Let’s face it, whether or not it’s deserved, cannabis has quite a negative stigmatism surrounding it. Maybe it’s because of a 50 year long war on drugs, maybe it’s the way pot smokers have been portrayed in nearly every cult classic “stoner” movie ever made. Regardless, one thing is becoming very apparent to an American society that has demonized the use of marijuana for decades – it’s not as bad as we’ve been pretending.

But while Reefer Madness may not have a stranglehold on our collective perception the same way it used to, there are still a lot of questions about how to approach it. In states that have legalized it, marijuana use has become acceptable in ways that weed smokers 10 years ago never could have fathomed. This is a big win for those who have been keeping things under wraps for fear of what people would think, whether or not they could get a job, or thrown into a jail cell. 

Still, the stigmas exist. Just because it’s legal in several states and widely more acceptable by most people doesn’t mean that everyone is willing to roll up a cone and blaze. We’re sure just about everyone reading this can think of at least one person they know that could benefit from a little THC but is hung up on some preconceived idea of what it’s like. So, how do you introduce legal weed to someone who doesn’t use it? We’re glad you asked.

1. Understand Why They Don’t Want To

Here’s the thing, weed isn’t for everyone. More importantly, that’s okay. It’s likely that no matter how you frame it, your great aunt Lisa isn’t going to come around to smoking a bowl in between sunday school and watching reruns of her favorite soaps (although she would probably enjoy them both more is she did). You have to know your audience. While marijuana has benefits that could improve most people’s day to day, it doesn’t mean everyone should be doing it. 

But some of the reasons that people have for not smoking aren’t so sound. It comes down to their understanding of its effects and what options that are available to them. If you are attempting to introduce the wonders of marijuana to someone who doesn’t use it regularly, your going to have much better results if you understand why it is that they don’t. Consider some of these very legitimate reasons that people get hung up on using marijuana.

They’ve Never Done It Before

Think back to your first time smoking pot. This may be harder for some than others but seriously, it can be pretty intimidating. You have no frame of reference or any idea of how you are going to react to it. That’s a pretty damn good reason to not want to do it. That said, as those who have tried it know, it’s not something to fear. It doesn’t last for an incredibly long time, it’s not completely incapacitating, and it’s certainly not going to kill you. The best thing you can do for someone who is trying marijuana for the first time is to be a responsible guide. Set realistic expectations, let them know they’re safe, and for the love of god make sure you don’t give them too much.

Smoking Is Unhealthy

Let’s not beat around the bush, inhaling smoke is not good for your lungs. Of course, different types of smoke are arguably worse than others, but breathing anything other than oxygen is counterintuitive to what your body wants. Many potential marijuana users are turned away by the thought of being a smoker. We’ve all seen the videos comparing the lungs of a healthy non-smoker versus a pack-a-day smoker. This is a legitimate reason not to smoke pot. However – and we’re sure you probably know what we’re going to say next – you don’t have to smoke in order to enjoy the effects of marijuana. If this is the reason they are hesitant, kindly inform them that their are many ways at to partake. If they don’t want to be a smoker, try offering them a cookie. Though, cookies aren’t all that healthy either.

Being High Makes Them Paranoid

This is one that we hear fairly often. The truth is, I think everyone who uses marijuana has felt paranoid at least once. The strain, THC level, and amount consumed all play a role in how comfortable the high is going to be. Also, your setting and mindset can have a huge affect on whether or not you’re going to be paranoid. Imagine eating an edible then being forced to sit in a room with a cop, your local pasor, and your ex-girlfriend’s parents while forced to talk about internet search history. I can’t imagine many people aren’t going to feel at least a little paranoid in that situation. That said, if you are told by someone that they don’t use weed because it makes them paranoid, try recommending they find something with a lower THC content like a nice THC/CBD hybrid or recommend they only use it when they are in a situation in which they feel completely comfortable. There are many ways to use weed and they have varied effects. Just because they feel paranoid with one doesn’t mean there isn’t a way for them to enjoy it. 

Other Reasons Not To

Of course there are many other reasons that people choose not to smoke marijuana: religious reasons, their career, or maybe a past experience that they don’t want to be reminded of. The best thing to do is acknowledge their reservations and respect them. Again, not using marijuana isn’t a bad thing. It also doesn’t mean that marijuana isn’t for them. Let them know that they have options and that there are many reasons to use other than getting high AF. The only way to break the stigmas that surround pot is to understand why people don’t and educate them. Liking weed doesn’t make you a stoner, being a stoner doesn’t make you an idiot, and being an idiot doesn’t mean you won’t like weed. 

