Since marijuana legalization began to take hold across the country, pothead parents are suggesting that they are just as talented at all this child-rearing stuff as anyone else.
Scour the internet and you’ll see countless articles about cannamoms and how pot helps make them better parents. Yep, this group of ganja-adoring aficionados is convinced that they’re as good at parenthood – probably even better – than those moms and dads who consume alcohol while little Susie and Johnny play in the yard.
After all, weed is safer than booze, right? They’re not slurring their words, picking fights or vomiting all over the kitchen before noon. So, it only stands to reason that weed consumers are setting a better example for their children. They’re saving America.
What happens, though, when these pothead progenitors – those steeped deeply in cannabis advocacy – discover that their little Johnny – now a teenager with a car – is using marijuana himself? Do they maintain their cannabis-can-do-no-harm attitude and let the kid slide, or do they punish this little whippersnapper in an attempt to teach him a lesson in responsibility and, above all else, safety?
This is the dilemma that I’ve been forced to contend with over the past several weeks. Not only did I recently discover that my teenage son (17-years-old) is using marijuana, but worse he’s often in possession of it in public – illegal in the state of Indiana/everywhere in the U.S. for minors – and even driving high.
News of this foolish behavior, as you might imagine, did not impress me, not in the slightest. I was disappointed. I also felt helpless, scared and even a little guilty.
Now, before you pass judgment, suggesting that my son’s acts of dipshittery were due to bad parenting or mutt genetics, please understand that he didn’t discover the cannabis lifestyle by watching his parents. Not technically. His mom doesn’t touch the stuff. As for me, I’ve never consumed the herb in his presence, never once told him that it was completely safe, and never suggested, not once, that I’d rather him get red eyed and ripped on marijuana instead of drinking alcohol.
Come to find out, he’s doing both. My stance on mind-altering substances – legal and illegal – is, and always has been, that as long as you are underage, they are off-limits. Period.
However, my son is part of the post-legalization generation. He’s heard most of his young life that marijuana is safe, makes people better drivers, and that this plant should not be feared like it once was. More to the point, it should be legal. These kids believe any government that doesn’t see that prohibition isn’t serving the greater good is flat out wrong. Also, incarcerating pot offenders, even if they’re part of a drug trafficking organization, is unjust – so nobody is going to lock them up for carrying around a few buds and a vape pen.
Furthermore, they believe, it’s just a matter of time before the leaf is legal nationwide. So even if they break the law, nothing bad can happen to them. It’s a slap on the wrist. The cops aren’t even looking for weed anymore.
My son and other kids his age now accept this nonsense as gospel. They don’t take weed seriously. Furthermore, they have been largely misguided over its benefits and disadvantages. I am, as much as I hate to admit, partially to blame for their cavalier attitude. And I’m not proud of it.
More than just being the average, run of the mill pot consumer, I am an internationally published cannabis journalist. I’ve spent the past decade writing in favor of cannabis reform in one way or another, publishing countless articles and controversial opinions in just about every major cannabis publication known to man.
I got started at High Times, covering the daily news beat, eventually landing a highly revered cannabis column with Forbes. Most recently, my take on America’s cannabis legalization experiment appeared in The Spectator, the world’s oldest weekly magazine. I only mention my credentials to lend credence to my current position on the state of cannabis culture, an attitude that, as seen in my writing over the years, has shifted drastically.
In the beginning, I’ll confess, I bought into the hype. Every time a new study emerged suggesting that cannabis could cure cancer, cancel the opioid epidemic, and even salvage the economy, I was there to tell the tale. Weed was more of a benefit to society than the scourge we had been told in our formative years. I believed that. I even bought into how it wasn’t responsible for dependency issues, couldn’t be a gateway drug and that establishing taxed and regulated markets would eliminate criminal organizations and keep weed out of the hands of children.
I believed it all.
Fast forward to today and I’ve learned from my mistakes. The weed scene has, by and large, created a new wave of propaganda, one that comes with a narrative that assists in furthering its agenda. It’s not that marijuana is evil or even a tad naughty. But it doesn’t cure cancer, opioids are going to continue to wreak havoc and the economy isn’t going to get much stronger under a nation of stoners.
Although I still support cannabis reform, I have taken a more realistic, honest approach to the issue, and I make every effort to portray that in my writing. Let’s be clear, I do not want anyone going to jail for cannabis possession. I believe the federal government should study the plant to see if there is any truth to its many therapeutic claims. I do not, however, want my teenage son smoking pot. Not now. Hell, not ever, if I’m honest. Not until he’s at least old enough to assume some responsibility and stay safe. Unfortunately, he didn’t get the memo.
