My 7 rules for being a responsible stoner parent

Guest post by Lisa
By: John MorganCC BY 2.0

“Mama, Mama! Let’s play Candyland!”

“Okay, honey! Just give me a moment. I have to use the restroom.”

Candyland is so much more fun baked when you’re an adult. In fact, marijuana makes a lot of things more bearable and even fun. Pot can make you patient and relaxed. I get it, and so does a sizable portion of society. It’s completely understandable to smoke weed even when you’re a parent. That being said, there are some rules I chose to follow as a pot-smoking parent.

By: PabloEvansCC BY 2.0

The needs of my children come first

Don’t buy weed if your kids are going hungry. Don’t run off to smoke a doobie every chance you get then spend an hour or more hiding from your kids so they don’t figure out you’re stoned. It would probably be smart to have a “backup adult” in case you have a bad high. Get a babysitter, have your partner there sober, or wait until the kids are asleep or at school.

Also, this should be obvious, but don’t smoke weed with your kid. If your kid is under 18 definitely don’t share a doobie with them. Over 18, well, then you decide… I guess.

Know the local laws

Do you know how much weed can land you in jail? If the laws in your state are strict, you might want to try a legal alternative. If you allow your teenage/adult child to smoke weed in your home, be aware you could end up with legal trouble. The goal: staying out of jail.

Know when to abstain

Are you looking for employment? Are you currently going through a custody case or other legal battle? Then don’t be a dummy. Stop smoking pot. Do you have other responsibilities? Are you using marijuana to procrastinate? Are you smoking pot out of a crumpled soda can you found in a pile of trash and debris on your floor/table? Be real with yourself. Either get productive when you toke, or reward yourself with reefer when you complete your project, errands, and chores.

By: Hammerin ManCC BY 2.0

Don’t toke and drive

This is another that should be obvious, but isn’t always. Just don’t do this. In some areas you can actually get arrested for a DUI for simply having any amount of marijuana on you while driving, and DUIs are no joke.

I get my supply from a reliable source

Don’t find a dealer on Craigslist, and don’t allow toxic people into your life (and/or the lives of your children) just because they can provide the pot or because “Hey, they like to smoke pot, too!”

I don’t let “Pot Smoking Parent” become my identity

If you feel like you’re smoking too much you might want to consider backing off. If somebody suggests you’re smoking too much you may want to consider taking a break from the bong. If people start asking you “Are you high?” every time they see you, marijuana moderation may be called for.

I hide my shit!

Don’t leave baggies and pipes laying about. Head shops sell lots of nifty safes you can use to store your stash. Invest in one of them. You don’t want your kids to get into your ganja.

I realize my kids will eventually figure out what I’m doing

Do you preemptively talk to your kid about marijuana? Do you let your child silently come to the realization? Do you wait for the day you get called out by your kid after DARE presents a program at their school? Well, that I can’t decide for you.

Eventually, whether or not you discuss it, your kid is going to figure out you smoke(d) marijuana. How you plan to discuss it is entirely up to you.

Comments on My 7 rules for being a responsible stoner parent

  1. Thank you for posting this! I’m a pot-smoking parent. I smoke daily and so does my husband. I may not follow these “rules”, but we have our own. We are open with our children about our use and we let them know that marijuana is the same as cigarettes/alcohol in the sense that you must be an adult to use them. We live in CA, so it is legal with a recommendation. They see us smoke, just like they see us have an occasional beer with dinner. They see no difference in my behavior, besides maybe a few more laughs and the fact that I actually eat all of my dinner when I’ve smoked before hand.

    My children are intelligent, happy, and well cared for. I’m currently on maternity leave, but I do hold a full-time job, and my husband is a full-time student. We aren’t lazy, we pay our bills on time, and we are “stoners”. What works for my family obviously doesn’t work for every family, but that doesn’t give anyone the right to make judgements about my ability as a parent.

  2. I’m fascinated by the discussion, and wish I had time to read through all the comments right now.

    I am the child of two pot smokers (one who is abstaining for the next 10 years or so in order to maintain a job until she retires). Growing up, I didn’t know that my dad smoked pot and they didn’t talk about it, but I did find a tray full of seeds and stems under the bed as a kid. As I grew older, I found more and more clues. Finally, my best friend’s brother told me my parents were “druggies.” I was very embarrassed and upset at the time, and for a while really angry at my parents and felt as if I had been lied to. Probably that was about being a melodramatic teenager.

    I tried it a few times myself in high school and realized pot isn’t that big of a deal, but also that it’s not my thing. I’ve really never had a discussion with my parents about it, but over the years at some point they realized I knew, and now when I’m home my dad doesn’t take pains to hide, he just goes out on the porch and lights up. And it’s fine. My parents are great people, super responsible, and as far as I can tell, it has not negatively affected their lives at all.

