Can Pot Make You A Better Parent? A Discussion With Parents Who Use Cannabis

 “It helps me in ways that have enabled me to grow as a parent, in all honesty. Cannabis guides me to this calm, present state of mind."

Cannabis is a natural plant with a multitude of medical, recreational, and industrial applications. The growing industry is predicted to create more jobs than manufacturing by the year 2020, with an estimated quarter million jobs. With health benefits like easing of chronic pain, reduction of inflammation and nausea, as well as reduction of symptoms in fibromyalgia, endometriosis, and autoimmune patients — in addition to a reduction of suicide rates in states where the substance is legal — it’s no wonder that folks sing the plant’s praises. After all, even asprin, a completely uncontroversial over-the-counter medication, came from nature.

The government is finally beginning to catch up to the medical and recreational use with laws regarding cannabis. As of March 31, 2017 medical marijuana is now legal in 28 states and recreational possession and use is legal in eight states, plus the District of Columbia.

But let’s be real: it doesn’t have to be legal to be legitimately needed, and there have always been back channel ways to acquire anything that one wants or needs, including cannabis. With it becoming legal, there are many more cannabis moms out there, but there have always been moms who needed to relax or needed to use it for pain purposes. New legislature doesn’t change the need or efficacy of the natural remedy. Just as people have been doing for centuries, folks will take care of their needs with or without consent and interference from the government.

We interviewed several parents of a multitude of gender identities to find out more about pot use and parenting. Here’s what they had to say:

Ravishly: How do you discuss cannabis with your children, or do you?

“When my daughter asked me what I was going outside all the time for, I simply told her that mommy was smoking her medicine. Which of course she asked 'How can you smoke medicine?' So I explained to her that there was a plant called Marijuana and it has been found to help people with many different illnesses, and for mom it helps her stay calm.” — Meagan, 24. Washington.

“As soon as my son was old enough to notice it and ask about it, (around age 5 or 6) I gave him the facts. I let him know that it is called cannabis. It is a flower known as marijuana from the cannabis plant and it is medicine for Momma when she needs it. I never smoked in front of him, and never in the same room, but before I had a vape, he would run across the flower occasionally. I let him know that some people think it's "bad" because the government said so, but that I did not agree with that. I told him that in some places it's illegal, and it was not something to talk about in front of other adults because of that. I also let him know that it could be harmful to him at his age if used when he is so healthy, and does not need it. That's all he really wanted to know at that age, and now at 13 he is more knowledgeable about the nuances of the legal battles, the stigmas and tropes, and the varieties that exist. He expresses little interest in it, but knows that I am straight with him on whatever he wants to know about the subject. He is also very aware of my hemp advocacy and how very different the strains of cannabis that produce fiber are from the flower that contains healing THC medicine.” — Ms. Swank, 43. California.

“Oh, I have always been open with this in front of K. My parents never hid it from me, even though it was supposed to be a “secret”. Although, she did eat a pot cookie when she was 8, which was hilarious, but obviously terrifying. I hid them on top of the fridge and she found them. Of course she was ok, but still I felt like the worst parent ever. Now, as a 16 year old I am very aware she is probably smoking or on the verge of smoking now. When she visited me here in California, she made jokes and she tried the canna-butter tea. I didn’t mind because I would rather her feel comfortable enough around me to talk to me about it, than hide it and I never know. That and I honest to God just don’t care when it comes to something as ultimately harmless as pot.” — B, 42. California.

How does treating your pain and/or psychological conditions with cannabis affect your ability to be an effective parent?

“It helps me in ways that have enabled me to grow as a parent, in all honesty. Cannabis guides me to this calm, present state of mind. It eases my muscle tension and slows my thoughts down so that I feel comfortable enough to sit and play with my daughter. Sometimes I can even rough house! Of course, sometimes I use cannabis and I feel more sleepy than usual, but of course it is much better than feeling pain.” — Cian, 26. California.

“I did not smoke very much as a parent of a young child. As she grew older I was able to smoke more frequently but I still didn't allow myself to get blasted.  Smoking made me more mellow but I had to be careful that I did not get stoned to the point of being careless and neglect my child. I think being stoned as a parent actually impairs you unless you carefully monitor yourself. I can see how you could forget to carefully watch your child and things could happen.” — Theresa, 64. Florida.

“Cannabis is the only way I can be a successful mom at times. Both my daughter and myself are special needs. Albeit we are both high functioning, that doesn't make our relationship and jobs as mother and daughter any easier. My daughter is on the autism spectrum which can be very difficult to cope with at times, especially with my severe anxiety. Cannabis allows my body to avoid anxiety attacks and the anger that can come with them.” — Meagan, 24. Washington.

