Melissa Etheridge became a big proponent of marijuana after it improved her quality of life during her agonizing cancer battle in 2004. Apparently it was David Crosby, the sperm donor for her two oldest children, who convinced her to try it to help with pain management. While appearing in the documentary Weed and the American Family, Melissa admitted that she smokes with Bailey, 20, and Beckett, 18, and that she discusses her use openly with her younger children so there will be no stigma in the household. Melissa, who is launching her own line of cannabis products, hopes to help spread the good word about marijuana and stamp out people’s misapprehensions about it.
Melissa Etheridge thinks it’s high time society moves past the stigma surrounding smoking marijuana.
The Grammy-winning rocker opens up about her use of the drug in the new Yahoo project Weed & the American Family, and PEOPLE has an exclusive first look at her interview.
As Etheridge, 55, reveals in the clip, she smokes marijuana with her wife, Linda Wallem, and her adult children daughter Bailey, 20, and son Beckett, 18.
“I have smoked with my older two,” she told Yahoo. “It was funny at first, and then they realized, it’s a very natural, end-of-the-day [thing] … And it brings you much closer. I’d much rather have a smoke with my grown kids than a drink — oh, God, no.”
Furthermore, Etheridge said toking up plays an important role in her marriage.
“Cannabis is the best marital aid,” she added. “When it’s date night … It takes down your inhibition; your sexual desires are enhanced. We take a bath every night and smoke and talk and wind down and sleep a very, very good night sleep — and sleep is extremely important.”
Indeed, the star — also mom to 10-year-old twins, daughter Johnnie Rose and Miller Steven — says the drug is first and foremost a remedy in her household.
“My children have a very clear understanding of cannabis,” she said. “When I hold it without shame or confusion, then they can understand it as simple as if I was pointing to a bottle of Percocet and said, ‘That’s Mama’s medicine.’ You take the naughtiness out of it, and it’s not something that kids run to.”
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve never used marijuana. However, I drink alcohol and although I quit smoking cigarettes regularly, I won’t pretend that I haven’t bummed one from one of my few friends who still smoke. So there is absolutely no moral stance in my thoughts on this. Obviously, Melissa is trying to remove the shame surrounding marijuana and those who use it. I’m on board with that. Beckett and Bailey are legally able to smoke it so it’s not my place to make that decision for them. I appreciate that she’s saying if she was given the choice of vices, she’d prefer they smoked than drank. And a smoke break is a great time to catch up with folks. However, smoke is a carcinogen regardless of what you are smoking so it’s a little odd to hear a cancer survivor celebrate it. I agree about being open in regards to medication, we are at our house as well. Melissa believes that “anybody who smokes cannabis is using it medicinally, whether they consider it so or not.” So I understand the connection for her but to lump these thoughts together as she does, it reads a little like she would swap Percocet’s with her older kids as well. Like I said, I encourage reeducating people on the misconceptions about marijuana, I just think Melissa needs to work on her message a little more.
She did catch my attention with the martial aid suggestion, however. Although, if I’m being honest, throwing off all inhibitions for me would more likely to lead to a karaoke bar than the bedroom.
I can Vouch for this Method of Pre bed Relaxation ( with some BOMB music too?? or then to sit and watch something like Samurai Jack or Triptank?!?? LORD!!!!! Or to then go sit at the pool listening Bossa nova?) and Sans Ropas Time enhancer… Don’t let him be skilled at the Mouth too…l Pshhaaaw…. Also Before a deep Tissue Massage is HEAVEN ( IDk you guys but my massage Guy must be in a FISA Warrant Plot to catch me Slipping he is bald GINORMOUS, with a Big Ol Accent and will touch me in all the places the sun dont shine to where I wonder.. Is This .. about to be… sex.. NVM MY SCIATICA and mental Health Need This!!!- )
Before a massage, hell yes!
I’ll sign up for the Bossa Nova scenario, sigh..
