Sunday, May 10, 2020

Mothering and Marijuana

UPDATE: Finn has responded to her critics in a second oped: "MY KIDS WATCH ME DRINK WINE. PRETTY OFTEN. IS THAT A PROBLEM?"

The website of a mother who objected to legal cannabis in the LA Times. (Accessed 4/13/20.)

While we're all homebound during the COVID crisis, the usual "Mommy Needs Her Wine" memes have proliferated, with lines like, "Can anyone recommend a good breakfast wine?" and the ominous prediction, "You think it's bad now? In 20 years our country will be run by kids who were home schooled by day drinkers." There's even a Facebook group, "Mommy Needs Vodka." But mothers who use cannabis haven't reached this level of acceptance, despite a new study finding that 16 percent of moms say they are using cannabis to cope with COVID, compared to 11 percent of fathers.

Meanwhile, the LA Times has seen fit to publish for 4/20 an op-ed from a mother irate about the presence of cannabis clubs and billboards around Los Angeles. The author Robin Finn, a “Writer/Coach/Inner Peace Enthusiast,” displayed at the top of her website (at the time) a picture of herself with a glass of wine in her hand with the headline, "Be right there. I'm working...." apparently shirking her parental duties to do some drinking. Finn, who has a public health degree, is addressing our current crisis with weighty articles like, “What is the proper footwear for a Global Pandemic?” “Why A Global Pandemic is not a Good Time to give up Your Anxiety Medication” and “This is Not About Coronavirus. It’s About Tits.”

Ms. Finn frets about her kids becoming drug addicts if they try marijuana, as I'm sure a lot of parents do. She mentions the movie Beautiful Boy, in which a father (played by Steve Carrell) admits to his drug-addicted son that he used drugs in his past, but fails to take the opportunity to discuss the important differences between hard drugs and marijuana, or the value of moderation.

Jennifer Connelly talking with her son (Nat Wolff) in "Stuck in Love"
This is strikingly different from movies like 9-5, Peace Love & Misunderstanding and Stuck in Love where mothers or grandmothers are able to talk to teens about these important distinctions.

In 9-5, there's a scene with Lily Tomlin's teenage son, where she's stressing about getting a promotion at her job from her sexist boss. He says: "Mom, you've got to relax. I'm gonna roll you a joint." She replies: "Josh, you know how I feel about that. Besides your grandmother would pitch a fit if she even hears you mention the word marijuana." Josh: "She doesn't understand moderation. You're the one who keeps saying harm springs from excess. I'm talking about one joint." So, messages about moderation coming from the younger generation, as taught (properly) by an elder.

In Peace, Love and Misunderstanding, Jane Fonda introduces her grandkids (Elizabeth Olsen and Nat Wolff) to the wonders of the weed. It's done intelligently, with the grandmother resorting to it before losing the kids to an evening of them closing down (as so many teens do). Afterwards, she gives them sage advice: stay away from the brown stuff (heroin) and nothing up the nose (cocaine).

And in Stuck in Love, when a teenager is accused of being stoned at Thanksgiving dinner, his mother takes him into the kitchen for a heart-to-heart where she tells him, "Pot, and nothing else, ever." When he says, "You don't have to worry about me," she correctly replies, "Yes, I do. It's my job."

Asha Bandale in "Grass is Greener"
Researcher Marsha Rosenbaum, who developed a logical "Safety First" drug education program used around the world,  interviewed heroin addicts in prison who often told her they figured the government was lying to them about all drugs after they tried marijuana and found it to have only mild effects. So they figured they'd try hard drugs too. That and the fact that underground dealers often sell a variety of drugs has contributed to a perceived "gateway" effect of marijuana, a theory that's been debunked by the US Government's own studies.  In fact, the vast majority of marijuana users never go on to harder drugs, and most cease or curtail their use as they enter their adulthood. And even Scientific American now admits Marijuana May Not Lower Your IQ.

New mother Lea Grover is one who discovered that marijuana's ability to increase empathy and decrease anxiety was beneficial to her and her children, writing about it in a 2015 article for Good Housekeeping magazine titled, “Marijuana Makes Me a Better Mother.” And sure, having one parent or guardian stay unstoned–or not drunk–in case of an emergency is a good idea, but that doesn't mean someone is a bad parent if they take care of their own emotional needs from time to time.

Drug policy reform activist Asha Bandale tells the story of her teenaged stepson who was imprisoned and ultimately shot and killed in a downward spiral that started with a simple marijuana possession charge in the documentary Grass is Greener.  More and more, mothers are realizing that our laws against marijuana are more dangerous than is occasional experimentation with it.

Mother's Day was originally Mother's Day for Peace, Julia Ward Howe's vision of mothers uniting for world peace. It's a good time to think about bringing peace to the Drug War.

Also see:

On Mothers & Marijuana: 7 Celebrities Talk About Smoking While Parenting

Maya Angelou Calls Parenting on Marijuana "Side-Cracking Hilarity."

Elsie Sinclair: A Crusading Mother

Oscar Winner Jared Leto Thanks Pot-Smoking Mom

Mark-Paul Gosselaar: Look Mom, I'm High!

Nikola Tesla, His Mother, and Hemp

Polly Bergen Bakes Brownies for Her Cancer-Stricken Daughter on Desperate Housewives

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