Friday, January 18, 2008

Mary Jane

As a mother, as a parent, I have reached a bit of a conundrum in the parenting of my children.

I have tried extremely hard to be a loving, responsible parent. To teach my children my values. Through out their lives, I have tried to model behavior that I consider morally sound. I have attempted to teach them to be honest, open-minded, responsible human beings, and to be trustworthy. I have tried to teach them to live life with integrity, to give respect, and to expect respect. I have tried to teach them to have empathy for all living things, to value themselves and others, to welcome the diversity of our world, and to abide by the majority of societal rules. I have tried to impart to them the importance of curiosity, and a lifetime spent learning is a life well-spent. I have tried to model and impart the message, of giving of themselves to their community, and the world as a whole. I have tried to teach them we each have a purpose in this life, we may not always know exactly what it is, but a life well-lived will accomplish that mission. There are so many other things I have attempted to teach them.

I know I have not been completely successful, but whether it was my influence, or just who they each are, I do hold them both in high regard as human beings, (aside from my love for them), and not just because they are my children. Of course I have suffered disappointments in some of the choices they have each made. They have also been disappointed in me. That is a part of being human, this is one of the few things I do know.

And yet...

They both break the law, on a fairly regular basis.

They both drink alcoholic beverages, one has a tendency to binge drink and is underage in our state as well, she only drinks when she wishes to get drunk. The other is of legal age, and imbibes for the slight "buzz" effect, as he does not really enjoy the after effects of over indulgence. They are also genetic products of generations of alcoholism (on both sides of the family), and other predilections to addictions. So I have continually warned them they must be ever vigilant in their use of alcoholic beverages. I, and their father attempted to model responsible alcohol consumption, until 2 years ago my children never, I mean never, saw me drunk, in fact it had been over 20 years since I had allowed myself to indulge to the point in which I felt intoxicated. As young children, they saw their father drunk once, and may not have realized he was, since I sent him to bed. They have never, and will never (OK, I know, never say never, it could happen in some unforeseen circumstance someday) seen me drive if I have had more than 3 glasses of wine, or more than two mixed drinks in less than 3 hours. This doesn't seem so bad does it? Most adults, most parents, expect their children to at the very least experiment with alcohol.


Several months ago, I found out they both also indulge in the use of marijuana to create an elevation of mood. When I learned this, I was of two minds on the matter. As a parent, I do not wish my children to participate in any illegal activity.

As a loving mother who knows they are not going to refrain from "catching a buzz", I would prefer they partake of "weed" vs. "booze". I have talked to them about this subject multiple times. So they know exactly how I feel.

What to do? I have ended up condoning their illegal behavior, while imparting the message that it is illegal, and not a smart activity to participate in. I tell them, they can have a wonderful time just allowing themselves to set their spirits free and enjoying the moment without the use of any substance. They both agree with this, as they have experienced it. Yet, they also get high on occasion.

When I compare the two drugs, I always reach the conclusion that alcohol is much much worse than the other.

Have you ever heard of anyone overdosing on Marijuana? Have you ever heard of anyone's behavior being so out of control when only high on Marijuana that they were immediately under suspicion for public intoxication? Have you ever heard of a car accident occurring while someone is strictly under the influence of Marijuana (almost always alcohol is involved as well, plus drug testing has not reached the level to know exactly how long it has been since someone partook). Have you ever heard of someone's personality being drastically altered while under the influence of Marijuana...i.e. become angry, argumentative, and battering someone? Even an over abundance of caffeine in a person's system can make them so jittery they become excessively irritable, but I have never witnessed the same effect in someone who is high from weed.

Of all the mind altering/mood altering substances available I can think of none safer. Marijuana is even safer if ingested in food, or drunk in a tea...thus no negative effects from inhaling the smoke.

Sooo, I continually ask myself, am I a bad parent? I do not smoke with them. They do not smoke in my presence. Yet, I do not get angry, nor do I exact a punishment when I know they are stoned, or have been recently.

