10 Things to Consider if Your Husband Wants to Use Marijuana

by | May 28, 2019 | Resolving Conflict, Uncategorized | 23 comments

When your husband wants to use pot

What do you do if your husband wants to smoke pot?

That may feel out of left field, but increasingly I’m having readers write in with that question. Marijuana is legal in many jurisdictions now–Europe; Canada; many individual states. So I thought it was time that we actually talked about it.

I asked Joanna, who works for me and who has a Masters in Public Health, to take a stab at this one today. What are you to do if your husband announces to you that he intends on starting to use pot? Here’s Joanna:


I’m a public health nerd and epidemiologist by training, which is a field where we talk a LOT about risk. I’ve written this guide mostly to inform you of the various risks associated with using pot. That way, you and your spouse can begin making a decision that is best for you both. For more information about pot and its health effects, the Government of Canada has put together a variety of excellent guides. This post is meant to be a conversation starter, not to be the be-all and end-all guide.

Here we go!

1. Tell your spouse how you feel

If your husband or wife comes to you and says they are going to start using pot and you are uncomfortable with that, ideally they should submit to your opinion and avoid using marijuana. And let me state upfront here--you have a right to an opinion. You absolutely do! And because you’re married, your opinion should matter to your spouse.

I’m personally very wary of motorcycles and I’ve asked my husband not to ride them. He understands why I’m concerned – my dad was nearly killed when he was hit by a car while riding a bicycle – and has happily acquiesced. But maybe your spouse is, unfortunately, not so understanding. Then you will need to lay out some ground rules and boundaries to protect you, your spouse, and any children you may have at home with you.

2. If your spouse will not listen to your concerns, consider counselling

This actually is relevant whether the conflict is about marijuana use, motorcycle riding, investing choices, or any other major decision. If your spouse is stonewalling you, refuses to see your point of view, or is manipulative as you make decisions, it is time to seek help. You AND your spouse need to make decisions together – that’s the blessing of Christian marriage, being able to confirm to one another what the best course of action is.

3. Make your spouse bear the repercussions for the pot use

Marijuana stinks. Literally. The smell gets everywhere, and it’s quite unmistakable. For that reason, if your spouse uses pot, he (or she) will smell like it.

Marijuana smell: marijuana and marriage

It’s quite okay to insist that that smell stay away from you, and that your spouse has to deal with it. Refuse to let them near you until they have showered, brushed their teeth, and done everything to get rid of the smell. Insist that every item of clothing that they were wearing stay out in the garage or in a garbage bag until it is laundered–and you can refuse to do that laundry. Refuse to go anywhere with your husband if he is high (and please, never get in a car with your spouse driving if your spouse is high). A good principle in the Bible is that a person should reap what they sow. That’s how God made it so that we would learn! Sheila talked about this principle a lot in her book 9 Thoughts That Can Change a Marriage. If he is not listening to your concerns, then he should be isolated when he is using marijuana, because he is breaking intimacy and oneness.

 

Are you PeaceKEEPING or PeaceMAKING?

There’s a huge difference between the two. And if you don’t get it right–you’ll never be able to feel truly intimate in your marriage.

There’s a better way!

4. Understand that there are legitimate, medicinal uses for marijuana

Nevertheless, remember: while there are no medical benefits to using tobacco, pot just isn’t the same. My husband and I have a relative who uses medical marijuana oil to treat her once crippling insomnia. It has made a huge difference in her quality of life. For someone with a health condition for which medical cannabinoids can be a treatment, they can be a huge help. If your spouse has a prescription from a medical doctor for medical marijuana, it is very different from recreational use. If your spouse wants to use pot for “medicinal purposes” but does not have a prescription, that’s very different (and technically, without a prescription, it’s still recreational use).

