Honesty is the best policy, unless you are a medical marijuana user. I have been a medical marijuana patient for less than a year. Before becoming a patient myself, I may have had reservations about my teens being around someone who was a regular marijuana user, though I sincerely doubt it since I have known plenty of good people who have used cannabis both medically and recreationally and have had no reason to doubt the quality of their character. What I did not expect, naively I admit, is how easily someone can be misjudged because they use marijuana.
When I chose to pursue medical marijuana as a treatment I had a discussion with my teens about it being a medication, and like any medication I may take I would expect that they did not try to use it. I have made it a point to limit exposing my teens to my marijuana usage both because I prefer to keep our home from smelling like cannabis, and to prevent my teens from smelling like it. They know it is a medication that has helped me immensely because they have seen how much it has helped me. There is a clear understanding that when they are legally old enough, as with alcohol, I will not prevent them from making the decision of whether or not to try it on their own as long as it is legal for recreational consumption. I am honest with my teens and with anyone who has spent significant time in our home.
My teenagers are now dating and when I have met the parents of their significant others I have felt it important to disclose my use of medical marijuana so that my children would not be falsely accused of using it if they mistakenly smelled of cannabis through interaction with me. This has not been a controversial issue. Then I met the mother of a young woman my son was dating. This was at a birthday party for the mother’s friend’s two-year old child at a public park. Within the course of our discussion about our children I disclosed my medical marijuana use which is limited. I made it as clear as possible that I do not smoke in front of my teenagers and have never used marijuana when another person’s child was under my roof, that I would never compromise their safety. I believed that I had made this point clear, apparently I was wrong.
When I came back to pick him up I was surprised to discover that in the ten minutes it took to get from my home to the park, his girlfriend’s mother had taken several shots of alcohol and was drunk by the time I arrived. My son, who rarely rushes to leave, quickly made his way to my car. The girlfriend’s mother giggled, disclosed that she had been drinking, stated she wouldn’t drive if she couldn’t walk a straight line (which she demonstrated she couldn’t), and thanked my son for coming to the party and that it had been nice to meet us both. We said our goodbyes and left.
I was furious. How could this mother see nothing wrong with getting drunk in public in front of my son the very first time she had met him. I was shocked and reluctant to allow my son to ever visit her home if she could behave this way in public. My son was unsure about continuing his relationship with his girlfriend for other reasons and this incident only added to his concerns. What surprised us both was a text message from her older brother telling him to stay away from his sister or else because his mother had a problem with my usage of marijuana.
I was stunned. I had been honest and my son had been a gentleman, nothing in our actions should have suggested that her daughter would be negatively influenced and yet my son was being threatened because of my honesty. I am disgusted because a woman who thought nothing of public intoxication in front of a teenager she just met in a park felt morally superior enough to judge me as a bad influence because of the medication I take. My husband has told me not to disclose this to others, that it isn’t any of their business. I didn’t always agree with that but now I’m not so sure. As long as so many still see marijuana use as deviant behavior that can corrupt perhaps I should follow my husband’s advice and not disclose that marijuana is used as a medication in my home. I hate feeling like choosing a medication that helps me gives people the wrong impression. I have been seen as a selfish mother because I chose to go to college while raising my kids, and I have had people doubt my parenting because my every waking moment wasn’t devoted solely to my husband and children, but I have never had anyone accuse me of being a bad influence because of a healthcare decision before. Our culture needs to evolve past viewing marijuana use through old stereotypes because it is pretty telling of where we are as a society when a woman who gets sloppy drunk in a public park feels like the sober medical marijuana user is the bad influence.