Being a Cannama — a loving mama who loves her marijuana, too — is both freeing, and restrictive. On the one hand, using cannabis as herbal therapy is liberating and enlightening. As a wellness oriented woman, I feel a sense of pride for treating my insomnia and depression holistically. As a mom, however, I sometimes feel isolated, frustrated and self-conscious about using marijuana on a regular basis.
For all the good it’s done me, I can’t get past the fact that publicizing my ganja intake could have a negative impact on my kids. I’m a Bay Area gal, so I don’t fret about child protective services busting down my door, or anything, it’s their social isolation I worry about.
They’re early-on in their elementary years, and attend a close-knit school. Parental involvement is key in developing their social life. How many doors will close to them if other parents caught wind?
I gotta give a reluctant shout out to mother guilt too, as being a mom kinda turns one’s entire being into an Achilles heel. Mama’s judge themselves way too harshly and have difficulty with self-forgiveness. Everything is our fault.
Being a Cannama takes this guilt to a whole new level. I’ve been using medicinal marijuana to treat insomnia and depression for 4 years now, and with the exception of my husband & best friend, I haven’t told a single soul. I’m loath to admit it, but there’s part of me that fears what disclosing my cannabis consumption would do to my reputation as a reliable person and a “good mom”.
“Why is alcohol acceptable to post on Facebook — with your kids in photos with alcohol? Moms are doing countdowns to when they can open a bottle of wine … talking openly about popping anti-depressants. Why are those OK, rather than (marijuana)?”
– Cannabis Mom’s Club co-creator, Kai Collins.
Let’s be real: It’s no one’s business what I put in my body, but I despise this long held double standard. Why is it cool to sip on a cocktail across the table from your kids, but heaven forbid you spark a fatty anywhere within sight of them? I mean, no one side-eyes mamas for getting wasted on a girls’ night out, in fact, it’s practically a right of passage. This is despite that alcohol is a volatile, flammable liquid and verified depressant.
So, what would go down if I suggested Weed & Water party for a mom’s night outing? How many would actually show, and how many playdates and birthday party invites will my kids receive, subsequently? Would I have to convince folks I’m still safe to look after their kids or car pool? My kids just started school, the last thing I want to do is condemn their elementary years to social seclusion. Whether my concerns are founded or not, confliction is afoot, but believe me when I say I am working to overcome it.
Becoming a Cannama
I used to think marijuana + motherhood made for strange bedfellows, but that was before the recession of 2008. It’s impact on our family was brutal. It prompted our relocation from the NYC Area to the Bay Area, where my husband was able to secure gainful employment.
Managing a freelance writing career while caring for 2 toddlers with sans support system was no joke. I had one child who wasn’t interested in napping during the day, and another who had difficulty sleeping at night (which unfortunately coincided with my work hours). Eventually, years of interrupted sleep interrupted me. I’d developed insomnia and began to vacillate between anxious and depressed moods. I’d lost my resilience, resourcefulness and most of my patience. Mothering had gone from feeding my spirit, to draining my life force.
I’d always been very sensitive to pharmaceuticals so my initial efforts included everything from valerian to melatonin. When natural OTC cures proved futile I tried Ambien. My doctor cautiously recommended it with just cause: the drug essentially transformed me into the walking dead, and with two toddlers in tow, that was out of the question. It turns out being dangerously lethargic is far worse than exhaustion and depression. I refused to drive, our outings were limited to brief visits to the playground, and the TV became a part-time nanny. Suffice it to say that my experience with that drug was short lived.
I’d always known marijane was an option, but I had no framework for reconciling mothering and marijuana use. First off, I’m a woman of color raised within a relatively churchy framework. I’d fully internalized the notion that substance use of any kind was to be avoided or stowed neatly in the closet. Besides, my only experience with cannabis until then was limited to my abuse of it during college. How could I be an effective mom if it made unmotivated and/or paranoid like it did back then?
I also didn’t want my kids inhaling smoke of any kind — and what would I tell them if they caught me toking up outside? Fortunately for me, personal and professional deterioration upended my trepidation. With the health of my family in the balance, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to give medical marijuana a try.
The initial consultation at my local dispensary demonstrated how just ignorant I was about cannabis. I was amazed by a myriad of smokeless options available. I experimented with indica tinctures, capsules, butter, tea and candies to treat my insomnia — and every last one was effective. Unlike the government-sanctioned zombie-caps I’d been prescribed, cannabis aided restful nights, and clear-headed days.
I learned how to medicate and could determine the right dosage for, ‘work’ and ‘play.’ My method of choice is now chocolate, and gummies (CBD is my shiiiiit!). I toke on occasion, often for recreational purposes or if I need more immediate symptom relief.
My stash is always secure. When my curious little ones ask what’s in “mommy’s medicine box”, I assure them it’s filled with “yucky tasting” herbal supplements only suitable for adults. I haven’t actually used the word “cannabis” during our q & a’s. I suppose I can’t trust they won’t innocently repeat the term in front of the “wrong” audience — which is ashamed, really. Why shouldn’t something as natural and beneficial as ganja be spoken of freely, in any setting? At any rate, it is a work in progress and I’m certain I’ll find the right approach when it the time comes.
Cannama’s as Pot Pioneers
Merry Jane’s Mila Banks once wrote “When I use cannabis, it brings relief to my physical pain, which helps me be a happier person, overall. I feel a deeper love for, and connection with, my children and husband that I have never experienced before. Using cannabis does not dull the person I am, it brings out the person, and mother, that I have always wanted to be.” I second that emotion.
Cannabis has improved my ability to mother too. As a matter of fact, medical marijuana has revolutionized my entire outlook on life. It cured me of insomnia and dissipated the fog of anxiety and depression; I found my self being less judgmental of myself and others. I had become burned out and bitter but now experience heightened levels of patience, resilience, curiosity, creativity and resourcefulness. It slowed me down just enough to appreciate what was going on in the “now” — and I laughed a little more too. It reminded me to feed my body, and helped me identify what feeds my soul. I began to connect with my husband, kids and my own self with deeper empathy and mindfulness.
As marijuana legitimacy gains a tenuous foothold in our society, Cannama’s are doing their part to expand the discussion and normalize cannabis consumption. We’re creating support groups, coalitions, and blogs galore. Filmmakers Deena Adar and Kai Collins have even developed a web series. The hit comedy Cannabis Moms Club was created in the spirit of dismantling stigmas associated with marijuana ’n’ mamahood.
“We shouldn’t be afraid to say that we smoke or vaporize or enjoy edibles.” The Cannabist’s Brittany Driver says. “Only we can expose the rich and intelligent community that lies beneath the lingering smoke. We will shift the paradigm. It’s up to us to prove that we are not what is commonly depicted of us.”
The struggle is real, but I’d like to think I’m doing my part in redefining what it means to be a marijuana lovin’ mama, one toke at a time. And who knows? Maybe I will bring a fatty spliff to my next mom’s night gathering. I may find I’ve been in like-minded company all along.