So an update on how things have worked out this weekend. We finally managed to get our son to have a real discussion with us (having discussed what we were and weren't willing to do privately in advance). Long story short, he does plan to go back to school...even if he just takes a couple classes...and to find a job. Whether he plans on actually attempting to pass those classes is anyone's guess, but the plan is, apparently, to save up money from a job and from his student loans and, yes, the whole buy an RV and move to Colorado with his buddy appears to be set in the stone of which his brain is made. Everything we had to say about it, he assured us he'd already thought of. (I kinda think not, he didn't have a clue what kind of terrible gas mileage he will get or the fact that if they live several miles from a town they'll need a second vehicle.) But he'd never admit that. We've been VERY plain with him, that we will ONLY provide the vehicle and pay for room and board as long as he's in college. The minute he drops out, every bit of monetary assistance, including use of his car, ends. He's been told quite seriously that the car will NOT leave the state and we WILL report it stolen if he crosses us on that one. In short, we can't tell him how to live his life and we don't have to approve of his choices, but if we don't agree with those life choices, we won't pay for them. Period. I told him, "This is the only time in your entire life that you are able to earn a paycheck and save every penny of it, because we're paying for your room and board and insurance and other necessities. All you have to do is pass a few classes. If you have an ounce of sense, you'll take advantage of this."
Lest you think we're being too easy...we're stuck paying $680 a month room and board whether he's there or not until June. Basically, we're trying to get something for our money! One way or another, he's going to do what he's going to do. At this point I just want him to actually get a few college credits, since we have to pay regardless. Hopefully, he'll get a job and work through school. If he's going to do this, I'd prefer he actually start out with some money so he doesn't starve...but it isn't going to be my money.
On the up side, I'm more convinced than ever that we're just talking pot here and not harder drugs. I can't say exactly why...it's not just a gut feeling though. My husband has worked for Dept. of Corrections for over 20 years. He's not unfamiliar with the behavior and he's always been pretty sure our son isn't into anything else, at least not to any extent. I think one of the most compelling factors is: this is just another one of his obsessions. He's always, as I've said before, fixated on things. It's clear that he's gone from video games, his Jr. High and High School obsession, to pot. He has done more research than most PhD students do for a dissertation. He can tell you all kinds of statistics and cite studies of the benefits of cannabis. Of course, this means he won't listen to any alternative viewpoints. That's the way he's always been. We're been stressing moderation and the propensity for psychological addiction. I'm hoping, like trains and video games, he manages to grow out of this obsession too.
I guess the bottom line is, we spent the weekend trying to be as calm and collected as possible while stressing the fact that we do NOT approve of this plan, we do NOT approve of using any illegal drug and every little bit setting out new "bumps" in the plan...like gas mileage, secondary transportation, need for income for food, property taxes, license, water, etc., and the legal issues of going in with someone else on something like a vehicle or property.
In the end, he'll do what he's going to do. But he'll either fail or succeed on his own. We just have to deal.
Thanks so much to you all for your advice and ear. We have no way of knowing if we're handling this right...but we're muddling through.