And yet, I cannot ignore the fact that it is illegal. If they were to be arrested for possession, it would be on their permanent records. It would follow them through out their lives. It can effect whether they are offered a job or not, whether they are offered scholarships. Last year about this time, Miss Daughter was arrested for underage drinking and public intoxication, she received what I would deem a light slap on the wrist, 60 days probation, 2 drug tests, attendance of an eight hour anti-drug educational program, and 30 hours of community service. If she had been arrested for drug use, it would have been so much worse.

Then there is the fact that if other parents, or, 'the authorities' (including their father), found out that I do not tell them using Marijuana is bad, I become judged as a neglectful parent. A bad influence on them.


Hours spent googling the subject only validated my beliefs that the only real harm in occasional use is that it is usually smoked and the fact it is illegal.

Marijuana Overdose
There is no existing evidence of anyone dying of a marijuana overdose. Tests performed on mice have shown that the ratio of cannabinoids (the chemicals in marijuana that make you high) necessary for overdose to the amount necessary for intoxication is 40,000:1.

For comparison's sake, that ratio for alcohol is generally between 4:1 and 10:1. Alcohol overdoses claim approximately 5,000 casualties yearly, but marijuana overdoses kill no one as far as any official reports.

Brain Damage
Marijuana is psychoactive because it stimulates certain brain receptors, but it does not produce toxins that kill them (like alcohol), and it does not wear them out as other drugs may. There is no evidence that marijuana use causes brain damage. Studies performed on actual human populations will confirm these results, even for chronic marijuana users (up to 18 joints per day) after many years of use.

In fact, following the publication of two 1977 JAMA studies, the American Medical Association (AMA) officially announced its support for the decriminalization of marijuana.

In reality, marijuana has the effect of slightly increasing alpha-wave activity in your brain. Alpha waves are generally associated with meditative and relaxed states, which are, in turn, often associated with human creativity.

Marijuana does impair short-term memory, but only during intoxication. Although the authoritative studies on marijuana use seem to agree that there is no residual impairment following intoxication, persistent impairment of short-term memory has been noted in chronic marijuana smokers, up to 6 and 12 weeks following abstinence.

The Gateway Effect
Marijuana use has not been found to act as a gateway drug to the use of harder drugs. Studies show that when the Dutch partially legalized marijuana in the 70's, heroin and cocaine use substantially declined, despite a slight increase in marijuana use.

If the stepping stone theory were true, use should have gone up rather than down. In reality, it appears that marijuana use tends to substitute for the use of relatively more dangerous hard drugs like cocaine and heroin, rather than lead to their use.



Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I don't think marijuana is all that bad of a drug either, except that it is illegal which means that they are involved with drug dealers who probably carry guns or knives.

Marijuana, technically isn't addictive in the same way a narcotic is. There isn't the physical addiction but there can be a psychological addiction. My son was addicted to marijuana for five or six years. He smoked it every day, and near the end, he was high pretty much all the time. When he went to prison, he was high.

The good thing about prison and parole is, he's clean. No more drugs and to stay out of prison he has random drug tests. He admits he was addicted to it but didn't realize it until he had stopped using.

So, what to do about your kids? I don't know. You can tell them what you believe, what you will allow around you and they will still do whatever they want. You can explain about addictive personalities. Basically, you have to let them go. It's awful to watch them stumble and fall, make the same mistakes that you did but they can't learn from our mistakes. It's some kind of sad joke played on humans that we only seem to learn from our own experiences. But the good news, is that they can learn.

Not much help I'm afraid. Take care sweetie.

X. Dell said...

To be honest, I'd be more worried about the alcohol, for it is physically addictive, and the consequeces can be deadly for many different reasons. Since I am a parent, I wouldn't know how to stop their usage, unless you feel like chaining them to the radiator--and that's illegal.

