Does Weed Make Better Parents?
If there’s an issue crying out for some serious research, it’s how the prevalence of medical marijuana is altering family dynamics. Now legalized in 17 states and the District of Columbia, weed is smoked by a new and growing segment of the population, not for the high, but to treat assorted medical conditions. One writer in the New York Times claims it makes him a much better parent.
Mark Wolfe, a card-carrying medical marijuana patient, describes the before and after of medicating with the drug and the change in his relationship with his young daughters (three under the age of 5). He suffers from back pain and uses marijuana on the advice of his physician. The before condition is one where the normal stresses of adult life, coupled with bouts of back pain, left him curt and removed from his toddlers’ lives. Now, under the influence of weed, he discovered a bonus – after smoking, he readily engages with his daughters and finds their concerns both interesting and enjoyable.
Wolfe describes it as being more attentive and loving. He recaps the properties of the drug:
"As anyone who inhaled during college can attest, cannabis enhances the ability to perceive beauty, complexity and novelty in otherwise mundane things (grout patterns in your bathroom floor, the Grateful Dead, Doritos), while simultaneously locking you into a prolonged state of rapt attention."
Framed this way, it sounds pretty good. Wolfe names the new state of affairs, "Parental Attention Surplus Syndrome."
While not advocating marijuana for all parents, his anecdote is interesting and at first blush, pretty compelling. However, the same powers from marijuana use he finds valuable now might cause trouble later on. Our little ones don’t stay little forever. Eventually, the weed’s gift of childlike fascination with the everyday won’t match the needs of his growing children. If you’ve ever been cold sober in the presence of someone who is high, you’ll know how frustrating it can be.
What happens when dad is still a stoner and the kids are 5, or 8, or 9? There’s no way to know, of course. Sooner or later, they will outgrow the stage where attention counts more than substance.
Wolfe sounds like a wonderful parent. Just noticing how marijuana use helps his relationships means he’s on the case. There shouldn’t be much worry that he’ll modify his behavior if he finds it becoming detrimental. Good dads are like that. We can only hope he does a follow-up piece in a few years to let us know how it worked out.
For now, it’s worth appreciating his closing comment:
"When I’m rolling around the floor with my giggling daughters, clicking into an easy dynamic of goofy happiness and love, I feel it’s just what the doctor ordered."