    Anyway, I found it interesting and would echo the idea that your kids will find out eventually. Depending on the kid and how they find out, their reaction might not be what you are expecting. I’m not saying you need to sit your five year old down to discuss it, but also sneaking around your kids will not make them feel great as they get old enough to figure it out.

  3. Such an interesting discussion! My Dad used to need to drink to get to sleep at night, and thus I have grown up with a skewed “all or nothing” kind of attitude to alcohol and drugs. It’s been very enlightening to read about others’ experiences.

    • Yes, I think you may be getting to the crux of the disconnect in the responses to this post: some of us who grew up with moderate-use parents read this post through one filter (“Ha! That sounds familiar…”) and some of us who grew up with addiction view it through a very different lens (“HOLY FUCK, THAT SOUNDS FAMILIAR”).

      Ultimately, the author of this post is not ANY of our parents, and her children will have their own stories to tell. In the meantime, I wish we could all do our best to respect the core tenet of this website: different choices work for different families. (Indeed, the author herself may make different choices down the road.)

      • I really wish you & other commenters would stop going to those extremes, and would instead listen to the voices from the middle – some of us had moderate-use parents and we STILL hated it.

        So, again:
        Just because a parent is getting high in a moderate fashion, with no abuse or addiction in sight, DOES NOT MEAN that the drug use does not affect and/or harm the child. (And it doesn’t mean that it does, either.)

        Please. I keep hearing how great this “discussion” is and how “all voices” are welcomed here, and yet all the voices coming from my perspective are consistently made invisible.

        • I mentioned two lenses at either end of the spectrum that I was seeing represented, assuming it didn’t need to be said that of course there are as many lenses as their are people reading this post and filtering it through own personal experiences. Yours is one, yes.

          It doesn’t change that one of core pieces of our mission statements is respecting that different things work for different families. What may not have worked for your family of origin may work for someone else, and what might work awesome for someone else may be a terrible fit for your values.

          Stephanie and I value all these perspectives, but Offbeat Mama’s values are NOT about telling people who make different decisions that they’re wrong — and many of the comments in this thread are doing that. This commitment to non-judgmental discussion has been a part of our mission statement since the day we launched.

  4. Wow this really set up a fire storm of drama. As a mama who could only eat during my first months of morning sickness after a tiny toke, and who occasionally partakes on a super stressful day (akin to having a glass of wine) I thought this article was informative, playful and relevant. I’m surprised so many people got so riled up.

    • When I told my midwife I still toked, but used a vaporizer she was completely OK with my cannabis use. She said that for many mothers it helped a lot with morning sickness.

      I also was on anxiety medication before I got pregnant. I stopped taking my meds when I found out I was knocked up because I didn’t want such a harsh chemical in my body. I turned instead to pot when I started having some of the most intense panic attacks of my life, because unlike my anxiety meds, marijuana has never been linked to any birth complications or defects.

    • Why didn’t anyone tell me to smoke a little pot for my ridiculous morning sickness?!

  5. I already commented once on the first page…but wanted to comment again after the talks about legality came into play.

    I think that the legal issue of it all is frustrating but not the reason I would say it is in MY OPINION (stressing that this is just MY OPINION) something that should not be done when caring for children. Alcohol is legal and I still would never be even tipsy when dealing with a child.

    As someone who works and lives closely with law enforcement, the legal issues are really this: they can not find a good way to “test” someone if they are caught “under the influence”.

    We can test for alcohol very easily and effectively but with weed, it can be in your system long after you smoke or ingest (depending on your delivery method).

    So with no effective way to see if someone is high or over some sort of limit, we can not have people just saying “no..I am good” and regulating themselves and driving.

    Anyways…just my 2 cents on the legal issues.

    Personally, legal or not, I do not think your children should see you in a state of high or drunk or whatever.

    The people who were saying stuff about zanex and other mood altering drugs, the people who take those have an imbalance. This is being corrected. It is not something to enhance their daily lives but correct them.

    Pain killers, same thing. If someone is in chronic pain, then I doubt they are getting “high” off the pain killers but are being made comfortable (as is my case…but of course I have not been taking any the past 7 months…and will not while breast feeding. It is HARD. I was in a terrible accident that left me with some crazy injuries but I make this work for the sake of my child.)

    But all around, this is a good topic to talk about. I have really enjoyed catching up on comments today and reading what everyone (good or bad) has to say in regards to the topic at hand. This is a wonderful forum for all modes of thinking, no matter if I agree or not.

    How can I grow as a person if I am only around people who I agree with all the time?

