Adults Smoking Marijuana around Babies & Children

Parent Q&A

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  • We’re wondering if others have seen an increase in smoking weed in Berkeley since the legalization of do you deal with it when people smoke near children in public areas? We’ve seen a lot of it on the playground, and even right outside daycare, but not sure how receptive people are to being told that we’d rather they go somewhere else.  

    I can't speak to Berkeley, but I can speak to other communities in the Bay Area - the increase in smoking weed in public places has become a real nuisance.

    It's important to know the laws around cannabis use. I'm including a link to a concise information sheet which clearly notes:

    You cannot use cannabis within 1,000 feet of a school, day care center, or youth center while children are present."…

    When my young adult and weed buddies took to smoking on the curb outside my house, I printed out the information sheet, went outside and told them, "Hey, nice day isn't it? Because I care about you, I want you to be aware of the laws around cannabis use. I'm not going to call the cops on you, but I can't promise my neighbors won't." I handed a sheet to each of them. A couple of them read it. They moved along.

    Weed is legal, but illegal to smoke it in public. Pretend it's a cigarette and ask: "can you please smoke 35 feet away from this entrance? from this group of people? The smoke bothers me." If they tell you no... you can say: "Did you know it's actually illegal to smoke weed in public?"

    I have seen the same thing.  There are second hand smoke laws but try and get them enforced.  It is of my opinion the people who do this just feel entitled and just don't care about the rights and well being of others.  I think this is more a change in the attitude of society morals than the legalization of marijuana. 

    Smoking is prohibited in Berkeley public parks, and state law says that any legislation related to smoking also applies to tobacco, cannabis, and vaping. So if you're in a public park / movie theater / restaurant / schoolyard: whatever it is, you can't smoke it.

    The few times I have asked folks not to smoke I can't say it has been gracefully received, but I find it helpful to frame my comments in terms of smoking rather than in terms of weed. And I think that the legalization of recreational weed is recent enough that sometimes people just don't know what the restrictions are.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Pot smoking in or near tot play areas in Berkeley

May 2012

I know this is rather sensitive topic for many, but I am feeling a great deal of unease with what I see as a dramatic shift in many of the parks where we take our little toddler to play in the afternoon here in Berkeley. It has not failed that in the last several times we have visited some of the parks there are people close nearby (or even inside) the tot lot smoking pot. It is usually a large group of people many times teenagers who light up a few joints and pass them around, but in a couple of cases (at Codornices, and in both tot lots at Ohlone) it was the parents/guardians with their child playing nearby. I have nothing against smoking pot itself, but I am dismayed that it seems so prevalent and in the open as a habit in public places and in particular so close to where small children play.

Just to check my assumptions I noticed that I have RARELY seen anyone smoking a cigarette in the park (the tobacco kind) near or inside a tot lot and so far only once or twice someone drinking themselves into a stupor and sharing the effects with everyone nearby.

I don't try to make a big deal out of it -- a couple of times we quietly left the park when the smokers were either too close to the tot play area, or inside it. Now, we scan to see who is inside or close by and what they are doing before we enter a park. Something feels wrong about this.

I don't have any cultural discomfort with this but the smell is rather off-putting and I am a little skeptical of what it does to small children (much like what cigs, car exhaust, etc.)

Is smoking banned in Berkeley parks? Is this considered a type of smoking? What can one do? I don't want to call the police every time I encounter this not in the least because 6 out of the last 10 visits would have resulted in calling to report this. I don't want to do anything to radicalize the issue in any way between staunch proponents and opponents of pot.

Anyone have a similar experience, or has some wisdom on this? Is this something that exists in other cities nearby? Any suggestions on what to do?

State and local regulations are both pretty clear that restrictions on smoking cigarettes also apply to anything else one might smoke. So if you see ''no smoking'' signs in any public area, they apply to both tobacco and pot. Medical marijuana legislation is ambiguous on many issues, but not this one.

I tried to find more information on smoking in public parks in Berkeley, and I found conflicting information. Berkeley's ordinance on public smoking specifically mentions parks:

And this page of the City web site says smoking is prohibited in parks:

This page doesn't, though:

My advice would be to look for ''no smoking'' signs... if you see them, you are well within your rights to ask people not to smoke. Your opinion -- or the smokers' -- on medical marijuana needn't enter into it. such a Berkeley question

Call the police, making the call very audible from your mobile. The police will not likely come, but the smokers will get the msg.

If you know their parents, tell them.

If that doesn't do the trick, video them, and post it on YouTube. Tag them if you know their names. Share the video with their parents, and post it on all your social networks. Be sure to send it to all members of the Berkeley High administration and school board. anon

What!? I enjoy a little reefer responsibly, but in a tot area? That is totally unacceptable!!

I live near Codornices park and i will gladly walk through the tot area and ask/tell the kids to take the reefer into the woods, up the path.... geez...

the non-emergency number for Berkeley Police is 510-981-5900.

i will be interested in what others think as well. Citizen at Large

What's your real concern here? Are people smoking and then acting inappropriately toward the children? If so, I could see why you are concerned. But if they're smoking and then minding their own business, what's the problem? Are you truly concerned about second hand smoke? If so, you should probably move to the country where they have good air quality. Your kids breathe in a lot of harmful substances in the city, pot smoke is propbably one of the most benign. It sounds to me like you're making a big deal about nothing. I'd be much more concerned about people getting really drunk and then trying to interact with the kids than people who are minding their own business and smoking a little pot. Please relax

According to the City of Berkeley website smoking is prohibited in the parks. I visit the playground in Ohlone near McGee frequently and have never encountered anyone smoking in the playground, although sometimes people sitting at the picnic tables nearby smoke. If those areas are not clearly marked with signs indicating that smoking is prohibited then they probably need them and you could take it up with the parks. If the smoke bothers you and inhibits your enjoyment of the park, you should feel free to ask other people not to smoke (or as I would probably do, discretely call the non-emergency police number and hope that they handle it). Most parents that I know would not want their children around smoke.

As an aside: my husband noted that Ohlone was busier than usual the last couple of Saturdays and upon further discussion he and I wondered if some of the homeless/travelers that usually are camped out on Telegraph have been displaced by the recent crack down on loitering on Telegraph may have moved to Ohlone park. toddler mom

Walk right up to them and ask them to stop! Its illegal and no better than smoking a cigarette. Don't call the cops, just say ''I'd appreciate it if you didn't smoke around my kids and in a kids park.'' They will be ashamed. If they don't stop, make a scene. On an aside, I weep for their poor kids. no smoking for me.

Smoke is bad for your lungs, regardless of what's burning. Women who cook on wood fires in developing countries get emphysema from wood smoke. Hopefully it's local ordinance, but even if it's not, it's common courtesy not to smoke in public areas for small children. I think it's entirely reasonable to ask smokers to move away from an area with lots of small children. No need to comment on what they're smoking, they just shouldn't be doing it around little kids. nonsmoker

Playdates while mother is high on weed

March 2012

My 10 year old daughter has a friend whose mother smokes pot on a daily basis. They live in the duplex next to us and we smell it at all hours of the day. She is frequently asking for my daughter to come play at her place even at times when we know she has just smoked (or smoked multiple times) that day. Other interactions with her make us feel she is an emotionally unstable person in general, but not unsafe for our daughter to be around. She has told us she smokes in front of her daughter and sees no problem with it. We've never directly addressed the situation, since it may disturb the general peace in our duplex if she should respond defensively or get offended (as she has in the past with another unrelated situation). I'd like to hear from other parents in the Berkeley community about how they would handle this situation. Thanks,
-We're not THAT Berkeley.

I would not let my child continue these playdates. I'm a pretty liberal person about drugs (don't do them but have friends who do). But the fact that this mother never asked you first if you were OK with it is disturbing. Also the part that worries me most is the ''emotionally unstable'' description. I just got out of a four year friendship with a very caring kind and ''safe'' person who adored my son and I felt he was in good hands with her. Yet I knew she was emotionally unstable. You don't know what kind of harm-even if not physical--can come from unstable people. . This person basically snapped and unleashed a torrent of irrational hurtful words on me. Luckily she didn't inflict the damage on my child. But that could have happened. I've made a vow not to get too close with emotionally unstable people--or to let them too much into my child's life--no matter nice they can be, to protect myself and my child, from the kind of intangible harm I hadn't really considered before. Protective Mom

Secondhand smoke??? I would tell the mother you don't want your child around any kind of smoke. Also, not to scare you, but if this mother is so irresponsible as to smoke weed around her child (and yours), she might offer some to your child. Or the children might decide to try it from her stash in the next few years -- middle school is only a year or so away. What makes your situation so difficult is living next-to this family -- I can understand the need to tread carefully, while at the same time, protecting your child. anon

Piece of cake Berkeley: avoid her! One day, when you are up for it, and she's not stoned, tell her it makes you uncomfortable - especially smoking around kids. Tell her you'd feel the same way if it were cigarettes as both are addictive substances and not something you want your kid to see as an OK thing.

