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'I Was a Marijuana Mama'

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Long before I ever thought about getting married or having children, I had an affair; it started when I was away at college in New York, during my freshman year, the day I encountered marijuana. It was my first and only case of love at first sight.

marijuana pipe and blocks spelling POT

Recovering Alcoholic-Addict Mommy: On the contrary, my relationship with booze was tumultuous. The first time I drank, I ended up passed out next to an empty bottle of red wine and tequila (not a great combo) and covered in my own vomit. Over the years, I learned how to drink to get to that yummy buzzed state, but other times I ended up passed out, covered in puke, and not knowing how I got home. Within a few weeks of starting college, I was drinking in the morning before class and hiding bottles in my dorm room. Classic alcoholic behavior -- but I didn't even know it. When alcohol worked for me, it was magical. When I overshot the mark, it was horrific. My boyfriend passed me a joint one night, and it seemed like a benign and logical substitute.

I loved everything about pot -- the look, the smell, the paraphernalia, but most importantly, how it made me feel. After a couple of bong hits, years of tension, anxiety, and perfectionism melted away and I could simply be me. For the first time in my life, I felt truly comfortable in my skin, engaged in the present moment, and joyful. Better yet, there was no nasty hangover, no puking, no blacking out and scandalous behavior. I felt like I had found the solution to my lifelong problem.

Within a few weeks, I was smoking pot all day, every day. My life revolved around pot -- scoring it, smoking it, trying to scrape up the money for it. Because I was smoking nonstop, I needed more and more of it to produce the desired effect. When I was offered cocaine at a club one night, I tried it without a second thought. And of course, I loved it.

For the next two years, I ran around New York -- drunk, stoned, and high as a kite. I did every drug that crossed my path, but I always returned to pot as my old standby. It was the gentle herb that helped me come down off of a frenetic coke high -- it was my medicine when I had a nasty hangover. I had love/hate relationships with alcohol and coke, but pot was my best friend, and one I swore I would never give up.

Inevitably, things spiraled out of control. In the middle of my junior year, I bottomed out and almost died. I had to take a medical leave from school, and I returned back home to get sober, and I stayed sober for the next ten years. I went back to college, got two master's degrees, and began my career. I got married to the man of my dreams and had everything in the world to be grateful for.

After I had my son, I had severe postpartum anxiety, which resulted in insomnia and lack of appetite. I felt so much shame because I loved my son more than anything, but I was such an emotional wreck. I tried different homeopathic and traditional therapies, none of which were effective. I had a therapist who only knew me as a sober and highly functioning woman. She told me her daughter had a prescription for medical marijuana. "It's a nothing drug," my therapist said, "Everyone does it."

This underground trend of the therapeutic and medical community promoting medicinal marijuana is eerily similar to the time when doctors pushed Valium on "stressed" women. The point is not whether it's better or worse than alcohol, because doctors don't prescribe a fifth of Jack for insomnia. And while yes, marijuana should be legal just as cigarettes and alcohol are, because people should be free to choose, it's well established that some people can't handle those things. The legal arguments are getting tangled up with people's flat-out desire to smoke weed, which is understandable, because the fact is, getting high is awesome and people like to believe that things are healthy for them. Some people CAN handle it -- good for them! It just seems like a sign of danger when someone says they're doing it because they need stress relief. My experience is that it did indeed do that, but that there was a cost to pay for suppression over a long period of time.

Within a couple of days of obtaining my prescription, I was back to smoking pot all throughout the day. Only now, I wasn't a single 18-year-old girl running around Manhattan without any real responsibilities. I was a wife, a mom, and I had a place in my community. I completely hid my pot smoking and began to live a double life.

When pot worked for me, it worked beautifully. When I was high, I could cope with the stress of new motherhood. There was something sweet about being stoned and totally in the moment with my baby. I felt like I could handle and even enjoy the relentless and demanding tasks of new motherhood. I rationalized my smoking by telling myself that I had a prescription, I wasn't harming anyone, and pot made me a better and happier mom.

Just like in college, my life began to revolve around weed -- scoring it, smoking it, and maintaining my high. Smoking wasn't nearly as easy as it was back then, when I could lock myself in my dorm room. I had to make sure my son was sleeping, sneak outside, hide in a corner, and quickly smoke as much as possible, hoping my neighbors wouldn't see or smell me.

I was totally addicted. Physically or psychologically is just a matter of semantics, but I believe I was both. This seemingly benign herb had once again taken over my life. My tolerance increased and I needed more and more pot to produce the desired effect, so I began to supplement my pot smoking with pills and alcohol. Suddenly I was back full-force in my addiction. For me, pot is a gateway drug. It alters my mood, stops working, and ultimately leads me to seek out more powerful and effective substances.

