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Miss Conduct

Advice: What to do when a friend shows up stoned to a family event

He was clearly high, and there were kids present. But marijuana is legal now, so I’m stuck, right?

Need advice? Submit questions for Miss Conduct here.

I have a situation you didn’t cover in your recent column on marijuana etiquette. A friend who has been struggling with alcohol and pot addictions showed up at a recent milestone celebration with my family smelling of pot and acting wired. I was horrified that he violated our trust by being around our teenage children in that condition. Since pot is legal, should we not mind our friend’s behavior? It’s also confusing that his wife keeps smiling and acting like everything is great.

P.C. / Boston


That’s what the partners of addicts do, though — smile and act like everything is fine. Sometimes a practical accommodation to reality looks an awful lot like a denial of same. Only the individual knows for sure which one it is.

The nature of your friend’s drug and alcohol problem isn’t yours to diagnose or manage, fortunately. What you can do is police your own boundaries. The legal status of marijuana doesn’t mean that it has to be accepted at all places and occasions, any more than alcohol is. Events can be announced as alcohol- and smoke-free, and misbehaving guests can be asked quietly to leave.

If your friend was giggly and inappropriate, you’re well within the bounds of prudence to not invite him to other significant events, though “horrified” seems an awfully strong reaction. It’s difficult to see how your teenagers could have been in any way harmed by the presence of a buzzed family friend, though he might have been a serious threat to the buffet. The kids either wouldn’t notice or might find his smell and behavior off-putting, in which case, hey! Free antidrug commercial.

Miss Conduct is Robin Abrahams, a writer with a PhD in psychology.