My brother was a pot addict while raising his kids and I can tell you that she most definitely sounds like an addict and addicts are not reliable. At best, your kid is not being watched while in her care. At worst, you're sending the message to your kid that this is all OK.

Last - you need to talk to your child about this. She knows something is up so don't keep her wondering. Good luck! Debbie L.

I'm unclear from your post what your question is. Would you let your daughter go over there to play if this neighbor didn't smoke pot? She sounds like she's being honest with you if she's telling you she smokes in front of her daughter. If you don't want her to smoke in front of your daughter you should ask her not to do that and see what she says. If she's a responsible person she should respect that. Would it then be okay for her to step out back and smoke pot while your daughter is there? I guess my point is this - you need to be very clear about what you expect when your daughter is over there. Is it the smoking or the being high. I'm a daily smoking pot mom and I've found that I'm a better mom because of it. I'm calmer and more interested in engaging and playing with my daughter, and also enjoy housework more. When I'm sober I think this play is pretty boring and despise housework. I don't think this is a big deal, unless either 1-you wouldn't send your kid over there without the pot issue or 2-your neighbor gets so high that she's completely out of it - can't hold a normal conversation - thus might not be the best in an emergency. -taking the edge off is no big deal IMO

we have a similar neighborly issue where I do not trust the adults to supervise any play -- so my kids know that they can play with that neighbor child -- but only outside. She is not to come in our home and they are not to go in her home or her backyard. In our case that has been the rule since age 3 so they are used to it. At 10, outdoor-only play may be more limiting! but that's our solution. It does create barriers, but we all respect them and the kids deal. mean ol mom

It seems pretty straightforward. Just say: ''We don't want our child to be supervised by someone who is high. So she can't come over for playdates.''

End of story. So what if she's defensive? Who cares? You're not making a moral judgement, in fact you sound very non-judgmental. Just describe it as a safety issue. If she doesn't agree, that is her problem. No Brainer!

Under no condition would I allow my child to be in this woman's presence when you know she has been smoking (or at all if you think she is smoking throughout the day.) In fact I would advice you to contact Child Protective Services and make an anonymous report that she is smoking and high in the presence of her child.

If you want to risk the possible anamosity you can inform her that you might do this or inform your landlord she is smoking in the house and it is affecting your ability to enjoy your home. (You can just report to the landlord she is smoking and not say pot, are you in non-smoking rentals?)

I'm not a prude but I have never done any of these kind of activities when I have needed to be responsible or around children. anon

This is difficult because this person if your neighbor, correct? I understand that is a hard place to be in. However, the woman is high and in no way should she be supervising children. Sorry, but children need our full attention and we just can't be stoned or drunk or on pills and give them the love and attention they need. They need and deserve sober parents.

And your daughter is old enough to understand that what parents do in their own time may be their business, but when their children are there, it's another story. Mother of two

I would simply tell your daughter that you are not comfortable with her being with someone, especially an adult, who is smoking weed or in a smoke filled environment. Have your daughter stay away from the neighbor's unit and have her friend come to your place.

As for the neighbor, I would tell her that your daughter is too young to be with someone smoking weed, or that you don't want her in a smoke filled environment. Yes, your neighbor is comfortable with smoking in front of her daughter, but your daughter is not as mature as her daughter.

You have your values and they have to be respected by both your daughter and neighbor. BTW, good values! . Another Mom

Simply say- ''sorry, we don't feel comfortable having our daughter in your care while you're high''. There's no sense in pretending its not happening. My mom is a lifelong pot smoker and I tell her that. been there

That mother is neglectful and abusive. You need to file a child abuse report with the police. Or inform your daugther's school so they will have to file the report. It is anonymous. This girl's safety is at stake. Concerned parent

Doesn't matter if the supervising adult is high on weed, alcohol or prescription drugs, or, for that matter, simply displaying behavior you don't want your child to see - the answer to an invitation is ''No, thanks.'' said firmly without guilt. Invite the other child over if it's convenient for you. Use an excuse or not - ''my daughter has chores/homework to do'', ''she's feeling like being alone'', ''she's in the middle of something''.

I understand not wanting to create a situation where you dread being home and try to avoid your neighbor - that's awful. But you can't let your child hang out around ANY kind of stuff you don't like. Mom of Two

I too am a pot-smoking mom! BUT, I would never be high for a playdate, nor would I smoke in front of my children (for multiple reasons, esp if they are 10 years old). Your child is certainly old enough to get into a real discussion about drug use (including the medicinal use of some plants??)- I recommend giving facts and your opinion. I would also tell the neighbor pothead that you talked to your daughter about this situation as a learning experience and wanted to give her some perspective, education, etc. Basically, I think you should talk to your daughter AND the neighbor. Your neighbor has a right to do what she wants, but maybe she can respect your differing opinion on the subject? Just don't attack or blame her. A fun parent's helper for this topic is the book ''It's just a plant''. respectful of the non-smokers

Under no circumstances would I allow my child to play under the supervision of someone high on weed (or drunk or high on anything else). Look at it this way: getting high alters your perceptions and your reaction time. Under the (unlikely) circumstance that something bad happened -- e.g. my child had a bad fall or choked on something, or something in the house caught on fire -- I would not like my child's safety to be dependent on a person with altered perceptions and reaction time.

When the mom asks my child to come over and play, and I know she's high, I would simply say that my child cannot not do so at that time. I wouldn't feel any need to explain to the mom why, I would just say no. anonymous

To not THAT Berkeley: It seems that the Individual you describe is open about her usage- and that the ''problem'' is around you being unable to say openly- that YOU aren't comfortable with your daughter being around her, and the potential fallout that might arise. If she's defensive about people telling her she should not be smoking, I don't blame her, it's no one else's choice. ( though I'm only guessing about this *unrelated incident)

But that's not where you are with this- you can simply say ''I'm not comfortable with my daughter around you smoking or high, it's our personal preference''. If she doesn't respect that - so what. If this isn't a safety issue, than its a lifestyle/perspective difference- which in my opinion does not constitute a ''situation''. As a parent of an elementary and high school student, I would also say that kids in the bay have the luxury of witnessing many different lifestyle choices around them, and pot, along with a million other things parents don't like, will be in her environment. Teach your daughter to decide, voice if she feels unsafe, uncomfortable, has questions too- as it will be less and less realistic with every passing year to control the community your daughter chooses to interact with. Also- seriously, you might look at the bigger picture here - if your neighborhood concern is '' mom who smokes weed and welcomes play dates'' - ((and your kid isn't in danger))- than you might have to consider that co- existing is hardly a stretch. -anon

Wow! I just read many of the responses to this original post, and I'm amazed at the responses. I expected more empathy, I guess. The original post wasn't clear as to whether the playdate mom was using medicinally or not. That would be a question I would simply ask her. As the posting indicates the mom is pretty free about smoking, one could guess she uses legally. If she's not using legally, then I wouldn't let my child around ANYONE using illegal drugs. It's against the law, and I wouldn't want my child to get the impression that breaking the law is ok for some.

However, if pot-smoking mom is using legally (she has been authorized by medical professionals, and uses a dispensary where the substance is controlled), then how is her use any different than taking her taking anti-depressants or other medication? (btw, I recently read an article that indicated over 60% of Americans use anti-depressants-if we're basing playdates on prescription use, playdates may no longer exist.) ANY medication is mind and body altering. And if anyone took too much of their medication, it could be extremely harmful to themselves, and or easily effect their abilities to care for children.

In the original post, it indicated the pot-smoking mom was emotionally unstable? Now that would be reason for me not to leave my child unsupervised, not the pot smoking (and btw, I don't smoke pot either, but know those who's lives have improved immensely as a result of medicinal marijuana). Her emotional stability is not the result of her smoking marijuana. And out of curiosity, what does she do that gives you the impression she's emotionally unstable?

This playdate mom also has the right to take her meds whenever she sees fit, but the concern about 2nd hand smoke is valid, and that would be reason to ask her to smoke outside, or away from your child.

On the playdate, her use of marijuana should not be a factor, but her behavior should. If she's a responsible person, and you feel confident in her abilities to tend to your daughter for a couple of hours, then go with your instincts. And it would be a great opportunity to open the dialogue with your daughter about the use of medications. Good luck, hope that helps. anon

I am a certified drug and alcohol counselor, as well as a psychiatric nurse, and have worked in the chemical dependency /psych fields for 10 years, my entire adult working life. DO NOT call CPS on this woman, unless she is causing damage to her child via neglect or abuse. A PARENT SMOKING HERB is NOT ABUSE or NEGLECT, AND NOT GROUNDS TO ATTEMPT TO DESTROY SOMEONE'S LIFE, NOR A CHILD'S LIFE! I can not stress this enough. Most of you have no concept of substance use and misuse, the demonization of use and users by the US government, harm reduction as a philosophy and movement.

