• Tue, Feb 11 - 3:30 pm ET

When It Comes To Teens And Drugs, I’d Rather Mine Choose Pot Over Alcohol Any Day

97541776With more and more states considering legalizing marijuana, I’m not concerned with how this will affect the future drug talks I will have with my teenagers. In fact – although I will surely press for not experimenting with anything – if they are going to experiment with drugs during their teens, my fingers are crossed that it’s marijuana instead of alcohol.

As someone who experimented with drugs in my youth, I don’t have the luxury of being naive about this topic; I know that where there’s a will, there’s a way. Parents have long been dealing with talking to their kids about alcohol – if they live in a state where marijuana is legal, they are just going to have to add the weed talk to their arsenals. The same explanations will apply; it’s a substance that impairs your abilities, it’s illegal, and it can get you into a lot of trouble. From Today Moms:

“For kids here now, the quote-unquote ‘drug culture’ is just a fact of life, like liquor stores or bars anywhere else,” says Zakary Watson, a Black Forest, Colo., mother of a 13-year old daughter and 6-year old son. She stresses that the streets have not suddenly become seedy or unsafe just because you might come across a pot shop while running errands with your family. “That said, I will drink a glass of wine in front of my kids, but I would never smoke a joint in front of them. That’s my personal preference.”

If it becomes legal and I ever decide to use it – the only reason I would have a problem using it in front of my teenagers would be the second-hand smoke factor. I wouldn’t insist it was any worse than alcohol if it were legal. The reason I don’t smoke it now is because it’s illegal. Well, that and the fact that I need all the energy I have and can’t afford to have the munchies constantly.

Although I may not agree with it being illegal, if it stays that way I would never model illegal behavior to my teenagers. I think it’s important that teens know that it is necessary to follow the law. I also think it is important for them to be able to make informed decisions. When the time comes, I will openly talk to them about the dangers of using any substance that impairs your motor skills or judgment.

My personal belief is that marijuana use is just not as dangerous as alcohol use. That’s not to say that it’s safe or healthy – but as a career bartender, I’ve spent years exposed to the ugly side of alcohol use. I think most people who stigmatize marijuana use do so because of the illegal aspect as well as a lack of knowledge or experience with the drug.

Clearly, I would rather my teenagers never touch any drugs. But when the time for the drug talk comes my biggest emphasis will be on maturity and moderation – not stigmatizing one over the other. Unless, of course, we’re talking about any other drugs besides these two. Then I’m going to be as pearl-clutchy as the rest of the parents.

(photo: Getty Images)

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  • Muggle

    Yeah, I’m totally up for my hypothetical future teen using an illegal drug that stinks up the house, triggers my asthma, gets people high just from the smoke itself, oh and jeopardizes his father’s job as a cop.

    Assuming marijuana is legal in my state by then, he better not be a fucking asshole about it. I swear that’s the worst part of dealing with stoners. A lot of them are fine, most of the ones I’ve met are complete and utter cunts whose only purpose in life is smoking their precious, magical, cure-all “houseplant.”

    • Fireinthefudgehole

      I like to believe that legalizing marijuana might cut down on the superiority complexes some stoners have.

    • Muggle

      I think so too, but it’s pretty much the only reason I’m pro-legalization in the first place.

      That and it really isn’t THAT bad for you, the government shouldn’t throw people in jail for putting things in their own bodies yada yada yada.

    • Andrea

      Stoners have a superiority complex? Most of the ones I have met cannot even form complete sentences, much less articulate that thought.
      Disclaimer: I have been known to celebrate 4-20.

    • Kelly

      I smoke occasionally too and I’ve met the stoners with superiority complexes. They’re the ones who get baked daily and brag about being stoned all the time makes them better parents. I can’t stand them.

    • pineapplegrasss

      I get annoyed at the pot snobs. ‘oh no, I can’t smoke that dirt weed, I only smoke (insert special name)’

    • Kelly

      Oh yeah, I’ve met those too. So not fun to hang out with.

    • Muggle

      oh my fucking god. Once upon a time, when I was actually willing to try weed just once, I started seeing a stoner. He talked about weed almost all the fucking time and was SO. DULL.

      And then he turned out to be a racist mother fucker, but that’s a different story.

      Oh, and I wound up never trying weed. whoops.

    • pineapplegrasss

      Probably not a bad idea lol.

