I live in the UK with my sister, who has been smoking marijuana for about a year now. I have known for a large part of that time. She smokes relatively often, however not enough that it's a major risk (health or legal).

Now the dilemma begins. A few months ago, my parents found out through friends of theirs. They reacted reasonably and tried to discourage my sister from smoking. They asked me if I had known and I said yes, but I did not think ratting out my sister would have been the right thing to do.

A week or two later, my sister starts smoking again. I'm very confident that if my parents try to make her stop again, it will only result in her continuing and hiding it more. It's also likely (for emotional and cultural reasons), that they will never accept her smoking (any amount) and could never acknowledge that she does to their friends or relatives. Currently, they don't know that she has started again. Since my sister now knows I know, she doesn't even try to hide it from me any more.

I don't want to lose my sisters trust by ratting her out to my parents. I don't want to have my parents worry about her smoking, while I know she does. To be brutally honest and selfish, the daily stress of this situation on me is also a major factor. What ways out are there? What are the moral and emotional consequences for everyone involved?

  • @Physics-Compute - It's more helpful to make this an answer pertinent to many countries rather than one specifically. I understand marijuana is decriminalized in the Netherlands. It's illegal almost everywhere else. Commented Aug 6, 2017 at 22:16
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    What exactly is causing you stress? It doesn't seem like either your sister or your parents are demanding things from you, so I don't see why you need to involve yourself in the first place.
    – user7953
    Commented Aug 7, 2017 at 0:05
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    The topics are similar but the question and perspective are different. I disagree that this is a duplicate. Commented Aug 7, 2017 at 23:24
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    @KaiQing The problem isn't as much as the physiological consequences but the legal ones. This case is in the UK, where she can end up to five years in jail just for having the drug. You should worry a lot when you kid can end up that much time in jail.
    – T. Sar
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 11:28
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    How old is your sister and how old are you ?
    – Evargalo
    Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 7:43

7 Answers 7


I would go to your sister and say, "I am uncomfortable with you smoking marijuana, because I know our parents don't want you to be doing it. I don't want to rat you out, but you're putting me in a bad situation by smoking in front of me. I feel like it's my responsibility to tell them if I know you're doing this, but I also want you to be able to trust me. So I guess I'm giving you fair warning that if I see you smoking again, I will have to tell mom and dad about it."

That way she knows that you are not willing to be her accomplice, and at the same time it shows that you know it's not your job to police her - but it is your job to be honest. Then she has no reason not to trust you, because when she crossed a boundary of yours, you told her about it and gave her the chance to retract.

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    -1 That's just blackmail: stop what you're doing or I'll tell. OP has zero "responsibility" to tell anyone.
    – user7953
    Commented Aug 13, 2017 at 12:54
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    @fkraiem what an odd thing to say. Of course there is no legal responsibility to say anything. But honesty is a basic part of integrity. Obviously the situation is causing OP some cognitive dissonance, specifically because his/her sense of integrity is being violated. Explaining to someone the natural consequences of an action so they have the opportunity to avoid them is not blackmail - it is a courtesy. And telling someone when their actions are hurting you is part of your responsibility to protect yourself. It's important to have boundaries, and for the people you love to know them.
    – MAA
    Commented Aug 13, 2017 at 14:42
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    There is nothing "natural" about "if I see you smoking, I'll rat". It's a conscious decision you make.
    – user7953
    Commented Aug 13, 2017 at 14:51
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    @fkraiem the message is, "an action you are repeatedly taking is hurting me. I'm asking you to stop of your own free will (in this case, please stop involving me by smoking IN FRONT OF ME.) however, because I care about you, I want you to be aware that I am ready to take further action to stop being hurt by you if you are unwilling to stop yourself - that way you understand the consequences beforehand, and can make a fully informed decision, because I respect you and I believe I owe you fair warning."
    – MAA
    Commented Aug 13, 2017 at 15:01
  • When what you smoke is illegal and can cost everyone in the house here futures then he has some responsibilty to do something
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Aug 18, 2017 at 18:06

I don't know anything about European law, but it sounds like from your description and location, that it is still illegal.
(U.S.) It is illegal in every state, even if that state has a law permitting it, like Colorado. If you haven't learned yet in government history class, a federal law will always supersede a state law on the same matter. There is a federal law banning recreational use of marijuana, so state laws don't matter at this point. If your sister continues, she will most likely get caught at some point by the legal system. Do not enable her in any way or else you may be assisting in a crime (as silly as it is to ban a plant in a free society...).

Her job prospects may be (U.S.: very) limited if she continues use. Some jobs require an initial voluntary drug test and a few require additional voluntary random tests along your career.

