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Exposing Teenagers to Medical Marijuana

answered 04:17 PM EST, Mon August 01, 2011
watsonjaime watsonjaime Saginaw
My mother has suffered with arthritis for years. About a year ago her doctor encouraged her to try medical marijuana as an alternative treatment that might work to help diminish her pain. She was very reluctant to try it, always having been very anti-drug and straight laced, but she did try it and she finds that it helps her. So that it great and I am very happy for her.

The problem I have is that she has taken a 180 degree turn on marijuana and now wants to sing its praises to anyone who will listen. Which would be fine, but that ‘anyone’ happens to include my 12 and 15 year old boys who I don’t feel need any pro-drug encouragement at this stage in their lives.

I have asked her to stop but she says she isn’t going to hide her medicine in her own house or feel ashamed for taking something that helps her so much to control her arthritis, so she will even use in front of everyone when we come over. I can see her point, but I wish she could see mine.

My husband is furious with her for all of this and thinks she is completely irresponsible and he is pushing me to stop letting her expose the boys to drugs and…and then I defend her because I feel like he’s not being totally fair and we end up fighting and so her ‘medicine’ has even become a problem within my marriage.

We have always been a close knit family who visits each other frequently as we live within walking distance of each others' homes, but I am seriously considering not bringing the boys over any more. They’d hate it and she’d hate it and I’d feel terrible for doing it but I don’t know what else to do if she won’t listen to reason.

Should I let the boys go over when I know they may be exposed to marijuana when they do?

Jody Hansen Says...

Jody Hansen J. Hansen
MA, LPC, NCC, FAPA

Your mother seems to be putting you in a difficult situation. You are having to choose between her need to use medical marijuana and be an advocate for the drug and your need to be a responsible parent and teach your children that drugs can be harmful with the rare exception when under a doctors care.  It seems that your mother is not respecting you at all. I would not allow my children to be alone with my mother since she may smoke in front of the children. An interesting article from the Canadian Cancer organization states that:

In June 2002, a panel of experts brought together by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (an agency of the World Health Organization) determined that second-hand smoke causes cancer. And we know that marijuana and cigarette smoke contain as many as 50 of the same cancer causing substances. For these reasons, experts believe that exposure to second-hand marijuana smoke is at least as harmful as second-hand tobacco smoke. 

Perhaps you can accompany them with the expressed desire that she not smoke while the kids are there. Should she choose to smoke and/or talk about the benefits of marijuana around the boys you should leave without making a fuss. Lay out the ground rules to her ahead of time. Ultimately the decision to visit with her grandchildren is in her court. If she would rather not see her grandchildren, that is her decision and you should not take on the responsibility for her choices. Good luck and stay strong.

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Page last updated Aug 02, 2011

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