From the Archives: How To Speak to Your Children About Pot (2004)

By David Katz

Doris sputtered to her husband, coughing out an enormous bluish cloud of Hawaiian X Tremendous Skunk #1 spiked with a contact of Grasp Kush, which drifted towards what they thought was their locked bed room door and swirled concerning the head of their “I can’t sleep” six-year-old. Arthur, an inquisitive, clever and, to be sincere, considerably pushy offspring, stared at his dad and mom in disbelief from the foot of the mattress, his consideration mounted on the big spliff that Mommy was passing to Daddy to “assist them sleep.” Sadly, Arthur had simply attended his first Drug Consciousness Day at college, and he had a variety of questions. Fortunately, Arthur’s dad and mom had but to start the Vulcan Thoughts Meld, sparing younger Arthur a few years of future remedy.

“However you mentioned you don’t smoke cigarettes. You mentioned they had been unhealthy.”

“That’s proper, Arthur, they’re unhealthy,” defined Dad. “However this isn’t a cigarette—actually.” Doris blanched. “Steve, you’re complicated him.” Arthur’s cute brown eyes narrowed as he gave his dad and mom that intense look he reserved for little league, women and liars. “I do know what it’s. It’s a joint! They informed us about that at college.”

“Who informed you it was a joint?”

“Jack the policeman. He got here to our class and confirmed us a cigarette identical to that one!” mentioned Arthur, pointing on the funny-looking “cigarette” with two pointy ends and a giant bulge within the center. “You lied!” he yelled, pointing at his father. Steve seemed in desperation at his spouse. “Come right here, honey,” Doris mentioned softly, as Arthur climbed onto the mattress. “Mother and Dad want to speak to you about one thing.”

Doris and Steve are wrestling with an more and more widespread dilemma amongst dad and mom who smoke pot: simply what to inform their younger and pre-teen children concerning the mighty herb. The nation’s airwaves and cable markets are saturated with rigorously crafted, government-sponsored “public service adverts” designed to scare, disgrace, intimidate and coerce children into not smoking pot. There’s the cheery Investigator, which glamorizes dad and mom who give their children the third diploma, grilling them mercilessly for details about their actions and associates identical to, properly, cops. In Decide Up, a stoner forgets to select up his child brother. One other one, Pool, exhibits a toddler pushing a raft right into a swimming pool, presumably to comply with the raft in, whereas an informal, low-key voiceover intones: “Simply inform your dad and mom you weren’t watching her, since you had been getting stoned.”

No surprise clever dad and mom who need to have a toke or two after a tough day have been numerous strategies of elevating children and having their reefer, too.

Let’s begin with one thing we will all agree on: Children mustn’t smoke pot. Simply as you don’t begin the day by handing your six-year-old a glass of Jack Daniels and firing up his Camel, dad and mom shouldn’t be within the enterprise of getting children stoned—simply ask former Hollywood child-tokers and subsequent rehab-grads Robert Downey Jr. and Drew Barrymore, each of whom had been uncovered to grass at a young age by their swinging-’60s dad and mom and the crowds they ran in.

Dad and mom ought to comply with NORML’s (Nationwide Group for the Reform of Marijuana Legal guidelines) guide-lines for accountable marijuana use:

“NORML believes that marijuana smoking is just not for teenagers and may solely be used responsibly by adults. As with alcohol consumption, it mustn’t ever be an excuse for misconduct or different unhealthy habits. Driving or working heavy gear whereas impaired from marijuana must be prohibited.”

Nonetheless, in the actual world, 20 million Individuals say they’ve toked the bone through the previous 12 months, and regardless of findings that reefer reduces sperm depend, thousands and thousands of those proud and unashamed potheads at the moment are elevating, or have raised, children who aren’t one-eyed freaks, Charlie Mansonites or pinheads, thereby refuting the parable that pot causes genetic mutations (a minimum of not the seen varieties, which in America, the land of fleeting photographs, are the one ones that depend). After all, herb—like alcohol, nicotine and mercury-laden tuna—is one other substance that has no place in a lady’s physique throughout being pregnant. Nevertheless, as soon as the being pregnant is over and the kid has completed breast-feeding, many dad and mom return to smoking pot, for all the nice causes: accountable recreation and rest.