I would start by explaining 1 and 2 to her, that you're not going to rat her out, but you're also not going to lie to your parents or an authority figure if they ask. Hiding things and living a secret life is stressfull for both you and your sister. You don't owe it to her to lie for her. Any decent person will respect that decision and change their actions around you accordingly if they want to continue use (just not do it around you).

Edit: First draft was assuming locale was U.S. OP responded that local is Europe.

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    Thanks for your response. This is in Europe. Consequences of getting caught are a fine, very minor court case, being taken to parents and no more record after a couple of years. Employers here do not drug test (would be an invasion of privacy), barring positions with very dangerous machinery. This is very different to what you've described, I'm truly not sure I'd be doing here a favor by being honest here. I see your point about talking to her, but like you say she will just hide it from me, but I would still know. This feels more like lying to myself than accomplishing something.
    – J. Doe
    Commented Aug 6, 2017 at 22:21
  • I would add that it's illegal, but not enforced for states such as colorado and washington.
    – tuskiomi
    Commented Aug 7, 2017 at 19:00

I believe this is a situation where you don't need to take any action. This is between your sister and your parents.

To be brutally honest and selfish...

You say this, so it indicates that you know (somewhat) that this isn't your battle to fight. Your sister may trust you. Don't lose that bond. One day your parents may or may not find out and it could blow up. If it becomes very bad for her, don't let her lose another ally.

If you want your sister to quit, deal with her directly. If she's a health-conscious person, let her know that marijuana before the age of 25 can lead to long-term memory impairment. If she's family-conscious, tell her that if her parents found out, they could be upset or angry and that they also worry about her well-being. If she doesn't care about either of those things, like Elsa, Let It Go.

Don't let your sister lose an ally, a friend, and someone to talk to. Knowing what the outcome would be (angry parents) and still "ratting" on her only shows that you don't really care about your sister in this predicament but rather about yourself.

  • What is his bond going to mean when she graduates to some harder drug and he stops having the chance to save her?
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Aug 18, 2017 at 18:03

Your sister is being incredibly unfair to you & tell her that. All worries, legalities & everything else aside, she is carelessly putting you in the middle of something you shouldn't even need to be in the middle of. So tell her that.

If you feel she is not aware of the possible risks, particularly legally, for herself, inform her. However, you also need to know you likely cannot change her behavior and very likely she is aware of said risks & simply thinks nothing like that could ever happen to her. Many young people have this type of thinking for some reason.

It is completely unfair to you. It is okay for you to stand up for yourself in that. She does not need to be blatantly doing this around you. She doesn't have to distance herself from you either to just show you the courtesy of not putting it in front of you. If she were to opt to distance herself, then that would be very telling as to how significant her amount of use is & then that might help you determine if you want to bring your parents back into this.

As a parent I worry about my kids. I also know it's normal for them to know things about one another that I do not know. I would not expect one child to tell on another UNLESS they thought it were a significant risk. If her use is casual & minimal, then that is one thing. If she is becoming a heavy user, that is another thing entirely.


Well, when it comes to drugs, I can't tell you how many people think they are knowledgable on the subject. There are bad drugs, but to be honest, addiction to soda can be just as bad as drugs.

I have been taking opioids for the past 7 years and medical marijuana for the past 8 months. At first, I was so worried that I would become addicted to the stuff and worried about what was going to happen. I've learned that

  1. Everyone seems to be a know it all and

  2. Most people don't really know what they are talking about.

It's mostly hearsay and what they've seen on the telly.

Drug addiction is a person who is running from something or away from something. It so much a mental thing. Marijuana being a gateway drug, as were taught, is a mental thing as well, but it's BS. Marijuana, other than smoking it, has a lot of healthy benefits. Now, if someone is chasing a high, it doesn't matter what they start with, the issue is already there. It's a mental thing. They are trying to get rid of something or cover something or escape something. I don't get a high from my medication or a release. I did get horribly dizzy when I changed prescriptions once, but what I'm trying to say is that all of this most likely hinges on something needing to be addressed at the mental level.

Figuring out the "why" would be the first thing to address. Find out why she needs this. No matter the debate about how good or bad it is for you, focus on the why. Is she unhappy? Is she needing someone to lean on? Is it a peer pressure thing? Talk to her in a very non-judgemental way. Don't be her judge; be her friend. Let her know that you care and that you are there for her. Although your parents may be wound a bit tight about this, try to understand what it means to her. The legality is a problem. Let her know, in a very caring way, that this is affecting you and it's putting you in a tough spot, but that you do care. Stress the fact that you care. The biggest thing in this world, whether people want to act like its not, people want other people to care and they don't want to be judged. Being a judge just pushes everyone away and doesn't help the person.

