As cannabis legalization takes hold around the nation, moms who smoke weed are increasingly coming out of the closet, asking to be judged no more than moms who drink wine.
In places like California or Colorado, it’s become increasingly difficult for parents to completely shield their children from cannabis culture, whether via advertising references or the iconic pot leaf that’s come to decorate everything from jewelry to storefronts to book displays at Barnes and Noble.
According to psychiatrist Julie Holland, author of The Pot Book: A Complete Guide to Cannabis, legalization allows parents to model healthy, normalizing behavior with cannabis, rather than pathologizing it, which is the mentality prohibition fosters. “Parents having to hide from kids, kids having to hide from parents — all this hiding, lying, and shame makes the behavior more compulsive,” she says. Like drinking a glass of wine at dinner to model healthy, moderate drug use, she adds, legalization could allow the same with cannabis.
That is, if parents still weren’t stigmatized for using a substance that more than half the states in the nation have deemed legal.
“Being judged for doing something nontoxic and totally organic, enjoying a god-given plant, by moms who suck back two bottles of Chardonnay like sports drinks feels like shit,” bemoans one mother. “Any hypocrisy is hard to swallow. A drunk mother is pathetic, and I often leave parties when I experience other mothers tying one on.”
No matter what a mother uses, she shouldn’t be judged so long as she’s still productive and not causing harm to herself or her family, activists agree.
“If I wanted to, I could sit with a glass of wine in one hand, a cup of coffee in the other, with a cigarette pressed between my lips, under the influence of prescription narcotics — all the while holding my child in my lap,” says Serra Frank, founder and director of Moms for Marijuana. Families are constantly subject to advertisements and media condoning the use of these drugs, while parents who smoke pot are often forced to remain in the shadows, should a child’s school find out or other parents judge them.
But in fact, cannabis can actually help moms and dads be better parents. According to one dad who gets high, his young daughters are in for a treat, knowing he’ll be much more invested in round of Barbie make-believe.
Cheryl Shuman, the face of Moms for Marijuana and founder of the Beverly Hills Cannabis Club, says she began using cannabis in the mid Nineties per the advice of her psychiatrist, following a sexual assault trauma. She was a 36-year-old single mother of two young daughters, and it was the first time she’d ever tried cannabis. “For me, I was so happy that it was like my whole world changed overnight,” she tells Jane Street. “Even my kids said within the first 48 hours, we got our mom back.”
Cannabis changed her life, as a mother and an advocate. Today, Shuman works with Moms for Marijuana, the cannabis industry’s largest activism group for women, and advocates for mothers and parents who come under fire with child protective services for using cannabis. “We have to be vigilant as mothers to look out for one another,” Shuman says.
Nonetheless, she says women, and moms in particular, are one of the most important demographics in the rebranding of cannabis, especially in regard to marketing and politics. “Any time you want to get something through politically, if you have the support of women, and specifically moms, you’ll have 87 percent of the vote,” she says. “And from a marketing standpoint, if a mom’s on board, it’s like the Good Housekeeping seal of approval. The more we demonstrate that we’re not losers, we’re not stoners who sit around all day, but that we’re productive good moms who choose cannabis as a safer alternative to alcohol and pharmaceuticals, we should be applauded for that, standing on the front lines to change the course of history.”