I am lucky enough to work for Big Brothers Big Sisters, a nonprofit who’s mission and vision I can wholeheartedly support. I love knowing that the work done in my little office is important, that it does make a difference, that we are changing the world for the better.
As you might have guessed, part of the Big Brother Big Sister program are the Bigs; the adult volunteers who give up a few hours a week of their time and who bond with their matched Little. We have a pretty rigorous process for becoming a Big. One must be over 18, stable, a resident of the county for a year, be stable, have the support of their significant other, etc. Then he/she would have to apply, give 4 references (3 personal and 1 professional), undergo a few different background checks including a fingerprint run and a DMV report. There is a home visit, an extensive office interview, and then the committee meets to discuss and hopefully accept. During this process, there is quite a bit of paperwork the potential Big must fill out including a waiver, insurance information, and also an agreement to not use alcohol around the Little and not to smoke pot at all during the time he/she is a Big.
Can you see where this is going?
Currently in our program we have a lot of little boys on the waiting list. We always seem to have more Volunteers big Sisters than Big brothers which is sad because we seem to have a lot more little boys than little girls in need of a Big. So, the waiting list is long and some of the little guys have been waiting for a while. (We match based on personality etc… it is not a first come first served sort of thing.)
Recently, we had an applicant who I will name Bill. Bill was the model Big Brother candidate. He was stable, even-tempered, nice, level headed, mature, the list went on and on. The problem? Bill had a prescription for medical marijuana
Now, the policy is pretty clear, but the reason for the 0 tolerance is because it is illegal in this country to use marijuana. Despite what some people would like to believe, that’s true… at the Federal Level, it is illegal.
But California makes it provisionally legal if one has a prescription. Therefore, Bill wasn’t considering his actions illegal.
The Agency was torn. He is a wonderful candidate for Big-ness and we are in severe need for good Big Brothers.
In the end, after talking to the national BBBS office and even the county DA (who wasn’t all that helpful) it was determined that prescription or no, the use of marijuana wasn’t going to be condoned by us.
This wasn’t the first time that we have lost a potential Big because of pot use. Some tell us flat out that they use it and don’t see why they should stop. One told us that she uses it twice a year on her birthday and Christmas, but even then we had to reject her.
Sadly, I am sure that there are some Bigs out there who weren’t totally honest with us. It is a bit ironic and sad that the same wonderful honesty that would have made Bill a great role model for someone was what kept him from being able to.
When all is said and done, I fully support the agency’s decision. I think that from a guideline stand point it is better to have one rule for everyone. It keeps things consistent. I know that it wasn’t a personal moral objection to the substance… but the lesson of “we follow the rules” is important and a good thing to be imparting to the kids, potential Bigs, and the whole community.
Someday (sooner rather than later is some of my community members have their way) marijuana might be legal.
Until then though, BBBS will keep its drug policy simple and direct.
Nope to dope.