5. Make sure your spouse knows that using marijuana recreationally is not safe

People tend to think marijuana use is completely safe, especially compared to alcohol. However, as we’re going to show, that’s not actually true. Marijuana may not be as addictive as alcohol, but it still is addictive, and there are other, quite serious health risks associated with it. The fact that people believe that it’s perfectly safe, though, probably accounts for so many people using it. Keith, a pediatrician, just told me about a conference he went to in pediatrics which showed that pot use is inversely related to its perceived risks. The more risky people think it is, the less people use it. Right now, many, many people are using it because everyone thinks it’s safe. But it’s not.

Pot use will never be safe. Neither will drinking alcohol, or even driving.

But if your spouse wants to use marijuana, and is going to, even if you ask them not to, then the question becomes: “How can I reduce the risk?”

Let me give you a concrete example of how a behavior that is always somewhat risky can be more or less dangerous depending upon the circumstances. My husband and I took a roadtrip in the summer of 2017. I was newly pregnant with our daughter and we were on our way to hike and cave through the Black Hills of South Dakota. We were driving through rural Wyoming at night, in a cellular dead zone, when a thunderstorm rolled in. It was terrifying and beautiful. Somehow, though, the strange weather made the many mule deer in the area particularly active. My husband swerved once to avoid a deer and then we slowed to a crawl, weaving around the hundred plus deer we saw on the road that night. It was a dangerous situation and our risk of an accident that night was far higher than it was during our twenty minute drive to church last Sunday morning, in bright sunny spring weather.

Reducing the risks with marijuana use

While we were driving through Wyoming, we had to keep driving as there was nowhere to stop. However, we did reduce our risk of an accident by slowing down. There are health risks to pot use, but there are ways you can reduce those risks.

If your spouse insists on using marijuana recreationally, let’s talk risk reduction!

6. Marijuana risk reduction step: Insist that marijuana be kept away from children

It’s terrifically important that kids not be exposed to marijuana. If your husband decides he is going to use pot and won’t listen to you, it is perfectly fair for you to insist that he only use it out of the house, especially if you have children. Children can become high from secondhand pot smoke. Additionally, it is very easy for a child to mistake a pot edible for regular baked goods.

If your spouse doesn’t seem to care, you can consider removing the children (and yourself) from the house when he’s using pot.

Also, your ability to be a parent at all may also be at risk. According to a 2018 study, men who use pot also show differences in their sperm when compared to men who don’t use pot, though the effect of these epigenetic differences has not been studied. It could very well be, though, that marijuana use does reduce fertility. Talk to your husband about this, because he may not be aware of it. In fact, he may not be aware of any of these health risks, since we so rarely talk about them:

7. Marijuana risk reduction step: tell your spouse about health risks associated with pot

Inhaling marijuana smoke can cause lung damage, much like tobacco smoke can. I’m not yet 30, but I remember the days of smoking sections in restaurants and, while I was in college, I often got caught walking behind a student who was smoking on his or her way to class. Never fun!

8. Marijuana risk reduction step: tell your husband to protect his brain and mental health

Using pot before the brain has completed its development is associated with a number of increased risks, including higher rates of mental health problems and higher rates of addiction. It can also impair normal brain development and can even affect learning and memory.

It’s long been known that pot use is one of the biggest risk factors for developing schizophrenia and other forms of psychosis, especially among men. Here’s how they think it works: some people are highly predisposed to developing schizophrenia, but they go through life and they’re actually fine and it never manifests. But those same people, if they smoked marijuana when they were young, would trigger the onset of the disease which otherwise they would never have displayed. Young males are at the biggest risk for that, and for that reason the Canadian government recommends delaying the start of pot use until after the age of 25, when the brain is fully developed.

Pot can also cause new or worsening mental health problems, including depression and anxiety. Even though people think that marijuana helps you feel less anxious, in the long run it seems to have the opposite effect, making anxiety and depression worse. If your spouse intends to use pot, make sure both of you are keeping an eye on their mental health.

 

Now that marijuana is legal in so many places, what do you do if your spouse wants to use pot–and you’re opposed? Here are 10 things to consider!