By the way, the comment about marijuana being illegal in Colorado on the federal level overrides the state level... The only way that affects you is if you do something like try to get a federal job, buying a gun, or anything that would need to involve the federal government; otherwise, the use of marijuana in Colorado won't affect you legally. Check this out for an explanation.

Check with your sister and let her know you care. Try to find her reason for it and let her know that you will be there for her. If she gets caught by your parents, ask her to keep you out of it and not use your being there for her as support to your parents' argument.

If busted and your parents jump on you, ask them if you can talk to them like an adult. Ask them if they would out their sister or brother and let them know that you feel trapped. When they are gone, you and your sister will rely on each other and trust will be an issue. Let your parents know that this is a hardship for you as well.

Find out if your sister would be willing to injest it any other way that doesn't involve inhaling smoke. That's what would hurt her. You are in a tough spot, but don't beat yourself up over it. Know that you are doing your best and frankly take a stand whenever a stand needs to be taken.

  • The introduction of paragraphs would greatly improve this answer.
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Aug 18, 2017 at 17:58

What smokers rarely realize is that there smoking never only affects themselves it always affects those around them. What is your sister thinks is going to happen when her parents show up to work smelling of a brothel? What does she think is the influence her smoking has on the parents on which she is dependants chances of gainful employement?

Your parents dont want this, neither do you, but still it continues. Maybe you should make it clear to her that because this smoking effects all of you, she either has to stop doing it or do it where it does not affect her family. The so called benefits of smoking is all a bunch of liberal tosh anyway, the human lung was never designed to inhale any smoke.

You owe it to your sister to be the brother she needs not the one she wants, she may feel betrayed, she may never speak to you again, that would all be fine if she quits smoking and does not become a drug addict. I would personally be fine with having a well atuned non-drug ladend sister to whom Im estranged than a drug addict sister who thinks Im awesome. I think most rationally thinking people would make that choice.


There are currently 5 states in US where marijuana is legal and over-the-counter in any licensed store. Also, most states (and countries in Western Europe) have medical marijuana.

Many people I know moved permanently to specifically address this. Even the Catholic and the High Anglican--omg, no pun intended--Church specifically use the term "illegal drug" in their respective codes of conduct; otherwise, they instruct temperance. Practicing Muslims forbid the use of most (if not all) intoxicants, but Khamenei's book on modern Islamic practices permit the use of medical marijuana (Question 1393).

The situation may be more complicated than you think; especially if she has gastrointestinal issues or severe cramping, and she feels entitled to use based on the compassionate-care model.

Depending on her age, she could legitimately study abroad, in say, Colorado, US, and spend as much time and money she wants on it. Statistically, she'll probably grow out of her desire to use, or she mighr pursue medical usage. One need not smoke marijuana for "benefit." There are patches, edibles, inhalers, etc.

However, there is legitimate concern marijuana is a gateway drug to other drugs like cocaine, which are way worse on your body and soul, as well as a culture of people willing to break the law for fun. The risk (in the US) of this has found to be minimal compared to other socioeconomic factors, but doing business with illicit drug dealers is inherently dangerous.

That's the complicated preamble. My point of mentioning all the above is her use may not necessarily be an all-or-nothing phenomenon. The best advice I can offer is talk to your sister about it. Let her know how uncomfortable you feel and that it's selfish to put you in the situation you're in.

In the end, you should honor your parents. If you live in a High Anglican/Catholic/Muslim home, most homes probably, this would be the expectation. Remember, they gave birth to you as well as pay for your Internet access! Secrets are occasionally ok, but on this issue, they are legitimately concerned about her health and want to know what's up. I find it far more likely they would offer forgiveness and act reasonably rather than freak out and create more drama.

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    -1 for false information. There are currently zero states in the U.S. where recreational marijuana use is legal. If you change the wording to reflect that, I'll gladly revert for an otherwise complete answer.
    – user24631
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 1:40
  • Well, ok, but my information is fact. Marijuana is technically illegal on a federal level, but it hasn't stopped 1000s of businesses at this point from getting Federal tax ID numbers, opening stores, and paying taxes. States in the US have individual rights (which the Federal government can occasionally override), and perform legal day-to-day operations. I'm not saying you're wrong, but my information is still fact. Maybe I should post our local menu ...
    – Stu W
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 5:12
  • The legality of the smoking is beside the point, her parents dont want it and yet she does it, that is the issue.
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Aug 18, 2017 at 18:00
  • My point is why is her whole family against it? Its either cultural or religious until the OP says otherwise. Living as the "black sheep" of the family sucks. I am merely stating there are other viable options which don't involve fruitless all-or-nothing arguments. "Harm reduction" is a perfectly acceptable approach in my opinion in dealing with drugs of abuse. Check the literature. I like my answer; feel free to continue to dowmvote it.
    – Stu W
    Commented Aug 18, 2017 at 18:23

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