Although my son is a smart kid – he does fine in school, works two jobs and is carving out a music career – he’s a raging dumbass. He’s risking legal woes that could not only mess up his life, but mine and his mother’s as well. Only, he doesn’t see it that way. In fact, when we busted him, he used all of his positive attributes to try and sell me on why his pot use wasn’t cause for concern.
“I just want you to know that I’m being safe, working two jobs and got music going on, so I’m not being some lazy ass teenage boy smoking weed, you know?” he wrote in a text message.
In his mind, he’s done nothing wrong. He’s just hanging with his friends and doing what teenagers do – abusing illicit substances. The testosterone coursing through his balls has gone straight to his brain and now he thinks he’s invincible, unstoppable, and smarter than everyone else. He doesn’t think he could go to jail, be forced to take drug classes, and lose his driver’s license.
“This has nothing to do with laziness,” I texted him back. “It’s about doing dumb shit that has consequences.”
After lengthy discussions between his mom and I on how to deal with our son’s idiocy, the question remained: How does the pro-weed writer discipline his kid for smoking weed? This was a no-brainer, as far as I’m concerned. The kid gets punished the same way as if caught consuming alcohol and driving under the influence. Weed writer or not, it was his ass!
Initially, the plan was to put the hammer down, and hard. We’re talking grounded. No car, except to school and work. I was also going to institute random drug tests (Yeah, I’m that dude), with the stipulation that he must pee clean before any of his driving privileges are reinstated. I would then continue to randomly test him until next July when he turns 18 to ensure he’s flying right. That’ll teach him.
Of course, he was also forced to listen to one of my endless tirades about how his actions could potentially sabotage his chances at success and casually lead to an attraction to harder drugs.
And that couldn’t happen!
Now, to some, this might sound like a hypocritical form of contrition. After all, I, the cannabis writer, consume marijuana a few times a week. How could I be so militant with my son who opts to do the same? That’s easy. I’m a full-grown adult. He is a child.
Although he’s merging into adulthood over the next several months, allowing him to wield such an anarchist attitude with respect to the law and parental rule isn’t going to benefit him now or later down the line. The real world doesn’t offer many breaks, especially not for those oblivious to how the game is played.
Social calamities do not bode well. Although alcohol is legal for adults 21 and over, drinkers can still risk DUI, public intoxication, and various other infractions if they do not follow the rules. Even if Indiana were to legalize weed in the near future, it won’t be for anyone under the age of 21. There would be rules to the legal market. Failing to adhere would lead to legal woes.
My son is no exception now, and he won’t be in early adulthood either, as he attempts to “find himself.” It is my job to make sure he always considers the repercussions before he gets too stupid. So damn right, he’s going to feel the wrath of my decades of experience when he screws the pooch.
Not every parent subscribes to this mentality. Some are fine with their progeny using pot, as long as it’s not from the parental stash. Some aren’t affected by their kids consuming cannabis at all. They are just happy it’s weed and not alcohol.
Others believe that as long as their teen practices responsible use, all is well. These are the ones who think that if their teen is doing well in school, active in sports, pursuing other interests and being kind to others, the minor pot consumption detail isn’t worth their concern. This is also the group that thinks they are better parents for allowing their kids to do things like smoke pot at home, have boyfriends and girlfriends sleep over, and other adult behaviors under their “supervision.”
That’s not me. It’s likely not the majority of patriarchs out there doing their best to raise decent, smart human beings.
So, what’s the verdict? In the end, I opted for second chances. But not before reading him the riot act once more over dinner about how his brain isn’t yet fully developed, how weed can make it easier to embrace harder substances (he admitted that he’s also done psilocybin a couple of times), and that a run in with the law is going to bring on a level of heat that he won’t soon forget.
In fact, I think my exact words were, “If you go to jail, you’re going to want to stay in there,” alluding, of course, that the wrath of a furious dad was going to be far worse than being behind bars.
Was this the right move? Who knows. The thing is, no parent has any idea how to discipline teens. What I was certain of is that stripping away his privileges and locking him in his room wasn’t likely to amend his behavior. A heavy hand wasn’t suddenly going to put this kid on a new, wiser path.
Let’s be clear, the thought of him carrying on in the same manner that led to this article being written doesn’t make me happy. I still feel helpless, scared, and guilty. There’s also a sense that I didn’t deal with the situation as strictly as I should have. I mean, if he was to later move on to harder drugs – something that he’s sworn to never do – I would have no choice but to insert my foot so deeply in his ass that he would never recover. I’d have to beat him down, and would, no matter how old.
But we’re going to keep talking, my son and I. An open line of communication – one where my concerns are expressed regularly and his life strategies are developed – seems, at least at this point, the best I can do. And that’s terrifying.
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