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Why I Smoke Pot with My Dad

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Melissa Etheridge made headlines this week when she spoke out about marijuana—specifically telling Yahoo she'd "much rather have a smoke" with her grown kids than have liquor. While this statement caused a ton of outcry and backlash, I gotta be honest with you: Etheridge and her kids aren't the only ones who smoke weed together. My dad and I have been smoking pot together since I was 18, and it's so much better than any time we have a glass of wine (or two, or three). I know a ton of you are probably shaking your heads in disbelief, but let me back up and tell you the story.

Growing up, I was never into beer kegs, wine coolers, or skimmings off of the top of someone's parents' liquor collection. Regardless of any of the alcohol available, I was just never sold on it. Maybe it was because booze never really sat well with me.

What I did experiment with—and end up becoming a fan of—was marijuana. Melissa Etheridge says she first discovered weed when she was smoking medicinal marijuana for chemotherapy relief in 2004. And although she's cancer-free today, she still regularly lights up. "It was a wake-up call for me," Etheridge told Yahoo. "When I used it as medicine, it became so clear to me that it has been maligned and misunderstood, and I really wanted to help people who are suffering." (P.S. Here's why you shouldn't compare weed to opioid addiction.)

Admittedly, I did not discover weed as legally as Etheridge (and I don't condone breaking the law today): I was 16, at a house party, and someone packed a bong rip for me. Besides coughing for like 20 straight minutes afterward (in retrospect, a bong hit was a BIG way to start my life as a pothead), the calorie-free, relaxed vibe washed over me, and I never really looked back since. But it was only a couple years later, when I hosted a few friends at my home for an early-morning wake-and-bake, that I found half of a smoked joint on our screened-in porch. I remember putting the pieces together—stoned, for the record—and realizing it was my father who was the other stoner at home.

Always a dad's girl, we were so close while I was growing up. If I got a bad grade on a test or something bad happened with a boy, I'd usually tell Dad first. He just got me and I always got him. So when I had the come-to-Jesus moment that we were both stoners, it almost created an impasse in our relationship in the most ironic of ways. We both had the same secret (and I knew his), but neither of us could talk about it. For one, my mother and brother weren't on the pot train. Plus, I was still in high school and marijuana was still entirely illegal in the state I grew up in, medicinally or otherwise.

It took a teaching moment for us to smoke together: That time he found a used bong in my car. (Read: the car he bought for me.) Carrying used drug paraphernalia at the time was a criminal misdemeanor, and he basically went ballistic on me for being so irresponsible. And listen, he was totally right. Because while I love smoking pot, the trunk of your car isn't a good place to store your stuff. But it did open us up to the conversation about how we each smoked pot, and him telling me stories of getting stoned over the years—the good ones, like the 1970s—and eventually, to our first session together. (Related: There's a New Gym for Marijuana Lovers Opening In California)

My joint-rolling skills impressed him; I was amazed at his inhalation techniques. We laughed a lot that day, while also keeping in mind the when and why of when it's cool to get stoned and when you shouldn't be smoking at all. (Like in the car, for example.) The conversation was probably the most transparent one we'd had in a while—the kind of conversation that never came along with a glass of wine or a beer with dinner. 

We've since blazed together like a million times (now legally, BTW). And to this day, I'd always rather get high and have a good conversation with my father than have a few cocktails and spend the next 24 hours in bed unsuccessfully attempting to hoover an egg-and-cheese sandwich. Let's just say I might be Mary Jane's best friend. Aside from Dad, that is.

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