Isn’t that a title that captures your attention?
But this essay is not about the first thing that might naturally come to mind with the title Parenting and Marijuana. This is my way of introducing the two topics that I want to spend the summer considering.
I have spent the last four months writing about two things, without publishing most of it. I have been writing about being a resilient parent and about marijuana and its impact since widespread legalization began about two years ago. I have decided that through the summer, I am going to review the writing and publish the elements of it that have been most helpful in my practice for the past four months.
Being more resilient is much on the minds of my patients’ parents presently. Parents have many worries during the pandemic:
- Many parents have lost their job and so are managing financial pressures.
- Parents who are working from home are trying to do their paying work at the same time as they are managing their children and household. They may have young children to manage, school-age children to help, or older children who have lost all sense of time who must be supported.
- Many parents are also trying to assist one or several of their own parents. They may be tending to their errands or groceries, often with children in tow and without the same liberty to run errands as they had in the pre-COVID era.
- This is the time of year when families typically have a break. Most families will not get that break this year and everybody is grumpier because of it.
I have had lots of ideas and suggestions about how being a parent could be a bit easier and I have built on these. Parents who read my blog and who have sent comments might see themselves or their suggestions in my writing. It’s been so exciting to sift through the research and to see how parents’ instincts reflect the best evidence of what it takes to be a parent in difficult times.
As for marijuana, as I mentioned several times during my COVID-19 Journal series, thirty months ago, marijuana was still illegal in most of North America and, through the pandemic, most jurisdictions treated marijuana and liquor sellers as services as essential as groceries and pharmacies.
Within that fact, and that policy shift, is a dialogue that we need to have about substances that result in addiction and other serious health problems and how we use them. Two years ago, as marijuana was legalized in most of North America, mental health professionals including me, advocated for a strong public health education campaign to accompany legalization. That never happened, even though a public health education campaign is clearly something that many jurisdictions do very well. In Canada, the best example of this has been the public health education campaign that has so far ensured that most Canadians were not victims of COVID-19.
The public health education campaign that municipalities, provinces and territories and the federal government mounted to ensure that this virus did not overwhelm our health care resources demonstrates that, when there is the political will and resources to do it, effective public health education is possible.
Since no government has undertaken a public health education campaign regarding marijuana as yet, but since a pandemic has underlined that the risks of marijuana use and Cannabis Use Disorder are a concern, then I am going to write about the concerns about marijuana use, especially marijuana use by youth, in the context of the research that is emerging since legalization.
I will publish my blog on Tuesdays and Fridays throughout the summer. Please let me know what you think of the posts. Direct me to articles and research that have helped you. Message me, comment – here and on Facebook or Twitter or wherever. I am looking forward to this dialogue.
(This is an image taken looking up through the canopy of trees above my back deck, where I will spend my summer vacation.)