No more judg­ing of pot-us­ing par­ents

The Prince George Citizen - - Health - SARAH SZCZYPINSK­I

I’m stressed. Rev­e­la­tory, right? What par­ent isn’t stressed in 2018? The ’80s and ’90s parenting vil­lages that once lov­ingly ush­ered child-mind­ing from one home to an­other have been re­placed with judg­men­tal ar­ti­cles about gluten and screen time. Ca­reer-wise, I live a vari­able free­lance life that in­volves daily pitch­ing and daily re­jec­tion. My fam­ily is sav­ing for my son’s col­lege ed­u­ca­tion while also pay­ing for his preschool tu­ition. As I’m writ­ing this, the cat has vom­ited on my bed. Like I said, I’m stressed.

My hus­band, Dave, likes to help, and so it was on the eve of my birth­day a few weeks ago that he de­cided to bom­bard me with feel­good gifts: a weighted blan­ket, knit­ting sup­plies, choco­late and writ­ers’ ref­er­ence books. “There’s one more thing,” he said be­fore dis­ap­pear­ing to re­trieve some­thing from his car. Like a man with a dark se­cret, he re­turned with a sheep­ish look and a pack­age clutched be­hind his back.

“Take this the way it is in­tended,” he be­gan. “You said that child­birth changed your re­ac­tion to al­co­hol and you don’t like it any­more.”

“Yeah...”

“And you can’t turn your brain off when it comes to the baby and work.”

“Yes.”

“And some­times, you wish you could de­com­press at the end of the day.”

“True.”

“Well,” he said, “do you want to try this?”

He handed me a pack­age that in­cluded three tins of cannabis mints laced with var­i­ous con­cen­tra­tions of CBD and THC. At age 35, I found my­self in the mid­dle of an after-school spe­cial.

I grew up around drug users. I never went in search of “the stash,” but it was al­ways there: be­hind the bread­box on the deep­est kitchen counter, in the back of a closet, in the air that smelled faintly of skunk and pesto sauce. It made me ner­vous. The se­crecy of it, com­bined with a rocky child­hood and the harsh warn­ings from the lo­cal DARE pro­gram, formed my early and deep-rooted opin­ions: drugs were bad, dan­ger­ous and a waste of time. And so too, if only by my di­rect as­so­ci­a­tions, were the peo­ple who used them.

Dave knows this about me, so it was hard to pic­ture him pe­rus­ing the aisles of a Seat­tle dis­pen­sary for my birth­day gift. He de­cided to ap­peal to my an­a­lyt­i­cal na­ture: in true en­gi­neer fash­ion, he launched into a 15-minute sci­en­tific pre­sen­ta­tion about CBD and THC. “That stands for cannabid­iol and tetrahy­dro­cannabi­nol,” he in­structed. The Cliff­sNotes re­vealed that CBD is the se­cond most abun­dant cannabi­noid found in the mar­i­juana plant. Of­ten de­scribed as “nonpsy­choac­tive,” it’s some­times used to treat anx­i­ety and seizures. THC, like al­co­hol and other sub­stances, im­pacts the part of the brain that af­fects de­ci­sion-mak­ing and mo­tor skills. It also has the ben­e­fit of pro­vid­ing that eu­phoric re­sponse that many a stressed par­ent re­lies on after a long day. Be­fore I lost my tol­er­ance for al­co­hol, I was never op­posed to hav­ing a glass or two of wine. The con­cen­tra­tion of CBD and THC in my gifted mints, my sweet hus­band told me, were equiv­a­lent in terms of in­tox­i­ca­tion.

As amused and in­trigued as I was by the pre­sen­ta­tion, I had a ques­tion.

“Do you think I need to get high?”

“No, not at all,” he said. “I just think you de­serve a break.” Okay, then. Sign me up.

The Satur­day fol­low­ing my birth­day was the per­fect op­por­tu­nity. I’ll take one dur­ing nap time, I thought. My son sleeps for around three hours, about as long as it takes for two glasses of wine to en­ter and leave my sys­tem. One lit­tle mint would prob­a­bly last that long. As he and Dave tod­dled up­stairs to read a book, I popped 10 mil­ligrams of a CBD/THC combo and turned on the TV.

Noth­ing hap­pened in the first two hours. Maybe weed just doesn’t af­fect me, I thought. Or maybe years of peripheral ex­po­sure built up my tol­er­ance. Those thoughts went away by hour three, when my legs be­gan to grow and the sofa be­gan to sink. Dave looked on with con­cern. “What?” I asked. “Noth­ing. You OK?”

“Yes. I just re­al­ized my legs are long. Do I seem high?”

“No, you seem like you... with long legs. How are you feel­ing?”

How was I feel­ing? I couldn’t put a word to it, but I can tell you what I wasn’t feel­ing. For the first time in about six years, I wasn’t feel­ing stressed or pre­oc­cu­pied by the fa­mil­iar pull of my Type-A brain – the one that never shuts off. I wasn’t wor­ried about the kid or my ca­reer tra­jec­tory or the house or the col­lege fund or the re­tire­ment fund. I wasn’t feel­ing much of any­thing. I was in the mo­ment. I just was.

The buzz that was meant to end with nap time lasted nine hours, and in­cluded play­ing with my son and watch­ing four con­sec­u­tive hours of Home Im­prove­ment re­runs on Hulu. I was en­thralled.

“This show is so fun,” I said as my son and I snug­gled and munched on hand­fuls of pop­corn.

“We should have two more kids – two more boys!” I told my hus­band.

“Oh yeah,” Dave said. “You’re def­i­nitely high.”

The Lost Satur­day ended with din­ner as usual, fol­lowed by an un­planned nap for me on the sofa. I woke up feel­ing re­laxed and han­gover-free. Mine was not a brief high, and I can’t say that I’ll be pop­ping an­other mint any time soon, es­pe­cially with my three­year-old in tow. But for par­ents with a higher tol­er­ance and more ex­pe­ri­ence, I could see how the oc­ca­sional lozenge might be a use­ful al­ter­na­tive to anti-anx­i­ety meds or “wine o’clock,” both of which carry sim­i­lar ef­fects and – in­ex­pli­ca­bly – half the stigma.

For now, I have a life­time sup­ply of ed­i­bles stashed on the top shelf of my closet, and I don’t feel like a bad per­son – or a bad mom. And it is pos­si­ble that leav­ing the door open to a ther­a­peu­tic mint after my son’s bed­time on a Satur­day night might lead to a more re­laxed Sun­day. I could use more of those.

AP PHOTO

A mar­i­juana plant grows in­side Ul­tra Health’s cul­ti­va­tion green­house in Ber­nalillo, N.M.

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