Female-first comedy site WhoHaha premiered its first exclusive series with the delightful web series Cannabis Moms Club. The show follows a group of working moms growing closer as they discover a shared love of the herb, and begin to challenge the norms of motherhood. We talked to creators Kai Collins and Deena Adar about their collaboration, the double standards surrounding motherhood and marijuana, their dreams for the future of the show, and how they like to get lifted (hint: it’s all about the vape!).
HT: How did you two start working together?
Deena: Kai and I met 10 years ago in level one at The Groundlings, and I proceeded to convince her to do the whole school with me, and bribed her to be my friend by baking cookies for her. That’s essentially the way I get into everybody’s heart. We just clicked. I thought she was really smart and she was really funny, and so we started working together.
Kai: This just warms my heart, because all I wanted was so desperately to be Deena’s friend. And to hear that she wanted to work with me and write with me was phenomenal. I was willing to drive anywhere at any hour of the day to be her partner.
Deena: Aw, that’s nice. This is like a love fest.
This is going to come out just in time for Valentine’s Day, so it’s perfect. Creative duos are a wonderful thing. I notice that you’re not Australian, Kai. What was the choice behind making your character, Sam, Australian?
Kai: Well, Deena and I have worked together for 10-plus years. We’d go into meetings with agents, managers, and we would entertain each other in the waiting room. We’d come up with funny voices. Sam the Australian was a funny character I created to make Deena laugh.
Deena: I thought we could take that character and ground her and make her real. She was also somebody who was very relatable, you know?
You assembled a sympathetic cast of characters who couldn’t be more different, which is wonderful to show the power of bonding through cannabis. Only one of you has kids, right?
Kai: Deena has the children.
Deena: I have the children. I have a three-and-a-half-year-old and a six-year-old. The six-year-old today was asking for more children. I had to explain to him what adoption was, because that’s not going to happen. But yeah, this all stems from experiences that I’ve had as a mom, that Kai’s had with her mom friends and her nephew and niece, and the experiences that we’ve encountered as parents of today.
Kai: There are so many ways to judge yourself. So many ways to fail.
Deena: Yeah, and there’s just so many double standards—and for us the appeal was marijuana acting as this truth serum. That over time these women, the pot bonded them and it brought their guard and their barriers down, and they were talking real to each other. They weren’t judging each other.
Kai: That was really exciting for us, to explore women’s conversations honestly and not be so worried about legality [of cannabis] and whether or not Child Protective Services was going to show up to take your child away. Just, what you would actually say if you could actually say it?
The one episode that involves booze is the messiest and the saddest in a lot of ways. Is that a comment on alcohol versus cannabis?
Kai: Definitely. Just going to any engagement, I feel that I’m expected to drink, even if I don’t want to.
Deena: I guess I’m more surprised too, like I don’t drink. I stopped drinking, and when I tell people that I don’t drink, it’s like I’ve betrayed them in some way.
Kai: It feels offensive.
Deena: Yeah, they get upset.
Kai: It feels like I’ve hurt someone’s feelings.
Deena: It’s interesting to me, that double standard, that it’s so accepted and acceptable to drink and get drunk. It’s expected to a certain extent, but there’s so much science behind how damaging that is to your body, how physically that affects you. But marijuana has proven medicinal purposes and it’s still frowned upon. So that double standard really – just symbolized – it was a metaphor for lots of double standards that are prevalent.
What’s your preferred way to consume cannabis?
Deena: The vape has been so revolutionary. I think vape pens are great. They’re so inconspicuous and they taste great and they’re easy to transport anywhere.
Kai: I love vaping. Smoking is messy and smelly, and even if you think you’ve doused yourself in heavenly scents, people are like, “Did you smoke pot?” I’m like, “Yeah, I did.” Vaping is clean and clear and consistent, and I like that efficacy in my drug of choice.
What do you hope people come away from watching Cannabis Moms Club with?
Kai: I hope we just stop judging ourselves so harshly…. there are choices I made and choices I didn’t make, but here I am, and I’m still a worthwhile human being. How we can celebrate ourselves as humans, as women, as individuals and not judge ourselves so harshly? Can we just agree to give each other a high five for a job well done?
Deena: I think today’s climate speaks volumes for that too—we’re really at a time when we not only need to kind of embrace ourselves, but each other, and look to how we can help one another and support one another and not constantly be throwing stones and judgment. What we’re doing is as a collective society, you know?
Kai: [The show] started off as an effort to express ourselves creatively, and express ideas that we were struggling with as human individuals, but at the same time it sounds like it’s really touched the heartbeat of a movement with regards to women, and power, and people promoting themselves, and doing what’s right and not worrying so much about status quo or what other people think.
What would you do if the show got picked up? How would you unfold the story of these women?
Deena: We have kind of two paths. We could do a second season for the Web series, which – and we would be delighted to do either, but we’ve also written a pilot and have 10 episodes outlined for a TV show. So we’re open to either, and in this whole process we set it up so that you knew what each of these women’s family lives were like, where they worked, and what was going on, so we explore that more. We widen their worlds and you get to meet the families and go to their work and go on these journeys.
Has anything surprised you about how the show was received?
Kai: Oh my gosh, the eve of my 40th birthday, my mom texted me and said, “You’re on NPR!” And the nerd in me was like, “Awesome!”
Deena: I was just really surprised how many people outed their friends. And I was honestly surprised how many people I knew who came up to me and confided in me that they were a mom who smoked, and I didn’t know. They kind of felt like they could confide that to me, so you know, that just speaks volumes to the stigma that’s still kind of attached to it. But it was nice to see that people felt like they could open up about it. They felt like they really connected with the show in that way, and that it wasn’t as taboo as maybe they had thought.
How did the show get to WhoHaha?
Deena: WhoHaha had been on my radar for a little bit. I had read about how Elizabeth Banks was creating this website for funny women—and it was about time, thank you—and actually just filled out their online submission form. It was really that simple. I just filled it out and got an email back from the CEO, and from there things kind of moved fast. It was an amazing partnership. We have more projects in the works with them, and love working with them, so it’s been a really awesome process.
Well, I hope that that continues and that you have lots more opportunities to make some awesome stuff about weed.
Deena: We do too, Mary Jane. We like making stuff about weed.