This woman may be using marijuana medicinally, or she may be an adult, using it for personal, recreational enjoyment. The way she parents her child, smoking in front of them, is certainly her business, but definitely creates a climate, and family culture where smoking is acceptable. If this is against your family's values, then BE HONEST and TELL HER. DO NOT CALL CPS, do not avoid her, do not do any of the things these uninformed, biased folks recommend. Be an adult, and tell her something like ''In my family we don't find smoking acceptable, and I don't want my daughter exposed to it at this age. Since we see this issue differently, I'd appreciate it if we solved it by not smoking around her, or we can just have the kids play at my house/outside/etc.''

If emotionally unstable means that she could fly off the handle at anytime and berate and attack you, then proceed in the way that makes things most easy to navigate for you and your family. If this is the case, THAT would be a greater reason to try to limit her contact with your daughter. Please also remember that marijuana is only a plant. it is safer than alcohol and other drugs. No one has ever died from smoking pot. It has innumerable medical benefits, is widely supported and gaining more support each year from medical, law enforcement, and the general populous as something that should be accepted for adult use. Just because someone uses a substance does not make them an ''addict''. Use doesn't equal misuse or dependency.

You have the right to address this issue as you see fit to make the best choices for your family and daughter, but please, be logical and rational. LB, LVN, CATC, BSHS-Chemical Dependency

This response is to the woman who said she was a drug and alcohol counselor and psychiatric nurse with 10 years experience in the field. (your entire adult life) Let me preface this by saying I have 33 years in the field as a licensed social worker who specializes in substance abuse. I find it quite concerning that you seem to be pushing your idea of harm reduction onto someone where you know nothing about the situation. You stated that people who responded to this mother who is concerned about the neighbor/play date didn't know what they were talking about. Besides the fact that we are talking about an illegal substance, not just an herb/plant as you suggested, you need to read the research and learn a little more about drugs and in particular pot and how it effects the brain. concerned parent AND therapist

I am concerned about the responses saying that marijuana is just like antidepressants. I actually don't have an issue with pot (although I've seen it do tremendous damage in my own family, i understand that some people can use it responsibly). But it is NOT like antidepressants and there is a very valid concern about a parent supervising children while high!! You can drive on antidepressants because they don't cause a slowing of reaction time, etc.

Pot should be compared more to alcohol or sleeping pills. You don't have to demonize pot smokers to know that they aren't being super responsible while watching children. Think of it more as would you let someone who had just taken Valium or Vicodin watch your children? Or Ambien? No!

There's a reason you can't drive while high. anon

I just want to second what the certified drug and alcohol counselor wrote in response to many of the replies to this question:

Marijuana use is NOT child abuse. I have worked in foster care for over a decade, in 3 states. You can call CPS but the call will not be accepted for an investigation. More importantly, those who said you should call need to be educated. Substance use can lead to abuse, endangerment and/or neglect but it is NOT in itself abusive. There is absolutely no grounds for a call to protective services based on what you shared in your post. Such a call should be made only if you are seeing harm or danger to a child, not if you disapprove of how a child is being raised.

You have every right to make the choice about what to expose your child to and who to allow your child to play with. Just as this mother also has that right and choice. You've had lots of advice about how to address this issue. Just please ignore the call CPS recommendations. If a child is in danger or basic needs are not being met, then and only then call CPS. - Child Protective Services is for children at risk of harm, not the parenting police.

As with any person you leave your children with, its important to know them first. The pot-smoking may be a red flag to consider, but unstable behavior is worse. Its important to remember that people use medical marijuana to deal with all kinds of issues. People who are self-medicating all day may not even be getting high. Plenty of people are more functional when using cannabis.

I once lived next to a friendly woman who was a nurse and a single mom of 2 great girls. She never once invited me into her home, and being that I was never inside I would never let her have my children over. It's important to trust your intuition as a parent. If you're uncomfortable leaving your child with someone, then don't! Medical User & Parent

Okay, this issue has had lots of opinions thrown at it. As an intake social worker for CPS I just want to put the record straight on what's appropriate for a CPS call in this situation. If this mother's marijuana use is affecting her ability to safely supervise/parent her child, that is an appropriate call to CPS in the county of the family's residence. Examples could be if the mother is so high that she is sleeping heavily during the day leaving her child unsupervised, if she is driving the child while she is high, if she is so stoned that she is not feeding the child or tending to basic needs. If the details you provide to CPS do not meet the criteria for a referral, you will be informed of that. If anyone feels a child is being abused/neglected, they are welcome to call and consult. You can also find reporting guidelines online. In the know

My son can't visit my house unless I quit smoking pot

Aug 2009

Hello, I am hoping for a little love from the Berkeley Parents. I am the 39 year old father of a six and a half year old. I have my son only every other weekend due to he lives about three hours away. For the last four years we have had to stay at my mom's house every other weekend, even though two years ago a bought a really cool warehouse in Oakland, and have built a four bedroom home inside. My son has never slept over my house. I recently obtained my electrical contractors license, and have started my own company. I am a very responsible person and father. I do not smoke weed around my son, or on the weekends I have him, or during the work week. I do not believe it is legal for my ex-wife to not allow me to see my son unless we stay at my moms or I quit smoking pot. I have had a medical license to smoke pot but she could give a crap. Please feel free to tell it like you feel it. Am I alone out there Dad's? Thanks Anon

It is clear in your post that you would love to have more and better time with your son, so I feel for you. It seemed from your post that your son's mom established the conditions for your custody arrangements on her terms. Have you and your son's mother worked out your arrangement with lawyers or a mediator? Or was it just a negotiation between the two of you? You do have rights as a Dad; it would be great if you could convince your ex to sit down with a mediator (a lawyer who works with both parents objectively) to set up a custody arrangement that works for both of you and is legal. I suggest a mediator because if you get into legal battles it is harder on your son and will cost enormous amounts of money. If you can figure out a way to talk to each other with a third party sitting there it would be much better for your boy. But you do need to explore the legal angle with a mediator/lawyer so you have the facts. Take a look at the listings under Recommendations for mediators in your area, and good luck! divorced mom

Hey nighttime swaddler, I too am a dad and i send out my love to you.I would be sick if I couldn't see the kids as I wish. You write: ''I have my son only every other weekend due to he lives about three hours away.''

Dad, give you and your son more love and spend more time together. Sounds like a really cool place you built, you sound way together and got skills and a son who has never slept over at your house. I wonder why? WTF? Have him over, you and he start to make him his own room in one of those 4 bedrooms, make a kid play room too.

You write: ''I am a very responsible person and father. I do not smoke weed around my son, or on the weekends I have him, or during the work week.'' You always been responsible and never ever smoked weed around him or was stoned around him? Never drove after smoking.

But, being responsible and all the ex has a problem with your pot smoking. I wonder why that is and you have a script to do so. Hmmmmmmmmmm. I got loads of experience with people in such a situation but never a guy like you, clean as a whistle,responsible, bussiness man, and medical necessity to smoke pot,etc. and the ex won't allow you to see the son unless you abstain or stay with mom. You write: ''I do not believe it is legal for my ex-wife to not allow me to see my son'' That is correct, I agree.I guess you guys have agreed to this arrangement.

Seeing my kids is way more important than winning a fight with the ex over smoking pot. If you wanna have that fight, go to court. But first, look in the mirror and ask yourself, why is smoking pot this important. Jim

You said you don't smoke during the work week or on the alternate weekends when you have your son. Does that mean you just smoke pot every other weekend? License or not, that doesn't sound like you have a medical condition you're treating, it sounds like you just like getting high. I wouldn't want you to have unsupervised visits with my son either. Anonymous

You should talk to a family law attorney who works on custody cases. If it's not part of a court order then she can't dictate the terms of your visitation. But if your vistitation has to be supervised under a court order, then that's a different story. anonymous

You want love? Okay, here's some love:

Eh, I would feel the same. How can she know for sure that you won't be impaired at some point while your child is visiting? She's just trying to protect the kid by erring on the safe side.