The New York Occasions lately reported that in a ballot carried out by RoperASW, as many as one in 10 American dad and mom of kids below 18—about six million individuals—mentioned they’d smoked herb up to now 12 months. One in 20 dad and mom, or about three million individuals, mentioned they’d smoked within the previous month. The variety of Individuals who lit up within the final quarter-hour was unavailable, however contemplating the reluctance of these nonetheless holding jobs, or revered members of extremely paid role-model professions—i.e., medical doctors, attorneys, lecturers, talkradio jocks, governors—to confess to being something apart from a pharmaceutical junkie in Ashcroft’s America, one suspects that the variety of common tokers is loads larger than reported. Life in jail in three-strike states like Texas is lower than interesting; then once more, it’s not Malaysia, the place, in case you get caught sucking on a joint, a swift trial is quickly adopted by dying.

However wanting that, getting nabbed blowing a doob in entrance of the kids can have grave penalties, chief amongst them shedding your children.

Frank and Sara are the dad and mom of Jake, a 10-month-old child who was correctly strapped within the again in his automobile seat when his dad and mom had been pulled over by cops in Oregon.

“To begin with,” Frank informed Excessive Occasions, “the cop simply mentioned, ‘Give me the pot, or we’ll search the automobile.’ So my spouse handed him the baggie! I used to be flabbergasted.” The cops separated the couple. “There was Good Cop and Psycho Cop. First Psycho Cop wished to know if there was anybody larger than me. How may there be,” laughed Frank, “since I’d been consuming Scotch, too!” An incorrigible wise-ass, Frank’s flippant comeback—“Pablo Escobar?”—didn’t go over properly, both. “Sara was solely stoned, however her license had expired, which gave one other new wrinkle to the state of affairs. Then I bought the Good Cop, whereas Nut Cop went to work on my spouse.”

“It freaked me out,” recalled Sara. “The very first thing he mentioned is that they’ll take our son away for this. Then the cop gave me his card and mentioned I had three days to rat out whoever offered us the pot. However we talked to the ACLU, who informed us they had been filled with shit.”

“We by no means smoke within the automobile anymore, ” Frank added ruefully. “We shouldn’t have been smoking and driving within the first place.”

Each the US and Canadian governments use draconian drug legal guidelines to trouble teams and people who refuse to toe the antipot line, claiming that marijuana use—to not point out political activism—creates unfit dad and mom. Divorced dad and mom have used the marijuana legal guidelines to smite their mates, particularly in nasty custody battles. Debra Cannistrad, a medical-cannabis consumer dwelling within the San Joaquin Valley of California, was threatened by an ex-spouse for custody of her 12-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son, two days after holding a vigil for a jailed hashish researcher. Thankfully for Debra, the daddy—a deadbeat dad—outpoints Debra for parental malfeasance, however nonetheless, using a joint as a loaded gun is a sign of the emergence of a snitch society, a la the late Soviet Union.

Different conditions are much more weird. A pair in Washington State misplaced their daughter instantly after start when hospital employees, with out their data or consent, examined each the mom and her new child lady for hashish. When each examined optimistic, medical doctors blamed minor medical issues with the newborn on her mom’s hashish use and accused her of endangering the kid’s life. The infant was remoted and the mom not allowed to breast-feed her. The kid was returned to the couple in every week, however they had been first made to signal a contract with 13 situations, together with urine-testing, mental-health evaluations and agreeing to permit state inspectors to enter their house anytime they damned properly happy. A lot for the Fourth Modification. As soon as once more, this lady clearly mustn’t have been toking up throughout any stage of her being pregnant—however does that justify the acute measures the hospital took?

As children become old, the dilemma for fogeys who smoke pot will get much more problematic.

Even in a metropolis as refined and progressive as New York, there’s a broad divergence in attitudes and kinds among the many metropolis’s dad and mom concerning their children and pot, which one suspects mirrors the nation’s angle as properly.

