Leah Allen movingly recalls how her father’s pot habit negatively impacted her and her family:
I don’t know when my dad started to smoke. I do know that before he smokes a joint he can get antsy, angry. His temper is fast and sharp. He hit my mom when she was pregnant and that’s when she left him. I was three. I also know that after he smokes, my dad is relaxed, soothed, likely to go off on dreamy tangents about colors and pictures. He was great with us when we were kids, an adventurer ready to play on our level. It’s hard to deny that pot has made him a happier person.
During the few weeks my brother, sister, and I spent with my dad every summer, he took us to reggae festivals. Pot circles sprung up as the sun went down. One year, feeling bold, we children pooled our money together and bought a “ganja brownie” from the walking vendor.
That was the same year my dad forgot us. He always had a spotty memory, a well-documented side-effect of marijuana. Pick-up times were regularly missed by several hours. Dinners—half-cooked, half eaten—were left in the microwave or on the stovetop. Birthdays brushed by unnoticed. Once he remembered my birthday two years in a row and sent the same CD both times.
After rattling off many other ill effects, she concludes:
I can’t be angry. I understand the appeal of marijuana: its soothing properties, its potential to help chronic pain sufferers, its medical implications. I also believe it should be legalized. In a world where alcohol and nicotine can be purchased at most corner shops, the argument against bringing pot sales out into the open is a weak one.
Yet I can be sad. So very little is understood about how marijuana impacts families. I can’t help but thinking that the cool, carefree users of today will be the parents of tomorrow. My dad will never stop smoking pot. Sometimes I wonder about the man he might have been, and the lives we all might have had, if he’d never started.