I’ll be the first to jump in here, there is WAAAAAAAY too much stigma attached to weed. Its safer than alcohol and ciggarettes, its just demonized because if the pharmaceutical industry didn’t pay all those millions to demonize weed and keep it illegal, they would be out of business. CBD and THC have been well proven to cure cancer as well as support cancer recovery for those who have gone the allopathic way. I am very much pro cannabis and think people need to open their eyes and do some frikken research instead of believing the bullshit churned out by the likes of “Reefer Madness” proponents who will feed Oxy to kids before approving cannabis
She’s the worst and always has been.
She’s cool, nothing wrong with enjoying some ganja with the grown up kids. Very relaxing and I’m sure they have some great relaxing times and conversations together.
Partying with your teenagers, whether it’s weed or alcohol, is disgusting. Nothing admirable here.
Can’t ding her for the pot use but otherwise she is, and always will be, the worst.
I see no problem with this at all. I think weed is so much better in every aspect than alcohol. A lot of parents drink with their kids so I don’t think it is a big deal to smoke weed with them. It would probably decrease the amount of domestic violence/disturbances if everyone would just get stoned together and get the munchies rather than get drunk out of their minds and angry/emotional with each other.
I’m not anti-weed for adults-but it’s actually very damaging for developing brains.
Her kids are of legal age to smoke. I’m talking about smoking with older children not young children. But if I had to choose between a child smoking weed or drinking alcohol, I would choose weed every time. I highly doubt alcohol is safer than weed but I’m no doctor.
My 12 year old takes Charlotte’s Web Cannabis Oil (very low THC) for uncontrollable seizures and it has drastically improved her quality of life. I will be a medical marijuana advocate for the rest of my life because I’ve seen the benefits myself.
Again-under 25 brains are still developing. It’s a biological fact. Binge drinking is also damaging. I’m not anti-marijuana, and I know it helps with pain management. Over 25-knock yourself out. But her kids are under 25.
I think they will be just fine in this aspect. Try not stress yourself over it. Your concern is very sweet. Precious, in fact.
The jury is still out is its ‘very damaging’ or has any long term impact at all if you are mentally healthy and do not have family history of schizophrenia.
I think it is best to use caution with youth, but I doubt weed is any worse than alcohol on the brain damage front.
@Lafawnda, Unfortunately I have to wait until next year to try Charlottes Web. I’m so happy when I hear it improves someone’s situation. I hope it works for me too. 23 years of uncontrollable seizures has been frustrating. I hope it keeps working for her forever
If everyone in America smoked weed rather than drank alcohol, we wouldn’t have had enough angry, hateful people to elect Donald Trump.
Smoke weed – don’t elect a small-fingered a-hole.
I forgot she even has kids.
Pot isn’t a big deal where I live. It was legalized and we haven’t had any problems with it . I used to smoke in school, but hadn’t in years. I tried it on a girls weekend two years ago and I swear to God, I felt like crap. I didn’t enjoy it at all . I’m a huge control freak and I didn’t feel in control . So that was the last time I did that.
I smoke weed for fun, pain control, and to keep depression in abeyance. I don’t drink because I hate the way I feel when drunk. You can’t walk properly, you can’t talk properly, your mouth says the stupidest things, and you are also less aware of your surroundings when drunk. I don’t have that problem with weed. I will advocate for weed over alcohol any day.
Totally agree with you Lady D!
The kids are 18+ so if it’s legal, fine. I wouldn’t do it but I also wouldn’t make alcohol a regular thing. A cold beer in the summer here and there. A glass of wine now and then on the weekends or with a special meal. I would have no problem with my kids doing that. That’s only because I have never been interested in weed but I do like a cocktail etc. now and then. But alcohol or cannabis shouldn’t be a regular thing, especially at that age. The brain is still not fully developed and who knows how teenagers react to it. If you already have an addictive personality (or whatever the right term is these days), none of it is great.
I’m all for legalization but let’s not pretend it’s like eating salad.
Studies proves that weed is less damaging and addictive than alcohol. But, just like alcohol, it shouldn’t become a daily occurrence. (If it’s not a real medicinal use).