Tahisa, an city planner, and her husband are elevating a 14-year-old boy and a 10-year-old lady in New York’s most fashionably transgressive neighborhood, the East Village. She’s a pioneer, having lived within the EV greater than 20 years, arriving lengthy earlier than the neighborhood’s current resurgence and ultra-gentrification. Lots of the tenement residences, deserted and trashed within the Nineteen Eighties, now go for $2,500 a month, and uptown hipsters who as soon as got here to Avenue B for cocaine and heroin at present journey downtown for connoisseur espresso retailers, costly punk jewellery and haute delicacies. It’s now a first-rate residential neighborhood, attracting middle-class dad and mom with kids; its playgrounds and group gardens are full of children.

“I smoked when my children had been small, so that they all the time noticed us smoking, and all our associates smoke. So we by no means needed to inform them that we smoke; they noticed us smoke,” mentioned Tahisa. When their children began faculty, they began getting the usual anti-drug diatribes. Tahisa informed them it was propaganda. “We informed them pot was actually good, that birds eat it, and that tobacco is way worse for you. Our greatest issues had been tobacco and glue-sniffing.”

A part of Tahisa’s agenda was to demystify pot. “We didn’t need to make pot appear so deviant that our children can be drawn to it. We didn’t need to sneak round. If we had been going to do that, we shouldn’t have to cover it. In the event that they noticed it as only a regular factor, we thought they’d in all probability resolve to not do it.”

Amy, a detailed pal of Tahisa’s, is medical researcher, and together with her husband Ron, a media advisor, they’ve taken an identical tack with their 12-year-old son and eight-year-old daughter. “Pot is a lot part of our way of life, the youngsters take it without any consideration.” Amy, her husband and their associates have smoked weed for greater than 30 years and haven’t any intention of stopping. “When our children have associates over—particularly ones who we don’t know—we go into the lavatory, or up on the roof, to get excessive. And we definitely don’t purchase pot with them round, say if a seller involves our house. However in any case, that is the East Village.”

At a sure age, when Amy felt her children had been prepared, she informed them that she and Ron weren’t smoking cigarettes. “Then we went on to say that what we do is okay, nevertheless it’s towards the legislation,” mentioned Amy, “and we may go to jail for it if sure individuals came upon.”

You don’t need to see Mommy and Daddy in an orange jumpsuit in chains behind bars, do you? That’s fairly efficient. Amy and Ron additionally defined that not each legislation is nice or simply and that what they had been doing wasn’t unsuitable; that some medication, like medicines, are good, and different medication, like heroin, cocaine, nicotine, PCP, glue, Ecstasy and acid, are very, very unhealthy. “After they began faculty,” mentioned Amy, “we informed them by no means to say that we smoke something in any respect. And it’s stunning how properly they perceive.”

This medical tack is just like the one utilized in a forthcoming 2005 kids’s e book, Only a Plant ( by Ricardo Cortes, an educator and Webmaster of the art-and-culture web site The e book tells the story of a bit of lady who discovers her dad and mom smoking marijuana. Cortes then follows the efforts of the household to rationally clarify to their daughter simply what pot is and what it does.

“She goes to a farm, and the farmer talks to her about the way it grows, the way it has seeds and the way it’s used for lots of various issues,” says Cortes. “Individuals use corn for consuming, individuals use marijuana for making canvas, paper, and many others. Then there’s a medicinal side: How does it have an effect on the physique? Within the story, she goes to a health care provider to seek out out about it. He tells her sufferers use it as a medication; there are various vegetation used as medication. The physician additionally explains that as a result of it’s a medication, it’s not one thing for kids.”

Cortes takes care within the e book to clarify that there are issues adults can do that youngsters can’t: driving a automobile, having a glass of wine, consuming espresso. Then he offers skillfully with the illegality of pot. “At that time within the story, the kid is like, I discovered all the things there may be to learn about pot, and it sounds lovely.’ However in case you simply cease there, that’s harmful, as a result of now the little lady goes to highschool and says, ‘Yeah, my mother smokes pot!”’

