My Children Know I Use Cannabis

My Children Know I Use Cannabis

By Ellen Lenox Smith.

If only we had reached that point in society where all had learned to accept the proven legitimate medical application of cannabis, instead of so many still holding on to the notion of cannabis as a social drug utilized primarily for “high”.  This Medicine can create, not unlike many legalized drugs, that sense of euphoria, when taken in excess. This acceptance by others around us would make life so much easier. Making the decision to turn to cannabis does have implications to those at home living with you and are associated with you, but especially our children. Whether is it the smell smoking produces, the observance of the product or the actual plant growing or just the judgement of using it, there are issues that have to be addressed with children residing in the home or even for those children who may be living on their own.

I wonder, how often have you ever sat down and discussed medication needed for your body with your children? For years raising my four sons, I don’t remember having those conversations. However, that changed when dealing with cannabis, despite the fact that all four had moved out on their own. This may be a necessary discussion for you to eventually have. For me, I had to approach the topic since I became a home grower, too.

Ellen Lenox Smith and friend

When I first was asked to try cannabis, our four sons were taken aback, back in 2007. They were concerned with our safety with others knowing I used it and that my husband and I were home growing.  They were also concerned with the judgement of others towards us.  We were lucky that at least they were not of the age that they were living at home anymore and having to deal with their friends coming into the home as young adults. But it was evident initially that they had many reservations seeing this in their parent’s home.

So, what do you do if this is the compatible medication for you and your children live at home?

As with any medication, safety is a necessity in the home. I never was smart enough to think of, while raising our four sons, using a lock box. With cannabis being considered a more controversial medication, this really would be a great way to know your children are safe from getting into your medication. Also, it would put to rest the concerns of any parent, who happened to know that you are using cannabis, and who has concerns about the safety of their child at your home.

Education is key to helping others understand your choice. You might decide it is just no one’s business what you are choosing to use, but with children in the home, the scenario can be quite different. For instance, if your way of administering your medication is through smoking, then the smell of cannabis will be obvious to anyone entering the home. This can be eliminated, if you are willing to give it a try, by using a vaporizer. Although it looks like you are smoking, you are only blowing out vapor, not smoke. The smell can be dramatically reduced by using this method of administration. Or, you can consider the many other ways to receive relief and also totally eliminate the smell. Examples would be to consider using topicals, tinctures, oils, drinks or even edibles. But with edibles or cannabis drinks, you have to remember that these could be very enticing to children and misunderstood. So proper storage, again, would be very important.

Depending on the level of openness you wish to have on this topic, a conversation explaining the medical benefits of cannabis and the reasons for your choice of this medication might be right for you and your children. You know better than anyone what is best with your children and what information they are prepared to handle. This is not one shoe fits all. If your child is old enough to understand this conversation and this fits who you are, then maybe that will be the route you want to pursue. While societies attitude toward the utilization of cannabis as a legitimate medication is changing rather rapidly, full acceptance by both the public and the medical profession has yet to be realized. It will take time in society to change the programed attitude we were brought up to believe about cannabis and the ‘head high’ we were supposed to be seeking. How nice it will be in time for young and old to understand that a body in pain does not react like someone using it for social reasons. We don’t get that head high as long as we stick to the correct dose for ourselves. That is not a bad thing for a child to learn when you feel the time is right.

One thing you do need to be careful about is with teens around. Believe me, the word spreads fast, especially if you decide to grow at home, if you aren’t cautious.   So, a decision to grow with children in the home is one to consider carefully. We ended up installing an alarm system to help with the issue of security.  It is very comforting to go to bed at night or leave the home and know we will be contacted if someone tries to enter the house. We ended up getting robbed once before installing this alarm system and were able to figure out who broke into our grow. We went to their home, since the young men had dropped a glove with the family name written on it, all too good to be true for us! We invited the parents and young adults over and took this time to educate them about using cannabis for medicine as opposed to recreational use. We hated to press charges and understood the temptation for children and even adults. It was terrible to have the crop taken too soon before harvest but did feel right about teaching these kids and hoping they would better understand the value of cannabis as a medical for medical patients like myself and the many others in similar situations.