If you take it every day to “relax” you are / are becoming an addict that should learn stress management.
My grandparent’s generation came home from work and had a martini, my parents generation had a highball after work. My generation comes home and smokes a joint after work. Do you consider the drinkers as having a problem relaxing, with potential addiction in their future? I’m asking because I personally don’t see a difference between the two scenarios. It’s more a matter of taste.
Lady D, the difference is that these days we know a lot more about the effects of alcohol and other drugs if consumed daily. I mean, have a tea once in a while. I don’t think our grandparents were any more in danger of becoming addicts than I am but that doesn’t make it healthy. There is a bit of problematic language in what Etheridge says. It is a matter of taste, true. But the line between wanting that beer/martini/joint almost daily and needing it is very thin.
I used to smoke weed with my parents and I hated it. It was too weird; as a teen I wanted them to be parents, not friends.
As between weed and alcohol, I guess weed is preferable and I do strongly believe in its medicinal properties. But these days I like my interactions with people, particularly loved ones, to be authentic. And for me they just aren’t when someone or everyone is high — it’s like everyone is engaging in parallel play but without any real focus on anyone else. I hate that. Plus, I just feel so dumbed down for days if I smoke; for some reason my brain can’t handle it the way it used to.
But that’s just me.
I have never gotten on a high horse about adults smoking pot as I did quite a bit of it in my late teens early 20’s. But what I will do it get on that horse about people who smoke it in public. NO!!! You do you, in your own home.
Sorry, but that is a pet peeve of mine. And yes, it is right up there with the person who choose to smoke on a outdoor platform with tons of people surrounding you. UGH.
Nope. Developing brains do not need this. It has been shown to lower IQ by 6 points, and change the brain wiring. I’ve had a couple Dr. friends say after age 25 or so it’s not really bad for the brain but before that it is a potentially dangerous unknown. Plus I would never encourage my kids to smoke anything. It would have to be a different delivery if they really needed it for medicine.
I’m with you on this.
It is especially important to discuss the risks to adolescents in terms of brain development and reducing the prodromal period of certain disorders like schizophrenia.
That goes for alcohol too though, I feel developing brains should avoid any drug that significantly impacts cognition, with rare exceptions.
I agree, but save your breath, because the fanatics will never listen. People really overstate the benefits of weed.
I’m not against pot for moral reason but I do think it can stunt your emotional growth if used to much or used as a crutch. I’d rather have Melissa bond with her kids by going hiking, or swimming or something else that doesn’t alter one’s mind. To really bond, you have to be fully present and I don’t think you can do that by smoking pot. I know I can’t. BTW – I don’t think bonding over alcohol is a good idea either.
I don’t know guys. I started when I was 17 and saw a huge surge in my grades. I think it helped with a lot of underlying pressure and allowed me to focus on the material. It’s a little unfair to say if you smoke it too much it stunts your emotional growth. I’ve smoked it regularly since I was 17 and ten years later, I’m easily the most established and stable person in my group of peers. I’m on a career path, I’ve been financially independent of my parents for almost 10 years, I assist with my siblings and disabled sister. I’m sorry, there is no formula for a pot smoker. Unless you’re in the medical or science field, your personal feelings and thoughts of what stoners are are can be is moot. if those are your observations, okay but I guarantee you for every emotionally stunted, lazy smoker there’s three highly successful and responsible consumers. They just don’t feel the need to openly shout 4204lyfe!
But I dare say that what you mention that works for you, it is also anecdotical.
For anecdotes, most of the young people that I know that started to use option their teens lost their balance and either went on to harder drugs or used too much, all the tim, becoming almost paranoid at times, but I think that it starts with it being illegal for them, and offered by unscrupulous people who sell to kids who are immature / have poor judgement and become emotionally dependent.
Maybe you were just lucky by not developing any dependence.
Otee people who have smoked weed or tried other drugs that I know of as adults have much, much less problems with addictions.
The damage to the brain in a young brain is something that professionals have said to me and others in our field of work.
