Grammy-award winning rock singer Melissa Etheridge is making a name for herself on the marijuana advocacy front.
The mother of four recently told Yahoo she smokes with her children on occasion and considers the plant a better option than alcohol for winding down at the end of the day.
"I have smoked with my older two," the singer told Yahoo as part of its report “Weed & the American Family” about her adult children, Bailey, 20, and Beckett, 18.
"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," she said to Yahoo.
Boston-based cannabis expert Dr. Jordan Tishler, of Inhale MD, called Etheridge’s comparison between marijuana and alcohol perfectly reasonable.
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“They are adult children — one can make a hand-wavy argument that maybe she should wait until they are more than 18 because there is still some brain plasticity, but the short answer is that there is nothing wrong with Ms. Etheridge’s approach anymore than handing over a glass wine in evening, and we also know alcohol is more toxic than cannabis.”
Etheridge, 55, had been an occasional recreational smoker since she was 21. She says she’s never been “a drinker” and chose marijuana as her vice when looking to relax. Even still, she said she wasn’t a regular user.
That all changed in 2004 when Etheridge was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her journey over the next year until she got her health back took her through a lumpectomy, five rounds of chemo and radiation. As she tried to be there for her children in the face of illness, Etheridge eventually realized she had a choice: take more pharmaceuticals or “go the natural way.”
“I asked many of my friends [who had gone through chemo], ‘What’s the experience? What are you doing?’ And my friend David Crosby, he was the first one who said, ‘You know, Melissa, you have to do medicinal marijuana. You have to [try] cannabis. That’s the way to do it. It’s too hard otherwise,’” she said to Yahoo.
Etheridge is once again healthy, but now she says “cannabis is part of my life.”
“When I started my new life with my new health, it was very important to me to maintain the healthful benefits that cannabis gave you,” she said, noting the benefits she feels when she smokes cannabis include feeling less stressed and more balanced, getting better sleep and having great date nights with wife Linda Wallem.
Etheridge has also produced her own line of cannabis products called Etheridge Farms.
Tishler, a vocal advocate for both medicinal and recreational cannabis, said Etheridge’s reasons for using marijuana echo those of many.
“If someone feeling stressed at the end day and have a choice between a glass of Chardonnay and cannabis — or better yet, vaporized cannabis — then that’s valid too,” he said.
More importantly, Tishler said when celebrities like Etheridge advocate in favor of recreational and medicinal cannabis, it breaks down barriers.
Stigmatization of the plant has created draconian laws against use and possession of marijuana that unfairly target people of color and can ruin people’s lives over something as simple as a joint, Tishler said.
“We need status symbols and celebrities to get out there and change people’s minds and help them understand that, unlike what [Attorney General] Jeff Sessions says, good people do use cannabis,” Tishler said.