Like a lot of other people, I used to misunderstand and misjudge cannabis. Laboring under ancient stoner stereotypes, I thought it was mainly for couch-locked and tie-dyed burnouts, and that cannabis made consumers spacy, unreliable, and smelling like a combination of burnt sage and bad incense. I thought weed was weed, and if you used it you got high; until I was a mother of two in my late thirties, I truly believed there wasn’t much more to it than that.
And it turned out that I was wrong.
Cannabis is more varied, nuanced, and subtle than I gave it credit for. It’s a complex matrix of over 400 compounds—many of which are also found in common plant materials, like lemons, pine cones, and black pepper. It’s certainly possible to use cannabis to get stoned, but there’s a wide spectrum of other effects the plant can offer. Now that I know more about cannabis, I avail myself of most of them and find that I’m a better partner and mother with this plant in my life.
Cannabis Helps Me Sleep
The first, and most important way that cannabis improves my quality of life is in the realm of sleep. I slept like a proverbial baby before having actual babies, who slept more like a troop of gorillas in a banana grove—that is to say, not peacefully. Just as my son reached toddlerhood and started sleeping for longer than twenty-minute stretches, I gave birth to my daughter and began the whole sleep-deprived, coffee-fueled phase all over again. She was a better sleeper, but not by much, and the upshot is that after five years of this pregnancy-breastfeeding-waking-at-all-hours kind of life, I can honestly say that as a young parent I woke up feeling resentment and dread more often than readiness. By the time my kids started sleeping through the night in their own beds, my own sleep rhythms were shot to hell. I’d wake up at least once an hour all night, every night, until cannabis came into my life.
Both CBD, a non-psychotropic cannabis compound, and THC help here. A dropper of my favorite tincture a half hour before bed helps me fall asleep and stay asleep so that I can function as a parent, a partner, and a well-adjusted human. Even during the pandemic—even amidst the ongoing, soul-sucking monotony of my family’s virtual work and school routines and through much of 2020’s anxiety-fueled doom scrolling—I (mostly) sleep through the night. With the help of my tincture, I’m not groggy the next day, like I’d be with other sleep aids I’ve tried. And neither am I out of sorts when, on the rare occasion, one of my now 8- or 11-year-old children wakes up with a nightmare or a fever. Cannabis has given me the gift of good sleep—which, if you’re a parent—is worth its weight in gold.
Cannabis Helps Me Play
Cannabis’s notorious relaxation and mood-enhancing effects are, quite honestly, a game-changer in my life as a parent. When I microdose or moderate-dose with a THC edible, I get a subtle shift that helps me immerse myself in watercolor projects with my daughter, or listen as my son talks a blue streak about defeating the Ender Dragon in Minecraft. Micro-dosing is also wonderful for backyard games of frisbee, chasing our dog around the neighborhood park, and leisurely bedtime reading; plus, with an edible, I don’t smell like weed.
When consuming responsibly, my personality doesn’t change, nor do I morph into a chemical supermom—just a slightly less harried version of myself, a mom who’s a bit less preoccupied with her never-ending to-do list and improvement projects while more focused on my children’s needs. Cannabis gives me the gift of presence; I use it to tune in, not tune out.
Let me take a moment to reassure the skeptics: there are situations when cannabis and parenting make a delightful pairing, and others they don’t. While driving, swimming, caring for a baby or toddler alone—or during any parenting activities that require your quickest reflexes and highest executive functioning—these are not the right moments to consume THC. Cannabis works best for those low-stakes parenting moments when connection is the goal.
While writing my book, I interviewed Sara Ouimette, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) in Berkeley, California, where cannabis is both medically and recreationally legal. She emphasized the dose-dependent aspects I’ve outlined in regards to consuming cannabis while parenting. “If a microdose or a small dose of cannabis is going to open you up and give you more oomph, or joy, when playing with your kids, or bring out that younger part of you…then by all means, it might just enhance your time with your kids.”
Cannabis Helps Cultivate Patience
Bedtime rituals in my house tend toward the lengthy side of the spectrum. At the end of a day of working and parenting—when I know there are still emails to return and laundry to fold after I’ve kissed my two goodnight—it’s a challenge for me to slow down enough to accommodate my kids’ many requests to fetch another glass of water, arrange the blankets just so, and deliver 100 kisses. As a mom, I want my children to feel loved and cared for. But as an adult woman with a busy work life, I sometimes struggle with meeting their bedtime needs and my own.
Cannabis helps. Timed well, a low dose of CBD and THC together helps me slow down enough to bookend my kids’ day with patience instead of annoyance. When I’m microdosing, I’m less concerned with turning out the lights at 8:30pm sharp, and more able to listen to their troubles, or to read an extra couple of pages of Harry Potter. They still get enough sleep and I still get moments to myself once the lights are out. I’m just one or two degrees kinder about the whole process, and it’s done a world of good for the bedtime vibe in our household.
Cannabis Helps with Sex and Intimacy
After kids, I wanted to want sex with my partner, but I didn’t—not really. The all-day touch fest that is raising babies and toddlers made me feel cranky when my husband would try to connect with me physically; I was, like a lot of moms I interviewed for my book explained, touched out. Thankfully, I found that inhaling a few puffs of a strain like Sour Diesel before intimacy helps me get out of my head and into my body. Cannabis relaxes muscles, enhances sensation, and takes my mind off the piles of laundry, or my email inbox. And THC-infused lubes add another welcome layer of enjoyment.
My relationship with my husband began in our child-free early 20s. This July, we’ll be married 18 years, and I can say without a doubt that our sex life is better now than ever before. Of course, a fulfilling physical relationship isn’t everything, but the everyday partnership and tag-team parenting that is modern marriage works a lot better for us when we’re regularly connecting in all the ways. Yes, all of them.
Across the US, cannabis legalization is progressing at a rapid clip, and Gallup polling shows that 68% of Americans support legal, recreational weed (the numbers are even higher in support of medical marijuana). Let’s stop the fear-mongering and prohibition-era misinformation about cannabis for parents. When used responsibly, cannabis is a helpful plant that can enhance our quality of life and ability to parent and partner well. So, here’s my call to all the canna-parents and canna-curious parents out there: let’s drop the stigmas, shed the shame, and come out of the cannabis closet. It’s high time.