Like the parent of any toddler, Jared wants to keep certain things out of reach. Alcohol is stored in a cupboard. The household cleaners are safely behind childproof locks. And the marijuana is stashed high on a shelf in a lockbox.
Evenings fall into a familiar routine. Family dinner. Baths. Then, after his daughters are snuggled in for the night, Jared slips on to the back deck of their flat and smokes a now perfectly legal bowl of weed.
“It relaxes me. And it helps me get perspective to see the big picture. I find that enjoyable,” said Jared, a rare parent in the District of Columbia who was willing to talk openly about his marijuana use. He asked that his full name not be used because he’s concerned about the impact on his children.
Jared said he and other pot-smoking parents he knows have one ironclad rule: they don’t smoke in front of their kids. Yet what will happen once the kids figure out Dad’s on the balcony getting high?
Where cannabis is and isn't legal
Where cannabis is and isn't legal
Having been reclassified in 2009 from a Class C to a Class B drug, cannabis is now the most used illegal drug within the United Kingdom. The UK is also, however, the only country where Sativex – a prescribed drug that helps to combat muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis and contains some ingredients that are also found in cannabis - is licensed as a treatment
2/12 North Korea
Although many people believe the consumption of cannabis in North Korea to be legal, the official law regarding the drug has never been made entirely clear whilst under Kim Jong Un’s regime. However, it is said that the North Korean leader himself has openly said that he does not consider cannabis to be a drug and his regime doesn’t take any issue with the consumption or sale of the drug
MARCEL VAN HOORN/AFP/Getty Images
In the Netherlands smoking cannabis is legal, given that it is smoked within the designated ‘smoking areas’ and you don’t possess more than 5 grams for personal use. It is also legal to sell the substance, but only in specified coffee shops
Although in some states of America cannabis has now been legalised, prior to the legalisation, police in the U.S. could make a marijuana-related arrest every 42 seconds, according to US News and World Report. The country also used to spend around $3.6 billion a year enforcing marijuana law, the American Civil Liberties Union notes
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
Despite cannabis being officially illegal in Spain, the European hotspot has recently started to be branded, ‘the new Amsterdam’. This is because across Spain there are over 700 ‘Cannabis Clubs’ – these are considered legal venues to consume cannabis in because the consumption of the drug is in private, and not in public. These figures have risen dramatically in the last three years – in 2010 there were just 40 Cannabis Clubs in the whole of Spain. Recent figures also show that in Catalonia alone there are 165,000 registered members of cannabis clubs – this amounts to over 5 million euros (£4 million) in revenue each month
In December 2013, the House of Representatives and Senate passed a bill legalizing and regulating the production and sale of the drug. But the president has since postponed the legalization of cannabis until to 2015 and when it is made legal, it will be the authorities who will grow the cannabis that can be sold legally. Buyers must be 18 or older, residents of Uruguay, and must register with the authorities
Despite the fact that laws prohibiting the sale and misuse of cannabis exist and is considered a habit only entertained by lower-income groups, it is very rarely enforced. The occasional use of cannabis in community gatherings is broadly tolerated as a centuries old custom. The open use of cannabis by Sufis and Hindus as a means to induce euphoria has never been challenged by the state. Further, large tracts of cannabis grow unchecked in the wild
In 2001, Portugal became the first country in the world to decriminalize the use of all drugs, and started treating drug users as sick people, instead of criminals. However, you can still be arrested or assigned mandatory rehab if you are caught several times in possession of drugs
9/12 Puerto Rico
Although the use of cannabis is currently illegal, it is said that Puerto Rico are in the process of decriminalising it
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The US state became the first in the country to legalise marijuana in January 2014. In February 2015, President Obama recently said he expects to see more states "looking into" legalisation. However, it is illegally to grow more than six cannabis plants and to possess more than 28 grams of the drug
Oaksterdam in Oakland, California, is the world's only university dedicated to the study and cultivation of cannabis. If you are court in California with anything up to an ounce of cannabis, you will be fine $100, but you will not get a criminal record, nor will you have to appear in court
Cannabis is grown in the wild and has been used to treat conditions such as gout and malaria. But, officially the substance is illegal to consume, possess and sell
More than half the country supports legalising marijuana, according to polls. But it’s this question – what about the kids? – that provokes unease, even outrage, and keeps many pot-using parents uncertain about how to navigate the “new normal” of legalised marijuana.
The stakes are high. Even where the drug is legal, parental smoking can be considered as a factor in child-neglect cases, just like alcohol. As a result, some parents have been accused of endangering their children and had them taken away by Child Protective Services.
There are fears that if parents reveal their use, teens will be more likely to give it a try, a phenomenon supported by research. And although the science is still fairly new, some studies have found heavy marijuana use in adolescence can permanently disrupt key networks in the developing brain associated with memory and processing information.
“For parents, this is a confusing time. If they’re users, how are they going to talk to their kids?” said Matthew Kuehlhorn, the founder of Community Thrive, a Colorado organisation that helps to facilitate such talks to prevent youth use. “This is a social-culture change we haven’t seen the likes of since alcohol prohibition ended.”
Kathy Henderson, who leads a Parents Against Pot effort in Washington, said she has noticed there is already a higher incidence of children “walking around the street openly smoking marijuana and thinking it’s OK”.
Jared said he doesn’t want his daughters to use marijuana as minors but he plans to be straight with them when they’re older. “When they get to the age of 21, and can make a legal choice, they need to know, honestly. ‘What’s alcohol like? What’s it going to do to me? What are the risks? And what’s cannabis like?’”
In time, he hopes smoking a joint will be as unremarkable for parents as cracking open a beer at the end of the day. But that’s not today. Even Jared, who made the decision to “out” himself as a pot smoker because he works for the pro-legalisation Marijuana Policy Project, is nervous. He hastens to say that he never smokes so much that he couldn’t quickly respond to an emergency.
Advocates for legalising marijuana say there are more pot-smoking parents than most people think. The Pew Research Centre reports 47 per cent of Americans have tried it.
Candace Junkin, the co-founder of the International Women’s Cannabis Coalition, is a mother-of-four and grandmother-of-three who lives in Maryland, where medical marijuana has been legal since 2014. She suffers from trigeminal neuralgia, a condition that causes excruciating shooting pains in her face. In 2002, she found marijuana eased the pain and began smoking or vaporising up to six times a day.
At first, she was so ashamed that she hid her use from her children. “But over the years, the kids started to see that when Mommy was hurting, she would go in her bedroom, and she would come out and be better,” Ms Junkin said. None of her children, the youngest of whom is 17, smokes pot. “One is about to go to college. Another is about to graduate. One owns her own business,” she said. “For a pothead mom, I think I’ve done OK.”
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