Why We Let Our Teenage Son Treat His Mental Health Issues With MarijuanaPosted by On


I am driving my 18-year-old son to the cannabis dispensary on a winter night when the streets of Portland, Oregon, are too slippery for him to bike. “Would you ever let me write a story about why you use marijuana?”

I am sure he will say no. He smokes in the backyard, where no one can see, self-conscious about his use. But that evening he says, “Sure.”

“The problem is,” I tell him, “I don’t know how to talk about the marijuana without talking about mental health, and I don’t want you to feel badly.”

He is in a helpful mood for someone who is usually surly by 7 p.m. “What about ‘big feelings’?” he offers.

We didn’t know the phrase “big feelings” on that trip to Mexico, when we first sensed something wasn’t right. It was a language-learning trek, with three children ― 11, 9, and 7 ― in tow. (I don’t know what we were thinking.)

My youngest son had tantrums daily, bolting from us in a crowded mercado or arguing loudly in restaurants. The only food he ate, if he ate, was quesadillas: “solo un poquito de queso” (only a tiny bit of cheese) and “absolutamente nada encima” (absolutely no garnish).

As amused as I was by the authority of his opinions ― and his Spanish fluency, full of colourful inflections and excited gestures, after only a few years in language immersion schooling ― I was certain of one thing: The quesadilla would disappoint.

Unable to get familiar foods, he mostly refused to eat. Every day was a battle with low…

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