With both marijuana and alcohol, perhaps the best thing you can do is show them all the consequences, and their likelihood. Deb's story about her son is similar to many others.

I guess the hard sell is that young people don't know about consequences. They're something that are hard for some people to perceive, unless they actually suffer them. The psychology is that if they have never witnessed an ill effect, they'll tend to dismiss the possibility.

I'd guess part of this comes from the hyperbole about getting high that parents and society often lie about the immediacy of consequences (the Marihuana Assassin of Youth syndrome, where pot supposedly makes you violent, a zombie, run around naked, a criminal, or a raving lunatic, or any of the other scare tactics people use). Of course, most of those things never happen with the first puff, and some happen only rarely. So once nothing happens the first time, which is more likely than not, they understandably see the hyperbole as a lie.

I don't think you are a neglectful parent if you are candid to your kids about how you feel about their intoxication. I know it's chic nowadays to lie to one's offspring, but I see it doing a lot of damage, because they're not kiddies anymore; they see through lies.

I'm gonna assume, because of what yu've written, that you feel you cannot trust their father to act wisely or rationally if he learns about the intoxication. But I'm wondering at what point he will find out (they can't hide it forever), how, and how he will react coming late, as he is, into the loop. Would it be possible to approach him with other family members (either on his side or yours)?

Just asking. I wish you luck.

plan0 said...

Around here you usually don't get busted for toking, but if driving while high you will get nailed (we don't have "DUI", we have "impaired driving" which covers alcohol, drugs, and sleep deprivation).

The biggest risk to them is legal implications like you said. People I know with possession convictions (which is basically a misdemeanor) can't cross the border into the US because of it. It's treated maybe a little too harsh, but it still could limit their options. Inform them, direct them, and that's about all you can do.

S'mee said...

The weed of my youth has no comparison with the high grade stuff that's available today..... and there's the danger. For anybody who has an addictive personality, it's bad news.

I used to grow it for Cag, she used it as a tea. Did it help with M.S symptoms? Many have said that it does, but we didn't notice any change. Still have some seeds if you want some.

Seeker said...

I really empathise with you. Although both my children are grown up (at least in age!) they still have problems with alcohol - in fact, my daughter is lying in bed at the moment suffering the after effects of a wild night of partying yesterday!

When she was 16, she also took some drugs for a while. I remember my absolute horror at having to call an ambulance crew out when we thought she had over-indulged in alcohol - only to be told that she had had some cannibis. Boy, was I cross! I believe she tried some stronger stuff too at the time, although fortunately she didn't particularly enjoy her reaction to the drugs, so gave them up pretty soon herself.

I personally find it hard to buy the argument that cannibis is harmless to a developing mind (whilst I do understand older people using it if it helps in cases of serious illness) - although I suspect that, as with most things, the effects vary from person to person.

With mental health problems in both my and my husband's family, I am interested in the effect of the drug on mental health. It is thought to cause paranoia and is is also suspected to be associated with schizoprenia. My sister-in-law (who has a schizophrenia-related illness) believes that she was surrepticiously given some drugs when at college, immediately before her first 'breakdown'.

Here are some related links for you -

American Medical Student Association

It is so hard to be young in the world today - and hard to be a parent as well!

Good luck!

Seeker said...

Sorry, I think the last link went wrong; I'll try it again!

Sunny Delight said...

I thank you all for your views...
In many ways I still feel that if they are going to use any substance, it be marijuana over any other mind alterer. Of course I wish they didn't use anything, but then how many of us can say that?

I can only hope they be smart about all ways.

As to their's funny for one who in his youth "experimented" a lot, he is quite close-minded. At this point in my life and taking into account the ages of our is up to them and him in whether he finds out. If it becomes a problem...then it is a different story. There are more parents who don't know, or like to pretend they don't know, than those of us who talk to our children about it.

And, I have come to the conclusion that being honest about my ambivalence on the subject is better than lying about it.