Kitchen sinks, youth and marijuana

I saw an interesting piece in The Cannabist, the Denver Post’s pot portal, this morning and it got me thinking.

The site has a great area for parents called Pot and Parenting. And the story this morning by Brittany Driver is about looking for clues that your kid is smoking pot.

The first thing she brought up gave me a laugh. A Wikipedia article she found says to watch out for faucet tampering, because some kids will remove the little filter inside and use it as a pipe screen.

(Creative Commons image)
(Creative Commons image)

Driver’s comment:

“Whoa! I have never heard of anyone disconnecting a faucet head to use as a pipe screen. That seems like a slightly methier thing to do, am I right? It’s funny to imagine a person wanting to smoke weed but not smoking it because they didn’t have a screen. What a dum-dum. Going so far as to dismantle a pretty prominent piece of kitchen or bathroom equipment in order to satisfy the largely unnecessary need for a screen seems unlikely — but maybe?”

Actually, when I was a teen in the 1980s, we did that all the time. But then again marijuana in this country has changed a lot since the days when the market was flooded with seed- and stem-filled Mexican brick weed.

Back in the day, when I was a misguided youngster in Massachusetts, we would get our crappy marijuana and play with it for a while – removing the detritus, leaving us with a loose pile of non-bud dry, almost powdery leafy material.

If you stuck that in a pipe (they were almost all metal back in the day) and tried to smoke it without a filter, you end up sucking a bunch of burning embers into your mouth.

And getting a pipe at that age was a nerve wracking experience, worrying about getting busted by adults. Getting a filter for a pipe – that was often forgotten in the stress.

So the solution was to go into your bathroom or kitchen at home, unscrew the top bit of the faucet, take out the screen and bam – you were in business.

Of course you could also roll it into a joint, but then you’d have to go buy some papers, which was also nerve wracking for miscreant teens.

We would also, being good little rebels, scatter the seeds around the ground in hopes that mysterious pot plants would start growing around our town, frustrating the adults.

Today marijuana is a very different animal. Glass pipes, often with carbs on them, are the norm. And because marijuana is usually distributed as buds for pipe-smokers, those concerns about small burning embers entering your lungs are largely forgotten.

(Pipes at Mary Jane's House of Glass. -Steven Lane/The Columbian)
(Modern pipes. -Steven Lane/The Columbian)

So is the kitchen sink issue still a deal today? Doesn’t really sound like it.

Although I fully admit to smoking marijuana when I was a teenager, I’d also like to note that I think it’s a really bad idea at that age.

I have nothing against it for adults or for medical use when appropriate, but generally when your brain is developing, throwing a bunch of chemicals into the mix can really muck things up.

And often, when kids are using drugs and alcohol, it’s more of a rebellious cry for attention – or a means of escapism – than a desire to chill out and take the edge off at the end of the day.

Throwing other substances into the normal array of raging hormones, growth pains and mood swings that accompany teen years doesn’t really help to quell anything. It often makes it worse.

So does yelling at them.

I can’t really give parenting lessons, since I don’t have kids – although I do have a few nephews and nieces that I adore.

But what I would say from personal experience is that if you think your kid is on drugs, don’t accuse them or treat them like a criminal. It’s highly unlikely that they’re using drugs just to make you angry.

Instead ask them what’s wrong. Listen to them. Support them and explain to them why it’s a bad idea to tamper with a developing brain.

There’s a time and a place for everything, after all, and it’s called college.

Once your brain has matured, the crazy hormonal insanity has mostly passed, and you’re over age 21, you can make a much more well-informed decision about whether you want to try it or not.

Do I have side effects from my teenage use? I’m not sure, but its certainly possible. I know it didn’t help anything – and it probably delayed my ability to work out some of that teenage emotional turmoil, instead adding it to the stress of my 20s.

I think the best thing you can do to help your teen is to try to empathize, remember what those years were like for you and try to talk to them with that in mind.

As for warning signs that they might be using drugs? There’s the usual array of skunky smoke smell in clothing, red eyes and distant behavior. But if you notice those or other things, remember that your reaction to your child will cascade into their reaction to you – and how you handle it can make a big difference in their decision making process.

As for those pipe screens and kitchen sinks though, you probably don’t need to worry about them anymore.

-SueVo (sue.vorenberg@columbian.com)