Yes, she's also controlling, and you could push it legally if you wanted to, but bear in mind: if you have a legal dope card, it is because of chronic pain or condition. How could you possibly convince a court that your chronic pain won't flare up when your child is around? If you could convince court, then maybe it's not so chronic, and maybe you'd lose your license to be on The Chronic. Catch 22

I guess we all make our choices. You get to smoke weed, and get to have a sweet converted warehouse that your child never gets to see. /shrug

Why are you putting this on us when it's clearly the decision you're most comfortable with? I personally think you're 39 and far past the stage of life when you're supposed to play around with drugs, so you get no sympathy from me. Just 'loving' truth

well just to add some balance to the rather critical responses youve received, ill say that i really dont see what difference it makes if you smoke pot when your son is not around. and, although i dont know for sure, obviously, i kind of doubt the court would hold that against you, either - unless you have a history of drug-related criminal/legal problems your ex can show to the court. (my sons dad was allowed to see him, despite a history of domestic abuse, crack and methamphetamine use, and an arrest for drug sales. dont i wish he had only been an occasional pot smoker.)

i could go on and on, defending myself by citing what a loving mother i am and how well-adjusted and healthy my son is, how im not a smoker anymore myself, etc. etc. but considering that i dont know anything about your situation, and that i dont really care what anyone thinks of mine, ill just leave it at this: if youve really got it as together as it sounds, there is no good reason you shouldnt be able to have your son spend time with you. anon

My sister who gets wasted every night wants to be a foster parent

June 2009

I welcome some advice and will also totally respect your telling me to MYOB. But this is really bothering me. My sister is going through the application process for becoming a foster parent. She is single and has never had kids and is really naive about what it will be like --but so was I and so were most of us, right?

The thing is that every single night she drinks a couple of glasses of wine and then smokes pot basically until she passes out. She has a medical marijuana license so she's is never out of supply. She has no intention of giving it up and says it doesn't matter because the kids will be in bed.

For this and some other major reasons, I don't think she would be a fit parent. My question is, should I take the hugely risky, none-of-my-business step of alerting the agency? It doesn't sound like they do drug testing, or that the background checks include checking on medical marijuana licenses.

Please no pro-pot lectures from the recreational users on this board -- and she laughs about how she got her license though a totally bogus reason -- or make comments on how many parents ''relax'' every night with a drink or two. She gets wasted pretty frequently.

She's a good, kind, honest person in most ways. Should I shut my mouth and say that the kids she wants to adopt are better off with her than in potentially an abusive situation? Or do I butt in and try to prevent what I think is an inappropriate atmosphere or unsafe home for kids who need a more stable figure? Torn and guilty for considering it

Here is a little reality check. The drinking and pot ''probably'' will not get any better after she has a child living with her. She will probably continue to self medicate to avoid stresses. Fast forward 5 years. An acquaintance's sister has a 5 year old son. She doesn't know who the dad is. In recent weeks she left him alone for 3 days at her house while she went on a bender. Her sister had to come get him and take him home to her 3 kids and a new baby. He went back to mom, wasn't picked up from school one day, and the mom was found dead drunk and passed out at her home. She had lost her job, is about to lose her rented home, and the little boy is staying with auntie for the rest of the summer. This is obviously a tragic situation. This mom came from a good, well to do family, was educated, used to hold down 100K+ jobs, but lost them when she reverted to alcoholism. I think your sister needs to strongly examine why she wants a child and if she is willing to change her lifestyle to become a better role model for her child. no drinking or drugs around my kids

I know plenty of parents who drink and/or smoke pot, but no responsible parent engages in this behavior to the extent that if the kids woke up during the night, the parent(s) wouldn't be able to respond. Although I've been known to drink a fair amount, I don't do it when my husband is out of town. If you are passed out, it isn't really any different than leaving them home alone. I've never seen anyone pass out from pot, though. The alcohol sounds like more of a problem to me.

- You already know the answer to your question. You must speak to the foster parent agency and let them know of your concerns about your sister. If you don't, you are setting up the potential foster kids for a huge problem. If something were to happen to the kids while your sister was under the influence, she could be charged with a crime or everyone in the house could be injured or worse. For instance, if there's a fire and your sister has passed out and can't help the kids get out of the house. Do the right thing for yourself, your sister and the foster kids, and speak up now! You can do this anonymously, but just do it. anonymous

Wow-this is a hard one. I can't tell you what to do, but I can tell you after over 10 years working as a foster family/adoption worker that kids in foster care need therapeutic parenting, so take the skills required to parent any old kid and magnify them about 5 times to effectively deal with the damage someone else has done to the kids and help them to grow into whole beings. It takes a present, safe, and sane parent to do this and this does not sound like your sister. It seems like she's fairly open in her life with people she knows about her habits, so you might be able to rat her out to the agency without her being able to confirm it was you. If you want to insure your confidentiality, you might call the agency without giving your name and tell them that you have concerns about a prospective parent they are working with and could they promise you confidentiality. As to you balancing this home vs one that is abusive, as much as it seems hard to believe, this seems like a set-up for your sister to possibly abuse kids. The presence of substance use with the frequency you describe, combined with a lack of knowledge about child development and parenting, combined with kids who will try to push all of her buttons to gain control over their new and frightening environment is a recipe for disaster. On behalf of the potential kids, I want you to do something. But I don't see the decision as an easy one. so sorry, good luck

How ''wasted'' is ''pretty wasted?'' Unless you think your sister is letting herself become so inebriated that she will be unable to both notice and respond to an emergency, or she will be neglectful (like, leaving small children unattended in the bath), I have to say, (as a non-smoking, adult child of pot smoking parents), that pot is not really the danger, I'd be more worried about the drinking, and then, again, only if she's becoming so inebriated that... well, as above.

You are correct, there are a LOT of abusive foster situations. If your sister is conscientious enough that you believe that the children in her care would not be in any physical danger, then butt-out. If you truly believe that your sister would neglect the kids, then that IS a form of abuse, and I think that saying something is the only principled thing to do.

But, please, be really honest with yourself. If your sister can provide a good, caring home, these are so badly needed in the foster system that it would be a far worse crime to prevent her from taking in a kid or two. Not a Pot Smoker

Don't butt in. She'll find out soon enough what a challenge parenting is, and whatever recreating she does either it will stop, or she'll adapt. The foster kids need a home - I'm sure she'll be heaven to them. I'm not a pot smoker, but I was raised by one, and I'm fine. not stoned

Here's another way to think about it: how would you feel if she passed out and was unable to respond to an emergency or to the children if they woke up after they fell asleep (which is pretty typical) and one of the children was injured (or worse)? You could try raising these types of issues and questions with your sister and see if you can dissuade her first before going directly to the authorities, but it seems to me that the children would NOT be safe under her care, and that she should not be a foster parent. Also, someone who is drugging themselves to sleep every night may have other psychological/psychiatric issues that could be harmful (both to themselves and to any child under his/her care). anon

One would hope a Foster Child would be better with her then in the system. If she passes out at night how will she know if her child needs her? A parent needs to be available. I would make an anon phone call to the agency. It is their responsibility to evaluate her. Good Luck. -Not uptight hippie at heart.

Dear, Torn and guilty for considering it

No it's not a ''MYOB'' type of advise because it takes a village to raise a child. I understand that many people utilize marijuana as a form a medicine that helps them under situations of stress and to leave their anxiety. The Foster Care system alone causes anxiety- not to even mention the economical situation the US and the world is in. I do not agree that she needs to smoke until she passes out especially since revealing anxiety for the most part can be accomplished without smoking until one passes out. I also don't agree with the combination of drinking AND smoking until one passes out. That said- until she understands her ''reasons'' are excuses- it will be very difficult to ''convince'' her to stop or minimize her usage of either/both.

The Foster Care system doesn't do drug tests nor do they check for such license.

By her utilizing such means to ''relax'' you stated you feel it is an unappropriate environment - this is true and she probably won't listen, but by not saying anything you will be enabling her actions.

No of course you should not ''shut up'' about how you feel- what kind of sibling would you be then- but you should address the situation of her utilizing such means and being ''wasted'' and how that does not (even if the kids are in bed) provide a wholesome environment. After all if a person gets wasted every night they will not feel their best the next morning , which is when the kids will need her the most. As well as it will catch up to her sooner than later.

I do not disagree with a glass of wine OR a bowl- but going to the extreme is not responsible- just think of the problems this would cause if something happened at night that needed her full attention. z

As an adult who spent most of my childhood in foster care and a professional who works with foster children, I had to respond to this posting. PLEASE be responsible and give the facts on your sister's alcohol and drug use to the agency she is applying to be a foster parent with. Agencies only do background checks- no drug testing/license checks. A birth parent (if they were poor and of color) would likely have their children removed and placed in foster care for the same behavior your sister is exhibiting. Children who have been traumatized deserve a higher standard of safety, security, and appropriate atmosphere because being placed in a strange home is trauma all in itself, no matter how great the home is. The standard should absolutely not be what is acceptable for a birth parent to do- kids who are going through foster care deserve a home where we've made our best effort to ensure a lack of risk factors. If she adopts, there is a strong likelihood that the kids will experience yet another failure of an adult, and another disrupted family. And, most of us children who come into foster care came from homes where substances were an issue- so just seeing/knowing a caregiver is using will bring up issues for the child about their safety and past experiences. Additionally, foster parents are expected to be mentors/role models for birth parents if the children are still in reuinfication- and I can't see how your sister could/would do so.