See, it works both ways.
Just a minor note, medical evidence is out on marijuana causing lung cancer.
If you note the wording in the American Lung Association’s copy, they state they are ‘concerned’, which is political speak for precautionary principle.
This is because most research on drugs goes through the NIH in the states, and they will only fund research proving marijuana is bad. Ditto for their stance on cocaine, and a few other drugs. It’s a political stance, not a scientific one, and part of the reason marijuana in on the schedule it is and why there is very little scientific background on it.
The research I’ve read states that unlike nicotine, which decreases apoptosis (increasing the time atypical cells have to grow and multiply), THC and other cannbinoids have the opposite effect. In patients who use only marijuana, the apoptosis is increased, theoretically decreasing the incidence of lung cancer.
Despite this, inhaling heated particulate will cause lung and throat irritation and damage. Vaping or edibles decrease or eliminate this risk.
Due to the funding mechanisms and politicalization of research (the US isn’t alone in their restrictions), the impact of cannabinoids and other naturally occurring drugs are incredibly understudied. To the extent that unlike many neurotransmitters, the cannabinoids are very poorly understood, even though they may have a role in reducing cancers above the neck (due to THCs ability to cross the blood brain barrier).
I agree that research on anything that government is trying to officially control is always political. It’s as much WHAT studies get funded and HOW they are conducted as what the studies say. Here in the UK, we actually sacked the government’s drug adviser scientist when he issued a harm scale that put alcohol above most illegal drugs!
In terms of Etheridge specifically and people talking about smoking weed with tobacco – why doesn’t she just use one of those dry herb vaping things like my dad does so that he can use weed to help with his arthritis pain? Then she’s not encouraging carcinogen use by her kids.
Oh, was that Dr. Nutt? He was who I was vaguely referring to when discussing other countries’ stances. From what I understood, he was the only one in the UK allowed to deal with many of those drugs?
His paper on drug harm (I think we are talking about the same one, oh man was it good), is one of the touchstone pieces used in Public Health, one of the most impactful pieces I can think of in recent history regarding drug use and societal and personal harms.
Etheridge is a piece of work. I really don’t want her championing any cause because I disagree with her almost constantly, and you’ve pointed out two major problems with her reasoning already.
She shouldn’t be encouraging underage usage of any psychoactives and she shouldn’t be encouraging the most damaging way to consume cannabinoids, yet here we are.
She’s too busy trying to be the cool mom
That’s him! I find him to be a prime example to show that government does not make evidence-based policy in these types of areas (I also include things like crime – anything government thinks it can have a “war” on but is really just flying in the face of reality). In fact, government more often tries to manufacture evidence that suits it by attempting to control the research and the researchers while propagandising the citizens.
He issued a singularly commonsensical harm index showing harm to individual and harm to society both separately and collated. The perfect basis for formulating government policy. Didn’t fit with the war narrative, so they sacked him.
And as you say, it was an immensely valuable piece of work if anybody in charge ever actually cared about the wellbeing of real, live people.
I can’t believe (I can believe it) he was let go.
Honestly, Dr. Nutt’s work was integral to me understanding the scope of how political research and funding for science actually is.
We had a few cases in Canada where an independent consortium of scientists were asked for their opinion, and then completely ignored because it didn’t match the political agenda, so its a pretty common occurrence unfortunately.
It’s one of my pet peeves that we don’t approach drugs, crime and delinquency from a harm reduction standpoint, but from a moral and punishment stance. Our first aim should be reducing harm, not pushing our own moral agendas.
For those interested in the article by Nutt et al. which is really interesting and thought provoking, here’s firewall free access:
I couldn’t agree more. It’s even worse in the US, where lobbying money funding research for corporate reasons has to be factored in (that happens here too, but not to the same extent).
And not only does social harm continue unnecessarily, but it’s almost impossible for a citizen to inform themselves accurately.
Right? And that is the super scary part. It makes education incredibly difficulty.
