Pot-smoking parents may face legal problems even where pot is legal

Child protection agencies don't always look kindly on parents getting high in front of their kids

If you watch movies or TV shows from the 50's or even the 60's you will see many a star toting a cigarette in one hand and a stiff drink in the other. After about the mid-70's cinema got healthier and started eliminating the smokes.

Now if you turn on TV you will see shows fully titled "Weeds" (about a mom who sells pot) or people getting high at a party. If you knock on your neighbor's door, depending on your neighborhood, they might ask you to come on in for a toke.

Pot is slowly making its way towards legality in different states and at different levels. Which also translates into parents getting high routinely.

Fully 18% of people ages 26 to 34, and 9% of those 35 to 49, have smoked pot in the last year, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (The data doesn't pinpoint how many of those people have kids, but we know that by age 44, about 80% of women do.)

Marijuana can be medicinal, and some parents are using it like a quick-fix antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication — so does that make it okay? No, says Charles Sophy, a psychiatrist and addiction specialist in Los Angeles.

Mixed feelings

"I have mixed feelings, because I think marijuana probably does have beneficial uses for ADHD and depression, but it hasn't been properly studied," he says. "If it was regulated and labeled by the appropriate agencies, it could be a tool. But I don't prescribe it, because it's not safe or regulated."

Jane West of Colorado where pot is 100% legal, a mother of two, is something of a pot aficionado. She says different varieties help her to be creative and focused, while others help her to relax and sleep. She said she spends about $40 every two weeks on locally-grown, organic weed.

West is the founder of Edible Events, a company that has found a niche throwing elegant, upscale, weed-friendly parties. West recently threw her biggest event yet, a huge, pot-friendly fundraiser for the Colorado Symphony Orchestra at the famed Red Rocks venue that raised over $100,000 for the cash-strapped organization. She puts her pot to good use -- and also to music.

But before you start kicking back and chilling with those kids in the house be aware that while recreational marijuana may be legal where you live, that doesn’t mean Child Protective Services won’t investigate if your neighbor reports you as a pot-using parent.

Child safety

Child safety is a major concern for lawmakers, child welfare agencies and advocates — now more than ever. Legalizing marijuana use doesn’t mean authorities are going to be OK with you smoking a joint in your house while your kids watch television in the next room. When any intoxicant is being used by Mom or Dad, responsible use and child welfare have to be top priorities.

One parent, Mark Wolfe, who wrote an article in offbeatfamilies.com echoed the viewpoint of many parents who smoke pot.

"For me, at least, the benefits clearly outweigh the risks. I find the time I spend with my children to be qualitatively different and simply more fun when I take my medicine (always in private, never in front of them, never too much)," he wrote. "I am able to become a kid again, to see things through my daughters' eyes and experience, if I'm lucky, the wonder of each new game, each new object and sound, as they do."

It doesn't look like pot is going away in this country. More states are expected to legalize it in the coming years, and some economists predict the business of legal marijuana will exceed $10 billion within the next five years.

For now the verdict is out on how pot will affect parenthood, and it looks like you are just going to have to roll with it.

Take a Home Warranty Quiz. Get matched with an Authorized Partner.