Mothers are bombarded with judgment and scorn for seemingly every decision they make. How they manage their pregnancies, how they give birth, how they feed, clothe and comfort their babies — there are many options, but it seems that no choice is not worthy of some disdain from loved ones and/or strangers.
Yet, one of the most controversial issues to plague modern moms is this: Can mothers use legal cannabis products safely without negatively impacting their children?
Many moms rely on marijuana as a medical treatment for serious health conditions. In 33 states — and possibly more come November 3rd — it is legal for patients with certain conditions to acquire cannabis products legally after obtaining a recommendation from a qualified medical provider and visiting a licensed medical dispensary. Plus, in many states, medical marijuana users can grow their own cannabis plants from home to ensure regular access to the treatment they need.
Typically, medical marijuana is only suggested in cases of severe and otherwise unmanageable conditions. For instance, cancer patients rely on marijuana to stimulate their appetite and aid in digestion after chemotherapy causes intense nausea. Likewise, sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder attest that marijuana helps them find calm and comfort in the midst of episodes of panic. As more funding is devoted to cannabis research, scientists are finding more medical applications for the drug to help those who otherwise have little recourse for their poor health.
Moms who use medical marijuana should not be vilified for their reliance on a drug suggested by their doctors. Oftentimes, these mothers can only keep their symptoms in check and function successfully as caregivers. In this case, weed is responsible for ensuring that good moms can remain good moms despite devastating health conditions.
Mothers who use marijuana products for recreation as opposed to medical treatment tend to accrue more public ire — but the shame and degradation might be entirely unwarranted. For instance, moms who partake in states where marijuana has been legalized, like Michigan, are using a substance that is legally comparable to alcohol. Both cause intoxication, both can result in addiction, so why are wine moms celebrated while weed moms attacked?
This question is especially relevant considering marijuana’s advantages over alcohol. For one, alcohol is a literal poison, which can cause permanent damage to organs and even kill drinkers if imbibed in sufficient quantities. The poison tends to linger in the body for hours after intoxication wears off, resulting in hangovers that can impact a drinker’s behavior and attitude. In contrast, marijuana works with bodily systems to create feelings of euphoria and relaxation, and once the high wears off, there is no hangover or enduring effects.
Ultimately, moms interested in recreationally using marijuana products need to be careful about how they use their drug of choice. Just as they would with alcohol, moms should avoid using weed in front of their kids, at least before their children are old enough to understand responsible substance consumption. Moms should also avoid relying too heavily on marijuana to manage stress and anxiety because the substance could exacerbate these experiences at high doses over time. Occasional marijuana use when children do not require supervision or care is safe and respectable for moms.
Finally, moms who opt to use marijuana need to practice thorough communication with their children. Because kids tend to mimic their parents’ behaviors, children of pot-smoking mothers might be interested in sampling the drug young, putting them at risk for developing neurocognitive defects. Thus, moms need to create a plan for explaining their marijuana use to their children, teaching their kids about the benefits and dangers of substances and maintaining open communication as their young ones become teens. Successful communication will keep moms in the loop regarding their children’s interest in using weed and hopefully allow them to put off marijuana consumption until it is safe and legal.
Cannabis use remains controversial, but increasing research demonstrates that the substance is actually much safer and can be beneficial to users’ health. Both good and bad moms can use weed — but it is important to remember that their marijuana consumption is not necessarily what makes them good or bad, rather their behavior and relationships with their children.