9. Marijuana risk reduction step: be aware of pot addiction

Approximately one in ten people who use pot will become dependent upon it. The risk of dependence goes up if marijuana use was started in adolescence or young adulthood. Not just that, but marijuana can become a “gateway drug” the younger people start using it, meaning that if they use pot, they’re more likely to try other, more highly addictive drugs.

10. Marijuana risk reduction step: educate yourselves on pot’s legal status in your area

While pot is legal in many US states and in Canada, it remains criminalized in many places. Even if you live in an area where pot is legal, the length of time between using pot and being able to drive safely can be very long. The breathalyzer tests currently used for marijuana are significantly less able to discern sobriety than those used for alcohol. Ensure that you understand the laws regarding pot in your area, especially as it relates to your work and to driving or operating heavy machinery. And, please, never, ever drive while being impaired. Please.

There you have it – 10 tips for navigating marijuana use in your marriage. It’s hard to navigate when one spouse wants to do something the other considers morally wrong or dangerous, but I hope that this at least gets you started in the right direction.

10 Things to Consider if Your Husband Wants to Use Marijuana

Let me know–has this ever been an issue in your family or friend group? Or how did you and your spouse handle making decisions when you disagreed? Let me know in the comments!

Like this post so far? You should also check out:

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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23 Comments

  1. Jane Eyre

    A reminder: even if an American state allows marijuana use, it is still illegal under federal law. While the feds probably are not going to bust you for smoking a joint, they can.

    Companies are still allowed to drug test for marijuana and deny employment (or continued employment) to those who test positive. The federal government is obviously allowed to do the same.

    You are endangering your livelihood by doing pot off the job, just as much as if you drank on the job. That’s not a fair thing to do to your family.

    Reply
    • Joanna Sawatsky

      Exactly. It’s so important to know what is and is not legal in your area and what the potential consequences of using cannabis are. And the US is such a minefield right now with pot being legal in some states, illegal in others, and still illegal federally.

      Reply
  2. Melissa

    I live in a state where marijuana was legalized and it has created a lot of headaches for residents and law enforcement alike. People think they can move here and grow however much pot they want and that is just not true. Drug traffickers move here, rent houses, convert them into illegal grows, and then smuggle the marijuana out of state. Because of the high level of humidity required to grow marijuana plants the houses develop mold and have to be remediated at best, sometimes condemned. Marijuana may have been legalized for recreational use here but there are still regulations. People don’t bother to read up on them.
    I’m a proponent of natural medicinals and I firmly believe the marijuana plant has vast potential to help people. BUT. There is a right way and a wrong way to go about it, and it needs to be treated with respect.

    Reply
    • Joanna Sawatsky

      Yes, exactly. My husband is a lawyer who does a lot of real estate and he says that a lot of home sale contracts now include a stipulation that the house has never been used to grow pot. It’s simply a mold issue.

      Reply
  3. Jenn

    Keeping in mind that I’ve never smoked a cigarette or a joint, and I’ve never been drunk…

    I’ve gotta say that I’m disappointed with the lack of scientific vigor in this article and the fear mongering.

    “People tend to think marijuana use is completely safe, especially compared to alcohol. However, as we’re going to show, that’s not actually true.”

    You did not show this at all. You did not compare the risks of alcohol with cannabis. The article makes many assertions of fact that are not backed up by peer reviewed research. For example…stating that children can get high from second hand smoke. This was backed up with a study that showed that non-smokers in a room with smokers have THC detectable in their urine after one hour, but not enough to fail a drug test. Considering that a drug test can pick up THC as much as a MONTH after marijuana is consumed, I do not think an amount that wouldn’t fail a drug test is an indicator that the person was anywhere close to high. The most I really think you can say about kids and second hand marijuana smoke is that it seems to affect the lungs worse than second hand tobacco use.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Actually, a number of journal articles are linked here, including the one that shows the link between cannabis and psychosis/schizophrenia, which has been repeatedly demonstrated and is, to me, the most important one. Schizophrenia is a horrible disease, and when you use marijuana when you’re young, you’re far more likely to trigger it.

