Features // December 30, 2020 // Ben Berkowitz

I'm A Weed Dad

I'm A Weed Dad
It was a pretty ordinary day toward the end of 2017. I was going through a messy divorce, my “career” as a writer/director in Los Angeles was not working out as I had hoped, and clinical depression loomed over me like a predatory vulture. Simultaneously, my girlfriend, who I loved very much, was an incongruous shining light of support in my otherwise fucked up life, and she was 8 months pregnant with our child. Spoiler alert! I found myself in the emergency room with chest pains. And although I somehow knew I wasn’t dying, when you are in your 40s, overweight and insured (in that order) they’re going to keep you overnight and do some tests. I was cleared of anything serious; the doctors said it was stress and a feeling of anxiety managing everything I had on my plate. They released me the following morning, but beyond all of the medical drama, I knew I had to make changes in my life if I was going to live and be a good dad.

Parenting with Pot

I am convinced cannabis saved me. The pharmaceutical medications I was prescribed were dodgy. Some didn’t have the positive effects promised, while others left me anxious and often a little more “zombied” than I like. Why do I use weed? I find myself constantly needing to explain the beneficial properties to skeptics, doctors rolling their eyes doubting the truth, relatives dismissing anyone who loves cannabis as an addict. It’s a drug! You are doing drugs! Well, yes, I am. By the way, how is that Xanax-white-wine combo and the Percocet you're still taking for an old injury? What kind of father am I? How does a cannabis parent manage the day-to-day, the high, and the micro and macro of it all? The goal is to achieve good responsible parenting, and in an age of ubiquitous options and legal weed, it is a challenge indeed.

Fighting the Stigma and Stereotype

Prohibition was a convenient way to dismiss cannabis as a dangerous substance, lumping it in with hard chemically designed manmade “drugs,” and making it taboo to even discuss for some people with kids. I grew up around cannabis. My parents had friends that smoked weed regularly, and my friends had parents that would often step outside and mysteriously return calmer and happier. Recent statistics estimate more than 20% of regular cannabis users are parents, and over half of them of them partake everyday. When my little girl was born, I knew at that moment I would do anything for her, and did a lot of soul searching about the changes I wanted to make in my life. A long list of fixes, time management, anger management, and financial management — basically anything that needs to be managed, I struggle with — but weed wasn’t on that list. I am more present with weed, I work harder and better. The stereotype of the lazy couch-locked stoner just doesn’t apply to this dad.

Happy, Healthy, High

I can honestly say in the past 3 years I have never been happier or healthier. Taking on freelance creative work, playing guitar gigs, writing about weed and starting a really cool dog walking/sitting business with my wife and co-parent. Cannabis works for me, and I work great on it. I have never used as much or as frequently, and never had so many options for microdosing edibles and wonderful delicious flower. I am a dyed-in-the-wool sativa dude, and on its glorious green dusty magical buds I thrive. The microdose is a revelation. There was no option back in the day to accurately do this, rolling joints or hitting a bong. But now, when I play with my daughter I am absolutely under the influence of all the THC, CBD and other cannabinoids stirring around in my body and brain. I am present and lucid, not super high or buzzed (that's saved for special occasions, usually comedy shows when my wife gives me a “Get as high as you want” pass for the night). There is an eye-opening focus, a sort of heightening of my senses, not a dulling of them, that is the universal appeal of smaller doses and responsible using. It's like I am having a couple of beers, not getting shitfaced. The world is often cruel and full of scary difficult things. I want to teach my daughter that anything and everything that helps offset this, without harming herself or anyone else, is a good thing. The more wonderful and more compassionate we can all be the better. I get high, I smoke, I eat edibles everyday. I talk about it and write about it. I love this plant, and I want to teach my little girl that it is a good thing to live what you think is true.