And, honestly, her response that she is unwilling to consider the potential impact on kids that will be in her home and prioritize their needsis a HUGE red flag that she is not emotionally ready to prioritize children who will have significant needs. There is no basis for thinking that if your sister doesn't have the kids that they would otherwise be placed in a potentially abusive situation- there are plenty of quality foster parents out there. And, if she is ever reported while fostering(I guarantee you this will happen eventually) those kids will be removed from her home immediately and subjected- so you are setting them up for another loss by not speaking up now.

Having lived in homes with really inappropriate foster caregivers, I will say that the impact is deep and long-term. Please don't feel torn- as a mother, you know what you'd want for your own child were they to be put in foster care. Jennifer

Most evenings I have a pre-dinner drink and a glass of wine or beer with dinner. I'm in favor of legalizing marijuana. And I think your sister should not be a foster parent or in charge of children at all. She doesn't understand moderation, and she has an odd notion of what it takes to care for a child. Turn her in, and please try not to feel guilty for being a responsible citizen. Any child, whether in foster care or not, deserves much better than this. Melanie

I usually never respond to the advice digest but your posting caught my eye. As a professional who has worked with foster children for over 10 years and who has worked with substance abuse, and as a parent, I urge you to do whatever you can to convince your sister to hold off on her plans or to call the agency in question. I realize you may jeapordize this relationship but as a parent who knows all too well that you can't just ''pass out'' at night, and as a professional who knows the trauma foster kids have already been through I am focused on these children, not your sister. Not to sound dramatic, but their lives will be in her hands. If your sister really cares about children, and herself, she will eventually thank you for your action. Maybe the foster care agency knows a skillful way to listen to your dilemma (anonymously, before you disclose who you are) and find a way to de-credential your sister... Regardless, I am glad you wrote in. Very Concerned

Hi There you cannot - actually a big ''CANNOT'' - allow her to proceed with her fostercare plans. it is your responsibility and obligation to talk to the foster agency/Child services agency and prevent this. Foster kids are in dire need of a super stable, non-drug and non-alcohol environment. Yes we need foster families, yes the occasional glass of wine is OK, but it is NOT OK to have an alcoholic and potential drug user as the next person a kid is looking up to. Those kids have been through a LOT - not all abuse, but neglect to their parents drinking and passing out. They do not need this again! a fost-adopt mom

hello, I rarely have responded to BPN, but was caught by your dilemma. I work professionally with foster children, so have strong feelings about the use of drugs and excessive alcohol in their home. Many of these children come from homes with substance abuse, and all come from some abuse and/or neglect. Daily use of substances can trigger past fears and experiences of a child, as well as teaching them that it is an effective coping mechanism. While I totally understand your feelings about butting in, I strongly encourage you to let the foster agency aware of this situation. I have worked with many clients/families who honestly did not realize the impact their use would have on a foster child. Perhaps your sister can benefit from further education and training. Also, I would really want to know more about what prompts her to have such daily use as a coping mechanism. Many folks have good hearts and genuinely want to help a foster child, but it is imperative that they can cope in a healthy way, particularly since these are vulnerable children who may come with more challenging behaviors and needs. Hopefully, by notifying the agency and/or social worker involved, you can help a child and your sister have a healthier home. mm

I believe that you have a moral responsibility to let the agency know if you feel she would be an unfit mother regardless of the reason. I don't think MYOB applies when the well-being and safety of children are at stake, and foster kids have already suffered enough. Who knows what your sister might do with the added pressures of being a parent to a child that has issues. Natalie

before I give my opinion, you should know that I am a person who grapples with pot addiction, and does manage be very functional even during times in my life where I'm over indulging. I also sat by and watched my sister raise her kid while she was a pot addict, and she had the help of an also pot addicted husband. My opinion...I will say emphatically - your sister is NUTS to want to raise a kid on her own while also smoking pot (AND DRINKING WHICH SHOULD NOT BE OVERLOOKED)nightly. While pot doesn't cause nearly the type of hangover alcohol or hard drugs cause, it does make you less patient, more irritable, and have times where you forget things(short term memory displacement). As an uncle, I saw first hand just how incredibly HARD it is to raise a child through infancy, and there's no way she understands that fully, evident by the fact that she wants to be a single mother period. Unless she has the financial freedom to hire lots of help, she needs to put that plan to bed and start by getting a puppy and see how that goes. anon

That's hard. You don't want to rat on your sister. But in this case you should. Her behavior is okay if she's by herself, but once you throw kids in the mix, it crosses a line. Smoking pot until she basically passes out??!! Uh, that's an abusive foster parent situation right there. What happens if there's an emergency at night? Not to mention the terrible role modeling... The foster system must be notified so it can make a fully informed decision. You gotta do the difficult, but right thing. anon

I agree that a parent who uses every night until passing out is creating an unsafe home for children and herself. Sure she may hide it from the kids when young, but eventually they will figure it out. I know one child began figuring out dad's pot stash as early as the 3rd grade.

As to turning her in, hmmmmm, I urge you to continue to discourage her from parenting and encourage her to stop using. Turning her in may well damage your relationship. anonymous

Please please please - make a phone call or write a letter to your sister's licensing worker. As a foster parent, this hits really close to home for me. I'm sure your sister's heart is in the right place and she wants to help - but these kids deserve better. If she's passed out at night - it is a big deal. Parents aren't off the clock when the kids go to bed! Any parent knows that anything can happen during the night. A child could be sick or afraid. These are traumatized children in an unfamiliar environment. Waking up confused, scared or lonely is inevitable. Please don't put a child's well-being at risk. These kids don't always have someone to speak up for them. Please speak up for them now. DON'T myob!

I would intervene. This is important. These children need a stable environment. Please act on your instinct. You are concerned for the right reasons. Nicole

I'd stay out of it. I'm sure the foster agency does background checks. If they call you for a reference, you can tell them the truth. If your sister asks you to be a reference, you can tell her your concerns. Otherwise, leave it to the foster agency to do their job. T.

Good for your for feeling this sense of responsibility. Too often, we are complacent about these types of situations and I think it is completely NOT okay for her to be in such a state with children in the house. I would not want my children to be with her - EVER! Speak up! It's not okay. Foster children go through a really rough time in their life and need a responsible, mature adult who can care for them at all times. What if they wake up at 11:00 PM and are very sick? What good is she to them when she is passed out like that. Whether she is getting the pot legally or not is not the point. She is abusing it and combined with the alcohol on a daily basis she is just a druggie. joj

Pot smoking at family gatherings - we have a baby now

November 2006

I am wondering how people deal with family members who smoke pot. My husband and I do not do any drugs. We have an 8 month old and went to visit his family for Thanksgiving. His parents are tolerant of the brother and sister's marijuana use and while no one smokes marijuana around us or the baby(it is done outside or in the bedroom) the entire house smells like pot. I feel uncomfortable with this situation and so does my husband. We worry about the baby crawling on the floor and ingesting buds or being affected by all the pot smoke. We want to visit family but do not feel we can ask them to babysit or stay at their house as there are usually other potsmokers around. Any feedback? Anon

i am a mom of two and still indulge in pot occasionally. and i have no problem telling anyone NOT to smoke in their house when my children are present. take it outside and wash your hands and face before coming around the kids. also, i clearly ask people when they visit my house or when i visit theirs to make sure any harmful substance is out of children's reach, whether it be pot or the tylenol in my mom's purse. as for babysitting or visiting, do you trust these people's judgement? would they have a problem not smoking while babysitting? talk to them openly about it. rasta mama

In response to the question about pot smoking at family gatherings I think it's totally inappropriate. I do have a cannabis card and I use the marijuana for pain relief. I used to smoke marijuana daily for the past 13 years. I have recently stopped smoking daily but I do smoke occasionaly when I am away from home and my child is not around. I used to smoke outside or in the garage and no matter how much you wash your hands, face or brush your teeth the smell is still going to linger. I just think it's wrong to expose children to drugs...and yes marijuana is a matter what most users believe. Kids are very smart these days and the DARE program is still in effect in schools. I think it's very selfish to smoke when children are around. Just my opinion:) anon

Brother-in-law sells pot - I don't want him to babysit our child

June 2006

For the last 10 years or so, my 37 year old brother in law has sold pot as a main source of income. He is currently married and living with my in-laws who do not know that he sells pot. While I do not have any problem with the use of pot, I have had issues with my BIL's involvement with pot and this has caused tensions b/w my husband and I. After our 2 year old was born, I insisted that my BIL not use our home as a place to meet mutual friends to do deals with. Begrudgingly, my husband ceded to this request. My husband and I had some fierce arguments when I advocated that my husband tell his brother that if he was going to live with their parents, that he not sell pot anymore. I was concerned that my BIL was unfairly invovling my in-laws and putting them (and their home) at risk. My husband refused and said it was not my business. Recently, my BIL was arrested in Marin b/c he sold pot 4 times to an undercover officer. My BIL had been making connections on craigs list and got caught (big surprise). He was just arraigned on 5 felony charges. He believes he may get out of (which I hightly doubt) and if he does, indicated to my husband he will continue to sell. In my opinion, my BIL has made (and continues to make) some horrible judgment calls and has been reckless in how those judgment calls impact others. As such, when it recently came up, I told my husband that I did not feel comfortable having the BIL babysit our daughter. While my BIL is great with kids (he teaches at pre-schools) and my daughter loves him, given his poor decisions and recent legal troubles, I do not feel it is appropriate to leave our daughter in his care. My husband is outraged that I am taking this position. Am I off base in not allowing my BIL to babysit our daughter? If I am not off base, any assistance in further articulating to my husband why this is not ok would be appreciated.

