Parenting — have you heard? — is hard and can be some of the most stressful moments of your adult life. And though some parental vices (over drinking or over working) have been widely sanctioned acceptable by the general public, marijuana usage still has a public stigma attached to it.
Moms and Dads Do Get Stoned
A Columbia University analysis of U.S. government data on drug use found that in 2015, 7 percent of parents with children in the home used marijuana, up from 5 percent in 2002. That number is almost certainly higher today, as more states have continued to legalize cannabis. But even in states where it’s legal, cannabis use doesn’t necessarily feel as socially acceptable among parents as, say, drinking liquor.
It’s been almost a decade since cannabis first became legal for recreational use in states like Colorado and California. It’s now legal for medical use in 38 states, including 19, Michigan being one of them, where it’s also legal recreationally. Ladies at canasta tables now compare notes on their favorite cannabis tinctures. Baby boomers openly smoke pot with their adult children, bosses have professional meeting passing blunts; even college campuses offer courses on “green entrepreneurship.”
Maggie (not her real name) a member of the Spelman Moms Facebook group expressed her feelings about the subject. “My ex indulges and when we were married I was fine with it. When we decided to have a baby I was no longer fine with it and he had to go in the garage. When we separated I asked that he not indulge around our child. Which I think he adheres to but I don’t stress over it. I think some of the stigma is gender based. What’s interesting is that I don’t feel the same way about alcohol. Alcohol is almost encouraged for moms vs. indulging.”
Bishop Forkler, Detroit-resident, works in the industry that has grown up as legalization widened. He invests in a cannabis brand, grows, smokes and cultivates the flower, and he’s often the go-to guy for many of his friends who’s trying to figure out exactly which cannabis product might be right for them.
Forkler is about as open as one could be about his personal relationship with weed, which he’s used since high school. His significant other, his family, his employees, friends and anyone who cares to look up his dealings all know that he gets high. But when the 43-year-old father of two first meets a fellow parent, he still feels awkward discussing it. “When I’m talking about cannabis,” he says, “it feels like a confession instead of a conversation.” He worries a little that he could be perceived negatively, and that it could cost his children friendships with kids whose parents disapprove of his cannabis use.
Judgmental Parents Beware
Culturally, “the war on drugs was pretty damn effective,” says Forkler, a millienial who came up in the era of “Just Say No.” “It’s impacting my own self-judgment — even now.”
He’s sitting in a private room at the back of Craft Cannabis Club, a dimly lit, Instagram-ready cannabis lounge in midtown Detroit, where he rolls and conducts meetings for his multiple enterprises. “As a Black business man, I have certain privileges, and I think there is a lot of normalization that’s happening, but it’s not happening across the board on television and in main stream media. Other parents can still be quite judgmental.”
A recent Gallup poll found that more Americans are now smoking marijuana than cigarettes. It’s a habit that can be divisive when it comes to parents, especially with the proliferation of edible cannabis products that might be mistaken for regular candy. Erica Allard, from Atlanta says, “While I don’t do it daily, I indulge in edibles on occasion and am a professional mom. I know TONS of white moms in my area who indulge in much harder things and are professionals and no stigmas associated to that. I indulge for pleasure and stress relief as an alternative to anxiety meds.” Mother of two children, age 6 and 2, Allard believes she should approach the topic sooner than later. “I think in todays climate we’ll have to do it early. Still explain the pros and cons of drug use,” says Allard. “Yes I still consider it a drug, but we so are prescriptions and caffeine really. I do think the stigma behind weed needs to lessen.”
Marijuana is still Classified as a Controlled Substance
Another Grand Rapids mom and advocate, Sarah Tubber, of three boys, says the stigma she feels as a woman who indulges in cannabis instead of consuming alcohol is hypercritical of society; “I use cannabis in many forms but mostly smoking, edibles and tincture. I use it to stay focused, creative, feel present instead of checked out, and extended patience and enjoyment of activities that sometimes feel tedious as a mother like cleaning, cooking, crafts. etc. I don’t consume alcohol and find that even on a Friday or Saturday night I much prefer cannabis and the restful sleep and feeling the morning after in place of alcohol. I also love that feeling good can be medicine! I don’t feel much personal stigma but certainly encountered judgment within parenting circles and my neighborhood before people understood me and my mission better. I’m on a mission to change the “mommy wine” culture and find myself to be approachable and unapologetic therefore inviting other women to ask me questions and seek advice on Integrating cannabis into their daily lives. No more stoner stigma, no more sexualized bongs and thongs anymore. Some women have definitely participated with me!.”
At a federal level, marijuana is still classified as a controlled substance. Cannabis consumption can be used as grounds for eviction or termination of employment even in Michigan where state citizens have voted for its legalization. It can spark investigations by child protective services or show up as a red flag in the medical chart of a pregnant woman who tests positive for cannabis — especially among Black parents, advocates say. “My kids understand conceptually what I do and what cannabis is for people- we talk about it very much like I talk about anything that grows on a farm, says Tubber. They understand but as they grow I know they’ll have more questions. As long as they come to me I will always be honest.”