Some reports have speculated that it was marijuana and alcohol, and not any third party, that caused Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie to split.
“Our Angelina sources claim Brad heavily indulges in weed and alcohol and that, combined with what she claims is an anger problem, poses a danger to their kids,” TMZ reported. But the site also says Pitt is “furious” over the allegations.
Is cannabis, in particular, really a potential homewrecker? Its reputation, at least, seems to defy that characterization: It's a mellow drug that has never induced a fatal overdose. It's the red wine of its time, according to the pro-pot crowd.
But experts say weed can have a dark side that can, indeed, unravel relationships. And some opponents of Proposition 64, the state's recreational legalization initiative, were quick to seize on the divorce as a cautionary tale for the future of California should voters approve it in November.
“If it's true, it shows how devastating marijuana dependency can be to families,” said Kevin Sabet, co-founder of the group Smart Approaches to Marijuana, which opposes legalization. “Regardless of this situation, which is getting a lot of attention, the impact of recreational use of marijuana cannot be overstated. In fact, California is ground zero this fall in the push to make recreational marijuana more accessible and more mainstream through Proposition 64, which we are strongly opposing. Proposition 64 could even allow pot smoking ads on TV, a policy literally out of the 1970s.”
Supporters of the measure say the future of California drug policy is no place for conjecture about the causes of celebrity breakups. “The fact that the anti-marijuana opposition to Proposition 64 is now trolling TMZ for talking points tells you everything you need to know about the No campaign's nosediving credibility among California voters,” said Yes on Proposition 64 spokesman Jason Kinney.
But Howard Samuels, a doctor of clinical psychology who has 25 years experience in recovery as CEO and founder of the Hills Treatment Center, says he's seen daily cannabis use break up families many times.
“We are going to open up Pandora's box in this state by legalizing marijuana,” he said. “By legalizing weed, you are going to have a tremendous amount of dysfunction in families, and it will just get worse.”
Marijuana supporters have long argued that it's not only a fairly harmless drug but that it can be useful to treat pain, post-traumatic stress disorder and some seizures. But Samuels says it can be harmful, especially in a family environment, if used daily.
“Weed numbs and medicates the natural flow of dealing with your feelings in a natural way,” he said. “It stops the individual from really learning how to manage their feelings. That's what makes weed so dangerous.”
Pitt reportedly is prepared to fight for joint custody of the couple's six children. Samuels says Jolie is right to attempt to pull them out of an environment where drug use is reportedly common.
“Weed's not going to kill you, but it can make you very dysfunctional emotionally,” he said. “I think it's great that Angelina is really taking a stand. As a mother she's really doing the right thing, and I applaud her for that.”