Your BIL may be good with kids as a preschool instructor (woah, which preschool?)but he has shown that he is not considerate of others in that he DID really jeopardize his parents and their home by selling out of the house. No decent preschool will hire him with his record, which should be a hint. And geez, is your husband really OK with him selling out of your house (even to ''friends'')? Leaving aside all questions of whether our current marijuana laws are reasonable (I think that they are not), it is a fact that recreational marijuana use and especially sale for recreational use is ILLEGAL and, as you have seen, can lead to tremendous problems for everyone even peripherally involved. If your BIL were sitting for your daughter and your BIL sold to an undercover agent (again) this time out of your house and was arrested, was would happen to her? What kind of impression would she have if she were to see her beloved uncle cuffed and led away? Your husband's tolerance of this is difficult for me to comprehend. It sounds as if his brother is a ''nice guy'' in terms of being likeable, but a destructive guy in terms of being selfish. I hope you get a lot of wake-up calls to pass on no longer a user

I wouldn't leave my child in this person's care no matter what. He clearly has no judgment at all, and what if he were to be arrested, or do his drug transactions (and what if one went ''bad''???) when caring for your child??? I hope you stand up to your husband, for your child's safety's sake. This BIL of yours is just a big bag o' trouble, and your husband can't be serious. Anon

You are doing the right thing and if your husband thinks you are being bossy or unfair or sticking your nose where it supposedly doesn't belong INSTEAD of worrying about the safety of your child, then that's grounds for separation. I've been in the same place. A close family member did the same thing- sold pot. He somehow ended upside down financially and guess what? Two guys went to our parents' home while a 6 year old relative was sittng with him and they brandished guns with the intent to use them if very specific arrangements weren't made. Now, money and ending up on top is always more important than human integrity and loss of life in the business. Last year a home (not in the same area of town, but scary none the less) was invaded because of pot- not coke, not meth, just pot and an 11 year old girl was shot. That's extreme, but people always minimize pot. I'm not against other people smoking it either, but where there's $$ for pot, there's more $$ for coke, etc. Besides, do you want creepy people around your daughter? What if your BIL goes into another room for just a moment and your child is molested or flashed or grabbed, etc, just for kicks by someone buying or dealing?

They could be the most ''normal'' looking person, but it happens. That's sick and if your hubby is enough of a bull headed guy- so much so- that he risks the safety of his own family, then he is not worth it and you should really consider laying down the choices he's got. Besides, if he's defending your BIL so adamantly, are you sure he isn't dealing too? Just speaking from a very similar experience Anon Mom

As someone who has spent tons of time around drug dealers, the big negative here seems to be that your BIL is dealing to people he doesn't know. The possibilities for something bad happening -- getting ripped off (violence), getting busted (people with guns). Should these things happen with your child around, the consequences could be very bad. Also, your child will know what's going on at a pretty young age, and it will be hard for you to be sure what that is. Is it ok for you for your child to know about drugs and drug dealing (mine does). Have you watched ''Weeds''? It's pretty realistic. Drug dealing is not a particularly safe occupation, particularly if you're not careful. Selling on Craigslist is not careful. knows a few drug dealers

It would be a very bad idea to let your brother-in-law to have any responsibility for/access to your kids. Doing deals in your house? Arranging hook ups on craigslist? Come on. That's incredibly irresponsible. As someone who in their earlier years walked on the wild side- and who did inhale- I tell you this if nothing else- you do not want some of his customers, or his suppliers knowing where he lives or hangs out. I have some friends/ fellow parents who are weekend uses, and I don't worry about them as parents any more than I worry about people who ''drink responsibly'' on ''social occasions'' (personally I think pot should be decriminalized)- but dealing for a living? Involving family? Works at a preschool? Sheesh, does he deal from there, too? Also are you sure he's dealing only weed? Don't be surprised if he's dealing meth too. Short story: It's much better to be perceived as unhip and have your family and family home, safe and sound. Your BIL does not sound like the kindly uncle who smokes a little dope now and then when the kids aren't around, he is someone who has a real problem and isn't too bright. Don't take chances. Keep him away from the kids. 420 Friendly but no fool

I think pot should be legal- even with that said- I don't think it should be anywhere near children. I don't think you are off base- I think your husband is and you two may need a mediator to really sort through this issue. It should like your BIL has poor judgement- a trait that you don't really want when it comes to someone taking care of your child. My husband and I recently disagreed on a subject concerning family and we are now going to sort it through with a counselor- we differ so much that i think it could damage our relationship to keep arguing about it. Good luck to you Anon

You are MORE than right on this one & your daughter's well being depends on you. Always go with your gut feeling as a parent. Your BIL shows extremely poor judgement. He should NEVER EVER EVER be left alone with your child. He could very well put her in serious danger. Do you really think that if he arranges a deal & he happens to be caring for your daughter at the time, that he'd call if off? Yeah right! And I shouldn't have to tell you that not all pot buyers are non-violent medical users, aging hippies, or college tokers. What if a buyer showed up while your BIL was sitting & the deal ''went bad''? Please try & help your huband understand that your daughter's well-being is the priority in your lives & being in your BIL's care is simply an avoidable tragedy waiting to happen. Why risk it? Before becoming a stay-at-home mom, I worked in law enforcement for over 15 years, many of which were spent working narcotics cases & seizing homes used to sell drugs. While it is not as simple ''as doing deals at a home will get the home seized'', you're absolutely right about the potential risk. Don't let your husband guilt you into doing something that you know in your heart isn't absolutley in the BEST interest of your daughter. Please take care & stand your ground on this one. Best of luck to you Mom & Ex-Law Enforcement

I'd be really uncomfortable with what you're talking about. If your brother-in-law really was arrested for selling pot, I'd be very surprised if he's able to keep his job as a nursery school teacher. Maybe that will force the crisis in which he sees that he really needs to deal with his problem. And maybe your husband needs will also recognize that it is a problem. It can't be easy for you, but I say stick to your gut feeling and stand by your kid. If it's important for family reasons, she can still see him when you're around. But it's terribly irresponsible behavior and I'd not want to leave my child alone with a drug dealer either anon

Having worked in the criminal justice system for a long time, I think your concerns about having an active drug dealer involved in your life are well placed. Although many of us may think that selling marijuana is not that big of a deal, under the law it is a very serious offense, particularly if it is charged as a federal offense. The liabilities for your entire family are very serious if the government chooses to involve you in the scope of the investigation, or feels that by pressuring you they may be able to gain some advanatage in the prosecution of your family member or others. At a minimuim, if he is prosecuted federally the house that he is using for his dealing would likely be forfeited.

Drug prosecutions are very serious and ugly - I doubt however much he is making is worth the years of his life and heartache to his family that a prosecution would bring cautious

I'll keep this short and sweet. Your maternal instincts are spot on. You may say, ''oh, it's only pot'' but bottom line, your brother-in-law is drug dealer and perhaps a soon to be convicted felon, and I feel sorry for the parents that are sending their kids to his preschool. You have to ask yourself, ''Would I leave my child with a drug dealer and convicted felon?'' The answer, of course, is no and your husband is in la la land. Don't back down.

The in-law question is tougher, and it's not your place to get involved - but your husband is wrong to exposure your parents to this type of danger - legally and physically Put your child first

I say go with your gut and tell your husband you do not trust your BIL's judgement and you do not want him babysitting your children. Period. This may cause problems with your husband, but don't compromise your child's safety and stick to your guns. Good luck Anon

All my experience as a teacher, parent, and a volunteer in law enforcement, including contact with people who sell drugs tells me that you are the responsible member of the family (in a positive way!). It is entirely reasonable that this man NOT sit your child. I would not have any more involvement with him than possible. I would also alert the parents he is living with to his behavior if they don't know by now. He is putting them at risk as well. These kinds of people drag everyone around them into the morass. People who don't agree with you on this one need a reality check. kathryn

Considering your statement that your BIL makes poor decisions such as selling to undercover officers and doing drug deals at family members' homes (including yours), I don't think you should allow him to care for your daughter. It sounds like your husband has a lot trust that his brother will not involve your daughter in his illegal dealings but can your husband GUARANTEE that it won't affect her? What if he gets arrested while she's present? Would your husband really want her to witness that? What about the people he deals to? They could be perfectly pleasant, upstanding citizens but there's a good chance that some of his customers are not so savory. There are plenty more what-ifs in this situation and it just doesn't seem worth the risk ASP

I agree with you completely. I'm not anti pot at all, but selling pot is a whole other thing than smoking it recreationally. Just practically speaking, it's not clear how your brother in law will resolve his legal problems. Marin County is VERY law enforcement oriented, and it is likely that he will be placed on felony probation after some jail time. If he violates his probation, ie gets caught again, he will most likely be sent to state prison, in short order. They do not mess around in Marin when it comes to this stuff. (Even in Alameda County people very frequently go to state prison under this same scenario). Hopefully after your brother in law speaks to an attorney he will have a more realistic idea of what he is facing.