Within the story, the lady then stumbles upon some children smoking a joint and tells them she is aware of what they’re smoking. Then the cops roll up for the final lesson of the story: It’s unlawful. Cortes brings within the historical past of Prohibition and tries to painting the cops nearly as good guys, to an extent, by stressing that there are legal guidelines they don’t like implementing. “The cop says that that is how our nation works,” Cortes explains, “and if you wish to change a legislation, there are specific methods to go about it.”

However as Tahisa discovered, as kids become old, social establishments intervene to make adjustments in a mum or dad’s pot coverage. “We stopped smoking for awhile as a result of we may see our children had been being pressured at college. They gave a citywide questionnaire to the youngsters. We saved our son house from faculty that day as a result of he informed us about it, and it was actually like: Rat out your dad and mom and rat out your pals. We didn’t need to put him on the spot by making him should lie, so we stopped smoking.”

However outdated habits die laborious for fogeys who grew up within the ’60s and ’70s. “My husband nonetheless doesn’t smoke pot, however I began once more. As a result of, within the phrases of Louis Armstrong, it relaxes me,” Tahisa mentioned with a smile.

Different dad and mom take a wholly reverse method to herb and youngsters; certainly one of disguise and deny. Dennis and his spouse Dee are elevating twin women, now 13 years outdated. Each women are very brilliant and go to top-tier public faculties on the Higher West Aspect of Manhattan.

“I don’t inform them. That’s it,” Dennis laughed, then turned severe. “There’re two methods to take care of it. One is how I take care of it after I need to get stoned, which is to enter the lavatory, open the window and lock the door. That type of works, though one time we had been out on Hearth Island and I had smoked a joint within the rest room, and my daughter goes in proper afterwards and says, ‘Dad, that incense you burned actually stinks!’ She was 11 or 12—they don’t know something.”

Dennis fears that his daughter shall be at a rock live performance and any person shall be smoking a joint close to her, and, says Dennis, “Her associates will say, ‘Oh, it’s pot!’ And he or she’s going to say, ‘Oh, no it’s not, it’s incense!’ And he or she’s going to appear to be an fool and work out that I lied.” Dennis has additionally gone to extremes to hide his THC jones by concocting marijuana butter. “The sensation was that smoking is unhealthy for you, so I’ll strive a special means of doing this. I assumed that if I may get this down, I wouldn’t should go to the lavatory to smoke. I’d go to the fridge!” Dennis cooked up a butter recipe he present in Excessive Occasions, however the venture backfired. “We ate the butter, went to a celebration, had a good time, bought actually, actually stoned—like we had been tripping—after which we went out to dinner by ourselves. And we had been each super-paranoid, terrified, and we stayed stoned for the following two days.”

The issue with the hide-and-deny methodology is, what do you inform your kids after they inevitably ask? Do you inform them the reality? “They hear at school that marijuana sucks,” says Dennis. “We had been on a protracted drive, and certainly one of my daughters requested my spouse if she ever smoked pot. And I’m considering, ‘What’s she going to say? It’s by no means come out that direct.’ And he or she mentioned no. Then I’m considering, ‘What am I gonna say? Yeah?’ Then my daughter mentioned, ‘Dad, and also you?’ And I mentioned no, and she or he mentioned, ‘Good.’ I believe it’s a scary factor to be requested, due to what they see on TV and what it means, like breaking the legislation. They’re brainwashed. And I don’t need them smoking pot, you recognize? After they’re in faculty, they’ll smoke pot. I don’t suppose they need to be smoking pot in junior highschool or highschool—even when I did!”

That brainwashing is orchestrated straight from the highest, on the White Home Workplace of Nationwide Drug Management Coverage (ONDCP). ONDCP experiences on to the president, and it serves as a type of amorphous umbrella group for all the exactly calibrated “campaigns” that “goal” dad and mom and younger individuals with deceptive and disingenuous public-service ads. ONDCP coordinates general drug coverage, together with the efforts of different authorities/enterprise coalitions such because the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, to maintain America petrified of marijuana with current media campaigns like Dad and mom: The Anti-Drug and My Anti-Drug, particularly directed at children. ONDCP’s Advert Gallery options such gems as Pockets, through which a younger teen takes us right down to the basement to satisfy his wasted, long-haired, glassy-eyed older brother, who seems to be extra like a dope addict than a pothead, and who “by no means did something in any respect.”