2. Show Them Why It’s Okay

Okay, now that we’ve established that, in order to get through to those who don’t use weed, you have to understand their reservations, let’s discuss the reasons that so many people do use it. Like we said before, over the past few years more and more people are opening their minds to it. People that were smoking weed before it’s legalization are much more open about it and many who didn’t are now both enjoying and advocating its use. 

But why is that? Is it because we’re exposed to it more? Is it because we’ve been able to study it and realized it’s benefits? Maybe it’s because social influencers have been so open to talking about it? Despite how it came about, the fact is, weed isn’t viewed the same way it once was. The point being, if you are introducing marijuana to a friend that doesn’t use it, you have a lot of reasons at your disposal as to why it’s okay. Check it out.

It’s Finally Legal

Let us be very clear about this: We are in no way encouraging you to do something that is illegal. Although, if you are living in a State that has yet to legalize marijuana, we feel bad for you. The fact is, weed is now legal in many States. For years, many of the hang ups that people had were rooted in “I don’t care if it’s bad for you or not, it’s illegal.” Today, for many of us that is no longer a problem we have to face. If you live in an area where weed is legal you have the freedom to discover what it is that makes it so enjoyable. Additionally, because of its liberation, we’ve been able to experiment with it and take it to levels that even a young Tommy Chong wouldn’t have never been able to predict. For years you had two options: Reggie and “Kind Bud.” These days, there’s flower, concentrates, edibles, capsules… and the list goes on. And it’s all because its legality. Why should your friend use marijuana? Because they have the freedom to do so, that’s why.

It Has Medical Properties

This has been one of the biggest catalysts for change when it comes to the legalization of pot. Not only is it not as bad for society as an angry President Nixon would lead you to believe, it has a lot of medical uses as well. Research shows that cannabinoids can reduce anxiety, reduce inflammation and relieve pain, control nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy, and also kill cancer cells and slow tumor growth. While there is still a lot of research to be done on the medical benefits of marijuana, what we currently know about its therapeutic properties is enough to convince many that it has value outside of getting you high.

It Has Few Downsides

Marijuana is a mind altering substance, this much is true. But the fact that it is classified as a schedule 1 narcotic is absurd for more reasons than one. By doing so you’re comparing it to the likes of heavier drugs such as cocaine and heroin. The truth is, pot is considerably less addictive than pretty much every other drug out there, legal or illegal. It’s not going to kill you, under any circumstances. That’s right, not a single record of a Marijuana overdose in history.  It’s not a gateway drug; one hit of the ganja is not going to lead your cancer-stricken grandmother to suddenly have a hankering for methamphetamine. And perhaps most relevant to the views of any skeptic: cannabis is 114 times less harmful than alcohol. This isn’t to say there aren’t downsides, but if your friend is hesitant to try weed due to its negative side effects, they are likely misinformed. So, educate them.

Other Reasons It’s Okay

There are certainly several more reasons why weed is okay to use. Let’s not overlook the fact that it can improve just about everything you might do in a day. It can make food taste better, help boost creativity, make sex feel even better, make music more interesting, and greatly reduce stress. It’s also fun as hell. Typical experiences consist of lots of laughter, heightened relaxation, and a notable increase in appetite. Now that doesn’t seem that bad, does it? When it comes down to it, the best thing you can do when introducing weed to friends that don’t use it is to point out the fact that it has way more positive qualities than it does negative. 

3. Show Then How To Do It

Okay, so we’ve covered how to approach hang ups and how to promote the positives. What’s left? Well, the obvious is left of course – you need to show them how to do it properly. There is a right and a wrong way to do things. And with all the new ways that exist to enjoy cannabis, a new user could benefit from having a complete “Weed for Dummies” guide to using marijuana. That’s where you come in. Show them the differences between the different types of marijuana. If they’re going to be using flower, show them how to roll a joint, use a carb on a bowl, or clear the chamber of that antique zong. If they are using concentrates, show them how to heat the nail or cap the banger. Teach them about the differences between edibles and inhalants. The truth is, with all the ways that weed culture has changed in the past few years, it can and will be intimidating. It’s up to you to be a responsible guide to using it properly. 

Weed isn’t for everyone, sure, but we honestly believe that anyone could enjoy it. When it comes to introducing legal weed to friends that don’t use it, it comes down to introducing it to them the right way – and that’s on you. If you can learn to respect hesitation, promote the positives, and be a resposible guide, you’ll find that your friends aren’t so closed off to it after all.

Christopher Wright

Meet Christopher Wright, aka Blue, successful radio host and creator of Cannabis Talk 101. As well as CEO of Cannabis Talk Network. For over a decade now, Chris has had his hands in all faucets of the Cannabis Industry. From medicinal marijuana dispensaries and cultivations to controversial cannabis activism, Chris is a pioneer for the cannabis movement.