful information, remember the following:
- Listen: It’s easy to go into a pro-pot conversation armed with the latest information, research and statistics, but it’s also an easy way to lose your audience. Instead, learn and take into consideration the other person’s side.
- Educate: After you understand why the non-consumer opposes reform, carefully teach them about the industry, the growth it has experienced, where it’s going in the future and maybe even how it’s affected you to be supportive. Validating how they feel in relation to the facts will help both parties arrive at a mutual understanding.
As cool as it is to live in Colorado where passion for pot is greeted with smiling faces and informed individuals, when people venture back home to states that aren’t so accepting, most cannabis conversations rarely run smoothly. If you, too, have a strong pot opposition on your back, don’t avoid awkward conversations about marijuana reform; face them proudly prepared with these simple tips for talking to non-stoners.
Do you have any tips you’d like to share with us? Comment below or let us know on Facebook.
Photo credit: Steven Pisano