When it Comes to States With Legal Marijuana, Parents Need New Scripts

By Claire Kaufmann | December 15, 2015

Just yesterday I came upon this archived article from the Seattle Times.  While the article is older, its message couldn't be more relevant. Authored by Jonathan Martin, the piece features mom Natalie Singer-Velush, (Editor of Parent Map magazine.) Natalie lives in Washington state where cannabis is legal. Natalie recalls a disappointing trip to the beach where she sat down-wind of some rowdy marijuana smokers.  Natalie explains in the article: “I voted to approve legal pot…(and am half-kicking myself now), because what’s best for the state might not turn out to be best for my own family…We have a collective societal responsibility…to keep young people safe and healthy even when they aren’t our children,” and to act “with common courtesy in public.” I couldn’t agree more, but oy, is she missing the point.

What Martin and Singer-Venush fail to articulate is that the onus of “collective responsibility” doesn’t lie solely with the consumers of marijuana; it lays with us parents as well.  As marijuana becomes legal, we as parents have to evolve our on dialogue about cannabis.  Trust me, I used to squirm too, but we have to get over it.  It’s time to evolve beyond the fear and turn experiences with irresponsible use into teachable moments. Our children will be the first to grow up in an environment where cannabis is legal. If we don’t explain what responsible use is, who will?

For example, in this situation, if someone was smoking marijuana at the beach and it was bothering you.  Instead of pointing fingers at those who you deem as irresponsible, feel free to say to your children, “See those people over there, they are breaking the law.  You can’t smoke marijuana in a public place because it is not showing respect to your neighbors. Remember cannabis is something you have to use in a grown-up way. They are not using cannabis in a good way.”  Then move, or don’t.

People are always going to make bad choices. Yes, smoking marijuana in a public place near children is inconsiderate and a violation of Washington state law.  And yes, absolutely new laws come with new responsibilities. But they also come with new conversations.

It’s a new world, people. There is no going back. The responsibility of having legal marijuana comes down to not just the consumers, but the parents and the non-smokers as well.

About Claire Kaufmann - I’m a mom of three, an MBA and I have worked in cannabis for nearly four years. I currently work for BDS Analytics, a cannabis business intelligence and market share tracking service.  I am also the co-founder of HAPPY Parties, a boutique cannabis party and education company based in Portland, Oregon.