I am so thrilled to have another guest post from a fellow mom named Jennifer Landis and to hear her thoughts about how parents can end the stigma of recreational marijuana use.
I wholeheartedly believe that parents, and particularly mothers, will be a huge part of not just ending the stigma, but also end federal cannabis prohibition overall.
I agree with her sentiments and fully support and encourage movement forward in this sector of activism for the cannabis movement.
While we have posted about this topic before, this is one of the best pieces I have seen written on the topic, and we are so happy to bring it to our readers!
Parents Can End the Stigma of Recreational Marijuana Use
Marijuana, in its various forms, is legal for medical use in 28 states as of the 2016 election. In nine of those states, it’s also legal for recreational use and can be purchased in dispensaries or even grown in small amounts depending on the laws of the state.
In states where it’s not yet legal for recreational use, many local governments are working toward decriminalizing possession of marijuana to reduce the number of related arrests and incarcerations.
So why, in the name of all that is holy, is there such a stigma of recreational marijuana use STILL for parents?
A History Lesson
Until the early 1900s, marijuana was used in over-the-counter medications and was popular for its medicinal properties. The only regulation on the books at the time concerning the use of marijuana just required medications containing the drug had to declare it on the label.
Then came Harry J. Anslinger. This former prohibitionist needed a new site in his crosshairs once prohibition was declared unconstitutional, so he incited a new fear. That fear, paired with his growing fear of Mexican immigrants, allowed the newly formed Federal Bureau of Narcotics to ‘gently encourage’ states to ban marijuana.
In Today’s News
Today, no one is afraid of Mexican immigrants — current Administration notwithstanding — but there is still a massively negative stigma of recreational marijuana use. A recreational marijuana shop in Aurora, Colorado was surrounded by protestors the day it opened. The protestors couldn’t do anything about the shop opening, so they decided to waste their day trying to shame the people walking into the store.
If they could afford it, they’d probably hire the lady from Game of Thrones to follow people around chanting “Shame, shame, shame.”
What escapes their grasp is that people aren’t only visiting these shops for the recreational reasons — marijuana has so many medical uses that we probably haven’t discovered them all yet. People choose to use marijuana for pain, for anxiety, to help dying family members be more comfortable or to help a child who has seizures who don’t respond to any other treatment. Where is the bad here?
Sure, there are occasionally people in the news who give pot-smoking parents a bad rep, but, for the most part, parents who smoke marijuana do so smartly and safely and don’t do it around their kids.
So in states where it’s legal, what’s the problem?
Avoid Being a Hidebound
Hidebound is an archaic word used to describe people who are unwilling to change because of some learned tradition or convention. When it comes to marijuana, people are so hidebound that you should probably put them on a shelf with the other old books. Reefer Madness is still fresh in their minds, despite being released in 1936.
Generally, baby boomers equate marijuana with hippies, even though they tend to use more of the drug than any other generation, and Millennials grew up on a diet of D.A.R.E and “Just Say No.” It’s no wonder so many Millennials and GenX-ers who are starting to become parents themselves get all bent out of shape at the idea of parents using marijuana.
What Can We Do?
In states where the drug is legal, you’ll find two kinds of people — those who support the use of marijuana and those who diametrically oppose it. For those who support the idea, you will likely find a kind of solidarity that you will never experience elsewhere else. In those who oppose it, there may not be much you can do.
As a parent and a pot-smoker, what can you do to help dispel this stigma of recreational marijuana use? There’s only one answer:
Talk About It
That is literally the easiest and most important thing you can do. Let people know it’s just as normal for you to light up at the end of the night as it is for your playgroup mommies to open a bottle of wine. If someone asks a question, answer it. The goal is to educate as many people as possible to help get rid of the stigma that hangs over our heads like a black cloud.
Don’t pick a fight with someone who is dead-set on being negative about marijuana use. With that kind of person, you could tell them you were taking it because you were dying of cancer, and they’d still just complain.
Make sure you’re being responsible about your marijuana use. It makes it easier to make a case for the use of recreational marijuana when you are responsible about it. A few things to keep in mind include:
- Keep It Away from Children. You wouldn’t leave prescription medication lying around for your kids to find. The same rules should apply to any marijuana products, especially edibles. A brownie looks tempting to just about everyone, so keep them locked up!
- Don’t Smoke and Drive. You wouldn’t drink a bottle of wine and then get behind the wheel of your car, so why would you do it after smoking a joint? Just don’t do it. Driving under the influence, no matter what you’re under the influence of, is a recipe for disaster.
- Don’t Smoke Around the Kids. This is common sense, but it bears repeating. You shouldn’t smoke around your kids, whether you’re smoking cigarettes or marijuana. Secondhand smoke sucks, especially for kids. If you grew up around a smoker, you know exactly what we’re talking about.
See? It’s not hard to be responsible with your marijuana usage. Just use your common sense.
Despite the current administration’s dramatically negative stance on marijuana, many states are moving toward decriminalization and legalization for marijuana use. It might take a few more years before the rest of the country sees the light, but states like Colorado and Washington have already shown the benefits in the form of massive tax revenue that they are able to take and put right back into the state.
Colorado, specifically, has taken its tax money and put it into infrastructure, schools, projects for the homeless and grants for low-income students. That’s millions of dollars they wouldn’t have had available otherwise.
It’s up to us to dispel this stigma of recreational marijuana use and let the rest of the world know marijuana usage and responsible parenting are not mutually exclusive concepts. We’re the only ones who can, and all we have to do is be willing to speak up.
Jennifer Landis is a mom and wife with a fierce love for peanut butter, naps, and boy bands. She practices yoga regularly even though her husband doesn’t think it counts as exercise. She is the editor and creative mastermind behind Mindfulness Mama.