Pot Smoking Kids

October 17 2014 | by

DEAR FRIAR RICK: This letter is coming to you from a father who is experiencing the drama of drug abuse within the family. My two sons, especially during weekends, spend a lot of their time smoking cannabis (marijuana). All the hard work my wife and I put into educating them seems to have vanished into nothing; they treat us as though we were their servants, and their school grades are falling.

Some of our friends have told me we should kick them out, but they are still in high school – they are 16 and 17 years old respectively.

The school and social services are not really helping us, and they have even told us that two states in the US have legalised the recreational use of this drug, where it can be bought in the stores.

What should we do, Fr. Rick?


The use and abuse of drugs is a very tough issue because it is so complicated medically and because it conjures so many emotions in many of us. One of my closest friends died from the consequences of abusing drugs, and so I too have

a lot of feelings about this topic. So first things first. Your sons are not likely to overdose from marijuana. Some people think of it as a ‘gateway’ drug to more dangerous substances, and in a number of cases this is quite true. However, many people smoke marijuana only occasionally, and that’s where it stays with them.

Some proponents of the decriminalization or legalization of marijuana contend that its use is no different than the social use of alcohol. They also suggest that the problem lies not with the substance, but with the dependent personalities of certain persons, which make them open to dependency on any substance they might abuse. While there may be some truth in these last two points, it is also important to consider these additional dangers.

Today’s cannabis is not the ‘pot’ that many baby-boomers grew up with in the 60s and 70s. In fact it is far more powerful than in the past. A 2009 study by the University of Mississippi revealed that cannabis potency levels in the US are the highest ever reported since the scientific analysis of the drug began, and that this trend is continuing.

Also, cannabis is different than many other substances because much of its potent active ingredient is stored in the body’s fat cells and enters the brain with effects that last far longer than the ‘high’ that people feel at a party. In fact cannabis has an appreciable effect on memory and the ability for young adults to study over long periods of time. Continued and excessive use of marijuana can have very damaging effects on a person’s ability to learn. Again, I’m sure your sons will tell you stories in which certain students performed much better in school after using cannabis. I’ve heard that myself. In many of these cases I believe the students are ‘self-medicating’ their anxiety and lack of attention, and thus giving themselves a bit of help.

So in your case in particular what could you do? It is important to remember that the use of marijuana in many places is illegal. While we want our children to be critical thinkers and not to accept things only on face value, they also need to respect boundaries. As a parent you have a responsibility to challenge your sons to respect the law. While we are on it… how do your sons afford the use of so much marijuana? Follow the money trail. Does it stop at your door? Another question I would have is whether your sons are feeling the need to self-medicate. Are they under a lot of stress? Do you have a relationship with them that would allow a frank discussion?

Finally and ultimately they are minor sons living in your home. They have to follow your rules or face the consequences. Now, let us be clear, you can’t all of sudden make all sorts of rules that you’ve never enforced before. If you declare consequences you must be able and willing to follow through on them. Before making ultimatums it’s important to have conversations. I would strongly recommend hiring a social worker or counsellor to help you navigate a family meeting where these issues and your feelings, and theirs, might surface, and hopefully an agreement may be reached.


Updated on October 06 2016