You do not want your children involved with someone who got arrested and then says he intends to keep on selling. A few years ago the NYT covered a very sad story -- an actresss was selling pot to make ends meet, and she and her friends were shot by some buyers who decided to rob them. People who sell even pot are exposing themselves to a world where people carry guns, will do anything for a fast buck, etc. I guess it's possible that some sellers ONLY sell to people they know, but hey, he got caught selling to a police officer, so he obviously isn't in that category. NOt to be too blunt about this, but I think that your husband is in a bit of denial anonymous

There's a difference between somebody who smokes pot from time to time and someone whose income is based on selling it. I'm not really opposed to pot, but it's an illegal substance, and you can lose your property if dealing is taking place on your (or your MIL's) property. I wouldn't allow him to babysit my kid. Supervised visits, ok. Babysitting, not worth it. Even if he's no longer dealing at your house

I have a similar issue with my brother, only my kids are older teens now, so let me tell you what you've got to ''look forward'' to. My brother's main source of income is from selling pot. He lives a few hours away, and when he visits, he likes to do a little business at the same time to make the trip worthwhile. In fact, he's told me that he doesn't consider it worth the gas and trouble to come to the Bay Area to visit me, or our mother, unless he can make a sale at the same time. The last time he came to visit, I learned later, his main deal fell through, he had a large amount of unsold pot, so he tried to sell it to my 18-year-old teen son and some of his (under 18) friends. At my house, while I was busy in the kitchen making Thanksgiving dinner. My son told me about this later. When the teens declined, my brother held open a bag and invited them to help themselves. My brother didn't see anything wrong with this and was surprised that I was angry with him. He gave me a lecture about being too uptight.

My brother knows that I was smoking pot years before he ever was, though I don't smoke anymore. I actually do not have a problem with my older teens smoking pot occasionally. But I am NOT going to be the mom who is supplying her kids' friends with marijuana. And the idea of my brother trying to make money off my kids and their friends just infuriates me.

My brother does not have kids, so he just doesn't get it, and probably never will. After so many years of pot smoking, he doesn't appear to have any brains left either.

I think you are smart to lay the ground rules now.

You are not off-base! Your husband is in denial about his brother and so are his parents. Your husband does not seem to acknowledge the difference between personal pot smoking and selling pot as a main source of income. By law, that makes his brother a drug dealer. Is that cool? Where does he draw the line? Would he also cover if his brother murdered someone? What does that say about your husband's values? I don't know if it is your role to hold the mirror up to this family, but I know what I would do. The brother in law would not baby-sit my kid nor be allowed to teach as a preschool teacher ''on the side.'' (Yes, I'd blow whistle on that one - it's not as if you take his primary source of income! He'll find his way back into the pot market or finally into prison). His parents will be shocked and your husband probably won't forgive you for not following the denial path. But you clearly have a clash in fundamental values with your husband and that is serious. Do you want your daughter to become part of that denial structure too? Time for consequences. Be ready to strike out on your own with your daughter and see if your husband can follow your path and take responsibility of his role as a bystander Anonymous

Pot smoking around baby?

March 2004

My sister just had a baby, and her partner regularly smokes pot. How bad is second hand pot smoke for an infant to be around? I have looked in the Parent's Network archives, but didn't find an exact answer to my question. Please send along any information/advice! Thank you.

No second hand smoke is good for babies. The father must stop smoking immediately to protect his child or move it outside the house.
no smoke around my babies please!

According to Marian Diamond in ''Magic Trees of the Mind,'' pregnant women exposed to passive pot smoke 3 times per week in a closed room tended to have babies with problems such as more distress after birth, lower birthweight, disturbed sleep cycles, and more likely to be high-strung and cranky. Presumably if passive pot smoke can cause this kind of problems in pregnant women, it isn't very good for babies and children either. Karen

Partner continues to smoke pot - I want him to stop

June 2003

Here is something I have been struggling with since my partner and I had kids (over 9 years!). We have been together since our very early twenties and are now in our early forties. We have since those early days of our relationship enjoyed smoking pot on a daily or nearly daily basis. When I became pregnant with my first child, I stopped smoking pot. After the birth of my first kid, I started smoking it again--and didn't really feel like it was much of an issue until after kid number two (when I found out I was pregnant with #2 I stopped during my pregnancy and started again when #2 was born).

I have long been the kind of person that doesn't crave pot, but smoked because (a) I enjoyed it and (b) it was available. I also suspect that I have smoked pot because my partner did, and it became a habit that we shared. Since becoming a parent to two kids, my sense of responsibility for my behavior has increased. I don't want to be stoned while I am caring for my kids, for fear that something could happen that I didn't respond to appropriately because my judgment was impared. In addition, I have realized that I don't like to be stoned like I used to (though once every other other week or so is still ''fun''), and that I can stop without any problem. In fact, I have expressed to my partner several times since becoming a parent, that I think the habit should cease, with both of us. He gets very defensive about it, says he enjoys it and that it doesn't hurt anyone. I disagree that it doesn't hurt anyone--it hurts me that I ask him to stop, but he doesn't (I don't help if I continue to partake--even if much less frequently that him). It hurts my kids in that their parents are engaging in a behavior that is not healty. I am concerned about my kids learning what that smell is that they have said on occasion smells like skunk.

My partner has on and off complied with my request that he smoke less habitually -- he can go a week or so, but then always reverts to the daily or near daily habit. I want to be a good role model for my children--and I want him to be one too- -how can you ask a child to do as you say, but not as you do? I feel like I am complicit in his habit by continuing to smoke myself, but I am ready to stop --and I really want him to stop. I just don't know how to help him do it. By the way, he stopped smoking cigarettes almost a year ago (on my pleas) but now is addicted to nicotine gum!

I have become a much more health concious person since having kids--I work out, I eat healthily, and I try to take care of myself. I want for my partner to do the same, but know that I can't force him. I think that he has various problems (adequacy (i have been the stronger wage earner for many years, abandonment by his father) that he needs to address that he avoids by smoking pot. The fact that he continues to smoke pot despite my many requests that he/we stop is damaging my esteem for him. How can I help him (and us)?

Needs to find a solution

Maybe your partner is depressed. My husband has similar ''addictive'' qualities. He stopped smoking several times around the birth of our child, and now he's been smoke free for over two years (cold turkey - never with nicotine supplements). He also has used pot a lot when it was available to him, and admits it was an escape, but he ''could quit any time''. Finally, he DID run out, the connection to get it was severed, and he realized how much it was costing him a month - and that was that - he ''quit''. While he admits to craving it often, he has been on a better path since he started anti-depressents. The anger and anxiety that the pot used to soothe, are no longer as prevelant. He is in general more easy going and pursues things that he loves with the ''addictive'' quality he once pursued smoking.

I am not a user and never have been, so I always readily admit to him that I don't really know what it's like, and he has assured me repeatedly that when he's high he's no danger to us or himself and I shouldn't make a big deal about him being high around our child. Indeed, he seems very much in control (and giddy!) when he's high, but never dangerous or foolish. But again, he was using a lot when there was a lot of turmoil in our lives and he was spending time with a friend who always made it available. That friend is not part of his life since he realized having him always led to wanting the other.

I agree that you both should try to set a good example. But pot's a vice, just like smoking and drink. I never asked him to quit smoking pot or cigarettes, but championed his efforts when he decided to quit on his own. I believe it's really the user's decision, and nagging him is not the answer.

Hope this helps. Good Luck! pot partner

A couple of suggestions.

First of all, as you know, you have to stop smoking pot yourself. If the ''do as I say, not as I do'' logic won't work with your kids, it certainly won't work with your partner. So stop it. From now on, no more pot period.

Secondly, try to find other things to do instead of smoking. Busy him with pleasurable activities so that the moment for smoking passes. anon

Perhaps as an incentive to your partner, you can point out that the children will not respect him or his authority when they realize he is stoned a significant percentage of the time they are with him.

My parents smoked pot at least once a week, and usually much more, throughout my childhood. I understood at a very early age (5?) that the skunky smell meant that my parents would be in a complacent mood and used it to my advantage a lot.

