As the number of people with access to legal marijuana continues to grow, so is the number of people who are using it. And the number of parents using marijuana is growing as fast as any other demographic.
While Hollywood often regularly portrays positive examples of “wine moms” — moms who drink wine responsibly on a regular basis — the idea of parents using marijuana around their kids is still a complicated and often taboo concept. But with more and more parents now using cannabis the same way others consume wine, society is grappling with what is — and isn’t — appropriate as far as weed use by parents is concerned.
Why, How, and When Parents Use Weed
A study by the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University revealed that, in 2002, roughly 4.9 percent of parents with children living at home used cannabis. By 2015, that number had reached nearly 6.8 percent. The percentage of parents who don’t smoke cigarettes, but use cannabis, had also risen during this time period, as well.
The reasons that parents use weed mirror those of many other people without kids. Parents use cannabis to help them deal with numerous illnesses and health conditions. They use it because they like it. And they use it to help them cope with stress, whether that stress is due to work, raising kids, or a little of both.
Those concerned about parents using weed aren’t focused so much on parents using it as they are when and how they do. And their concerns aren’t completely unfounded.
Secondhand smoke from any kind of cigarette can be harmful to kids, which is many parents opt to smoke outside or when there kids are not around. Others bypass marijuana cigarettes completely and opt for cleaner and more discrete options like vaporizers, concentrated cannabis extract (or dabs), topicals, or edibles.
Also, it goes without saying that there's no excuse for being stoned while you're supposed to be watching your kids or, worse, while you're driving them somewhere.
Mitigating the Risks
Of course, the most responsible pot-using parents still face risks. For example, given the fact that marijuana is still completely illegal in many places — and the fact that the concept of parents using weed is still very much taboo in the eyes of many — pot-using parents run the risk of being reported to law enforcement or other government agencies by disapproving neighbors, coworkers, community members, and others.
Also, in the case of emergency, different forms of the drug can impede parents’ judgement and reaction times, or, at the very least, compromise their ability to drive. Without quick and easy access to a neighbor, family member, cab, or Uber, a trip to the emergency room, for example, could be dangerously delayed.
Changing the Perception
There’s no way around it: It’s going to take time for society at large to view pot-using parents as normal.
In the meantime, naysayers might be interested in a Civilized.life study cited by Elizabeth Enochs of Leafly.com which points out that adults who use cannabis aren’t simply more likely to be employed than non-consumers, they’re more likely to hold supervisory roles at work. They might also be interested to know, as Elizabeth also notes, that adult cannabis users are also more likely to be homeowners with children, according to the Pew Research Center.
Are parents who use pot simply looking to create the next generation of pot users?
Derek Riedle, the founder and publisher of Civilized, an outspoken cannabis consumer, and the father of two young boys, does a pretty good job of summing up the likely view of many of his pot-using parental peers.
“I’m not trying to grow young men who will become adult cannabis users,” he told Leafly. “But if they choose to do that, I want them to feel free to do so in a responsible way, so I’m empowering them with knowledge.”