    • Muggle

      I just found out a few weeks ago he’s expecting a kid soon. That poor, poor child.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      Oh my God I dated one too in college and he was the WORST because his lifestyle was just so amazing and he just wanted to share it and he didn’t do it that much. And then it came out that he did do it that much and our second or third “date” involved him going to see a dealer. I was new to the city and fresh from the farm and didn’t even know where I was. All of the sudden I was on a drug deal. It was the worst date of my life. And he was so pretentious about it and how the whole world was full of drugs and I just needed to learn to adapt. No. You adapt and fuck off.

    • sri

      See, I’ve only met the superior dirtbag philosopher hippie. You know, the guy who thinks that he’s so enlightened because “he’s not confined by, like, society’s rules, or whatever.” and smoking has helped him to expand his mind beyond what my sober plebeian brain can comprehend, man. When I told the worst offender that I don’t smoke because my anxiety gets way way worse and I’ve basically had a panic attack because I was high, he told me that it was “because you were with oppressive people, man. You can totally pick up on that energy. Like, I can see your aura right now. I bet you can’t see mine, because you haven’t embraced…” something something nature’s gifts, all of your friends are terrible, you clearly don’t know how to smoke pot, yadda yadda. Of course, he also thought that his thoughts could influence the world around him in real and profound ways (way beyond the power of positive thinking) and often had to escape to the forest to “commune with nature and get in the right headspace,” so…

      I had a friend that expressed a preference for a particular kind of weed, but he would really smoke whatever anyone had lying around. I have had many guests who freak out if I only have canned beer, though, because they only drink bottled. Well, then, you should have gotten your own damn beer if you’re that particular, dude. It’s not like I cheaped out and got frat party beer, it’s a small batch brewery that only uses cans for some strange reason. Their watermelon summer ale is the shit, though, so they have won me over forever, even if they do only come in cans.

    • Muggle

      I have Tourette Syndrome and all the anxiety disorders that tend to come with that, and I’ve been told that weed is such a good cure for it SO MANY TIMES ugh. I don’t understand the need to get me off medicine that works and onto something that’s illegal in my state and that I know to trigger my asthma. Not all types of weed are the same, and it’s not the same for everybody. Some are actually more likely to cause anxiety attacks than others.

    • sri

      I have Tourette Syndrome, too! Mine is thankfully pretty manageable without medication, since my verbal tics are pretty much limited to infrequent peeps and pops, but I have yipped at a friend who happens to indulge from time to time and been told that I should start smoking, even though they know I’ve tried it before, and that it resulted in me curled up in the fetal position, hyperventilating, and thinking that I was literally going to die right there. Um, no, dude. I’m not going to take a risk that I could have a huge anxiety attack, go to jail, and lose my teaching license because my barking at you once in 3 years made you feel uncomfortable. I’ve made peace with it. Everyone else just needs to move the fuck on.

      I forgot about the stoner version of the dad from My Big Fat Greek Wedding in the discussion of superior tokers. Oh, you have a tummy ache? Blaze it. Migrane? Blaze it. Burned your hand with bacon grease? Couldn’t hurt to blaze it, right?

    • Muggle

      I’m actually in the process of trying to become a teacher and I do NOT want anything sabotaging that. I’m not going to risk my future over a “just a houseplant.” Especially when I have very mild Tourettes and my vocal tic is hard to detect anyway (one of my motor tics though? VERY noticeable, it’s what led to my diagnosis at 18).

      Yeah, I’ll ruin my life AND my fiance’s in the process. Sounds fun!

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      No need for that! I’ll sometimes make a casual suggestion to someone who’s been struggling with anti-depressant/anti-anxiety meds AND who’s not looking for state/federal employment that they could consider going into a dispensary and getting some recommendations, then purchasing a small amount if they feel up to it, but that’s only after I’ve gotten to hear about their struggles with psychiatric treatments for a while. :/ I also throw in the disclaimer about how I do not think of it as a cure-all, given that it hasn’t done dick for my Type I diabetes (except that, unlike every other person on the planet, I do not get the munchies. In fact, it curbs my appetite. But the underlying condition won’t go away no matter how much I ingest!)

    • sri

      One of my motor tics is pretty small and easy to hide/ pass off as fidgeting. The other one is pretty bad, though. I only have that one once or twice a day, luckily, and it’s usually only when I’m tired, so generally not around my students. On bad days, it can actually hurt because I move so suddenly and with so much force. If it happens at school, it frightens some of my students because they’re used to my “busy hands” not a violent spasm. Even on those days, I still wouldn’t risk it.

