If you go on Pinterest and search for the terms “mom” and “wine,” you’ll be rewarded with a barrage of kitschy, cutesy wine-related products.
Terms like “mom juice” and “mom fuel” bedeck wine glasses. Faux-vintage signs declare that motherhood is “powered by love” and “sustained by wine.” T-shirts declare it’s mom’s turn to “wine.” (Instead of whine, get it?? Words are fun.)
We’ve all decided as a society that it’s not only okay to drink around our children, but it’s even okay to imply that our children drive us to drink. That the only way to get through parenthood is to have a glass or two at the end of the night.
Parenting is hard, we all agree. Why not have a little something to take the edge off?
But when that same conversation is had in reference to cannabis, the attitude can be very different. Parents feel the need to “come out,” confessing that they smoke in op-ed pieces all over the internet. No casual drinker ever feels the need to do this.
One recurring theme through all the confessions? Cannabis may help some parents to parent better. In moderation (like anything else), marijuana reduces anxiety and can make parents more patient. It can lead to better sleep, which makes for a clearer mind during the day. Some also say it helps them to “get in the flow” better with their children, leading to better play and more quality time.
That three-hour LEGO sesh looks a little more attractive after a bit of the devil’s lettuce, doesn’t it?
Is it safe?
No one is advocating getting zombie-stoned when there are children around, just like no one would advocate getting black-out drunk. But what is the difference, after all, between a glass of wine and a moderate amount of cannabis?
Some say there isn’t one.
The idea is backed by some members of the scientific community, like New Zealand’s Dr. Fiona Hutton. Dr. Hutton is a senior lecturer in Victoria’s School of Social and Cultural Studies and a researcher at Victoria’s Institute of Criminology. She questions why we only demonize some drug users and not others.
She thinks the benefits of smoking cannabis are the same as those of moderate alcohol use — namely relaxation and a little “me-time.”
“We are addicted to demonising some drug users, forgetting that most of us, those who use tobacco, alcohol and caffeine, are drug users ourselves,” she says.
In fact, the good doctor says that cannabis is “less harmful than other drugs...like alcohol and tobacco.”
A cursory look at the numbers seems to support her statement.
There are 88,000 annual deaths from alcohol poisoning, alcohol-related diseases, and drunk driving accidents. In fact, alcohol is the third leading cause of preventable death in the U.S.
Tobacco is even worse, with 480,000 annual deaths from smoking-related diseases. It’s the number one cause of preventable death in the U.S.
(The number two cause of preventable death? Poor diet and physical inactivity. Eat a carrot and go for a walk.)
As for marijuana, there has been exactly one death reported from a THC overdose in the U.S., and the experts don’t all agree that the THC was the cause of death. But that doesn’t mean driving under the influence hasn’t been a contributing factor to vehicular deaths. And the science is still inconclusive about marijuana and an increased likelihood of lung cancer.
But it seems safe to say that as substances go, marijuana is significantly less harmful when used in moderation than tobacco or alcohol. And yet, it comes with much more disapproval and judgment than other more dangerous substances.
With recreational marijuana use legal in 11 states, it’s clearly becoming more socially acceptable to smoke than it used to be. The stereotype of the wake-and-bake stoner who lives in his parents’ basement and has a tie-dyed pot leaf tapestry on the wall is mercifully near its end.
Still, opinions regarding the mix of parenting and weed are mixed. Some say that it’s a perfectly normal and acceptable way to get through the difficult days. And others think that it is unsafe and irresponsible.
Some of that comes from current adults whose own parents smoked back in the 70s and 80s. At the height of anti-marijuana scaremongering, kids found themselves the recipients of mixed messages. Programs like Just Say No and DARE told them that marijuana was the gateway drug that would lead to hard drugs and hard crime, and that people who smoked pot were losers.
Then at home, these same kids were faced with parents who were recreational users themselves. If other parents found out, they wouldn’t let their own children come over to play, and the child would feel ostracized and othered through no fault of their own.
Hopefully, today’s kids won’t be subjected to such conflicted messaging. Now, parents can talk to their kids openly about the risks and benefits of marijuana, just like they can talk to them about alcohol.
This shift will be especially beneficial to parents who use medical marijuana. They won’t have to choose between prioritizing their health and being “that parent” to the rest of the playground set.
Cannabis, just like cigarettes, should not be smoked around children. Second-hand smoke is still a danger to little lungs. Always step outside to smoke if there are kids in the house.
And remember that edibles look very attractive to little kids. So they have to stay out of sight and out of reach at all times, just like alcohol, prescription drugs, and even vitamins.
But with proper precautions, there is no reason why a cannabis user can’t indulge in their favorite method of relaxation around the family. No need to hide it, and no need to confess.