How To Talk About Marijuana At Thanksgiving Dinner

If you don't understand how Trump won the presidency, it's because you're not getting out of the city enough.
If you don't understand how Trump won the presidency, it's because you're not getting out of the city enough.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the United States, that day when Americans travel over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house, or wherever and whoever makes up your annual family dinner tradition.

That means tomorrow is that annual ritual many of us dread – talking current events and politics with those disagreeable aunts, uncles, and cousins you live so far away from. Whether you’re a blue-state urban liberal or a red-state rural conservative, every year you find yourself engaged in conversation with relatives far removed from your political reality.

If you don't understand how Trump won the presidency, it's because you're not getting out of the city enough.
If you don’t understand how Trump won the presidency, it’s because you’re not getting out of the city enough.

This year, with such a controversial presidential election, there are bound to be many heated arguments between one side that feels vindicated by an Electoral College landslide and the other side that feels betrayed by another popular vote presidential loss, this time by over two million votes.

So why not derail the potential for nasty presidential politics by bringing up the subject that outperformed both Hillary Clinton’s and Donald Trump’s national vote percentage in all nine states where it was voted on – marijuana!

Even in Arizona, the only state of the nine where marijuana reform lost in 2016, the measure garnered 48.68 percent of the vote. Hillary Clinton is up to 47.9 percent of the popular vote and Donald Trump is down to 46.4 percent.

In marijuana, there is a discussion for all of your Thanksgiving relatives:

For your conservative uncle: Your uncle doesn’t really hate pot; he may have even smoked a little himself back in the day. What he doesn’t like is the liberal politics, long hair, and political correctness that comes with pot smoking. This is where you can lure him into supporting legalization by pointing out how much the old school pot growers are complaining about it.

Washington Marijuana Prices
Even with the worst legalization law (no home grow, per se DUID, 40 gram possession felony, 37% taxation), Washington’s legal marijuana costs far less than medical marijuana in the five states voting on legalization. (Image: Washington Post)

Key talking points: “In Colorado, legal marijuana there has created 18,000 jobs, contributes $2.4 billion to the economy, and has generated $135 million in tax revenue. But most of all, it has turned pot dealing into a regulated job and dropped the price of marijuana that makes it harder for illegal dealers to compete. Pot had turned into a business with dress codes and paperwork and taxes – just what the counterculture doesn’t want to deal with!”

For your liberal aunt: Your aunt probably agrees with you on the need to legalize marijuana, but is susceptible to a nanny-state impulse to protect people for their own good. You’ll need to show her that legalization so far hasn’t resulted in all the scares about stoned drivers and teenage use, and that the worry about marijuana-infused edibles is overblown.

The reason teen pot use doesn't go up with legalization is because kids have always had a source for marijuana - usually other kids!
The reason teen pot use doesn’t go up with legalization is because kids have always had a source for marijuana – usually other kids!

Key talking points: “The reviews of marijuana legalization from Washington and Colorado so far have shown no statistically-significant increase in teenage marijuana use. Overall driving fatalities are up slightly, but officials attribute that to factors not including marijuana legalization. DUI arrests are down in Washington and Colorado; those stats about stoned drivers you’ve heard about are referring to people with marijuana metabolites in their system, which doesn’t tell us they were stoned at the time. The initial problems with kids and marijuana edibles have been addressed and were only a miniscule percentage of all calls to pediatric poison centers.”

For your apathetic grandparent: Marijuana policy may be the furthest thing from your grandparents’ political awareness. Their last thoughts about the issue may have been during the Nixon Administration, and as far as they’re concerned, marijuana is the drug of those anti-American hippie types. In their mind, it’s still “grass” and it’s smoked by unkempt smelly jobless people. Time to let them know that it’s Not Your Father’s Woodstock Weed anymore!

Well look at that! More adults are smoking pot, they're smoking more often, there are more daily tokers, they think pot is less risky than ever, and it's more potent than it has ever been. And yet, there's no incerase in people getting addicted to marijuana!
Well look at that! More adults are smoking pot, they’re smoking more often, there are more daily tokers, they think pot is less risky than ever, and it’s more potent than it has ever been. And yet, there’s no incerase in people getting addicted to marijuana!

Key talking points: “Marijuana has come a long way since the Summer of Love. Folks in legal states are increasingly choosing non-smoked options to consume cannabis. Edibles are extremely popular and now new vaporization technologies provide all the benefits of smoking without the smoke. You ought to try some of the new cannabis lotions and cremes they have now; they’d be really good for your sore joints… pardon the pun.”

This Thanksgiving, let’s take the opportunity to come out of the cannabis closet and lobby our friends and relatives to join our side in maintaining and expanding the legalization of cannabis nationwide. Presidential politics have us all on edge, worried about the fate of the Cole Memo and the federal hands-off policies on state recreational and medical marijuana experiments. Now is the time to expand our support in this toughest of tests for legalization, and we couldn’t do better than bringing in those people in our circles who may disagree with us on everything else.

(This post updated to correct assertion that overall highway fatalities have fallen, to provide hyperlinks for other assertions in the talking points, and to add data charts. — “R”R)

Russ Belville
About Russ Belville 191 Articles
Russ Belville - or "Radical" Russ, as he is known on-air - hosts The Russ Belville Show - The Voice of the Marijuana Nation, a two-hour live news and talk radio program for the cannabis community, weekdays at 3pm Pacific on RadicalRuss.com (learn more on our Podcast page).  The show is based in Portland, Oregon, but "Radical" Russ has traveled over 300,000 air miles in the past five years, bringing his show to report live from hundreds of cannabis conferences, marijuana expos, hemp festivals, and legalization events in over 50 North American cities.