“It does bother me on a moral judgement level because we are taught to view drug use of any kind as very wrong... especially when we are examples to young children. I think it has the potential to take me away from my kids in the sense that I am not as present as I would be if I hadn't just smoked. However, I have found that I am much more present with my kids while "high" than I am when I go into a panic attack, in which case my children see me in a heightened stressed-out mode, and end up absorbing that stress. So here, I choose the lesser of two perceived evils.” — Anonymous, 32. Oregon.

“As someone who spent most of her parenthood drunk due to addiction issues and self-medicating, I find being stoned a bit better and more favorable for me. I don’t drive high. I also have more health issues than most people where I would need to use cannabis though. (My daughter) used to equate pot with alcohol and she would get upset with me. She doesn’t anymore, now she is old enough to see that it really helps with my pain management and psych issues. I am a chronic sickie, so for me, anything that improves my quality of life makes me a better parent. I don’t know if that is the same as a casual user, because I wouldn’t give the same props to alcohol, you know?” — B, 42. California.

How would you treat your medical needs if you did not have access to cannabis? If you would be taking an alternative medication, how does that medication affect your body and your interactions with your children? Which is more helpful?

"If I didn't have access to cannabis, I'd probably be on some kind of opioid/benzo combination for my chronic pain. When I'm on pills like that, I'm out like a light. I would be spending even more time trying to sleep the pain off, and even less time with my child. Cannabis enables me to calm my body and mind. When I'm calm, I can be present with my daughter. I don't have to miss the special moments because I'm in bed! Plus, I feel like being on more pills would give me more liver damage, and I wouldn't be able to run my small business. Cannabis has saved my life a couple of times when I was feeling so anxious I wanted to peel my skin off. I'm really grateful to live in a place that provides me access to a very helpful plant. I really hope to work toward normalizing medical and recreational cannabis use among parents.” — Cian, 26. California.

“I enjoy smoking, it makes me feel good without impairing my abilities as long as I smoke in moderation. Access has changed my life because I was able to smoke instead of consume lots of alcohol which is much more harmful to your healthy body and strongly impairs your ability to perform the things I need to do.” — Theresa, 64. Florida.

“I would be taking my pharmaceutical Bupropion which is the generic for Wellbutrin. SSRIs in the past have made my depression worse. However, knowing that generic pills can technically be cut with anything, I decided I no longer feel safe taking pills and feel better about smoking something grown locally by someone we know. When a doctor prescribed Zoloft for my post-partum depression after my first son, I became so withdrawn I was drinking and smoking cigarettes after work during the day while my partner and his mom helped out with our son. I knew those pills were not the answer... I tried different pills, acupuncture and chinese herbs, and saw a therapist. What helped most of all was getting off the pills and getting on my bicycle.” — Anonymous, 32. Oregon.

Why are you a proponent of cannabis? How has access changed your life?

“I love being able to treat a body pain with a plant that I could grow on my back patio. That is how natural medicine works and it resonates with me on a mental (it makes sense to take control of my wellness with the simplest, most natural methods), physical (it actually works with no side effects), and spiritual (it feels right in my personal goddess connection) level. Access allows me to be able to do what's right for my body, which makes me a better parent WITHOUT the added stress of being treated like a criminal. It is a huge reason I moved 2,000 miles away from my hometown and came to SF. ” — Ms. Swank, 43. California.

“I just think it is a fucking amazing plant. As a consumer and someone with a science background, I see so much potential with this. I get very excited when I see legalization and I hate it when people are ignorant about pot. In fact, it drives me nuts. I’m nervous to move back to Florida, but I know they are on the verge of total legalization… so I think it will be OK. That and I know I am medically eligible for my license (PTSD at the very least, the Florida medical list is limited). To get your card in Florida is like $500/year when its said and done. I will pay it, happily. If it means I can legally buy weed and not have to worry about it, it is not that much money.” — B, 42. California (soon to be Florida)

“I advocate for the use of Marijuana for the simple fact that it's an organic substance that WORKS and works WONDERS. I have been a lab rat for big pharma the majority of my life regarding my mental health. I know what those colored pills do to me. They took my uniqueness away from me and turned me into a zombie. Cannabis makes me a better me, without changing me. I didn't have legal access to Marijuana until it became legal in Washington state. I am still fairly new to the positive wonders Marijuana has had on my life, and I wish that our government would open their eyes and see how much good this plant does.“  — Meagan, 24. Washington. 

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