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Leading by Example: A German Parent’s Experience with Medical Cannabis

September 1, 2016
Father and child holding hands
Whether cannabis in a given jurisdiction is fully legal, strictly prohibited, or anything in between, cannabis supporters and opponents are unanimous on one thing: Herbs don’t belong in the hands of children. For medical cannabis patients in Germany who are parents, that means an obligation to store medicine in place that kids can’t get to it. Under the country’s narcotics security rules, patients with a medical card must keep the cannabis they buy at the pharmacy in a mini-safe at home.

Cannabis consumers, whether medical patients or not, should also ensure minors are never exposed to cannabis smoke or vapor. Consumption should take place only in the garden, on the balcony, or at least near at an open window. The consumption of cannabis as a necessary medical measure is protected by federal law in Germany, which means consumption is legal even in public places so long as you stick to the rules. These rules largely correspond with those of the Non-Smoking Protection Act. Additionally cannabis should not be consumed “ostentatiously.” Some German police agencies have even received a service instruction after cannabis patients repeatedly got in trouble due to the consumption of their medicine outside their homes.

Single Parents Often Have No Choice

Single parents who depend on cannabis as medicine have a difficult balancing act. They must remain within sight of their children so as not to neglect their duty of supervision, but they also have an obligation to distance their kids from consumption. It’s a tough spot, especially for someone who relies on cannabis to ease symptoms in order to work or care for kids. A six year old child can’t be told, “Mommy will be right back, just wait here for 10 minutes”.

As a patient, I don't want to hide. As a parent, I don't want my children to inhale my smoke or vapor.

For cannabis patients, medical cannabis is as important as a pain patch is to others. They should neither hide nor be ashamed of consuming cannabis. Especially at big events, during traveling, in the playground or in an amusement park, it’s virtually impossible to fulfill the duty of supervision and stay medicated if you have to consume out of view of your children.

As an affected father, I consider the Non-Smoking Protection Act as a guide for my medical cannabis consumption. I stand outside any playground to inhale while keeping the kids in sight. I wish some cigarette-smoking parents would do the same — after all, cigarettes have been banned from playgrounds for years — but they are still present on the benches surrounding Berlin’s playing fields.

As a patient, I don’t want to hide. As a parent, I don’t want my children to inhale my smoke or vapor. So I take the opportunity to educate them, explaining that I take a medicine that is intended for adults only and has been recommended by a health care professional. At the end of the day, no parent wants her or her child to try drugs or medicine, either out of curiosity or by accident.

  • Les Stettner

    Alcohol should not be in the hands of children. It lessens you thought process and brings your natural self down to a person who can not make good decisions for themselves and often get into trouble. Marijuana impairs too. People get paranoid, sometimes lazy, never affectionate like alcohol and I have my college experience to prove it to me. Perhaps it wasn’t as strong as people smoke it or vapor it, today. I have no idea, but I do know it is and never will be the gateway drug alcohol is and is on every corner in America. Dispensary attendance requires a medical prescription and I know there is a lot of dishonesty there. However, I believe many of those users are self medicating with it, not even knowing it. If it helps, and we already know it is medicine, then what are we waiting for? The RX companies might not make as much money. Wait until they see what is coming in the next ten years. They ought to rip us off as much as possible because the same opportunities will not exist but others will, and they will be called cures, not treatments that they have lived off for the last 50 years. I promise you they will be selling their drugs to keep us alive and raise the average age in America to 95 in the next 20 years. Frightening, but there is no doubt about is, putting aside some horrible war or something evil we have not yet experienced. G-d forbid. Americans want their freedom and we promote it just like Russia and China do for Communism. Politics and religion and dictators account for all of the negativity and violence. I don’t have the answers, but it would make no difference if I did. Be well everyone and stay healthy.