Pubdate: Tue, 19 Sep 2017
Source: Sun Times, The (Owen Sound, CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Owen Sound Sun Times
Author: Michelle Hauser
Page: A5


When it comes to my son's possible future use of marijuana, I'm not
sure if "It's legal, mom!" will have a material impact on my response.

I have imagined this conversation, and others like it, about life's
many potentially addicting substances and behaviours -- alcohol,
prescription and other drugs, gambling, speeding, texting and driving,
pornography, sugar, etc. -- because I know the kind of world we live
in today and that the values of the majority are less and less aligned
with the old-fashioned values espoused at my craggy old kitchen table.
Even when those values feel like a fruitless cause that might better
have been taken up in a cloistered community, I try not to give in to
pessimism. There's what happens out there, in the world, and there's
what happens in here, within the walls of my home, and I am happy to
do my part to contribute to a climate of uncomfortable difference
between the two.

Managing the fallout from the legalization of marijuana, and making
sure it doesn't wreak havoc on my son's developing brain, will be an
inside job.

It begins with accepting that the night I discover my son smoked pot
will most likely happen. And as much as I will want to blame the
Trudeau government, I will have to face the reality that such a
conversation was probably unavoidable long before legalization.

This doesn't mean surrender, by the way. My best effort to promote
prevention and abstinence today will still be a best effort. But I'd
be an arrogant fool to think my family, in this highly permissive age,
can escape the inevitability of such an encounter.

And so I imagine that the right words will be helpful someday, and I
lay awake at night trying to come up with them, working on the script
I'll need when my son is older.

Strangely, in my imagined pot play I'm always wearing rollers, even
though I never go to bed with rollers in my hair, and a pink chenille
bathrobe, even though I don't own a pink chenille bathrobe. Joe has
come home late. He smells funny and is acting funny while tearing
through the pantry looking for pita chips.

I start asking questions to which I already know the answers.
Eventually there is yelling and blustering enough to awake my husband
and he, too, stumbles into the kitchen in his blue bathrobe (that
one's for real) and then someone (I can't say who) has the sense to
put the kettle on and eventually we all calm down, take our seats in
the kitchen, sip tea and talk.

If you can wade through all the tool kits and PDFs online about
helping children and youth deal with drugs, legal or otherwise, and
all the potentially toxic non-human friends who will try to make their
acquaintance, talking -- starting some kind of dialogue and keeping it
going -- seems to be the best remedy. My son is only 10 years old.
Conversations about drugs feel like a long way away, so right now my
one-act play only has cast and location. When I try to write beyond
the aforementioned Trudeau Exemption, rollers, bathrobes and tea,
though, the scene immediately gets bogged down by a tennis match of
contradictory and obfuscating facts -- the same one that has the rest
of the world, including the journalistic community, tied up in knots.

It's a little frightening, actually, that as a writer I could very
easily exploit the startling lack of consensus about the dangers and
risks of marijuana and write an anti-pot column, citing credible
scientific sources that confirm my bias against it. And yet just as
easily, on the very same day, I could write an equally convincing
pro-pot, nothing to see here, column that is also science-based. The
lack of agreed-upon truth is troubling, as is the cultural tendency to
invoke binge-drinking statistics in an attempt to deflect or, worse
still, silence the conversation about the harmful effects of marijuana
on young brains. Binge-drinking is a huge problem, but let's deal with
that as its own problem. If marijuana disproportionately impacts the
teen brain, then for our kids' sake let's get the facts and the record

My son is a smart kid and will probably be an even smarter teen and
will likely come to our kitchen table someday armed with a mash-up of
blurred truth about why pot isn't a big deal. How we will find common
ground about the dangers of marijuana when conflicting science would
keep us worlds apart scares me even more than the "It's legal, mom!"
defence. Ultimately, my script will need to include some larger wisdom
to guide the narrative, to move us beyond the tennis match into more
meaningful territory. It will have to be a no-holds-barred dialogue
that incorporates personal history and brutal honesty about my own
family's reckoning with the realities of recreational substances and
addiction - primarily alcohol and food. Whatever words I use, in the
end they will be well researched and they will be my own. Like I said,
keeping my kid drug free is an inside job.

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Michelle Hauser is a freelance writer who lives in Napanee with her 
husband, Mark, and their son, Joseph. She can be reached at  ---
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