What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
I’m a mom and I use marijuana. I know, it’s a shocker, right?
When I read that Jane couldn’t get anyone to write about pot-smoking moms who are tired of being judged by wine drinkers, I thought: OH, SHIT, THEY ARE PLAYING MY SONG. My ability to drink is severely limited due to the medications I take, but I use marijuana on a daily basis. Sure, I take it medically for spasticity and insomnia, but I’m a daily user, and I don’t hide it from anyone, and I have many thoughts on this subject, people.
When I was growing up, my mother kept one of those large, gallon-sized jugs of white Zinfandel in the refrigerator at all times. You know the ones -- with the thumbhole, to keep it super-classy. My mom wasn’t an alcoholic; she was just a lower-middle-class woman with a small amount of disposable income, four children (and frequently foster children, often in sibling groups), and almost no free time who needed to have alcohol readily available at all times, because her ability to leave the house was seriously hindered by her responsibilities at home. I get it.
I mean, look at me. I HAVE MY PINKY OUT AND EVERYTHING, PEOPLE.
My mother would occasionally sit in the kitchen with her friends and drink white Zin out of juice glasses in the evenings while we played, or read, or did our homework in the other room. We saw this as normal. It didn’t happen every evening -- it just happened sometimes when she had friends over. It was calm and quiet and no big deal. No one died, cried or got hurt. It was a minor part of my childhood and didn’t affect anything.
I used to only use marijuana right before I went to bed. My daughter is a teenager, so there’s no real way to be discreet; she knows the smell, and I’ve been a medical marijuana activist in my state for several years now, so it’s no secret that I use.
My kid will be a senior in high school next year, and I’ve taken a new policy with regard to how we spend our evenings: We only have one year left before she moves out of our house, so once we’ve cleaned up after dinner, I will sit down with her and watch one hour of whatever god-awful piece of television she chooses. Sometimes it’s silly, sometimes it’s fun, sometimes it’s agonizing. We talk through the commercials and rehash everything. It’s bonding. But the things she chooses -- sometimes it’s SO obvious she’s punishing me.
People, you have no idea what courage this whole experiment entails at times. Look, seriously, I’m still on point here, stick with me. Most of the time, this all works out reasonably well. I’ve discovered "Master Chef" and "Bob’s Burgers," both of which I love. No medicinal therapy required to enjoy those.
I’ve also discovered "Bad Girls Mexico," which makes me want to tear my eyes out, and "The Glass House," which is moderately better because it’s so over the top it feels like it’s a satire on reality TV but really, I have the sinking, awful feeling that it isn’t, and that just makes me feel like I need a shower. They’re so bad.
Kiddo keeps laughing and threatening me with something called... "Jerseylicious"? What the hell is that? I don’t know. I don’t want to know. It sounds awful and somehow, the way she says it makes it sound even worse.
Photo courtesy of Kathleen Ann
Here’s the thing, though: with the use of my “therapy,” these things are pretty okay. I don’t mind them at all; they go from Oh my god why am I watching this why god why to Hey, this is pretty hilariously horrible. I have fun with my daughter, and that’s important, because we don’t have much time left living in the same house; she’s headed off to college in a year.
I’m not smoking so much that I’m completely out of my mind; like my mother and her juice glasses of white Zin, I’m taking in a moderate amount, sitting back and enjoying my evening. There’s a slight difference in that my use is also medical -- my rec use is actually a side beneﬁt to this being a genuine therapy -- but in daily life, they mirror each other pretty well.
My use of cannabis has also opened up a very important set of conversations about drugs and drug use. We live in Baltimore; there are a lot of drugs here, and we need to talk about this. I source my medical marijuana very, very cautiously; I have to go through extraordinary measures to make sure my medication is safe, and we talk a lot about that. It brings up the politics of medical marijuana, but it also brings us to the subject of safety.
She doesn’t use weed, but I’m able to talk to her about what she should look for if she were to change her mind; there is a lot of altered, poisoned and laced product out there, and we can discuss that openly. We can talk about how dangerous it is to buy from people you don’t know, and what situations should be avoided (never smoke with people you don’t trust).
These sorts of conversations arise organically; they’re just a part of our life. This is also information that I hope she is taking out to her friends, because I know these are conversations that aren’t happening in every home.
I’m not drinking at all lately -- my “I’ll have one or two beers at a party” rule is now nixed due to a few weird health things. It isn’t a judgey-McJudgerson thing; my meds just don’t mix well with alcohol. It is surreal to me, though, to be in a social situation where people are drinking -- occasionally to excess -- and to be unable to have even the smallest amount of pot without it seeming socially weird.
I run with a mixed crowd -- some wouldn’t blink an eye, others can’t be near it due to drug testing at their jobs. Bars and concerts are especially bizarre for me. How is it okay for that stranger to be falling down drunk, but my one-hitter is completely verboten?
It feels strange to be around people who are letting their hair down, even just a little, in a way which is legal and sanctioned and which really doesn’t seem that much different from what I do when I light up a bowl.
Pulling out my kit in the middle of a party full of artists, indie-business owners, Hopkins researchers, government workers, military types, and hippies, though, is another story. If you’re looking for the fast road to being written off as the mid-thirties-burn-out-freak-job, that’s pretty much it. They’re all on their third or sixth drink, but they’re already imagining me listening to Phish and tie dyeing my panties while on a shroom trip.
I’ll never endorse the wake-and-bake approach to parenting, but I can’t see the difference between a glass or two of wine in the evening and a few hits of OG Kush off a clean bong.
Obviously, I want marijuana legalized -- and yes, taxed if it isn’t for medical use, because it’s a luxury good, and I think it would be bought like crazy -- but once the “but it’s illegal!” question is taken off the table, I can’t see the problem.
What’s the biggest danger to a being an effective parent in this photo -- the gallon of white zinfandel or the pipe? TRICK QUESTION. It’s actually my dog Hugo. He’s deceptively tiny and cute, he’s really a giant ball of destruction.
I briefly tended bar, and I’ll even trot out the old chestnut: I’ve seen best friends come into a bar, arms around each other’s shoulders, who’ve then throw back six beers and ended up kicking each others’ asses in the parking lot. I’ve never seen people beat each other senseless on weed alone. You might tear up a bag of Doritos, but that’s about all the damage you’re going to do, and really, even that stereotype is pretty overrated; I don’t get the munchies at all.
I’m not condemning alcohol -- it can be a lovely thing, and I do miss a ﬁne, sweet Scotch ale -- but I’m tired of being judged as somehow less of a person, or a parent, because I use marijuana.
Outside of my own medical necessities, we’re just talking about taking the edge off of your day. I’m not talking about extreme use in either instance -- so what’s the big deal? You do you, and I’ll do me, but listen: I’m really not any different, I’ve just chosen a slightly different version of relaxation. It’s like choosing Bach instead of Brahms.
My daughter is healthy, happy, has always been well taken care of (she’s made it to 17 in one piece!) and I’ve even got it on good authority that she’s headed toward a great future -- even saddled with a “pothead mom” like me. She wants to be a writer and take over the family business when she grows up.
It seems the children of mothers who drink a glass of white Zin and the children of mothers who take a hit or two in the evening aren’t so very different, in the end.