If there is a refusal to study and research, we cannot adequately inform, and unless you subscribe to a totally paternalistic model of health education and policy, informed choice is the gold standard.
If you look even at this thread, it starts with the misleading information from the Lung Cancer Association, which a strongly critical journalist was unable to interpret because of that purposeful miscommunication.
Then the comments are extremely varied, because the information is frequently presented in a politicised and purposefully obfuscated way.
One day, when I am supreme world leader, we will focus on harm reduction and plain language. So, if you peek outside your window see flying pigs, let me know, because that means my day has come haha.
A while ago, on here, I tried to explain how research into vaping is being skewed by lobbying by big pharma (anti – want to maintain market share of their existing nicotine replacements) and tobacco companies (pro – seen writing on wall for cigarettes and are developing vaping products instead). People were citing research from one perspective or another but NONE of the research is either independent or impartial.
People got SO angry with me that a load of replies had to be deleted. Someone told me to eff off!
Here in the UK, we are currently struggling with synthetic cannabinoids. It’s making our prisons and city centres unsafe. And the harm has increased exponentially since the government made what were known as “legal highs” illegal a little while back. Look at this report, it’s hideous:
The tragedy is that if we’d just legalised cannabis, we wouldn’t have this awful substitute at all. And by making IT illegal, we’ve removed even the marginal quality control the head shops used to have.
If you become world leader and institute that, I will lick your chariot wheels!
I smoked weed with my folks when I was 19. The only danger in smoking weed with parents is that it ruins a perfectly viable drug for kids by bathing it in the absolute un-coolness that only parents can bestow. Seriously: Watching two almost 50-year-olds smoke up while they watch “Cops” and get paranoid is not a fun Friday night. My mom was worried a lion escaped from the zoo and headed to our backyard and my dad couldn’t finish a damn sentence and both were hungry for junk food.
Moral of the story: If you’re worried about your kids smoking weed, try smoking it with them. I bet that behavior will end.
hahahahha. What a GREAT idea.
I decided to tell my teenager about my habit when she turns 18, which arrives in May. However since she caught me a few times I had to confess that cigarettes do irritate me and that was really pot dear.
Pot DOES damage developing brains and I am thrilled she does not smoke. Plus, it CAN trigger a psychotic episode in the rare person, usually because of a mental illness. I strongly agree that pot needs to be limited to only those under 21. Most children are not diagnosed correctly or at all. There is no way to even know what will happen. And pot is so much stronger now that it ever was before.
The National Institute of Mental Health has stated that “research has found increasing evidence of a link between marijuana and schizophrenia”. Like alcohol and tobacco there are side effects to using and except in the case of medical use with prescribed amounts, mostly these side effects are not good. Sad that a parent feels that this is a way to bond when there are so many ways to engage teens and young adults with healthy activities instead of sitting around on a couch smoking. Not only that it sounds like she is using daily and feels that she needs the drug to “cope” with marriage and her relationship with her kids. Truly sad. I’m thinking that her children will not probably be pilots, surgeons, etc. Wonder what profession they will engage in and what kind of a contributing member of society they will be?
This is a very misleading comment. There are a great many extremely functional pot smokers out there. Including my husband who started at an early age and quit in his 20’s. He is now 59 and one of the smartest active people I know.
It is also quite possible some of these pot smoking 20 year olds would NEVER have become a surgeon or pilot because of their anxiety level. Since pot smoking decreases this anxiety they may end up doing more in society then without the drug.
It DOES need to be controlled and used safely. Anything can become an addiction. What is important is your relationship to the drug. The harm is not in the drug itself. In fact, there are SO many uses for the plant, especially hemp, that are incredibly underused in this country. THis can provided a major income to states and individuals. I see this in Maine right now.
