Sir Paul McCartney recently told The Daily Mirror that he quit using cannabis to “set an example” for his eight grandchildren and will now instead imbibe a glass of wine or a “nice margarita.” The former Beatle and iconic music legend was reportedly introduced to cannabis by Bob Dylan in 1964, and he’s had a long-standing relationship with the plant since (including an arrest in 1980 for hauling a pound of cannabis through Japanese customs).
“I don’t do that any more. Why? The truth is I don’t really want to set an example to my kids and grandkids. It’s now a parent thing. Back then I was just some guy around London having a ball, and the kids were little so I’d just try and keep it out of their faces. Instead of smoking a spliff I’ll now have a glass of wine or a nice margarita. The last time I smoked was a long time ago.”
I don’t want to pull the “cannabis vs. alcohol” card, but it says a lot about the social perception of each when someone who wants to set a good example for the youth in his life thinks its unacceptable to consume cannabis but is fine with knocking back a bit of booze in their presence. Nobody’s expecting Grandpa Paul to spark up a spliff and casually blow the smoke into his grandchildren’s faces, but he doesn’t have to cut it out of his life entirely in order to teach them smart, responsible choices. What’s worse, by replacing cannabis with alcohol, McCartney is perpetuating the misinformed notion that alcohol is a safer, more kid-friendly alternative when the reality is that alcohol is 114 times more toxic than cannabis.
We can set a positive example for kids by having open and honest discussions with them about both cannabis and alcohol, explaining to them that each substance is meant for adult consumption (excluding medical marijuana for valid patients, of course) instead of shutting down the conversation entirely and hoping that by ignoring it, children will forget about cannabis. I understand Sir Paul McCartney’s intent, but I disagree with his actions. Plenty of cannabis consumers set positive examples for young people and emphasize safe, responsible use in balance with their overall lifestyle. We need to highlight those scenarios instead of suppressing them and reaching for the bottle to avoid an open, honest discourse about a movement that’s gaining serious momentum.