Since the start of the pandemic, cannabis use has skyrocketed. Americans spent $18.3 billion on cannabis products last year – 71% over what they spent in 2019 – meaning we the people needed a lot of weed to cope with 2020. According to a recent survey, many of those people are parents.
A Harris Poll published this December showed 52% of respondents with children under age 18 said they had either begun consuming cannabis or increased their consumption of cannabis since the pandemic began. That’s why Judy Yee and her team started Moms for Mary, a community blog in which mothers can share their experiences using cannabis while raising children. Their mission: use cannabis as a way of enhancing, not retreating from, good parenthood.
“In the same way that airlines tell you to secure your oxygen mask before helping children and those around you, I believe that responsible cannabis use is a form of self-care which leads to being a better partner and parent,” Yee said. “It’s our aim to inspire those who are curious to discover how the plant can improve their overall well-being and contribute to ending the unfair stigma surrounding parents and responsible cannabis usage.”
Yee believes the uptick in cannabis use by parents this past year is due to the unprecedented challenges they have faced. Juggling homeschooling, working from home, and running a household constantly filled with people, Yee said cannabis can be a welcome stress-reliever for women on the brink of burn-out.
“Almost overnight, moms like me found ourselves juggling crazy, virtual school schedules, working from home, taking on the role of caregiver, teacher and earner all at the same time. The pursuit of being a ‘good mom’ during the pandemic seemed laughable and completely unrealistic,” Yee said. “I try to carve out time in the evenings to enjoy a cannabis beverage as I prepare dinner, which helped me compartmentalize my day – it was like a marker that the work day was winding down and my personal time was ramping up. That structure not only gave me something to look forward to, but also helped me unwind and de-stress while staying alert and functional.”
On top of the increased demand for cannabis, Yee, who is also the CEO and Co-Founder of a cannabis beverage company called K-Zen, said cannabis has also become more accessible for parents in the past year. Not only are more cannabis dispensaries delivering since the start of the pandemic, but many businesses are focusing on discreet products such as edibles and cannabis-infused drinks that are more easily, and safely, enjoyed at home.
One such company is Kikoko, a top-selling, female-owned cannabis product brand whose primary consumers are women 34-55 years of age. Amanda Jones, Kikoko’s Co-CEO, says they’ve seen demand for their products rise in the past year, in large part because their teas, mints, and tinctures are all smoke-free products parents feel comfortable consuming around kids. One Kikoko customer wrote,
“I love Kikoko products because I don’t smoke and I can be super discreet around my daughter. I don’t really hide when I eat a Kikoko mint or sip some Sensuali-Tea… I let her know that this is an adult product just like I do when I drink wine.”
Jones added that another factor contributing to the success of their products this past year was that parents are looking for alternatives to alcohol for stress-relief.
“There were so many memes flying around about the increase in wine consumption here in California, that I think an alarm went off among moms,” Jones said. “This helped them become open to low dose cannabis alternatives to help them with stress, sleeplessness, and the focus needed to homeschool. And, because alcohol is a neurotoxin and cannabis is a neuroprotective, moms and dads have been able to wind down and enjoy being with their children without the risk of a hangover.”
Of the parents surveyed in the recent Harris Poll, 57% said their cannabis use had reduced or completely replaced their consumption of alcohol.
Kathryn Cannon, a plant integration specialist who works with patients using medical marijuana, said it could be a healthier alternative for parents seeking ways to wind down in the future – baring in mind that, for parents in certain social demographics, the weight of the stigma surrounding parents using cannabis may override its anxiety-relieving effects.
“More folks, parents included, are considering cannabis to relax. In many states, cannabis is a safe and legal alternative to alcohol or prescription medication,” Cannon said. “But speaking about cannabis use can be easier for some parents because there is transparency around cannabis use in the family or a strong culture exists around the cannabis community. Quite the opposite can be true – some parents unfairly face more stigma than others for using cannabis based on their social situation, and the resources they have to support them.”
Since the negative view of parents using cannabis continues to be prominent in certain communities, even in states where it is legal, Yee, founder of Moms for Mary, says she is uncertain whether there will continue to be as much interest in cannabis use among parents as “normal” life resumes.
“There is still some stigma associated with cannabis use among parents,” Yee said. “One of the moms we interviewed in our Moms for Mary blog series talks about how day drinking is socially acceptable, and often encouraged, for moms, but daily cannabis consumption can spark judgement of every move and parenting misstep. I think, once parents have incorporated cannabis into their daily routine and see the benefits, it will be challenging for them to go back to life without cannabis. That said, as the world begins to open up, parents may go back to the habits and coping mechanisms they used before the pandemic.”
Elissa Esher is Assistant Editor at GreenState. Her work has also appeared in The Boston Guardian, Brooklyn Paper, Religion Unplugged, and Iridescent Women. Send inquiries and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.