The mainstreaming of marijuana use hasn't permeated everything. It's not smart to be black or brown and use marijuana in New York City, for example (though we'll see if the nation's largest city adopts a less reactionary attitude when Bloomberg becomes again just a financial machine and news source).
While politicians are of late being encouraged to go on record on their support of marijuana, it's still considered ill-advised to be a parent and be up front about your marijuana use. One of the most-frequently trotted-out arguments against marijuana legalization and about legal medical cannabis dispensaries is "What about the children?" And indeed, what about them? Instances in California are rare, but police are known to involve Child Protective Services and allege child endangerment when a parent uses cannabis.
A Bay Area weed activist is trying to change all that with a movement -- Parents4Pot -- based on a perhaps-radical premise: using marijuana can make you a better parent. As the group says, "'Dad ate all the potato chips again' is always better than 'dad is passed out on the front lawn again.'"
Parents4Pot is the brainchild of Mickey Martin, who's something of a legend in the cannabis activism game. That's what happens when you face federal felony charges for running an edibles company, Tainted, Inc., and manage to escape prison -- but still end up spending a year in a halfway house and a year in home detention.
As mentioned above, juggling drug reform and parenting duties absolutely presents increased risk, all the more so if custody issues are at stake. Why is this? Well, it's always been that way. You can brew beer in your home and be fine, but a closet full of state-legal plants can get your kids taken away if your ex calls the cops.
And that's bullshit, according to California NORML's Dale Gieringer. Whether it's a baggie in a drawer or a barn full of pounds, raw cannabis poses no risk to children.
"Cannabis is less toxic than tobacco, alcohol, or any number of household plants that people have lying around their house," Gieringer wrote via email. "Cannabis won't even get you high in its raw leaf form - it needs to be activated by heat."
So "what about the kids?" Martin is going to turn that on its head. The kids are alright if their parents use marijuana.
"We believe we can use that same argument to end prohibition once and for all," he told SF Weekly today. "Why are we taking their parents away for a safe, enjoyable and helpful plant? Why are we arresting poor and minority kids for pot at alarming rates and destroying less fortunate communities?"
The concept seems pretty simple: being up front about being a parent who uses marijuana responsibly, and creating a society where combining the two is not a radical act.
"We hope to formulate this reasoning into a powerful statement against the drug warriors who continue to push mass incarceration by using cannabis as an easy way to fill jail cells," he added. "We are the community and we will no longer stand to be treated like lesser citizens because we smoke pot."