The Cannabis Closet: The Parents II
A reader writes:
After my college years, I gave up smoking pot for many reasons; I wanted to stay healthy during my pregnancies and subsequent breast feeding of 3 children, I had a husband in the medical profession who was paranoid about getting caught, I was teaching Sunday School, singing in the church choir, and most of our friends had given it up. We drank a whole lot of wine in those days.
Well. Now all the kids are off at college, I have a new husband who is a good deal more fun than the last, and my circle of friends has gotten younger and more adventurous. We keep a small box of the finest bud hidden behind the sweaters in the closet and have a smoke every now and then in the evenings. Life is even more hilarious, and if we don't overdo it, it ramps up our sex life in interesting ways. When the kids come home for spring break or Christmas, after we have said goodnight and retired for the evening, my husband and I hang our heads outside the bathroom window, take a toke, use mouthwash, spray Citrus Magic, and hope the kids don't notice.
My neighbor has occasional PEP (Parents Enjoying Pot) parties at her half-million dollar suburban home in a large Midwestern city. Always mid-morning, so these mothers have time to clear their heads in time to go grocery shopping and pick up their kids at school by 3:00pm. It's funny to see the long line of shiny SUVs parked in front of her house.
Me? I don't partake in those because I work during the day, and I don't enjoy the group vibe anyway. But I do enjoy smoking on a Friday or Saturday night -- after the kids are in bed -- as a way to unwind after a long week at my white-collar job. It's not unusual for me to smoke the night before a 20-mile run or 75-mile bike ride that starts at 6:00 am the next day. As an age-group endurance athlete, I've competed in dozens of marathons and long-course triathlons. For me, the biggest danger with the pot is that it makes me thirsty for a Jack and Coke.
I am the technical officer for a small company and also a published fiction author, so it’s not like smoking has prevented me from accomplishing a great number of things. I first tried marijuana when I was 23 and smoked somewhat regularly until the past year when I turned 35. Not because I think it’s wrong, but because I have a 1 year old child with another on the way. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with parents having a joint, but only if there’s proper care for your children. I don’t want to be high if my child needs to be rushed to the hospital in the middle of the night. I can guarantee you when our children are old enough to spend a weekend with the grandparents, my wife and I will gladly light one up.
My husband and I are both successful, responsible citizens and parents to two teenagers. I have smoked pot occasionally since high school - always thinking on those occasions that I really should do it more often. In the last ten years I have rarely smoked because of my guilt/paranoia that my kids would find out - because, after all, I have to disparage the evil weed for fear of them associating with an illegal substance. Mind you I'm not fearful of them trying it - only of them getting caught - and having it ruin their plans for the future.
Now I use alcohol to relax/wind down. My husband, on the other hand, still enjoys a hit or two on a pretty regular basis. Boy I can't tell you how much I reflect on the situation wherein my husband comes up from the garage relaxed, mellow and jovial and I am tired, sullen and maybe sloppy - not to mention the extra calories I'm taking in.
I’m a mid-20s “young professional,” working for the local political arm of a national non-profit organization. My group of friends and I are no strangers to marijuana. The dozen or so of us who spend time together regularly imbibe both alcohol and marijuana to varying degrees, and most of us have been toking up since high school. I’ve recently slowed down my marijuana intake, for various reasons. I just don’t like the high anymore it can be overwhelming and turns me into an apathetic zombie.
But I am, quite frankly, petrified of the possible consequences. I have a 15-month-old son with a previous girlfriend. We now share custody and, while we get along pretty well (and have even toked up together in the past), I’m scared as hell of the possibility that, one day, for whatever reason, my occasional marijuana habit will catch up with me in a court of law and affect my custody/visitation of my wonderful son, whom I love more than I ever thought possible.
I’ve never used marijuana around or while in possession of my son, nor will I ever. I’m not into any harder drugs, nor are any of my friends, and I’ve never had such an urge. A big part of my intake reduction has been an increase in personal responsibility and productivity, and I’m proud of that and take it very seriously. But sometimes, especially after reading some other “Marijuana Closet” testimonies, I don’t feel comfortable around the stuff, even if I’m not partaking and I’m around it a lot. A single random drug screening or police raid of a party could legally evaporate my relationship with my young son, even though I’m doing everything else right and nothing else wrong.
I have been a lifelong cannabis user, on an almost daily basis since I was in high school. I am now the managing partner of a very successful law firm in the Washington, D.C. area. I have been in a professional law practice for almost 27 years. I work 60+ hours a week, and all of that hard work has translated into high levels of annual income. I still get high after work, almost every day -- but my habit does not compel me to get high before work (I can't even imagine why anybody would do that).
My children had no idea that I was a pot-smoker when they started smoking themselves in high school -- by their account, they were terrified that my wife and I would find out and ground them (or worse) if we knew they were using drugs like pot. Little did they know.
Cannabis, like all recreational substances, does not have the same effect on all people, and a lot of that depends on how it is used and the basic personalities of the users. One of the biggest elephants in the closet of United States is the reality that 50-100 Million Americans (or more) smoke pot illegally. Parents from coast to coast hide this from their children and their peers, for fear of what disclosure might lead to.
When my daughters were in their late teens, we came clean told them about our own use of cannabis with absolute honesty. We have since smoked together, and have shared experiences (such as visiting Holland) that involve or relate to cannabis usage. And as a result, I have a more honest relationship with my children than 99% or more of the people I know. It has led to better understanding between us than we have ever had as a family, and which gets better and better as each day passes.
Yet somehow, I suspect Family Circle, Good Housekeeping, and the evangelical right would be horrified if they heard this story, and would view me as somebody who should be punished for the behavior involved. Their heads would literally explode at the notion of a parent-smoking pot with a child (while at the same time feeling no remorse or ambiguity about the beer or champagne the family passed around on Junior's 21st birthday). The hypocrisy is staggering.