      What worked for me with my students was to tell them about it right away. That way, they don’t freak out when it happens (and they learn that they shouldn’t run their damn mouths about the guy with motor tics in one of our movies.) I’ve found that having less stress about “OMG, What happens if I tic in front of students!?!?!” actually makes my tics less frequent and less severe, too. Of course, nobody’s illness is exactly the same with exactly the same triggers, so ymmv, especially with different age groups. Also, you may already do that. Nobody ever suggested it to me, though, so I’m passing it along just in case.

    • Muggle

      My motor tic is actually VERY noticeable, and is pretty much a violent head/neck/shoulder spasm. It terrified a lot of people when I first started doing it, and apparently it looked very painful (it wasn’t, but back then I was so stressed out over it that I did it ALL THE TIME and eventually my shoulder just got sore from that).

      Once I was diagnosed and cleared to go back to school (as I was a senior in high school at the time) the tic died down a lot because a lot of people were actually pretty understanding. I never heard a judgemental, ignorant word until after I graduated.

    • Emil

      I don’t understand how someone can use weed to treat Tourette’s (even if it did work). It’s not as if you can be high all the time. I must be missing something. Glad you found a medication that works for you. It can be very difficult to treat and a lot of the medications can have such nasty side effects it’s not even worth it.

    • Muggle

      It IS difficult to treat. It gets a lot easier with diet, actually, but other than that it’s hard to find the right medication as very few of the ones out there do much good. The ones I tried, though, weren’t all that bad, just ineffective.

    • Sri

      I think the theory is similar to that of treating anxiety. For me, at least, stress and exhaustion tend to exacerbate my tics, especially my motor tics, so it would follow that a drug that would reduce my general anxiety level might also reduce my symptoms. For some people, it probably would work.

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      I know that pot leaves me with zero fucks to give about anything, so I can see how that would be useful for anxiety. I have noticed that it doesn’t actually do anything about any physical symptoms of pain I might be experiencing, nor does it exacerbate them–it just makes me unable to care that something’s hurting.

    • carosaurusrex

      To be fair, this person sounds like they would be annoying regardless of their marijuana consumption. I feel that people who are that intense will always find something about which to be intense. Frankly, I’d rather listen to someone wax poetic about weed strains than, say, proselytize to me (true story…and I was a captive audience in a car for 23 hours…).

    • pineapplegrasss

      omg I think I know him! Lol

    • Muggle

      Yeah, when they’re not high.

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      I don’t like the smoke, either. That’s why I prefer to eat my weed. XD

      But even though I’ve only got a month and a half’s worth of data to go on, I’d say the Stoner Mafia has calmed down here in Denver now that everyone who’s of age can join in. There are still a few extolling the virtues of pot over every other substance on the face of the planet, including real food, but now that you can cut them off by saying, “Dude, I get it. There’s no need to blather on about the benefits of legalization when IT’S ALREADY BEEN LEGALIZED.”

      FWIW, I think it’s safer than alcohol in the sense that every stoner or even casual I’ve been around, myself included, has been perfectly content to sit around and count carpet fibers. The question of driving somewhere or starting a fight with someone never comes up–who would need to do that, when there are so many carpet fibers to count and you keep losing track? I don’t think it’s some magical cure-all, and I’m sure there are just as many long-term detriments associated with abuse as there are with any other drug, but comparatively speaking, as long as it’s legal in your area, the effects seem a lot less drastic.

    • Tinyfaeri

      Mmmmm… cookies.

    • Muggle

      I know people who have tried driving while high on weed. They insist it’s tooooootally safe because they were afraid to go over 40mph. Uh, I think someone needs to tell these guys that driving too slow can be just as dangerous and driving too fast. I don’t think it’s a good idea, though, to drive while on ANY drug.

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      I completely agree that drugs and cars do not mix. It’s just been my (admittedly completely anecdotal) experience that the high people I know can’t even figure out what a car is, much less how to operate one.

      I also think one of the advantages to legalization is that the cops are now keeping a very careful eye on those who are going less than 40 mph on the highway. I’m all for any legal substance as long as no one’s being too much of an idiot about it.

  • TikiTavia

    Maybe because it’s decriminalized where I live, I don’t see pot as that big of a deal. I’ll have the same conversation about both pot and alcohol. Don’t drive while under the influence, preferably stay home, never be afraid to call me for a ride, moderation is important.
    But then that’s pretty much what I got growing up and it worked well for me.