  6. There have been a lot of comments about how even moderate drug usage can make kids upset or otherwise hurt them.

    This is very true. However, I feel like it’s worth mentioning that the same can be said about many parenting decisions. A lot of personal decisions can harm kids, but its up to each parent to weigh the factors and make the best decisions for their families. I have a family member who hated having a working mother, hated being an only child, and hates that her mother kept her maiden name. She’ll take every chance to discourage me from doing these things, because she had a terrible experience as a child and thus I’m being cruel and selfish. Granted, the illegality of drugs in many states raises the stakes a little. However, the truth still stands that every child is different. She’s not doing something that is guaranteed to hurt them (addiction, etc). This is just one of the many personal decisions that could harm her kids. She’s obviously weighed the factors and decided that smoking is what works best for her.

    Yes, the author’s kids may come to hate their mom’s stoner ways. But, so what?

    • Yes! We raise kids “for their own good” but not for their approval. So what if they decide we were wrong later, if they still turned out okay? And then of course, those judgments come full circle. I remember disapproving of everything my parents did at the age of 16. Since then I’ve been relaxing on one after another as I’ve realized that “holy crap my parents were human and fallible and that doesn’t make them evil!”

  7. I had a parent who was a minimal pot smoker. When I was young she woudl smoke after I went to bed, when I got older (high school) she would smoke whens he went to bed, regardless of whether I was in bed.
    Personally, it has never been my belief that pot and parenting could responsibly go together. My mother was a wonderful mom and she took good care of me. I just never felt good about her pot smoking. I always knew even though her stash was perfectly hidden and she NEVER had creepy people around. I just never felt completely safe, and I didn’t know enough about my feelings to tell her. I just sucked it up and grew up as quickly as possible. By the time I was 5 I knew everything I thought I needed to know to be safe because I didn’t feel safe when my mom was high.

    To this day I would never say that to her because she was a wonderful parent. But, she had a decision to make and in my opinion she made the wrong one. Kids always know. What kids think about it is individual and parents may never know how their actions affect their children, but the kids will now that their folks are different.

    In a lot of ways I envy people who can trust drugs (and I include alcohol). I know that they are not necessarily as scary as I think they are, but I was ever given the opportunity to experience them outside of my feelings of not being safe. When I met my partner I told him that I don’t want weed in the house and I do not want weed around my kids. End of story.

    I hope I was able to articulate my feelings in a way that wasn’t harmful. I really do understand that not everyone will have the reaction that I have, and that is great. They are probably much more comfortable people. But I do think that we can do damage even while thinking that we have all our bases covered.

  8. In theory, I agree that having a toke before Candyland is much like having a couple beers. But the big difference is that in many states, law enforcement does not see it the same AT ALL. If you live somewhere where marijuana is decriminalized or essentially is, then go for it. But if you are breaking the law, you are not only setting a bad example for your kids, but you putting their safe, secure home at risk for your buzz. I also really appreciate the person who pointed out that if you are not white or upper middle class, this is sadly more likely to happen to you, but that doesn’t mean that you and your family aren’t at risk if you are.

    It just doesn’t seem worth it, and while I have no problem with Offbeat Mama publishing this one woman’s experience and point of view, I definitely side with the many readers who find this mother’s choices disappointing at best, and dangerous at worst.

  9. So I am not a current pot smoker and my husband has never been one; although, in my previous life (pre-baby, and hubby) I loved to smoke pot, I never used any other elicit drugs, and I can not drink (Allergies and no tolerance) but, pot is my choice substance if I had to have one. I enjoy being sober most times but, I do take the occasional Xanax which I find is much more addicting but legal. I am pro legalization for medical and recreational, I live in NC and we have so many farmers who could benefit and save their livelihood if we did legalize it. I never want my daughter to experiment with Alcohol it is far more toxic, I also don’t want her breaking the laws her mom did LOL I am the biggest hypocrite now that I am a parent. I do hope if she experiments with pot we can have a candid talk about when, where, and what is acceptable. Then I will confiscate the goodies and make brownies for me and the hubby when she is fast asleep.

  10. Hi, just want to say thank you for this post and the discussion. I like how the author encourages exploring what the consequences are for your particular state or custody situation. This is good advice. And on the whole ‘smoking in front of kids=not ok’ and ‘smoking not in front of kids=ok’, even the author implies the decision to smoke is more complex than this. I’ve experienced situations where a parent failed a mandatory work related drug test due to smoking pot, lost their job, which meant lost health insurance which covered their child = sick child with no health insurance until other cover could be sought (not to mention loss of family income). And I’ve seen parents loose custody of children because of legal consequences of being caught smoking. These were both situations where the smoking was moderate and did not happen in front of children, but with negative consequences for the children. Just thought I’d add this to the discussion, again really thought the post was well written for prompting reflection on this topic.

  11. Not a parent and not a pot smoker here (thought I should get that out of the way). I teach in a lot of different schools (ages 5 to 12) and I’ve got to say it- I’ve never once heard a child say they are ok when their caregiver is “chemically altered”.

