In the past, I went to great lengths to hide my cannabis habit from my parents. After smoking, I had a ritual of using eye drops, sunglasses, mints, febreeze and a carefully considered, ready-to-go excuse as to why I couldn’t sit and chat with them the moment I walked through the door. A lot of people can relate to jumping through similar hoops. However, now that the laws around marijuana are progressing, so should the conversations about it with our parents.
As it turns out, millennials like myself aren’t the only ones enjoying the perks of legalization. According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, since 2002, regular marijuana use among Americans age 45 to 54 has increased by nearly 50 percent. Among those age 55 to 64, it’s jumped by a whopping 455 percent (no, that’s not a typo). And among seniors, age 65-plus, monthly marijuana use is up 333 percent.
There are many reasons to explain why aging boomers are lighting up. With medical and recreational marijuana becoming readily available in more states every year, our culture around it is shifting as stigmas drop and attitudes relax. Our society is becoming more open and educated to the benefits, so older people are turning to medical pot to treat aches and pains, arthritis, fibromyalgia, glaucoma and other common ailments of old age. This is also why medicare prescriptions for painkillers are falling in states that allow medical marijuana — seniors are choosing it over traditional medicine.
Another explanation is that older users are feeling nostalgic and want to relive the glory days of their youth now that it’s more available than ever. It’s likely they were smoking weed long before their children were born, or maybe they never stopped smoking in the first place, but can be more open about it now that they’re empty nesters and no longer have to set an example for children.
All of this has produced the perfect opportunity for younger generations to bond with their parents on a higher level.
Finding out my dad also smokes weed was one of the greatest moments in our relationship. My father is a lot more reserved than I am, so it felt like a revelation when, a couple years ago, we were sitting on his deck, watching the sunset over the Chesapeake Bay, and he very casually took a joint out of his pocket and said, “My friends brought me back this funny-smelling cigarette from Colorado, should we smoke it?”
For us, smoking weed brought us closer. Marijuana is a big part of my lifestyle, so sharing it with my dad is another way of inviting him into my life. Being open about it has made our communication feel more authentic because I can just be myself and not have to lie about what I’m doing. It also meant finding out we have more in common. Like, oh Dad, you don’t care about society’s bullshit? Cool, me neither!
It’s also been a very humanizing experience. I like my dad when he’s stoned, and it’s helped me see him as a real person and not just my dad. We have similar mannerisms and share the same hobbies and sense of humor, so getting stoned and climbing mountains with him has taken our bond to a whole new level. We basically do a lot of the same stuff I would do when I get high with my friends, except my dad is super bougie, so when we get the munchies, we eat somewhere classy and he pays for everything.
I’m not suggesting that you ask your parents to do dabs the next time they come visit, but sharing an occasional holiday joint could be chill. Your first friendships were likely with your parents, and a close relationship with them is amazing to have as an adult, so try to connect with them in that way the next time you’re home if you think it’s something they’d be into. Besides, it’s going to be so much more entertaining than bringing out the old childhood photo albums again.