  • JulySheWillFly

    I agree with this in general but wouldn’t smoke in front of my kid for reasons other than secondhand smoke. I can have a glass of wine and my ability to parent is unaffected. A little pot? I become silly and giggly. Not sure I need my kid seeing me inhaling a bag of chips and spewing out meta philosophy that only makes sense in my head while cracking up.

    How do you go back to being the one in change after that?

  • Guest

    Idk I’m torn on this one. I would think marijuana would be safer vs. drunk drivers but when I see some of the stoners from my high school I would NEVER want my kids to go down that road. They went from being intelligent funny kids to some dopey morons.

    • Itpainsmetosay

      Same here I had a friend who was cool and funny when I was a freshie. Then just two years later he could barely form a more than four word sentence much less a whole conversation. Also I know some people are helped by it as a treatment. So to a point I do think it should be legal.

    • carosaurusrex

      Marijuana has major effects specifically on developing brains. The same usage in a 14 year old and, say, a 20 year old is going to affect them a lot differently. For that reason, I would not be OK with my theoretical kids using it as teens. However I do think it is far less dangerous than alcohol both physiologically and in terms of the, shall we say, situations it breeds. No one (at least no one I’ve ever heard of) has gotten ill from pure cannabis (ie. not laced with anything), or blacked out, or made really reckless decisions (like sleeping with a random person).

    • Guest

      Yes, I think that explains my thoughts exactly.

  • pineapplegrasss

    I’ve been known to partake, and I don’t believe it should be illegal. That said, there have been a lot of studies recently that highlight that Marijuana use definitely has adverse effects on a teenagers growing/ developing brain. I don’t want my teen being a dumb stoner :)

    • Paul White

      Agreed. I get so fed up with people acting like pot has 0 negative side effects. I mean, it isn’t like it’s lethal or particularly worse than booze…but man, some of the stuff that gets spewed is facepalm worthy. That said, yeah, I feel it shoudl be legal…but when your stereotypical stoner acts like there’s NO downsides to pot I get irate…

    • ted3553

      Ditto. I also had my teen tell me one day that you can’t get addicted to pot. That’s what she and all her friends talked about. Ummm-yeah, you can. Do I think people should go to jail for smoking-no, but it does have negative effects.

    • pineapplegrasss

      And, it really is so much more potent than the stuff we used to get 20 years ago, and they (always the ominous THEY lol) do say it is more addictive because of that.

    • Muggle

      Yes, this. I know so many people from high school who became stoners (and still are). They’re addicted to it, but don’t know and probably never will because “it’s not addictive!”

      Except it’s been known to at least be psychologically addictive for some time, even if it’s not physically addictive.

    • pixie

      It’s addictive in a similar way that gambling is addictive. There’s no real withdrawal symptoms like heroin or crack or alcohol, which is why a lot of “stoners” insist it’s not addictive. I have a couple of stoner friends who actually agree that they’re addicted, but don’t feel the need to quit because it “helps them deal”.
      That’s not to say that it can’t be fun if used in moderation recreationally, same as alcohol (I’ve smoked it before), but like anything, it’s not good for anyone if used to extreme.

    • Muggle

      I just wish all the stoners who go on and on and ON about medical marijuana and marijuana’s benefits would just admit that they don’t give two shits about the people who actually need it for medical reasons, they just want to use it recreationally. Because that’s what they want, and then sneaking around to get MMJ makes them look like massive dickwads and no better than the plebeian, corporate drones who sneak around to get ADHD pills when they don’t actually have ADHD, and make people with ADHD look like they’re lying. (I say this AS someone with ADHD, though I don’t medicate because the last time I did was really bad for my mental health. Not that weed would necessarily be any better).

    • pixie

      Oh yeah, definitely, and I get frustrated when stoners go on about how good medical marijuana is because I already know second hand. I have a friend who had leukaemia and when he was going through treatment pretty much the only thing to help his nausea and appetite was to smoke a joint. The THC pills did nothing for him. It was nice seeing him actually gaining back a bit of weight and eating.
      I don’t care if people want to smoke recreationally, just admit it and don’t pretend to be wanting to help medical patients (wanting both recreational use and supporting medicinal use is fine, great even, but masking intentions is annoying). It would probably help to lessen the negativity that surrounds the drug.

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      One of the reasons I was so pleased with my home state’s efforts is that even though it was ridiculously easy to get a MMJ license here, subverting the system by making up problems I didn’t have (or, at least, that couldn’t be treated with ibuprofen) felt…wrong. Wronger, somehow, than taking hits off my friends’ bongs when that was still legally unkosher–judge me as you will!

