Alcohol is a well-acknowledged part of mainstream parent culture. References to “mommy-juice,” and “wine-o’clock,” abound, as do countless memes and humorous videos about how alcohol helps take the edge off the challenges of parenting.

But what about cannabis?

In 2012, essays in The New York Times and Jezebel garnered attention—both positive and negative—for their authors’ claim that using marijuana made them better parents.

Since then, many parents have opened up about their experiences with cannabis and raising children in outlets ranging from The Guardian to the Colorado Pot Guide. A number of parents report feeling closer to their children and more willing to engage in the kinds of things kids love, like creative games and making mud pies. In other words, to stress less and play more.

“It helped me detach from my agenda as a mom with a million things to do all the time and just get lost in play.”
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Beth*, a therapist and mother of a preschooler in the San Francisco Bay Area reports of her previous cannabis use, “It helped me detach from my agenda as a mom with a million things to do all the time and just get lost in play. I saw my child as the magical, free and hilarious being that they are.”

Leah*, an attorney and mother of two in Southern California says that she smokes marijuana rarely around her kids, but when she does, it allows her to relax into the moment with them. “When they are silly or raucous, and I am high, I will be silly and raucous with them.”

Abby Dorsey, a cannabis activist and rapper who performs under the name MC Flow, says, “As parents, we often spend our days putting another little being before ourselves. We lose ourselves, we feel exhausted, we can often feel overwhelmed. I know I can. Cannabis helps me put things in perspective.”

Some parents interviewed also believe that cannabis can help with effective discipline. Beth says, “I was far less reactive to their behaviors and handled discipline in a calmer, more calculated manner because of it.”

“I was far less reactive to their behaviors and handled discipline in a calmer, more calculated manner because of it.”

Watch MC Flow perform “Let’s See What The Night Can Do at Red Rocks (feat. Oh, Charlotte)” with Jason Mraz during his Good Vibes Tour. Published Sept. 8, 2018.

Via Jason Mraz on YouTube“My friend MC Flow deserves a mic drop for her performance at Red Rocks. She eloquently unleashed her intelligent rhymes to a sold out crowd in Colorado. Flow has been a huge inspiration to me for more than a decade. Her encouraging words and ideas have landed in many new and unreleased songs in the last few years, including Work In Progress, You Do You, and Undone to name a few. Thanks to Flow, I am rapping again, both on Know. and in the new show. Fun fact: Flow appears on I’m Yours in the party vocals that big-up the end of the song. She is a constant source of Good Vibes and a joy to have on the team. Get to Know MC Flow.”

Additionally, an estimated 3.5 million adults in the U.S. use medicinal marijuana to treat conditions like pain, appetite loss, and seizures. Taking care of children – and enjoying them – comes a lot easier when healthy and pain-free.

Recent movement toward the legalization of medical marijuana (30 states) and recreational marijuana (eight states and D.C.) has certainly improved access. Dorsey appreciates the fact that, in parts of California, “Now I can order my cannabis and track it to my door, just like an Uber.”

Not only has it become easier to find quality cannabis, but information has proliferated. With recreational legalization in California, Beth says, “I especially appreciated having access to the science behind it. I attempted to use the abundant information suddenly available … to craft the experience I wanted.”

But despite these gains, many parents still refrain from openly discussing their use of cannabis, afraid of being judged or stereotyped at best, reported or arrested at worst.

In states without recreational marijuana laws on the books, there can be serious consequences for anyone in possession. Even in recreational states, many parents remain cautious. “People seem to still have biases about it,” Leah observed.

Nicole*, an educator in San Diego, finds attitudes changing, but not as quickly as she would like. “I do feel as though legalization has helped destigmatize marijuana and is a significant first step in opening up the conversation. Having said that, I still think people have some ideas about ‘stoners’ that I don’t want to be associated with.”

Because legalization is so new, and because federal laws haven’t yet changed, she chooses to remain anonymous in her marijuana use: “I would hate to have my career limited, or my children treated differently because I like pot more than alcohol.”

Other parents reported finding mainstream attitudes trending in the direction of increased openness toward cannabis as the laws and the culture change.

Beth says that she now feels, “more comfortable coming out of the weed closet. And it’s been surprising,” she added, “to see how many people are regular users.”

Dorsey, the cannabis activist and rapper, uses the same metaphor to describe people’s growing ease with the topic: “Since I’ve been so open about cannabis being my passion, people ‘come out’ as cannabis users to me all the time and I encourage them to be more open with their own friends and family.”

“I encourage [parents] to be more open with their own friends and family.”

Cannabis Parenting - Mother
Each of the parents interviewed said they had personal guidelines about using cannabis at home. Some said they normally wait until after their kids are in bed for the night before consuming. Others said that they vape or eat an edible as the day is winding down and that it magnifies their patience for children’s frequent last-minute requests for glasses of water and trips to the potty. Some parents stated that their use is limited to one hit from a vape pen, or one low-dose edible when spending time with their children. As with alcohol, moderation is key.

Dorsey says, “I do not smoke in front of my daughter—I have a private area to step away to if needed. However, I am comfortable being under the influence of cannabis around my family. In our house, cannabis is a medicinal plant with incredible healing properties, and we try to instill that message more than anything.”

Nicole says that she has slowed her cannabis use recently, but that she generally strives for transparency with her family. “I didn’t want it to be something I hid or that seemed shady. Just as I would have a glass of wine in front of my children, I would have some weed.”

She believes that modeling a healthy relationship to cannabis is vital in raising children who can do the same. Her kids will make their own choices about whether or not to consume alcohol or marijuana once they are of age. “But, she adds, “I want them to know about how much is healthy for their bodies, how to take good care of themselves, and how to live a life of moderation.”

Other parents echoed Nicole’s hope that their children grow into adults with healthy attitudes toward cannabis as a potential medicine, a relief for stress and anxiety, and a way to relax and enjoy oneself.

“It’s not about ‘tuning out’ or ignoring the stresses of life, but rather about tuning in and finding things to be grateful for.”

As cannabis laws change and dialogue opens up about this topic, expect to see more blogs like the Cannavist Mom and the Stoner Mom, tagline: Responsible Cannabis Lifestyle. Expect more parents to come out of the “cannabis closet,” and contribute to the ongoing conversation.

For many parents, cannabis – whether used for pain relief, relaxation, enhancing creativity, or any number of other benefits – is a net positive.

As Abby Dorsey (MC Flow) says, “It’s not about ‘tuning out’ or ignoring the stresses of life, but rather about tuning in and finding things to be grateful for.”

Danielle Simone Brand

Danielle Simone Brand

Contributor

Danielle Simone Brand, an independent journalist based in California, writes about cannabis, homesteading and parenting. Her work appears on TheWeek.com, Kveller.com and ChopraCenter.com. She is writing for Carolina Cannabis News as Part of our "Voices from the Green Side" series.

Voices from the Green Side

Editorial note: Due to prohibition in the Carolinas we've asked writers from "legal states" to contribute to give us a sense of whether or not life is indeed greener when prohibition is lifted.

In some instances (marked *) , due to legal concerns or perceived stigma, names have been changed.

[Header image: Ross Helen]

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