The topic of mothers who use cannabis is a contentious one. It’s particularly timely because women, many of whom are moms, are the fastest growing cannabis consumer demographic. And while health officials maintain that pregnant women should not consume, the stigma surrounding that recommendation seems to follow women well into postpartum. Even after giving birth and the breastfeeding is all over, the shame around cannabis and motherhood runs deep.
Like many recommendations from health officials, these ones aren’t coming from a substantial body of research on the subject. Instead, they come from the absence of research. And that makes some sense. Exercising caution is always the safe bet. But it’s worth noting that the absence of data here is really a matter of funding, which for cannabis research, is especially difficult to come by unless your hypothesis sets out to prove the negative effects of the plant. (Dr. Sanjay Gupta talks about this issue a lot in his CNN documentary series Weed, which everybody should watch.)
That being said, women and mothers have been using cannabis to different effects, in different ways, at different times in their lives for thousands of years. As legislation evolves quickly right now, a moment of reckoning has come to pass. People are beginning to have access to the plant for the first time in nearly a hundred years, it's working its way up the ladder of social acceptability, and at the same time, nobody wants to be liable for the health and wellness of society. So for now, all we have is a tiny pool of research and anecdotal evidence.
A recent study conducted by the University of Colorado's School of Medicine and Colorado Health found that “70 percent of randomly selected Colorado marijuana dispensaries recommended cannabis products to treat nausea in the first trimester.” The study was conducted with secret shoppers. Of the 400 dispensaries visited, 277 budtenders recommended cannabis as a treatment for these pregnant women.
It’s not easy to sift through the litany of inconsistent messaging out there. And while Miss Grass is not here to give medical advice, we are here shine a light on these conversations. This topic is one of many that highlight the complexity of this plant and all that it represents. To talk about cannabis is to also talk about agency, politics, race, and class.
As part of this exploration, we surveyed over 200 moms ahead of Mother's Day 2018 (stay tuned for an updated 2019 version) and spoke face-to-face with others to better understand that experience, the stigma, and what it means to choose the plant. Here's what some moms had to say, in their own words.
Kanya Iwana — Photographer, Los Angeles
"I’m a mom and I use cannabis. Motherhood is just one of my full-time jobs. I also work as a photographer full-time too. A lot of physical labor goes into both of these—from picking up my toddler to rigging my equipments. Topicals help my muscles relax after long and physically demanding days."
Sarah — Lawyer, Brooklyn
"I’m a mom and I use cannabis. Discovering CBD was definitely revolutionary to my sleep during early motherhood. I was having a lot of anxiety going to bed at night knowing that I would have to be up in a few hours (and a few hours after that) for feedings. I was really hesitant to use the sleep aids I had relied on in the past—ZZZquil, Benadryl, etc.—because I didn’t want to be too groggy or not hear my baby when she cried. A CBD vape was the perfect solution. I would take a few puffs before getting into bed at night and it helped me relax just enough drift off to sleep but still wake up alert enough to take care of the nighttime feedings."
Natasha Amrita Singh — Henna Artist, Seattle
"I’m a mom and I use cannabis. It’s the only thing that has worked for my PTSD and anxiety, while simultaneously allowing me to feel like myself. It has given me the opportunity to remain a present mother and entrepreneur, but has also stimulated me as an artist, and given me the ability to think quickly and creatively. Cannabis has done nothing but enhance my life. I'm a mom, and I use cannabis."
Paiton Hagans — Restaurant Manager, Richmond, Texas
"I'm a mom and I use cannabis. It's not just a plant, it is my everyday medicine and allows to me to be the best mother I know how to be. It heals my pain, eases my anxiety and depression, helps my migraines and opens my third eye to the truth of the world."
Joanne — Natural Beauty Entrepreneur, Puerto Rico
"I’m a mom and I use cannabis. It represents hope for me. It make me feels better. I use it to relax and reconnect with my inner self, to be conscious of what I need, and to let go of the things I don’t. It helps me connect more easily with my daughter and to enjoy playing with her."
Keira Fae Sumimoto — Blogger + Advocate, Irvine, California
"I’m a mom and I use cannabis. I consumed cannabis before having a baby, halting my consumption while pregnant and continued after giving birth. Cannabis gives me perspective, a sense of calm, and relief. Cannabis helps me be a better person and I will be sure to share with my daughter the wondrous properties of the cannabis plant. The future starts with our children and the stigma will end with us."
Chris Lopez — Breastfeeding Apparel Maker, Los Angeles
"I’m a mom and I use cannabis. Three months after I had my baby, depression set in and it affected everything. I’d tried antidepressants in the past and knew they were not for me. I wasn't sleeping. I isolated myself from everyone and everything. I was having trouble nursing. Now I have a one year old daughter who still nurses and I medicate daily. I’m no longer ashamed or fearful to say that because I know what kind of a mom I am. As a mom of two, I realize how vital is it to stay present, patient and calm for your tribe and thanks to cannabis, I have help finding my center when things get crazy. I don't always need it to be present and positive but most days it makes a major positive shift in my overall perspective and vibe."
Anne-Marie Cloutier — Artist + Hairstylist, Toronto
"I’m a mom and I use cannabis. The last few years have been filled with wonderful changes that have brought be to redefine my life and my relationship with my child. Cannabis has allowed my innate desires to come through. I can be at peace with who I really want to be and be able to relate and connect with my children. As a self-employed hairstylist, my children are part of every single aspect of my life, and I want to show them the best version of the world I live in. I have a soft spot for micro-dosing THC oil. It makes everything softer and much more vivid."
This article does not serve as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should always speak to a healthcare professional about what's best for you.