      So since I am one of those stoners who generally (more on that soon) doesn’t give two shits about people who actually need it and just wants to get high every so often, I understand what you’re saying. That said, I did know someone who was suffering from Stage IV cancer and hadn’t been able to eat in a week, so she was planning to end her life early. Her nephew hooked her up with some weed, and the resulting munchies made her feel decent enough to soldier on for another two months, when she passed from the cancer. However, to me, this is also a good argument for making it available to everyone with no red tape involved…maybe people who aren’t allergic to the smoke but have been dealing with issues that standard pharmaceuticals can’t help with could benefit, who knows?

    • Ptownsteveschick

      It is really true, when my husband quit, he said it was harder than quitting smoking cigarettes.

  • Ana

    I live in Colorado, so I will have to deal with this eventually, and I think I’ll probably have a stance much like yours. My parents were hippies and said the same thing, and I didn’t smoke until my 2nd year of college anyway. I think my main concern is all the studies in the news about how it can be damaging to young brains. For this reason I don’t think I’d ever smoke around my daughter or admit that I do. When she is an adult it might be a different story.

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      I’m a third-generation Colorado native. True to apparent Colorado form, my dad and uncle started smoking in high school. They’re a doctor and an architect, respectively, so YMMV? I do agree that it’s best not to take chances. For all the time I spend on Mommyish and elsewhere with my breathless odes to pot, I’m actually a casual (maybe 2-3 times a month) user who didn’t start until after I’d graduated college, possibly due to the fact that I didn’t see any of my family smoking.

      Then again, my uncle showed his daughter a bag full of weed when she was 16 and offered the cryptic explanation, “This is NOT oregano,” then put it away. Yet she’s only gotten high once in her life, and that was shortly before her 27th birthday…go figure.

  • ted3553

    I don’t see the issue with legalizing marijuana but it doesn’t mean I’ll support my kids smoking it. Cold syrup is legal but I won’t be hanging out with my kids doing shots. Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s good for you and it’s not ok for them to be doing it while they are minors and living with me. I don’t think pot’s the worst thing in the world but it doesn’t have a benefit to my teens, and in fact makes them lethargic and generally more of a slacker which they don’t need right now when I’m trying to work on them graduating. I have absolutely no issues telling them and any other kid that there are things adults get to do because they’re adults.

  • Robotic Arms Dealer

    I’m gonna hope that my children experiment with their AP Chem text book instead

  • Rachel Sea

    I’ve got weed addicts in my family (and we can debate whether it’s an addictive substance all day, but fact is, a lot of people can’t moderate their use) and while they are healthier than the alcoholics, they are in many ways less functional, because marijuana inhibits neurological growth. I’d rather explain and model the concept of moderation with alcohol, and make sure that my kids know about every other possible coping skill than substance abuse of weed, booze, smack or other.

    • Maddi Holmes

      Alcohol also inhibits, and breaks down, neurological growth. Alcohol is also far more addictive and damaging to the body. I agree that people shouldn’t use any substance as a coping mechanism, but alcoholics are much more damaging to themselves than habitual pot users.

  • doodlebug2

    I’ve been a pot smoker for a long time, and I truly enjoy it. I use a vaporizer about twice a week at night after my daughter’s asleep (and only when my husband is home). Then I eat a bowl of ice cream and watch South Park and go to bed. I have never, nor would I ever, have it around her or be in any kind of mind-altered state in her presence. She doesn’t see it, smell it, or know about it and she never will. This works for me, but I’m also not one of those potheads who’s going to say it’s completely harmless or, even more silly, that it’s sooooo good for you, bro! It needs to be used responsibly and in moderation, just like anything else. And it’s definitely not good for developing brains. I started smoking pot when I was 14, and when I look back it makes me a little sad to think of my young, growing brain being exposed to so much sticky icky. I did just fine–never tried another drug, got good grades in high school, went to a great college, and moved on to a successful career–but I can’t help but wonder about what else I might have accomplished if I hadn’t smoked so much. Then again, maybe I wouldn’t have accomplished anything else at all. Who the hell knows. But I do think it’s generally less harmful than alcohol and I agree that when my child reaches her teenage years, I’d much rather her use marijuana than alcohol, cigarettes, or any other kind of drug if she chooses to experiment at all. I’ll obviously encourage her not to do anything, but I’m realistic and know that that’s what most kids do. We need to arm with them the right information and be honest about our own experiences.

    • NYCNanny

      Perfection.

  • NYCNanny

    My mom just taught me to roll a better joint. I’m in my 20′s.
    #parentingwin