When They Ask You What Pot Is In School, You Tell Them It’s Something You Cook With

By Sandy Thompson Soderberg

WASHINGTON:  Now while it is true, a pot is something you cook with, this is not what I was being talked to about. It was the early 80’s and the agenda in schools was to “educate” kids about drugs through a program called D.A.R.E. When my folks heard about this coming to the schools, that the local law enforcement was going to be in our schools telling kids LIES about cannabis, bringing in pipes and bongs asking if kids knew what they were, asking kids point blank if their parents used marijuana, well, I was told to lie. And this created fear in and of itself. Was I supposed to lie to the people meant to protect us? Yep. Because we live in a contradictory society that has brainwashed people.

Fast forward 30 years and now I’m a parent.

I’m not going to lie to my kids. From the time they were born, I have talked to my children like people.  I did not make things up to serve my purpose, but simply provided them with facts based on truth. From science to personal experience. When it comes to the talks about drugs, I repeatedly express to them the importance of people making sure their bodies and minds develop before they partake in ANY mind-altering substance. And that pharmaceuticals are some of the most dangerous substances out there.

I help them understand that when they turn 18, they are adults and will have the right to vote or buy cigarettes. But while they may be adult in age, their brains are not yet completely done developing. I tell them that this is why the age for drinking alcohol and personal consumption of cannabis in our state is 21. We also talk about the importance of moderation. While it’s legal to buy kegs of beer, wine by the case and booze by the gallon, if moderation is not exercised it can and will lead to dangers, including death.

We also talk about the benefits of “drugs” when used in the right applications. We talk about how even the right applications can lead to addiction with some substances. We talk about the dangers of addiction and the dangers of drinking and driving. We talk about the dangers of “partying” with people you don’t really know and about how drugs and alcohol alter your judgment.  And now at 10 ½ and 12 years-old, when I ask my kids what they will say when presented with peer pressure to try cigarettes, alcohol or drugs — to be “cool,” they smile and respond, “We will tell them it’s cooler to have a fully-developed brain and body.”

I recognize the need for not just my children to be educated with truth, but for EVERYONE be educated with truth. I spoke to my kid’s 5th grade teacher — fifth grade being the year of “social awareness,” puberty, hormones; peer pressure, drugs and alcohol — about how she would handle it if during these discussions my daughter contradicted her opinions on marijuana with facts.  She was taken back. The need for thoughtful approach to discussing legal marijuana in school is one of the most important aspects of legalization.

Last week I was in Olympia speaking to our State Departments regarding industrial hemp. I have been working to bring industrial hemp, a cousin to the marijuana plant, to our area for commodity crops, as well as for environmental cleanup. One of my biggest missions as we embark on this project is educating the public about the history and future of cannabis and hemp in our country.

When I returned from my trip the state capital, my oldest daughter was distraught. She begged me to quit my project. She told me people wouldn’t understand. She was afraid kids were going to bully her. She said people were going to say that I’m growing “pot” and that she would not be able to be friends with them anymore if their parents found out.

I understood what she was saying and told her that this is WHY we are starting with education; that my project is ALL ABOUT EDUCATION, but she knows this.

I knew there was more to it. I got to the root of her fear. One of her teachers approached her that day, based on my political posts on Facebook and asked my 6th grader, “Does your mom smoke a lot of marijuana?”  She was blindsided.  First of all, let’s address how inappropriate this is. Is this really the teacher’s business? Nope.  Did this teacher have any place asking this of a child? Absolutely not. Should she have come to me, absolutely she should have. Did I address this, you bet.

I took this as an opportunity to talk to the principal and the teacher, to tell them about my hemp project. Now that I have, they are both very interested in learning more. Next I have scheduled a meeting with the counselor, the teacher, principal, and my children so they can reassure my children that as we go public with our campaign that the school will support them, and not condone any bullying.

We are also meeting this week with the superintendent of the school district to discuss implementing an education program into our district to start the learning process. I am working with a retired professor to build games, songs and videos aimed at the education of children on the history and future of hemp. Our goal is to make sure all generations are given the truth from here on out.

I am a mom. I am a “pot smoker” — a medicinal cannabis user. And I am here to tell you that “pot” IS a gateway drug — it is a gateway to health, peace and enlightenment. I have raised two, intelligent, free thinking, compassionate children who will continue to light the path for a future of freedom and truth for the human race.


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