Last week Colorado mom Kiri Westby’s piece in the Huffington Post, “Confessions of a Pothead Mom,” sparked controversy and blazed bright across the internets and all the way to my lil’ bitch’in corner of the world.
A BBF posted the piece on Facebook and wanted to know what I thought about it and the question of pothead moms in general — particularly with a couple of teens in the house. The truth is that I don’t smoke weed, and that was a personal choice I made decades ago when I realized that marijuana and anxiety go together as well as the munchies and an empty pantry. So no worries that a babysitter would find anything of real interest should she rifle through my underwear draw as Kiri did when she was a young weed-snatcher. All a sitter would find is what’s left of my panty collection post-closet unfucking.
Still, unlike Kiri, who is worried that people might judge her for being a pothead, I’m uncomfortable with being judged as an uptight, self-righteous, anti-drug person. Because that’s not who I am at all — I am all for personal freedoms, and I would be a hypocrite if I said I don’t use alcohol to alter my consciousness on occasion… because I do.
Therein lies what I think is most interesting about this conversation, as eloquently expressed in a comment on my BBF’s post about Kiri’s article:
“I think the biggest question we adults should be asking is for what purpose are we using alcohol and pot. Typically it is used to escape that feeling of discomfort that comes with being human. My hope for my kids is that they can learn to weather the psychic storms without a crutch before they imbibe. I have also heard of an Australian study that showed early pot use on the developing brain results in a significant drop in IQ. I am sober, so my point of view is from that of one who has used and found both substances mentioned more harmful than helpful to my goal of feeling comfortable in my own skin.”
I know exactly what she means about the discomfort that comes with being human, particularly since I weathered a pretty awful anxiety disorder in my early 20s. At that time, my doctor told me that “taking the edge off” with anything that altered my brain chemistry — even caffeine! — was a bad idea, and so I learned how to navigate rough waters with cognitive behavioral techniques that have now served me well for decades.
At some point, I relaxed a bit and went back to having a cup of coffee in the morning and an occasional drink at night. It’s all about moderation. Plus the older I get, the more interested I am in being fully present, alert, and aware at all times. Time flies, and a hazy dazed stupor seems to me to be a waste of precious moments.
Also as a parent, I’ve realized Murphy’s Law is always at work — the more I imbibe, the more likely it is someone will need a ride, have a crisis, or generally need me to be focused at unusual times or when I’m theoretically “off duty.” As if there were such a thing.
Back to the reality of today’s world where in my neighborhood, alongside all the liquor stores and grocery stores with aisles stocked with booze, there are now dozens of green crosses indicating medical marijuana dispensaries with names that are all about being “green,” “natural,” “organic,” and of course, good for your health cuz it’s, you know, medicine.
While I’m not saying that marijuana doesn’t have some significant medicinal applications, because it does, selling weed on every street corner under the guise of its curative properties is a slippery slope. It’s a drug, period. And much more potent, available, and tempting than ever before.
So personally, I’m not digging this in-between place that marks the beginning of the end of pot prohibition. In my opinion, there are too many mixed messages that open up a world of ambiguity and confusion.
My recommendations? First off legalize it. Make it just like booze — if weed is going to be readily available, then label it and make sure the different grades, like alcohol’s proof, is evident. Then tax the shit out of it, as they are doing in Colorado, and take all that additional money (i.e., Colorado’s projected $40 million annually) and do something constructive, like alleviate crushing budget cuts for public schools or finance better systems of mental health care so that people who need help coping have somewhere besides medical marijuana and other legal drugs to turn to for help.
And then, criticize it. Well, at least stop minimizing the true damage that can occur when you’re in a self-inflicted altered state of mind. Stop with the giggles like you’re in high school yourself, and be the parent. Have honest and frank conversations — and don’t worry, I’m not talking smooth-brained propaganda like Reefer Madness, Scared Straight, or Nancy Reagan’s Just Say No crap. That’s the stuff that makes rebellion a must.
While I have no interest in illustrating my point from my personal history, as I believe when you relate your own shit to your kids you inadvertently give them license to ill, I do talk to my children about what it means to have lowered inhibitions and impaired perception. We openly discuss addiction and its devastating effects on families. I don’t sugarcoat that in particular because some of the very same slap-happy stoners I knew back in the day have now done tours of rehabs and suffered pretty horrendous consequences of “being a partier.”
As Kiri says in her post, “There has to be a happy medium. Just as we can’t protest the presence of kitchen knives because they could cut off a finger, we can’t fight the weed tide that is rolling into our lives. We have to accept that marijuana is making its way out of the back alleys and into our homes, right next to the whiskey and the painkillers, and we have to prepare our kids accordingly.”
I agree full-heartedly on this note, and act accordingly, from the vantage point of a non-sober individual.
But then again, when Kiri ends her piece on the pathetic, plaintive note of begging her family to still love her (especially her mother-in-law), it bums me out. Asking others to support your habit is not constructive. Ultimately, I don’t condone altering consciousness, nor do I ask anyone else to love me any extra when I choose to skew my own reality.
What I do promote is taking responsibility for actions. Period. And then holding others, particularly our children, responsible for their actions.
So if you see me with a sober look on my face, don’t worry that I’m judging… but I’m not sharing a conspiratory chortle either. I just think it’s high time we all dropped the pretense and deal with the end of pot prohibition in the way that works best for our families and ourselves.
Now, check out this interview with Kiri Westby from the Huffington Post: