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We Need to Destigmatize Parents Who Use Cannabis


"As a cannabis advocate, I’m reasonably concerned by the social stigma around parents who use the plant. This is partially because some of my loved ones happen to be parents who use cannabis, but it’s also because I don’t think it makes sense to demonize responsible adults for enjoying marijuana. And contrary to popular opinion, successful cannabis consumers aren’t difficult to find.

In fact, according to a study from the cannabis culture website Civilized, adults who consume cannabis aren’t just more likely to be employed than non-consumers,they’re more likely to hold supervisory roles at work. They’re also more likely to be homeowners with children, according to the Pew Research Center. Yet cannabis arrests in the United States outnumber those of violent crimes.

I may never decide to have children of my own, but it’s important to shine a light on parenting and cannabiswhether I do or not. I spoke with the following people on the topic.

  • Derek Riedle, founder and publisher of Civilized. As an outspoken cannabis consumer and father of two young boys, Riedle knows what it means to be a good parent who enjoys a bowl or two.

  • Vanessa,* a stay-at-home mom who uses cannabis for both herself and her young daughter. Her daughter has been living with an undiagnosed neurological disease since infancy.

  • Enrico Moses, another cannabis-consuming father and the CEO of High Standards, a Los Angeles-based marketing agency bringing sophisticated, informative events to California’s cannabis capital.

  • Two women who are working to make the cannabis industry as parent-friendly as possible: Kristi Knoblich, COO of Kiva Confections, and Brittnie Green, head of events and outreach at dosist (formerly hmbldt).

  • Ashley Spivak, a doula, reproductive health advocate, and co-creator of the wellness event Cycles + Sex.

Common Misconceptions on Cannabis and Parenting


“The most amazing thing to me is that people who don’t consume cannabis have a fundamental misunderstanding about what it does to somebody who consumes it,” Riedle tells me. “Cannabis consumers feel that they enjoy life a little bit more, they’re more active, they’re more social, they’re more creative … non-users just don’t understand that. They don’t think these things happen.”

Riedle’s right. Misconceptions around cannabis and the people who use it are deeply embedded in our society, and that won’t change overnight. As Spivak puts it, “The image of the person who uses these plants, the side effects like laziness and brainlessness … This is still what we associate with cannabis.” In Moses’ opinion, “There has been so much negative propaganda around this plant that it will take years for people to completely unlearn these projections.”

Luckily, the internet already abounds with essays and articles in which writers challenge negative stereotypesabout cannabis and cannabis users. (Hell, I’ve a written a few of them.) Further, recent polls show that cannabis consumers in the US tend to work out as much or more than non-users, and we typically have more active social lives and obtain higher levels of education as well. Still, misconceptions persist, and nowhere is this more pronounced than when it comes to parents who use cannabis.

This is doubly true for parents like Vanessa, who use the plant as medicine for not only themselves, but for their kids as well. “She can’t walk, she can’t speak, she can’t do anything on her own,” Vanessa says of her now-four-year-old daughter. “For her condition there is no option. There is no treatment, there is no clinical trial she can get into—nothing. So [cannabis] really was, and is, our only hope of lulling some of her conditions from her disease.”

Even though she lives in California—where cannabis was legalized for medical use in 1996—Vanessa says her daughter’s neurologist was against pediatric cannabis use from the start. After doing their own research, Vanessa and her husband decided to try it anyway. “We took the leap,” she recalls. “We found a dispensary that we felt was very professional and much more catered to medical needs versus recreational.”

Cannabis works so well for their daughter that she hasn’t missed a dose since that first try. “Her body is constantly moving and nothing can soothe her, and when she takes cannabis, it’s like her body just relaxes,” Vanessa says. “I can’t tell you how amazing it is to be able to hold my daughter and her body feel calm instead of just wiggling out of control. It’s the best feeling.”

Like Becoming a Parent, Cannabis Consumption Is a Personal Choice"...

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