I bottomed out again and came within millimeters of losing everything, all because I bought the "harmless and medicinal" propaganda. The stakes were much higher this time than when I first got sober at 20. The fact that I evaded child protective services or any real consequences is a product of sheer luck -- there are many women who have used drugs just the way I did and have completely lost their families because of their addiction.

I am not going to lie -- being a clean and sober mama isn't always easy. There are days when I am excruciatingly uncomfortable and would give anything to check out, just for an hour or two. My children challenge me on so many levels, and without any buffers, motherhood can feel overwhelming. But I remind myself that my kids deserve a clean and sober mom who is truly present. I believe that my sobriety offers them a realistic world view, as they have the opportunity to experience my humanness without the edges being hazed by the influence of marijuana.

Do I miss it? Hell yeah! Do I wish I was someone who could moderate my marijuana usage and not let it take over my life? Undoubtedly. Weed is great, totally great, just maybe not compatible with complex tasks, like operating a nuclear plant or raising kids, and definitely not with people who tend towards addiction. Today I embrace the opportunity to teach my children healthier forms of self-soothing through example.

Photos courtesy of Michael Johnson


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52 comments so far | Post a comment now
Mel June 30, 2009, 3:16 PM

When you have children its time to grow up and leave your imature habits behind you luckily this mother eventually figured that out. For the mothers who have to smoke in order to deal with their children why did you bother having children in the first place… As a teenager when I was old enough to realize my father smoked I lost some respect for him that day the way your children will probly feel towards you becouse eventualy they will figure it out. As a parent arent you suppose to live by example? It shows a great lack of irresponsibility as a parent to do something you know is illegal. What is that teaching your children. How would you feel if your children picked up the habit? The fact is their are alot of people who have addictive personalities and your child may be one of them. How would you feel if you set your child up to be a future failure?

Mel June 30, 2009, 3:22 PM

Oops! Sorry everybody to many clicks thats my bad habit. He! He!

HB June 30, 2009, 4:03 PM

I think the author was very brave to tell her story. In fact, it is inspiring. She was able to tell her story of addiction and how she learned, by making hard choices, how to be a person she can be proud of and most importantly, she learned the type of mother that her kids need her to be.

Anonymous June 30, 2009, 4:16 PM

I’m happy that this mother was able to turn her life around for her kids. Her kids will thank her for it one day.

Anonymous June 30, 2009, 4:39 PM

Propaganda against pot. This is bull roar.

Anne Morris June 30, 2009, 5:40 PM

That’s a nicely written piece and thank you for sharing your perspective. I too am a “pot mom” but unlike you I didn’t use it “all-day/every-day”. I limited my use to one or two hits at a time, usually on weekends.

It is true that cannabis is benign and has many great health benefits. These are a couple of the reasons it is illegal. The pharmaceutical companies cannot copyright cannabis, so they can’t make money off it. They know that if it were legal, people would use it and wouldn’t need their Ibuprophen, Aspirin, Lexapro, Ambien, or alcohol or cigarettes.

The truth of the matter is, marijuana is the only herb we need to cure our ills. It’s not physically addictive. It doesn’t cause fights. It doesn’t affect motor coordination. You need less of it to get the benefits. It smells wonderful. And you don’t have to smoke it! In fact, it’s MUCH better when simmered in butter or cooking oil and used in foods.

Anyway, thanks for your story. To everyone who reads, please vote for politicians that support ending prohibition. We must end the hypocrisy.

LEGALIZE. TAX. REGULATE. Get the control out of the hands of the violent cartels an into the hands of people who care.

Anne Morris June 30, 2009, 5:43 PM

That’s a nicely written piece and thank you for sharing your perspective. I too am a “pot mom” but unlike you I didn’t use it “all-day/every-day”. I limited my use to one or two hits at a time, usually on weekends.

It is true that cannabis is benign and has many great health benefits. These are a couple of the reasons it is illegal. The pharmaceutical companies cannot copyright cannabis, so they can’t make money off it. They know that if it were legal, people would use it and wouldn’t need their Ibuprophen, Aspirin, Lexapro, Ambien, or alcohol or cigarettes.

The truth of the matter is, marijuana is the only herb we need to cure our ills. It’s not physically addictive. It doesn’t cause fights. It doesn’t affect motor coordination. You need less of it to get the benefits. It smells wonderful. And you don’t have to smoke it! In fact, it’s MUCH better when simmered in butter or cooking oil and used in foods.

Anyway, thanks for your story. To everyone who reads, please vote for politicians that support ending prohibition. We must end the hypocrisy.

LEGALIZE. TAX. REGULATE.

Get the control out of the hands of the violent cartels an into the hands of people who care.

