Dear Mother, 

I’ve been a pretty dedicated smoker of marijuana since my college days. I'm now in my late 30s. A few days ago, one of my friends sat me down and told me he thinks I'm addicted to pot. But that's stupid, right? People can't get addicted to cannabis! I will admit that sometimes I smoke when I feel kind of depressed, but only because it makes me feel better. What do you think? Do I have a problem?

— Marijuana Man

Dear Friend,

I am not a doctor or a therapist, so please keep that in mind as you read my answer. I am, however, a concerned mother. And while I might not be yours, that doesn't stop me from worrying any less. 

When a good friend takes the time and energy to have a frank conversation with someone, it’s usually not without some merit. Now, is it as drastic as your friend is making it out to be? Maybe. Maybe not. But it at least should serve as an alert to check in with yourself for some hard truths. 

You’re right, cannabis isn’t addictive in the sense that your body doesn't go through massive withdrawal if you stop smoking cold turkey like many drugs (including nicotine!). But it is possible to develop a dependency on it. If you find that you need to smoke before engaging in everyday tasks, just to get through them, that could certainly be a sign of dependency.

Cannabis consumption has the potential to be a negative influence on your life—just like anything else—if it starts to impede on your day-to-day life. Ask yourself the following questions and answer them honestly:

Do you have to always be high? Think about not smoking cannabis. How does that make you feel? OK? Anxious? Angry? Also think about whether or not you've turned down invitations to do things because you're not able to smoke while there. If you're unable to go out and about to places because using marijuana there is not allowed, it might be a problem.  

Are you having trouble holding down a job? Are you unable to keep a job because you either don't show up, show up high, or are unable to complete your job-related tasks because of cannabis? If cannabis is causing a dent in your pocket—either because you can't keep a job, or because you're buying more than you can afford, it might be a problem. 

Are you having trouble making and maintaining relationships with both friends and romantic partners? Do you find yourself unwilling or unable to make new friends because of cannabis? Do friends not want to talk to you because you're always high and they prefer you to be present during conversations? Think about who you'd like to spend quality time with and who you actually spend time with. Do those lists match?

Most important, do you find yourself fudging or completely going against your own personal pot rules? We all have our own limits that we set for ourselves. For instance, I don't like to smoke much during the day, and if I do, I limit it to medicinal strains that are low THC/high CBD. If I start wanting more high THC strains to pull me out of the present, so to speak, it's a red flag that I might want to look at closer. 

I can't make a definitive decree on your relationship with weed, but I urge you to take inventory of your own use. Compare it to your use in the past, how it impacts/stifles/enhances your life, and see where you end up. 

As I mentioned at the start, I'm not a qualified professional, so if you're still wondering whether or not you have a problem, it might be best for you to contact one soon. There are many therapists out there who are cannabis-friendly and won't judge you for using it. They can simply help you figure out if how you're using it is working best for you and your life. 

— Mother