I have been so overwhelmed by the reader responses and outpouring of support since beginning this column just a few short weeks ago. We’ve had one playdate with like-minded parents (who reached out after my first column), and we have a few more in the works. It has been reassuring that so many of you connected with what I’ve been struggling with being a mother who uses medical marijuana.
There also are readers who have expressed concerns relating to my ability to parent effectively while medicated. This worry came very unexpectedly to me. I realized I was just assuming everyone knew me. I’m what some people might consider overprotective. I mean, I’m the mom who rushes to make sure her kid is breathing in the morning if he sleeps through the night without a single peep.
I would never jeopardize my son’s safety.
Being a pot-using parent comes with an entirely extra set of responsibilities. One of those is being careful that I am not consuming more cannabis than I should. As a caregiver I need to be ready to go at a moment’s notice. And I am.
This requires a lot of self-awareness, honesty and willpower. I need the self-awareness so that when I come to that thin line between appropriate medicated and overly medicated, I can see that. I need the honesty to acknowledge I am at my limit. And I need the willpower to not shrug my shoulders and hop over that line and smoke a joint.
Equally as important is knowing my tolerance for marijuana. Someone who only smokes weed or takes edibles on the weekends is going to have a lower tolerance than someone who smokes daily for medical reasons or otherwise.
My tolerance for alcohol is low because I don’t drink. After one alcoholic beverage I feel relaxed and still in control. I can have a single beer, max. Any more than that and I’m getting poured into bed. In contrast, my tolerance for weed is fairly high — but I don’t push it. If I’m going to consume cannabis it’s important I am cognizant enough to respect my limits.
I am a role model for my son. It would be completely unacceptable if I excessively drank alcohol while being in charge of him. It would be equally bad to become stoned beyond recognition while I was parenting. So I don’t.
That doesn’t mean that as an adult I shouldn’t be able to partake responsibly. Many people live stressful lives and seek a way to unwind. Some of those people choose to use marijuana or alcohol to help relieve that stress. And that is legal.
My husband is a kitchen manager for a major restaurant in Denver. He works 12-hour days and walks right back into the kitchen when he gets home to cook his family dinner every night. I am a full-time mommy with a 2-year-old. ‘Nuff said. And I have no network — I am my son’s only caregiver while my husband works. We don’t have a babysitter, we don’t use daycare and I don’t have any family in town (or the state, for that matter) to watch him while we have a date night.
If we each drank a glass of wine with dinner every night no one would bat an eyelash. The same acceptance should be afforded if I want an evening vaporizer session with my husband after my son hits the sheets. Unfortunately, the stigma remains.
But it is worth noting those comparisons between alcohol and pot continue (think President Barack Obama’s well-publicized recent comments about marijuana).
When I consume marijuana I need to remain conscientious throughout the experience and so does anyone. Be straightforward with yourself and don’t go overboard. Don’t be that guy — that guy who makes the rest of us look like jerks.