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Jen Betterley

Parent Stories | Child Health + Development

"This Week Everything Changed": A Happy, Legal, Pot-Smoking Mom Thanks the Voters

marijuana_leafBy Mary Jane Larsen*

I remember lying on a friend’s prison-made dorm bed in college one night, staring up at a Salvador Dali poster — the one with the melting clock, thanks for asking — and saying, “Man, some day, wouldn’t it be amazing if weed were legal? Like, wouldn’t that be crazy?”

There were vigorous nods of assent from my friends who weren’t too busy eating Reese’s Peanut Butter Puffs straight from the box or arranging action figures to recreate Communist propaganda posters.

We all shared the same dream — the dream stoners everywhere hold in their hearts: to one day enjoy the rights and respect afforded the drinking population. A dream to stand tall, bowl in hand, and emerge from the shadows of shame declaring, “I am a stoner! And that’s OK!”

Stoner that I was, I didn’t stop smoking pot after college, even as I forged a professional path up the corporate ladder, got married, bought a house, and had a baby.

I did stop while I was pregnant. And I never smoked a lot — a small bowl a few times a week, with lapses of weeks or months when it simply didn’t call to me. But I remained a weed smoker through every seminal Hallmark card moment in my life, without consequence.

And I never had a problem. It didn’t interfere with my life or destroy it as the anti-drug people would have me believe.

Marijuana made me a better person and a better mom. If I skipped too many nights I found my anxiety levels rising — my temper was shorter, my patience thinner. The Spaghetti Western toddler melee became too much to bear and I found myself turning to weed in the same hour other mothers poured themselves a tumbler or glass of Parent Rage-be-Gone.

Pot helped peel off the layer of accumulated stress and give me the wherewithal to mop another spilled glass of milk with a Mary Poppins smile.

Acutely aware that it was illegal and somewhat socially taboo, I mostly hid my use, skulking off to parked cars and back stoops to imbibe while all the other parents openly drank in front of their children and each other, comfortable in the shared experience of accepted normalcy.

This week everything changed.

This week, with all the country giddy about the re-election of Barack Obama (or apoplectic in a Karl Rove-esque fit) I watched, pleasantly stoned and teary, as my home state of Washington legalized marijuana for recreational use.

That’s right, recreation. Pleasure. Pure, unblemished, adult fun.

To be fair, Washington had also legalized gay marriage and re-elected my choice for president, so my tears were more general use. But the legalization of pot was my personal dream, no longer deferred.

I had spent the earlier part of the night at an election party where the kids were Hunter S. Thompson levels of high on party madness and all the grownups were drinking beer. It was a normal scene. There was nothing remotely seedy or creepy about it. None of the parents was drunk, and everyone was just having a good time.

I didn’t mention I was high. It seemed unnecessary to inform people of my status in the same way I wouldn’t announce to a crowd that I had PMS or was feeling uncharacteristically horny. No one would crack open a beer and wave it around to make sure everyone knew they were drinking, would they.

But I felt a little guilty, nonetheless. Years of illicit-drug-related shame had conditioned me to think of myself as a second-class citizen, unworthy to brazenly display my weed as if it were an appropriate relaxant.

But come December, I hope the legalization of pot will begin to slowly chip away at the perception of users as degenerates, selling their bodies for Ziploc bags of skunk weed or living forever in their parents’ basements.

I hope parents will come out and admit they like an occasional bowl.

I hope I will have the courage to openly smoke pot in my backyard or at a party in plain view, daring drinkers to look me in the face and criticize me for my drug of choice.

And I hope those same drinkers will look back at me, smile, and reach their beer toward my weed, softly clinking their bottle with my joint as we both say, “Cheers.”

*Mary Jane Larsen, as you might have guessed, is a pseudonym. Because although she can hardly wait, this pot-loving mom technically won't be legal 'til next month.

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