Lol doctors, surgeons, scientists. There are many startlingly smart and traditionally successful people who partake. I’m helping run and grow a small, local, woman owned business, I conduct training, I do panels on working in a male dominated industry. When I started smoking, my grades went up. I’m doing very well for someone my age and for that I am fortunate because I didn’t have the financial resources to be given every opportunity a lot of people get. What’s sad to me is how small your world seems. I smoked with my parents and it was a great opportunity to get to know them as an adult. I smoke with my aunt and it’s not on a couch all day, we go on hikes, we do art! We get off our phones and engage with the world around us. Not that you need weed to do any of that but it’s like having a beer with a friend. As for the NIMH, it’s true there is a link in people predisposed to schizophrenia and people with any kind of SSRI should avoid anything that affects their serotonin levels. As with alcohol, depressants can spell serious trouble for people with serotonin issues. This inludes weed.
The link between marijuana and schizophrenia is that it reduces the prodromal period in those who are at risk for developing schizophrenia, this is now fairly well researched as it falls under the negative consequences of drug use, which is the type of research the NIH prefers for funding.
The prodromal period is a term for the time period before the disorder becomes full blown. Often schizophrenia presents with some symptoms before a full ‘break’ happens, and the longer this period can be drawn out, the longer the patient can function as normal.
This is especially relevant for those who have schizophrenia in the family, and tends to impact teenage males more frequently.
I don’t smoke nor do I mind people who do, but while I’m not really familiar with this lady’s career, I’ve always heard/read pretty nasty things about her.
it is a little on the young side but considering the parents involved no surprise.
i am a HUGE advocate and it does not have to be burned to be enjoyed/used for rx.
it would be better than booze and certainly best if a parent introduces their (older) child (and as many have stated may actually work as a deterrent) and shown used responsibly.
like many things, it is mind altering; there needs to be caution and responsibility involved. it is a drug and should be treated as such.
smh alcohol isn’t seen as the fairly negative drug it actually is. and cigarettes. but money and white folks so enjoy?
you got it.
the politicalization of drug use, and the vilification of certain drugs by linking them with minority communities is one of the worst and most effective things the FDA has ever done.
They like booze and cigs, because they are controlled by the FDA. Coca tea and marijuana, nope, natural and not funneled through the FDA, can’t have that.
The history behind it is crazy, and similar things have been done with methamphetamine as well.
I found her analogy to Percocet to be quite interesting, given the high-risk of abuse for opioids and the possible sedating effects of opioids. Not the medication I would choose to compare it to and reduces her “credibility” on this topic.
Most young adult pot smokers (as in daily smokers) I have known either don’t do much at all and/or can’t handle much. Like low grade addicts.
Not all but enough to make me think smoking pot with your young adult kids is generally not a great idea.
But who knows maybe Melissa has the type kids who can handle it.
I dont have a problem with people who smoke marijuana. Considering the other drugs out there, its not bad in comparison. And the kids are legal, so I dont see issue there. I take issue with calling it “medicine”. Like the reason why cancer patients use it is to help quell nausea so you eat. It may also help with the pain. But thats it. Its not like its giving you any health benefits.
I appreciate that many people have glowing things to say about marijuana, but my experience with it has been so extremely negative that I, personally (just based on MY OWN experience), question why anyone would encourage their own children doing it. I am a pretty normal, college-educated person who tried it one time, with my sister (a very dedicated regular pot-smoker) who assured me that it was very high-quality stuff. It caused me to have what I can only describe as a full-blown psychotic episode. (the only one I’ve ever had, thank God.) The absolute worst night of my life–non-stop panic-attacks, hallucinations, & feelings of terror. It was so awful, so terrifying, that I’m just amazed that the same substance that did THAT to me, causes such wonderful feelings for other people. Absolutely NO judgement here; just my thoughts on the matter.
Talking out of both sides of her mouth here, calling it medicine on the one hand, and something to chill with her young adult kids on the other.
Meh. I personally don’t care for mj for the way it makes me feel. But I know my grown son smokes once in a while. I don’t smoke with him because I don’t like it, but I would have a beer with him now that he’s over 21. I’m not going to judge her for this. Once kids are grown, they do kind of turn into friends. Friends you love more than anything, but still. If she said she was smoking up with the 10-year-old twins, that I would judge, but not grown kids.