.

Lynn June 30, 2009, 6:03 PM

I’m a mom who has never smoked anything as my parents were smokers who died of lung cancer/emphysema, but my brother started with marijuana which he grew and sold, but he never could work, and he now appears to be brain damaged as he cannot remember or hold a thought. My parents’ habit was terrible, but they were productive members of society unlike my brother. Now my son is addicted to marijuana because he didn’t listen to me and hid his habit until it overwhelmed his personality. Marijuana is different from tobacco because you get stoned and it is a driving hazard. Your kids can get taken away from you if you abuse marijuana. Many drugs, legal and illegal, can cause addiction, and dependence, so it is better not to use drugs of any kind, especially when you have children. If you only use marijuana occasionally, it means you can take it or leave it, so why not just leave it? It is selfish to want something to be legalized when it causes so much harm to many people and you don’t really need to have it. It is not good for you anyway, smoking anything is harmful to health, and it has other negative effects, especially on teenagers.

Nell June 30, 2009, 6:28 PM

You know what I say to those who say Marijuana is so bad? Too much of ANYTHING is bad for you. Moderation is the key. Do you know that “they” are now trying to say that the approved maximum of Tylenol is bad for you? At this rate, even IT will eventually be behind the pharmacy counter. No one looks twice when a mother has a glass of red wine.

Patrick Osio June 30, 2009, 6:55 PM

WOW, not one comment on the legality or law breaking going on - for the last few years the mantra of the anti-immigrant sector was “what part of illegal do you not understand?” So what part of illegal is not understood as regards drug usage? Are we or are we not a nation of laws - or is it that we are but not of law abiders.
Real people are being killed in the US, Mexico, Canada and elsewhere because they are trying to stop this and other poisons from coming in to our country - all drug users are accomplises to the killings and funding drug cartels to continue their quest for a drug using America.
As for Moms - come on, we have a generation of high kids based on what they find and use in your medicine cabinets - are you really that naive as to think that kids will do as they see not as they are told? Do we have to have another generation of citizens that are seek remedy with drugs and utter disregard for laws?
All of you get off your high horses, simply go back to basics - OBEY THE LAWS until they are changed.

Anonymous July 1, 2009, 12:16 AM

I am truely impressed at how many people can’t seem to function in their lives without getting inebriated, be it through legal or illegal means. I guess an amazing amount of people just don’t have coping skills.

messymom July 1, 2009, 12:49 AM

you show that us moms can go through hell and come back! i applaud you- your frankness- you are a brave mom. Keep up the recovery.

Gary July 1, 2009, 4:02 PM

CLEARY Alcohol is the gateway, not the cannibis. Don’t blame the weed because you, obviously, have no self control.

Damaeus July 2, 2009, 2:25 PM

The response to your story is obvious. It wasn’t pot that was the problem; it was society’s view of it and the rules against it that caused all the problems. Since it’s illegal, people think it’s evil, and that mindset smeared off on you and affected your life. If it had been legal, you wouldn’t have had nearly as many problems.

deaddrift July 8, 2009, 5:31 PM

@michelle on the first page: congratulations on your exceptional attainments in higher education, if they are real. I feel, however, that it should be pointed out to you that you are a judgmental, narrow-minded, sanctimonious, oblivious twit.

You DID ask Nell for her thoughts. Your first comment directs a question to her. Reread what you wrote. You followed that up with insult and calumny.

Maybe ALL children, yours included if you have any, are born to parents that live lives other than those of perfect saintliness. Maybe flinging poo like this is some kind of internet monkey cage isn’t the best way to spend YOUR time; where are YOUR kids while you’re expressing your condemnation of strangers on anonymous forums? Should we take your children away because of your obvious anger issues?

Just a thought, sweetie. Glass houses, and all… just like Nell was trying to say.

mike August 10, 2009, 3:53 PM

It’s good that the author of this author can distinguish between whether she can handle marijuana and whether it should be illegal. I wish her luck and perseverance in dealing with her tendency to addiction.
Alcohol vs. marijuana? Alcohol is so much more deadly and dangerous there is utterly no comparison. The law is a pathetic joke.

mike August 10, 2009, 4:04 PM

Yikes, “author of this author” instead of “author of this article” in my last post. Could be the weed. But as long as my logic is sound, I can live with occasional defective proofreading.

Patrick Osio says “All of you get off your high horses, simply go back to basics - OBEY THE LAWS until they are changed.” Not gonna happen. Laws that treat alcohol users as superior to cannabis users are pieces of garbage and will get exactly as much respect as they deserve. Alcohol supremacism over cannabis defecates on the solemn pledge of liberty and justice for all. It’s nothing more than common bigotry.

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