Every parent has been there. The baby won’t stop wailing, the dog needs to be walked, your partner is hungry and asking for dinner. What do you do? Feel your chest tense up with anxiety? Grab a glass of wine?
A new trend is showing parents using low-dose cannabis as a tool to help them deal with the pressures of everyday life.
Let me be clear, these parents are not getting stoned and falling asleep on the couch. They are using a very small amount of weed throughout the day (many in the morning, instead of coffee) and finding that they are more present, more focused and happier in their daily lives.
One in five cannabis consumers (22 percent) are parents, and 63 percent of parents consume cannabis daily.
What do we know about the formerly taboo combination of pot and parenting? Can pot turn us into more patient and more joyful parents?
Many parents are even replacing their wine with cannabis at the end of the day: in many cases, a healthier alternative. Parents are 50 percent more likely to replace alcohol with cannabis when compared to non-parents, and 25 percent more likely to replace alcohol with opiate painkillers when compared to non-parents—often a dangerous alternative, as opiate painkillers can easily lead to dependence.
Although cannabis is a natural choice, and people don’t die of cannabis overdoses (as they do from alcohol and opiate painkillers), many in the media are still quick to judge.
In researching this article, the majority of the titles I found of existing pieces used phrases like “Confessions of a Pot Smoking Parent” and “Unapologetic about Getting High.” This kind of language is outdated and counterproductive.
Cannabis decreases stress, and parenting is one of the most stressful jobs there is. When you’re able to manage stress, a lot of other healthy habits become much easier, like sleeping and eating well, which in turn lowers our bodies’ stress responses.
Cannabis also makes it fun to get on the ground with your kids and let go during playtime, whether imagining innovative craft projects or approaching a beloved game with renewed energy. I would argue that in addition to a healthy diet, exercise and meditation, cannabis has the ability to make parenting easier, more enjoyable and more rewarding for the whole family.
I spoke with a handful of successful and accomplished working parents who use cannabis in order to understand their perspective. This is what I found.
Jane West is the mom of two boys, a wife and a serial entrepreneur. Many people wonder how she’s able to get so much done in a day, while keeping a positive mindset. Her secret (which isn’t a secret at all) is cannabis.
Jane believes daily cannabis use has been the catalyst to her health and happiness. She prefers sativa-dominant strains to keep her energy up for tasks that include power cleaning the house, hiking with her boys and running a million-dollar lifestyle brand.
I asked Jane what she wanted other parents to understand about cannabis. She said, “Children have died after ingesting detergent pods; cannabis consumption has never killed anyone. I’d like parents to take a step back and think about whether we are worrying about the right things.”
“Lock it up”—every parent I spoke with used this phrase.
“Please, for the love of God, keep your cannabis hidden and locked,” said Pamela Hadfield, CMO at HelloMD.
Pamela suffered from migraines for 25 years. In order to keep her functional, her doctors loaded her up on narcotics to manage the pain. I asked Pamela about the biggest difference between life without cannabis and life now.
“Being healthy and feeling well, as opposed to focusing on pain management, allows me to be present and engaged as a parent,” she said. “Prior to this, I was using drugs that either made me feel sick, like a zombie, or changed my behavior, and did nothing to prevent the migraines from happening.”
Pamela works at HelloMD, the technology platform that allows patients and doctors to easily connect. When I asked her about the language she uses to explain her job to her children, she said she stresses that “using cannabis as a young person inhibits brain growth. Unless you are seriously ill and need to be medicated, cannabis is only for adults over the age of 21.”
Pamela shared a quote with me from fellow parent and cannabis activist Tawnie Logan: “If you want your kids to not smoke cannabis, become a cannabis advocate. It will never be cool to them—ever!”
Many parents just want someone to tell them that their cannabis use is OK and doesn’t minimize their parenthood.
Emma Cunningham of Eaze said, “it doesn’t make you less of a parent, it just gives us a tool to handle and keep up with our kids.”
Emma uses indica-dominant strains at the end of the day to relax, about the same time when other moms are reaching for a glass of wine to unwind. When I asked how cannabis improved her quality of life, Emma said, “I become calm, cool and collected, and it helps me focus better.”
I spoke with two fathers about their cannabis use and parenting.
Alex Mountjoy said that he didn’t like who he was when he drank and avoided drinking in front of his kids. He wanted to create a product that took the edge off, but didn’t change his personality. He’s the creator of MountJoy Sparkling, the only zero-calorie, low-dose (12 mg per bottle) infused seltzer drink. Sitting down and having a drink is how adults socialize. Substituting THC for alcohol might be the biggest thing in parenting since Dr. Spock’s The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care.
Jesse X is a serial entrepreneur and the father of three boys. When I asked him about his relationship with cannabis and parenting, he explained that weed makes it easy to get down on the ground and play with your kids. This may seem like a small point, but in a world where most parents are staring at their iPhones at the playground, it’s revolutionary.
When cannabis is used in a responsible way, it can benefit the entire family.
Clearly this is a very different image than the one Cheech and Chong presented of adult cannabis use. It’s different from the irresponsible stereotypes of shut-eyed stoners we see in the media all the time.
And as more parents come forward and share how cannabis has improved their quality of life, we may see parenting and families changed for the better.