The Cody family like to share things round the supper table - jokes, problems and stories. Debby, the mother, has cleared away the spaghetti and wants to know if she should serve dessert. But her husband, Paul, has already decided to roll another joint, the fourth since his wife started cooking.

Their daughter Tracy, 18, watches as he tears a thin strip from a cigarette pack and deftly rolls it into a cylindrical shape, which is inserted in the joint's mouthpiece. 'You should pull the gold bit off. The fumes are dangerous. It's toxic,' Tracy cautions.

Mr Cody laughs. 'And what about the tobacco and dope? OK, I'll smoke healthy joints from now on, I promise.'

The joint is passed around the table from Mrs Cody to Tracy to Anna, 19. The talk is lively and peppered with good-natured teasing. The marijuana is incidental, enjoyed as casually as the wine that is being poured.

The Codys live in a small house in north London. Judging from its plain furnishings, they have little spare cash in their bank account. But they spend about pounds 20 a week on cannabis.

'I smoke most nights if I'm not working and if I have the stuff,' Mr Cody explains.

'I smoke more joints than cigarettes. And sometimes I smoke dope at work,' says Tracy, who is a waitress in a cafe. She is hoping to start a hotel management course in September.

Anna works in a restaurant kitchen. 'She left school without any GCSEs and hasn't got any qualifications to make salads. You know, a degree in salads. She's very upset because that's her speciality. Anna had a difficult school career. She majored in socialising and didn't learn very much. When she was nearly 16 we found out she was profoundly dyslexic. It upsets her still,' Mrs Cody says.

Mr Cody agrees. 'In fact, Tracy was one of the major influences in convincing Anna that it isn't an insoluble handicap. It was tough for all of us. We all shared the problems Anna had at school.'

Their son, Ben, asks if he can go upstairs to his room. He is not forbidden from using marijuana but, at 15, is embarrassed to smoke in front of his parents. He may do his homework or instead smoke a joint by himself.

''Ben has an attitude problem, which we're going to find out about on Thursday, because we're going to a parents' meeting,' Mrs Cody says. 'But we mustn't talk about it. It makes him blush. He's not in trouble. He just doesn't work hard.'

Mr and Mrs Cody started smoking marijuana with their daughters two years ago. 'What's the alternative? You either give up or enter a world of hypocrisy,' Mr Cody says. Recollections differ of the time when the parent-child relationship shifted.

According to Tracy, 'it started off with us smoking upstairs in our bedroom and Mum and Dad coming upstairs and having a little puff.'

'I remember I was ill in bed,' Mrs Cody says. 'They looked after me and kept bringing me joints.'

'I started smoking when I was 13. Then, when I was 14, I started on dope,' Anna says with a giggle. A year later, Tracy followed her older sister's example.

The Codys may be rare in being a family that smokes together, but the chances of their teenage children having acquired the habit themselves are high. A recent survey of Time Out readers found that almost two-thirds had used the drug by the time they were 17.

'I was peripherally aware of the first time I noticed them smoking,' Mr Cody says. 'I can remember coming back from work early and seeing the girls and their mates in the garden with cigarettes. That was a real shock. They were 13 then, or maybe 14. I didn't say anything. I had a recollection of starting my smoking career secretly.'

Anna continues: 'I sat down one night and told Dad that we smoked. I told him because I'd rather not have to sneak around. He didn't say a lot.'

'It was a kind of a role reversal thing,' Mr Cody says. 'Until they were teenagers, they were very anti-smoking. They used to dislike us doing it and tell us off. We were very apologetic.'

'We don't know anyone else who smokes with their children,' Tracy says. 'But our friends don't sit around with their parents and talk about the things we talk about. We're more open. I don't know if that's because we puff


Mr and Mrs Cody are products of the Sixties drug culture. After they married 20 years ago, they continued to use cannabis frequently.

'I can remember them skinning up when I was eight,' Tracy says. Anna nods in agreement. 'When we went on holidays to Cornwall they had mad parties. Everyone was really out of it.

'We've never had friends who didn't smoke,' Mr Cody says. 'It certainly used to be a big thing when all of our peer group were in our thirties. We'd meet up for holidays and weekends and bring all the kids. Certainly one of the things that got me into accepting that Tracy and Anna smoke dope is that friends of ours smoke with their girls. It was a model that seemed to be working fine. They were an all-right family.'

Only once has Mr and Mrs Cody's marijuana habit rebounded on one of their children. It happened to Anna when she was 12. 'A friend told me she had a really bad secret,' she explains. 'Her brother was a bank robber.' Everyone bursts into laughter. 'I said I had a really bad secret, too. She went home and told her mum. Her mum told the headmistress that the parents of her daughter's friends were druggies. Mum and dad had to go to school for a lecture.'

'The school's attitude was that we may have been teenagers together in the Sixties, but we had to take care of what kind of influence it has on our kids,' Mr Cody says. 'But at one point I thought the school was required to inform the police of any allegations of illegal drug-taking. That was a genuine panic attack.'

'It has made me feel uncomfortable that it's illegal,' Mrs Cody says. 'If I were the government, I would legalise all drugs. I should campaign for it. There's so much money being spent on fighting something that is never going to make any headway at all.'

A proposed amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill calls for a fivefold increase to pounds 2,500 in the fine for possession of cannabis. An opposing view, held by some police officers, is that cannabis should be decriminalised and made a misdemeanour, or legalised entirely.

'I worry about the health side a bit,' Anna admits. 'You can feel it in your lungs.'

Tracy agrees. 'I notice it affects your short-term memory. Just forgetting words. It affects the brain cells, doesn't it?'

'I don't think it's been at all a bad thing in our lives,' Mrs Cody says. 'The only thing I regret is mixing it with tobacco. It's a carcinogen, isn't it? I don't think marijuana or hash is. It worries me that Ben smokes at such a young age. It's very hard to say he can't smoke when we smoke at home.

But it just isn't that important that we smoke. We've always done it.'

The family's names have been changed.