Adult kids of pot-smoking parents reveal the impact

pot smoking parents

Parenting is far from easy. The stress of guiding kids to meet milestones, having a clean house for visitors, and cooking food a toddler will eat is hard enough–but the constant worry about whether parental choices are negatively impacting a kid’s future takes the cake. Those who smoke weed might be concerned about that last one, but testimony from kids whose parents actually burned weighed in. Turns out, safely consuming pot might not mess up your kids.

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Fox Sterner grew up in a Midwestern state where cannabis remains illegal, but her nomadic, hippie-coded parents would smoke cannabis on the down low growing up. Her mom consumes medical cannabis, and her uncle is adamant that it was instrumental in curing his colon cancer. As a little kid, they concealed what weed was from her, but that changed in her teen years.

“My mom didn’t like drinking, but she was a ‘I’d rather you do most things in the house than somewhere unsafe’ kind of person. she would talk openly with us about doing acid and things right before we were born, so responsible drug use wasn’t demonized like a lot of midwestern households,” Sterner said to GreenState.

By 15, Sterner was interested in trying the plant. The first time she lit up was in her garage, and her mom walked in and caught her. The curious teen did not get in trouble but was warned not to keep it away from her 12-year-old brother until he was old enough to make his own choices.

Sterner moved out when she was 18, and by then, her 16-year-old brother was smoking weed in the house freely without consequences, which started the communal smoke sesh era for her family.

Editor Rachelle Gordon recounted to GreenState how her mom smoked weed while growing up. At first, she was not into it.

“When I was in middle school, I was pretty anti-drug and alcohol. Not sure if it was DARE or substance abuse issues in my family, but I definitely thought it was uncool to get drunk and high,” Gordon said. “My friends were smoking pot and drinking at 13, but I stayed away. I once walked in on my mom giving her friend marijuana, and I literally wrote in my journal, ‘How dare she bring that shit in this house?!'”

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Despite her disgust for weed in her early years, Gordon was experimenting with alcohol and cannabis a few years later–her views on the plant shifted after trying it herself. She no longer felt that cannabis was a blight on their family. Instead, she saw that it was a much less detrimental substance compared to her mother’s other choices.

“I still had a lot of anger at my mom well into my 20s, but her drinking and hard drug use was to blame, not cannabis. If she had only smoked weed and not gotten drunk and smoked crack on the regular, things would have probably been way different (on so many fronts),” Gordon said.

These now-adults both consume cannabis, but smoking weed as a parent doesn’t have a causal effect on children’s future habits. Emily Carlson shared that her parents regularly enjoyed weed when she was growing up.

“When I was a kid, I wasn’t sure how to feel about my parents smoking. It kind of felt like we had a cool secret,” Carlson said.

Despite that normalization, she has never been interested in getting high. However, after viewing her parents’, and eventually siblings’, relationships with the plant, she sees the value even if she is not called to partake.

Cannabis helped her father feel connected and kind despite struggling with severe PTSD. She could see that, for him, smoking weed was the right choice. He continues using the plant, and she continues to abstain. This relationship brings Sterner to mind, whose mother didn’t hide weed but did ensure each child had space to come to their own conclusions about the plant.

Given the space and appropriate education, responsibly toking a joint on the porch while the kids watch a movie or taking a vape pull in the garage before dinner could be harmless. Each of these former kids with pot-smoking parents formed their own decisions about weed after seeing their parents engage with it. And based on these families, it seems that smoking pot doesn’t mean your kids will be stoners.

In the realm of things parents do that mess their kids up, safely consuming cannabis might not be one of them. Both people who grew up around weed have full lives with friends, careers, and hobbies. In fact, one was able to realize that cannabis has a much different impact on families compared to drugs like crack and alcohol. In the spectrum of mind-altering substances, parental cannabis consumption might have a lesser impact on kids than other legal options.

What can be said is that every parent who smokes weed isn’t bad. Provided kids are safe and happy with parents present enough to care for them–consuming weed doesn’t traumatize the children.

Cara Wietstock is senior content producer of and has been working in the cannabis space since 2011. She has covered the cannabis business beat for Ganjapreneur and The Spokesman Review. You can find her living in Bellingham, Washington with her husband, son, and a small zoo of pets.