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Kids and Marijuana

It’s not easy keeping kids off ganja these days. The world, it seems, has gone to pot. President Obama admits to having “inhaled frequently” in his youth. Hollywood Dudes-of-the-Hour Seth Rogen and James Franco shared a joint (or an authentic-looking prop) onstage at the MTV Movie Awards last summer. Regular moms can get hash prescriptions for anxiety and pick up a dimebag from a clinic on their way to yoga.

Even when photos surfaced this year of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps taking a bong hit, the nation sort of shrugged with disinterest. Most of his endorsement deals failed to flinch. Last week, Subway launched a new TV commercial featuring Phelps (does he always look that stoned?) and the Sly Stone anthem “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin).” Can’t you just see Subway’s board meeting after the bong photo broke? “Fellas! We sell snack food! Tell me again why this is bad news?”

If a guy can suck skunkweed recreationally and still win 14 gold medals, what’s to dissuade teens from taking their first curious puff? In my experience, there’s only one way to keep your kids from becoming potheads.

You’ve got to become one yourself. That’s right. Light up for the sake of sobriety. Inhale in the name of clean living. Take a hit for the temperance team.

My parents, you see, were big tokers. They smoked dope. They talked dope. They may have even sold dope. In fifth-grade health class, I raised my hand and informed the teacher that THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, is short for tetrahydrocannabinol. And when I came home from class spouting the potential health risks of smoking it, my parents shouted “Lies!” and stormed the campus the next day to shame my teacher for preaching the ridiculous propaganda of the establishment.


But in fact the school didn’t need to convince me not to smoke “Mary Jane,” “grass,” or “rope,” as it was reportedly called “on the street.” (Have you ever heard someone refer to reefer as “rope?” I’ve been listening closely since fifth grade: never.) Getting high was something my parents did; and as such, it was the single lamest thing a human being could do.

I viewed their Sunday-afternoon pastime through the hipper-than-thou lens of youth — and, of course, through a cloud of smoke. Their ritual was predictable, pointless, and passé, the stuff of a has-been generation: Pulling out the stinky wooden stash box. Sliding off the lid. Licking the Zig Zags and rolling up a fatty. Lighting up, sucking too loudly on the soggy end, and talking through clenched throats.

Then their giggles would start. Bursts of baked laughter sent smoke spurting through their nostrils. I never could figure out what was so funny. When friends began proffering spliffs at high school parties, I tried to hide my distaste, but the occasional “Ew! Seriously?” would slip out. Why would I fill my lungs with old-people herb?

I’m not saying I never puffed a blunt. But I didn’t do it early, and I didn’t do it much. It just didn’t hold mystery to me.

Now an “old person” myself, I should probably buy a dub sack (Mom? Can you hook me up?) and take up the habit just to keep my kids on the straight-and-narrow. Then again, with all the inhalants, prescription opiods, and meth being abused out there, perhaps the best we parents can hope for is that our kids do grasp onto good, old-fashioned “rope.” At least we’d always know where they were on Sunday afternoons: giggling inappropriately on the sofa.

Or on their way to Subway.

Published inColumnsParenting

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