      I think the bigger issue here, though, is that spouses should have a say in what another spouse does. If one spouse wants to use marijuana, and the other spouse is uncomfortable with it, that should matter. It isn’t just a question of whether marijuana is safe or not (I don’t believe it is); it’s also a marriage issue. So this is how spouses could talk about it.

      Reply
    • Joanna Sawatsky

      Thanks for the update – I’ll double check the study. That kids got high from the secondhand smoke was written up in a reputable science journalism site, so I took that as fine. Thanks for pointing that out!

      However, I’d also just caution you that going through potential risks is not the same as fear mongering. I take my daughter to gymnastics, she’s only 1 but she loves it, and I had to sign all kinds of forms saying that I understood the various and sundry ways she could be hurt while using the equipment. If that’s what I have to do to play with my toddler in a gym, I think we should certainly be aware of the risks when discussing psychoactive drugs.

      Reply
      • Rebecca Lindenbach

        Exactly! Same as how we need to talk about the dangers of driving drunk, the dangers of opioid addiction/how to assess your risk for developing addiction, and the side effects of psychiatric drugs, talking about the potential risks of cannabis use is NOT the same as fear mongering. Someone struggling with depression needs to know the side effects of SSRIs before they start taking them–that’s just common sense–no fear mongering when you’re just presenting potential side effects.

        We need to be careful that when we get excited about new potential treatments we don’t overlook the signs that maybe they aren’t right for everyone. That’s the basis of INFORMED choice–which is something we all have a right to.

        Reply
        • Natalie

          I’d have to agree with Rebecca and Joanna. Talking about the harmful effects of one’s lifestyle choices should not be considered fear mongering. I consider it the same as when I talk to my husband about the negative effects his eating habits are having not only on his health but also on me as his wife and now our children and our future as a family too. Many would consider me even bringing up that topic as fat shaming him. I’m sorry, but if we can’t rationally talk about the facts and the dangers that come from using or abusing a certain substance (everything from pot to other drugs to alcohol to video games/tech to porn to food) and how that’s effecting us and our loved ones without our concerns being name called, condemned and criticised as being “unhealthy” for their mental health or whatever, that’s just ludicrous. It makes us all worse off, especially those struggling with the issue!

          Reply
          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Thank you, Natalie! And I do think this is the problem with pot use today, is that it is treated like it’s harmless. Of course alcohol and tobacco are not harmless, and no one is saying that they are. But pot is not harmless, either. And not just that, but the negative effects seem to disproportionately fall on men under the age of 25. So this does need to be talked about, and the more we say, “there’s nothing wrong with it at all!”, the more we encourage pot use in those men for whom it may be very dangerous.

            There’s also the bigger picture of “is it okay to get high?” which we never even touched. But I would say that biblically, no, it is not, any more than it’s not okay to get drunk. You can drink a glass of wine and not be drunk, but with marijuana you are high right away, I understand. That’s a problem, and it is okay if spouses are concerned.

    • Phil

      The contradiction is wrong. You can get contact high from second hand marijuana smoke. I have personally experienced it. No study needed. Thanks

      Reply
    • Chris

      I employ a lot of young men. Nearly all of them have little ambition in their lives. But the ones who smoke weed on the weekends really have ZERO ambition. This is my biggest concern with legalization of marijuana: that it is going to further rob ambition from a demographic that is already struggling with any motivation in their lives.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Yes, that’s been highly correlated with it, too. It really is affecting a generation of young men especially (It seems to affect men more than women).

        Reply
        • Chris

          Add porn into the mix and you have real problems. They are all on porn, so they have no motivation to pursue women. They are all on weed, so they have no motivation to better their education or earning potential. To be honest, i am a little surprised they show up to work at all. So they go MGTOW with everything.