I don't remember the age when I realized that what they were doing was illegal, but it was before age 10, and with a young child's understanding of the law, I was confused and hurt that they would do something that could result in them going to jail and abandoning me.

And as a teen, their attempts at setting boundaries to my behavior were met with sarcastic derision and complete disobediance. Why would I respect their rules when they didn't respect the law? Why should I respect the law if they didn't?

I didn't turn into a huge druggie, but I did experiment a lot, and with many stronger things than pot and other types of risky behavior. I was lucky and didn't suffer any (noticeable) consequences of some very stupid decisions.

But I still have difficulty respecting my parents. Of course there are other issues other than the pot smoking, but they continue to think that their use (still frequent, although I think it has tapered off) is and was not a big deal. I've tried to explain to them my early anxieties that the cops would come and take them away and they refuse to accept it was a valid fear.

And when, later, I realized that had something happened to me while they were stoned, they wouldn't have been able to react quickly and clearheadedly to care for me, my anger was intense.

You may not think it is a big deal, and your partner certainly doesn't, but your children may. (Not saying that every kid will experience what I did, but the risk that they might should deter you both, if nothing else does.)

You are parents now, you need to put the needs of your children before your own ''fun.'' Being stoned is hardly terrible behavior, but it is not responsible, either.
Child of Stoners

I have strong opinions on this issue, based on both personal and professional experience. Personal first. My husband and I used to smoke pot frequently in our 20s. I quit about 10 years ago, for a variety of reasons. He kept using, daily or almost daily. It became a HUGE issue, as after I quit I began to notice what a profound effect it had had on me, and still had on him (and us). He was emotionally absent, often anxious, self-centered, and immature (yes, he has good qualities too!) Months and years of arguing, cajoling, trying to ignore it, etc. followed, and finally I decided I simply couldn't take it anymore and made him move out. Well that same month I found out I was pregnant. After much soul searching he entered an outpatient treatment program for marijuana addiction. It's now three years later and he is clean, goes to Marijuana Anonymous meetings, and has also gone through incredible growth as a person. We are both so happy that things ended as they did.

I am also a mental health professional. In that capacity I have seen many, many people addicted to pot. Yes, it is addictive. It's effects are more subtle than those of other drugs, but believe me, it can really stunt a person's emotional capacities and growth. I really think it is one of the most underrecognized addictions out there.

So, what can you do? Start with yourself. Check out the MA website, and go to a few meetings. Educate yourself about the effects of long-term marijuana use on you and your kids. The heartbreaking part is that you can't make your partner stop. You can talk with him, and share your experience, and see what happens. Good luck. anon, please

Many people believe that smoking pot is a victimless crime. They often say things like, ''I'm not hurting anyone'' or I'm not hurting anyone but myself.'' Unfortunately, the daily use of pot injures relationships, wears on one's self-esteem, costs money which takes from the family and maybe the most difficult of all dulls the person's emotions to the point where they are unavailable.

Also, If someone is smoking pot daily, makes promises to quit and doesn't or promises to ''cut back'' but ends up right back where they started hints at addiction. I know this is probably not what one wants to hear. However, addiction isn't about the substance, the amount one uses, or the lifestyle one leads - it's about one's inability to stop using, increased use (or maintenance use), continued use in spite of negative consequences and psychological dependence or physical dependence. When one uses to avoid working through issues in one's life, e.g. abandonment by father, inadequacy, etc. the use of the drug becomes the way to cope with emotions and makes one unavailable to those they love and who love them. Pot is one of the best drugs for dulling ones senses and emotions.

It actually seems that you have a choice. Leave your partner alone to smoke pot daily and not be available to you or your children and ask yourself why you want to be with someone emotionally unavailable who prefers smoking pot to you or your feelings, continue to demand that he stop (which isn't working), or get help for yourself and figure out what you want to do.

The advise you want is probably how do I get him to stop smoking pot every day. The answer is you can't. He will do what he wants. I doubt he can do anything else (if what you say is true), but you can do something about you.

Sorry, probably not what you want to hear. meddling old fool

You are in a hard situation. I wanted to respond, not because I have the best answer for you, but I wanted to give you some perspective on what it can be like for children growing up in a house where there is drug use. My father continues to smoke pot daily, and smoked pot throughout my childhood. When I put all of the pieces together I was nine and I was terrified. I had learned in school that drugs were BAD and to know that my father did drugs was scary. I think that realization created a fear that forever altered my relationship with him.

By the time I was 12, however, I was smoking pot. The first pot I smoked I stole from my father and I smoked pot throughout my high school years, occassionally even smoking with him. It was considered an ok thing to do in my household. I believe it stunted my growth and I definitely used it as a means to escape during the gray days of highschool. In looking back at that time I get upset with my parents for not considering my health and try to provide some parental structure and guidelines about its use. But it's hard to say ''you can't eat any icecream,'' when you are licking an icecream cone.

I continued to smoke pot until I got pregnant, and haven't since. I, like you, do not think it is necessarily a bad thing. But like any ''altering'' substance, if you use it as an escape or are addicted to it then that addiction significantly affects the people around you. My father is somewhat unbearable to be around if he is not high. This hasn't always been the case, it has definitely gotten worst as he got older and more addicted. This happens slowly, so I think you are very wise to pick up on what seems like ok behavior maybe leading in the wrong direction.

I would advise you seek help for you partner for your sake and your children's. I know my friend sent her husband to a program similar to AA -- but for pot smokers and he was able to quit and stay off pot. She lives down in LA, but I imagine there are similar programs here. Perhaps some people will suggest them to you. She said it was very hard for him to accept the fact that he had a problem, but they are both much happier now. Sounds like you would be too.

Good luck. anon

My partner also smokes pot on a nearly daily basis. I guess I think of the kind of pot smoking that he does on the same level as a daily beer or glass of wine. He doesn't smoke a huge amount, and I can't compare it to what your partner smokes, but I don't find a lot of harm in it, and actually, a fair amount of good. It helps him relax, and he is less stressed out. He smokes quite discreetly, and I don't think that my kids have figured out what it's all about. I don't think I'd have a hard time explaining it to them either.

The only real problem I have is the expense and the (minor) legal risks. anon

Narcotics Annonymous is a great support group for people who want to stop using drugs. It can be intimidating to join a support group, especially if you're not sure you need it. I can only speak for myself and say that my life has become better than I ever dreamed it could be by quiting drugs and getting the support I needed. You really can't do anything for your partner but you can take care of yourself. That is the best example you can set for your kids. I think you will be surprised at how much more you can get out of your relationships with your kids and others when drugs are not a part of your life. I grew up with parents who smoked pot and I know that kids can tell that their parents aren't present. There are meetings at various locations and times to fit your schedule. The number is 444-4673 for more information. Good Luck! anonymous

I read other people's responses to this and wanted to add my own advice and experiences:

My parents were 60's ''hippies'' (my mother had me very young) and still smoke pot on a daily basis, to this day. So, I grew up around it. Personally, I didn't find it scary at all. Also, people are affected differently by marijuana - some people become extremely paranoid when they smoke, while others feel relaxed. I NEVER felt that my parents were emotionally unavailable to me as a result of smoking ''pot.'' Perhaps other people are affected by it in this way, but my parents were not. Also, my parents were never ''impaired'' by their smoking, and I was never in any physical danger.

I do not smoke pot now, and was the only one of my teenage friends who didn't drink or smoke or do drugs while growing up, and none of their parents smoked pot or did any drugs. I tried pot, didn't like the smoke burning my lungs and was disinterested after that.

Secondly, I am mystified by how people can make such a fuss over people ''medicating'' themselves with pot (which is what many addicts are doing, and I believe that includes my parents!), but it's somehow better if they are medicated with anti-depressants instead. I really believe that the two things are performing the same function, just one isn't acceptable to ''establishment'' and one is. Frankly, I think many of the anti-depressants in use now are even more harmful, and more emotionally dulling, from what I've read.

Finally, I agree that you cannot *get* your husband to stop. He is a separate person from you, and will do what he wants (and has the right to do so!). You have the right to choose what you do, including whether or not to remain in relationship with him, should he choose to continue smoking marijuana. I recommend that you do NOT try using the *threat* of leaving to *make him change his ways.* I think you must decide what you can and cannot live with and then let him know, if you decide that you cannot remain in relationship with him if he must continue to smoke. Then leave. Do not make him ''wrong'' or ''bad'' or blame him or accuse him or ridicule him. Just leave. If you decide that you can live with him smoking, then don't make a big deal about it, and your children won't think it's a big deal either. This makes smoking pot it the teen years a lot less exciting. I think that played a big role in why I didn't drink or smoke (pot or cigarettes): my parents never *forbade* me, and they didn't make a big deal about it, so it really wasn't all that interesting to me: it wasn't forbidden fruit, so there was no excitement in *sneaking,* which I think is a big part of the allure for kids (besides fitting in with friends, etc.). My 2 - - uh-- 50 cents! anon