Another problem home growing presents is that cannabis produces a very strong odor during harvest time. To help avoid this, there are charcoal filtration systems to absorb the rather distinctive smell while venting the fumes outside. I would encourage you to do all you can to keep that smell out of the house with teens and even adults you may not know well who may visit your home.

Evidence does show that healthy young adults have an 18% chance of becoming dependent on cannabis, up to the age of 25 years. According to Dr. Jordan Tishler PodCast called: Medical Cannabis - Pain Relief for EDS, the risk of this dependency drops from the 18% for young adults down to just 2-3% after the age of 25 and for the rest of your life. He also states that it is not typical for a true addiction to cannabis. However, many parents turn to this as a lifesaving medication for their children with, for instance, seizures. There are times in life we have to make hard decision and turn to what is most effective. Daily, constant life-threatening seizures outweigh in danger over using cannabis with a child with this condition. For a child with a serious medical issue to possibly become dependent on cannabis to be able to stay alive with quality of life returned, is the choice the parents may have to make. But for most healthy children, it is better to hold off until they are older and then the danger of possible dependency fades away.

With cannabis in the home, as with other medications, you also have to be careful with animals around. For some reason, our dogs have been attracted to the oil. So be careful with things like cups, spoons used to mix or measure or even paper towels with the oil absorbed in it, for this can be something they might love to get hold of. Oil takes time to kick in and then takes hours before leaving the body. So, the animal’s reaction will be like a human and not show up immediately. Ingesting this will make them sluggish for hours if not a few days so beware to protect family pets too!

Making the decision to use medical cannabis with a family in your life can be something that will take time and consideration as to how you want to approach this topic. As I mentioned before, I rarely ever discussed other medications with my children. But with societies judgmental attitudes still existing, safety and curiosity at stake, you will need to take some time and figure out how you want to approach this. Some might decide to take it in such a private manner, like a night oil, that there wouldn’t have to be that discussion. Others might decide smoking or vaping are the best way to use it and then odor and possibly growing become an issue that has to be addressed in some manner. And some will feel the best approach is to be open and honest from the start. We each have a decision to make. There is no right or wrong approach as everybody’s situation varies.

You will all be pioneers in society dealing with this topic. I hope you will consider posting what method of approach has been successful for you and your family.

Ellen Lenox Smith

Ellen Lenox Smith lives in Rhode Island and is a chronic pain activist and writer for medical cannabis, Ehlers-Danlos and chronic pain for 1000 WATTS Magazine and National Pain Report.

Author of:

It Hurts Like Hell! I Live With Pain- And Have a Good Life, Anyway



My Life as a Service Dog!


PRESENTER: Jordan Tishler, MD

TOPIC: “Medical Cannabis – Pain Relief for EDS”

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Authored by: Ellen Lenox Smith

Ellen Lenox Smith and her husband Stuart live in Rhode Island. They are co-directors for medical cannabis advocacy for the U.S. Pain Foundation, along with Ellen on the board and they both also serve as board members for the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition. For more information about medical cannabis visit their website.

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Thank you for sharing, Ellen! I have not yet tried cannabis, as I feel my pain is still being managed right now, but I definitely have it on the back burner. While I don’t have kids, I feel I would have to explain to my parents, so it’s a similar issue. IMO, however, a person should never have to justify anything that helps alleviate chronic pain.

sandy auriene sullivan

My children know that Im a legal medical MJ patient in the state of Florida now and why. They are 28, 25 and 14yrs of age.

Generalized anxiety disorder runs rampant in my family. My children have some terrible anxiety. The older 2 use cannabis for anxiety and Im considering pediatric MMJ for the 14yr old [almost 15] to gain access to high quality CBD [non-psychoactive] that helps ease background anxiety absent panic. Better than pediatric psychiatric options and far faster, better overall results using otc CBD PRN.

But then, my children have always been part of the family discussion about my health; from the time it started to deteriorate till today. And each sees me differently depending on how old they were when I stopped working.

Honest, open discussion is the only way to go.