As marijuana laws slacken around the country, more and more questions are being raised about when and where it’s appropriate to smoke weed and be high. Is it okay to smoke in the early morning, a couple hours before work? Is it okay to smoke during the work week at all, particularly for high-risk careers like in the medical or construction industries, since weed theoretically impacts you for a couple days after consumption? And is it okay to consume cannabis in front of your children?
All states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use have imposed a minimum age limit of 21, identical to alcohol, which leads many to believe the drug will be treated and regulated as a substance similar to alcohol. But they’re not quite the same thing - plus, there’s the fact that medical marijuana laws do, in various states, allow those under 21 to receive prescriptions for the mostly-illegal product.
So how do medical experts feel about smoking weed in front of children, particularly in an era where it’s becoming increasingly legalized and even prescribed by doctors? The answer isn’t a clear-cut “don’t do it,” but there are a few concerns doctors have about letting parents light up freely.
Second-hand smoke is still unsafe
There is a significant difference between drinking alcohol in front of your child and smoking weed in front of your child. With alcohol, you’re not inherently sharing the substance by consuming it in their presence. With marijuana, the second-hand smoke can affect anybody in the vicinity, including small kids. And since children require smaller doses of anything to be affected, smoking in front of your child will have more of an impact than lighting up next to your friend who doesn’t partake but doesn’t mind that you do.
In addition, many doctors and drug centers have raised concerns about some of the compounds released by smoking marijuana, particularly street marijuana, which is unregulated and could be grown in all sorts of environments. As a result, the secondhand smoke from marijuana could lead to respiratory issues similar to those caused by second-hand smoke from cigarettes.
Weed products change the conversation
So, it’s not really advised that you smoke in front of your kids. That’s all well and good, but what about consuming edibles? What about vaping? What about a litany of other options presented by a new legal industry and endlessly creative entrepreneurs looking for new ways to discreetly transform and consume cannabis?
All of these new products change the conversation, because they completely eliminate the risk of secondhand smoke and turn consuming cannabis into something as individual as drinking a beer is. For many parents, that change alone makes all the difference, and cannabis consumption has never felt more accessible. After all, you can be exceedingly discreet with edibles, with anything from wine to chocolate providing you with the THC buzz you crave.
Of course, then you face two new questions: the first is how do you keep these items from your kids? Weed should be treated with a similar “forbidden” quality as alcohol, but that in and of itself can make it a temptation for children. Parents should take care to store their marijuana products in safe places their children can’t access, rather than leaving them strewn about for curious children to sample.
The other question is whether parents who are on marijuana are capable of taking care of their children. Truthfully, there is no easy answer to this question. Are you capable of parenting after you’ve consumed marijuana? That depends. What does marijuana do to you? How capable are you of parenting after consuming one or two drinks?
For most parents, this will have to be an individual decision based on their own self-judgment. If they believe they remain fully capable and functional while on high to care for their kids - and others around them don’t see any signs of neglect as a result of parenting on marijuana - then it may not be a problem. Others, who may feel that marijuana makes them overly tired or unengaged, should wait until their kids go to bed before lighting up. No, you probably shouldn’t smoke marijuana right in front of your kids. But the conversation is much more complicated now with the addition of edibles. Whether you should be high in front of your kids is a whole separate conversation, and it doesn’t come with a clear-cut answer.