          Reply
  4. Michael

    I think if there are children in the home you absolutely shouldn’t smoke marijuana recreationally. If you don’t have children it’s up to you and your spouse. And if your spouse says no and you still want to then there’s a problem that needs to be addressed.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yep. Absolutely!

      Reply
  5. Patrick Anthony

    I use marijuana legally for chronic pain and insomnia, and it works quite well, especially at night, when muscle spasms kick in. I used to take opiates three times a day, and I am almost completely off them. I know that some people use it to enhance their sexual experiences. I totally get that. Maybe it’s just because the pain subsides, but sometimes it seems to make an intimate encounter with my wife almost an emergency. I wonder if any of your followers have had the same experience. Thanks so much for your ministry!

    Reply
  6. Susan Payette

    Great article, but I think I would have used the term “partner” or “spouse” because it is not just the men/husbands who use marijuana.

    Reply
  7. Noel

    I really don’t get why this is even a question, to be honest. My husband’s marijuana use was partially responsible for the failure of his first marriage and when he returned to it in our marriage it almost ended our marriage. Thank God he has given it up. But he continues to struggle with health (physical and mental) issues related to past use, and he periodically has dreams he uses it, which really upset him when he wakes up. It can be VERY addictive, depending on the person.
    It can also cause other problems if you mix it with things. My friend’s significant other was merely spaced out and useless on marijuana, but when he mixed it with alcohol he had psychotic episodes and tried to kill her.
    I agree with Sheila that all of the verses about being drunk apply here- as does the verse about “a little wine for your stomach’s sake,” presumably. It’s not the same as “just having a glass of wine,” though, because it ONLY results in being high. Imagine someone saying, “I want to start getting drunk sometimes.” ?!
    Also remember that modern marijuana has been genetically modified. It is ten times stronger than what was being used forty years ago. (I’m sorry, I don’t remember where I read this study, so I can’t cite it.)
    Again, multiple studies have shown that use before physical maturity PERMANENTLY affects the brain- do you want that risk in your home if you have kids? My husband didn’t start using it till he was 19, but he was still young enough to have permanent damage.
    Even if it is “lawful”- is it edifying? I realize there are certain medical conditions that can be relieved; just remember that thousands of lives were ruined in the 19th century because people thought opium and morphia were good tonics for your health, and a harmless social experience.

    Reply
  8. Ashley

    This has been a HUGE issue in Oregon. I fully support medical use. My grandma had shingles before she died, and my aunt got her some cream that seemed to help. But it’s awful when you can’t go to Walmart without smelling pot everywhere.

    I watched an excellent Patrick Doyle video on YouTube about marijuana use. From his experience as a former user, and as someone who has worked trying to get many people free from drugs, he says it is definitely addictive. The reason people may not realize it is, is because the withdrawals are experienced quite a while after they stop using, because of how long it stays in the blood. I thought that was very interesting.

    Reply
  9. Maria

    Huge red flag when someone simply informs his or her spouse that he or she will begin doing something that will significantly affect the family. This is the person who you pledged to be with for the rest of your life, who made the same pledge to you! That has to count for something.

    (Now if he or she had said “I’m thinking about doing this but not if it will cause you real distress or hardship. I want your input” that would be fine).

    Reply
  10. Timothy

    This article seems well-meaning, but it is not accurate and is seriously biased. By all accounts, Pot is a relatively harmless substance that creates consequences that will never come near the damage that alcohol does to this country. That is why you rarely, if ever, hear of any consistent health problems associated with pot, which has not been effectively studied due to the federal prohibition. I am married. I smoke pot once in a while. My wife’s self-righteous reaction, which you seem to promote, is far more damaging to our marriage and our family. So, please be careful of moralizing an issue that is only made worse by people who are uninformed and overreact. You are encouraging your readers to do just that.

    If the worst think I do in my marriage is smoke pot once or twice a month, so be it. I discuss the issue openly and honestly and noone, including myself, is being hurt.

    Reply

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