From the Nationwide Youth Anti-Drug Media Marketing campaign, the creators of Dad and mom: The Anti-Drug (, comes Slam, a really vicious business teeming with violence and anger, through which a father and his teenage daughter yell and scream with vein-popping animus (“I hate you!”), slamming the door repeatedly in one another’s faces, after Dad covertly searches his daughter’s room and finds—horror of horrors—a bag of pot! As soon as once more, a lot for the Fourth Modification, a minimum of in case you’re below 18. By the way in which, the daughter within the spot seems to be properly over the age of consent. The business condones this sort of despotic, foaming-at-the-mouth habits with an ambiguous admonition to folks on the finish: “Afraid of some slammed doorways? Recover from it. As a result of to assist your child with their downside, first you must recover from yours.” Let’s have a look at this assertion: At first it appears to suggest that the dad and mom ought to do away with their explosive anger, however truly it justifies this oppressive method. The issue dad and mom should recover from is their reluctance to get violent and hysterical. Clearly compromise, battle decision and reasoned argument are for sissies.

The Nationwide Youth Anti-Drug Media Marketing campaign additionally sponsors My Anti-Drug (, which brings us, in Spanish, Dummies, that includes the famed crash-test dummies (which used to advertise seat belts) toking it up and getting right into a devastating accident in a lab devoted to creating accidents occur. You don’t have to talk Spanish to determine La Causa. Adverts additionally are available in Cambodian, Chinese language, Korean and Vietnamese. Dummies mines the identical vein of malleable fact and outright lying because the spot with the poor Hispanic child mourning the lack of a pal in a site visitors accident and blaming it on pot. What the advert fails to say is that accidents involving pot normally additionally contain alcohol. Liquor is metabolized by the physique in hours, leaving pot—which may keep within the fatty tissues for months—to take the blame.

And, in fact, the advert that has generated essentially the most controversy is the 2002 Tremendous Bowl Sunday spot that equated blowing a J with supporting worldwide terrorism. (“The place do terrorists get their cash? For those who purchase medication, it would come from you.”) Presumably Osama bin Laden will get a lower from each nickel-bag offered in America. Quaffing down a sixpack is means cool, as a result of it’s authorized. Filling up your SUV with costly gasoline from these good associates of the Bush household (and our valiant ally within the warfare on terrorism), the Home of Saud, can be no problemo—save when the dough goes to assist Muslim madrassas all through the world the place kids be taught that Jews are pigs and monkeys, the US is the Nice Devil, and the lust for dying is way extra highly effective than the lust for all times. Consider it as No Terrorist Left Behind.

It’s swell for Budweiser to spend 50 G’s a second to maintain individuals consuming beer—that’s free enterprise. It’s fairly one other factor for the White Home Workplace of Nationwide Drug Management Coverage to spend over $1.6 million every for 2 30-second adverts through the Tremendous Bowl, the largest media market in the US, to blast authorities propaganda down the throats of 130 million individuals. Since 1997, over a five-year interval, roughly $1 billion has been allotted to paid media—your tax {dollars} at work, on behalf of advert companies and TV networks. And most research have proven that these scare techniques enhance, fairly then reduce, a child’s curiosity about unlawful substances. The moronic This Is Your Mind on Medication marketing campaign, which likened the Stoner’s cerebrum to an egg in a frying pan, turned some of the parodied and ridiculed ads of its day.

Possibly it’s time to permit dad and mom who smoke pot to boost their kids their very own means, exercising duty and logic, and with the steering, honesty and instinct that solely a mum or dad can convey to their kids’s lives. Take the billions being squandered on horrifying our children and freaking out their dad and mom, and switch it over to libraries, faculties and our sorely underfunded public faculties—or return it to the taxpayers as a rebate, so the residents of America can lastly afford some respectable herb.

Excessive Occasions Journal, July/August 2004

Learn the complete challenge right here.

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