Leo Terbieten MFT
Happy “Weed Day”. The birth of 420 dates back to the early 70s, when students of San Rafael High designated this as the ritualistic time to smoke dope after class. 420 has since become code for marijuana and more specifically getting loaded.
In commemoration of this high holy day I’m presenting an interview I conducted with one of the original 420 group from Marin County, Duane “Sky Dog” Fictitious.
LT. Hi Duane thanks for agreeing to speak with me today.
D. No prob
LT. Looking back has marijuana culture changed much since the 70s?
D. Yeah totally. The weed is ten times stronger and twenty times more expensive. It’s more like taking acid than smoking dope.
LT. Can you elaborate?
D. Pot nowadays just gets you a lot more loaded than pot in the 70’s. Most of what’s out there is one hit s_ _ _!
LT. Does that concern you?
LT. How has your life changed since your high school 420 days?
D. Wow, I got married and had a son, even have a grandkid on the way.
LT. Did smoking dope affect your parenting style?
D. Naw I don’t think so. I don’t really remember. I was pretty a mellow but sometimes I’d get annoyed.
LT. Did smoking dope increase your closeness with your significant other and your child?
D. Like I said I was pretty mellow. I just did my own thing and didn’t hassle them too much. I liked to play around with him. I took him to Disneyland after me and my wife split-up that was a trip.
LT. Were you high during the trip to Disneyland?
D. Yeah I like to get high when I can.
LT. How much did you smoke when your son was growing up?
D. Not every day but definitely on the weekends.
LT. How is your relationship with your son now?
D. We talk some. I’m his old man after all. He’s got this weird idea that I wasn’t there for him growing up which is complete bull. I’m sure he got that from his mom who hates my guts.
LT. How were you not there for him?
D. I was, that’s just it. I worked from home and was around all the time. He says it’s because I was loaded all the time but like I say that’s his mom talking.
This tongue in cheek interview represents some of the issues that arise in light of marijuana’s new legal or virtually legal status. It’s not unusual, at least in California, for a parent to produce a medical marijuana “compassionate use” card when allegations of marijuana use are made during a custody case. These parents believe that having the ability to procure pot legally absolves them from any negative consequences of their chronic use.
One could argue that marijuana is safer and less addictive than alcohol or even tobacco for that matter. Thousands of people die from alcohol and tobacco use each year. Many of those killed are innocent victims. Additionally the car crashes and violent attacks both domestic and otherwise associated with alcohol are for the most part absent in pot smokers. The lung cancer and other health risks associated with tobacco are much less common in marijuana users.
A large body of evidence does point to the damage that pot smoking can do to the developing brain, however. Young people should not smoke marijuana or ingest marijuana infused food or drinks. Obviously this applies to second hand marijuana smoke as well. Some parents self-medicate via chronic pot use. Marijuana may have medicinal utility but not in the realm of serious psychiatric disorders. Pot will not help parents suffering from mood disorders, character disorders or psychosis.
Most importantly from a parenting standpoint, legality notwithstanding, chronic marijuana smoking is not conducive to good parenting. The reason for this is that the psychoactive properties of pot disconnect the smoker from their emotional life. Disconnecting from uncomfortable emotions is a main attribute of pot smoking. When you tune out from your emotions, however, you become out of touch with your authentic self. Not only are you unable to empathize with yourself when you’re high but you can’t tune in to your kids emotional needs.
Emotional attunement is a basic need of children and pot blocks that vital function. Children and others in your life can tell when you’re not available emotionally regardless of how adept you are at “functioning” under the influence. When a parent stays high consistently they, like Sky Dog, become an absentee parent.