    Kids are smart- they know when something is up- regardless of whether it’s “Mummy’s special juice” (alcohol) or “Dad’s mozzie smokes” (pot- some parents say the smell is to keep insects away)- the kids aren’t happy. One will share an experience (usually a what I did on the weekend kind of thing) and the others will console/show empathy with their experiences. I’ve yet to hear a kid say anything remotely positive. Usually it’s “even though such and such says they want to play, I just try to go to my room instead”. They really don’t want to be around people who are high/drunk.

  12. My parents smoked pot when I was a kid. I remember summer nights, my parents sitting on the neighbors back porch, laughing, the bug zapper doing it’s job. I thought it was funny they thought the bug zapper was so funny.

    I was in middle school during this time period. I’d already been through the scary DARE program. I had also witnessed my aunt wasting away to 90 lbs on a diet consisting solely of alcohol. One of my closest friends at the time (a 9 or 10 year old girl) ended up on the talk show circuit because she turned in her own father for dealing drugs. I had witnessed some heavy stuff in my short life up until that point so my parents smoking marijuana and laughing with the neighbors was no big thing.

    Talking about drugs in our house was almost as taboo as talking about religion. Sure, a joke or two may be tossed around, but it was always up to me as an individual to learn about it and cone to my own decision.

    I learned about marijuana while observing my parents and neighbors. I saw how it brought them together. I saw how they always provided for our dying cancer stricken neighbor. I saw our sick neighbor eating and keeping food down. As a child I came to the conclusion that marijuana was a medicine for the body and soul.

    That was MY perspective. However, another little girl found out her parents were smoking pot and she got scared. She hid her daddy’s stash from him, because she thought the marijuana would get her daddy arrested. Her daddy was the one dying from brain cancer and she didn’t want him to spend his last days behind bars. My mother was the one who went over to look for the weed, then she had “the talk” with the neighbors girl. I wasn’t present for “the talk”, though. I wasn’t within earshot, but I knew the little girl was hearing about “the buzz and the weed”, like when you know a kid is hearing about the birds and the bees from an adult for the first time.

    You also have to understand that where I lived, even though DARE was active in the schools, small quantities of marijuana were considered no big deal (despite laws on the books allowing action). So, the hardest thing I had to come to grips with was seeing that some laws exist that both citizens and law enforcement choose to ignore, unless it’s part of a bigger problem.

    J

  13. Woooo lots of judgement in here. Kudos to the mods for trying to keep it civil.

    My parents aren’t stoners, and while my dad drinks, I’ve never once seen him in anything like an impaired state.

    I did grow up with something some folks find Much Too Dangerous to keep in the same house as kids: guns.

    They were kept in a secure place, but I saw them fired, and fired them myself under adult supervision.

    Here’s the crux of the matter, I think: your opinions about things are profoundly affected by what happens in your house and how your parents deal with it. Mine were super respectful towards firearms, but not afraid; neither am I, now. But I know parents that would totally flip their shit before letting their kids into our house, even with demonstrations that the guns were locked up. Other parents allowed it; but their unease meant that the KIDS were either uncomfortable or waaaay too interested.

    I think the same thing happens with pot, alcohol, or any other morally divisive substance/thing. But it happens for “lesser” things, too. A friend of mine had a mother that was terrified of dogs. The friend wasn’t, not really, but she was never really at ease if the dog was indoors with us.

    My apologies to the folks whose parents engaged in activities that made them uncomfortable. That is not a happy place to be … but I think it’s less likely that the problem is the Thing, when families are doing just fine with that particular Thing, than how your parents handled it.

    It’s not “sad” that this parent is a stoner, any more than it’s “sad” that my dad keeps guns, or “sad” that my friend drinks beer like some people drink water — as long as we aren’t in a situation where the kids are feeling bad. That happens all the time, and the problem isn’t the substance/item, it’s How That Thing Is Handled, which you just can’t tell unless you know the person and the kids.

    My dad had rules about guns, people who drink usually have rules about drinking, and here’s one person’s rules about smoking. These are usually good signs that the person is taking care that their Thing doesn’t negatively effect their kid.

  14. Hey all! In a move that will likely surprise NO ONE, the majority of the comments now coming in do not adhere to our commenting policy. We’re closing comments on this post.

    Thanks to everyone for the participation! What a trip.

  15. As a child of a stoner parent, I can tell you that your child will know. They won’t understand, but they will know.

    I knew when Mom and Other Mom were who were interacting with me. I can tell you they don’t remember promises the other made, that Other Mom would end up breaking my heart and sometimes scared me.

    I can tell you as a child that we can smell it, and it isn’t pleasant. You make contact unwelcome for those with a sharp nose.

    I can tell you that as a kid, I hated the change in my mom. She wasn’t her. She wasn’t funnier, better, or as loved. She was not desired.

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