When It Comes to Moms & Marijuana, Lay Off the Judgment

woman smoking pot
iStock.com/HighGradeRoots

As marijuana becomes legal in more and more states, debates about who should and shouldn't use the plant have been popping up all over the place. And, like most controversial topics, the one demographic getting hit the hardest with shame, outrage, and disbelief is -- of course -- mothers. But, I'm here to assuage any worries or concerns. Moms who use cannabis are really not much different than moms who don't. I should know, because I'm one of them.

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I started using cannabis (under my provider's supervision and with a legal medical card in my state) to treat anxiety a couple of years ago. I had suffered a debilitating episode that left me underweight, unable to get out of bed, and at the doctor's sometimes twice a week to run more tests, because even my doctors weren't sure it was "just" anxiety (it was).

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That time period was hard on me for many reasons, but it especially impacted my parenting. I wasn't able to really do much, and I felt guilty for not being able to handle things as simple as driving my son to school or making him his lunch. I started taking a prescribed SSRI, as well as Ativan, which helped when debilitating panic attacks took over. I eventually got healthier, but I wasn't loving the medication, particularly the Ativan. While it certainly worked, I had read studies that showed it was connected to early onset dementia and that concerned me. 

Eventually, through talking with my provider and others, I decided to try medical cannabis, and have since been successfully using it to help treat my anxiety.

Yes. I smoke pot, almost daily, and I'm a mom.

And I'm not the only one. According to a recent survey from Eaze, a cannabis technology company that facilitates the delivery of medical marijuana, a higher number of women than men report using cannabis daily and one in five marijuana users in their survey is a parent. There has been a recent spat of pushback from moms who smoke marijuana and are done with being stereotyped as stoners and, even worse, unfit parents. Yes, many of us grew up with the idea of Cheech and Chong being the ultimate potheads, and while some people live up to their legacy, it's just really not like that.

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People who use cannabis (either medicinally or recreationally) are just regular folks. They hold down jobs, sometimes more than one. They are hardworking and compassionate. They pay taxes. Some are homeowners. And yes, some are parents. 

I could get into the whole argument that "other moms drink wine all the time and folks are okay with that!" or "cannabis, for me, is a medication, just like my SSRI or somebody else's Xanax." But this conversation shouldn't be about equivalencies. It should be enough to say, "I'm a responsible adult and I use cannabis." That's all.

Yet, I'm aware of the society we live in -- one in which everyone needs to have a say and point out why my choices are wrong. Celia Behar, another mother who has been outspoken about her cannabis use, understands this negative reaction all too well. 

"Public comments have been mostly horrendous, hurtful, uneducated, judgmental bullying," says Behar, who uses cannabis to help with postpartum depression. "I've been called a horrible mother, a drug addict, a liar (about having PPD), and an all-around basic failure of a human who is raising future drug addicts and all-around basic failures of humans. I've been told CPS has been contacted."

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But for Behar, it was worth it to share her story, as many people contacted her to thank her and let her know they've been in the same boat and found relief with cannabis. When asked if she'll stop talking about it, Behar says, "All and all, while [the reaction can be] overwhelming, I think it's clear it's time to talk about this."

I agree. Just like any so-called taboo when it comes to mothering, the more we share our stories, the more we help break down stigmas. Why should we be shamed for something that helps our parenting (and in fact, for some folks, makes them better parents)?

So, while you might be sitting on your coach sipping some merlot or a milkshake after a rough day of parenting, I might be vaping some cannabis oil to help my body unclench and relax because my anxiety has spiked too high to allow me to go to sleep. And you know I'll be needing sleep if I want to be up and chipper and ready to go the next day. We're parents. We do what we can with what we have. And, for some of us, that includes a little marijuana.

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