Like a lot of people, I used to think cannabis wasn’t for me. I had grown up with Just Say No — and, for the most part, I did. Though I smoked a bit of weed in college, the ins and outs of the cannabis experience eluded me, and I preferred alcohol’s seemingly more predictable effects.
Weed, in my mind, yielded only one kind of experience: getting high. I truly believed there wasn’t much more to it than that — that is, until, as a mother of two in my late 30s, I decided to give legal cannabis a whirl on my trusty yoga mat.
As it turns out, I was completely wrong.
As a freelance writer in the early days of cannabis legalization in my home state of California, I started picking up cannabis assignments before I knew — or cared — much about the subject. And what I learned fascinated me: Scientific research and legalization efforts were (and are) progressing rapidly, and the cannabis conversation now includes a deep consideration of science, wellness, policy, business, and social equity issues.
Some people use cannabis as medicine for pain, nausea, muscle spasticity — as well as a number of other conditions — while others use it to decompress and shift mindset. And while it’s certainly possible to use cannabis to get stoned, there’s a wide spectrum of more subtle effects offered with smaller doses and varied cannabis products. That’s my sweet spot. Now that I know more, I avail myself of many of cannabis’s modes of consumption (such as vaporizing and using micro-dosed edibles or tinctures) and find that I’m a better parent with the plant in my life.
Across the U.S. — including, recently, in New York state — cannabis legalization is on the rise. Recent polls indicate that 68% of Americans support legal, recreational weed, while around 90% support medical marijuana. It’s time to quit the fear-mongering and prohibition-era misinformation about cannabis. When used responsibly, cannabis is a helpful plant that can enhance our quality of life and ability to parent well. So, here’s my call to all the Jewish (and non-Jewish) canna-curious parents out there: Let’s drop the stigmas, shed the shame, and get real about this plant’s many possibilities.
The truth is that responsibly using cannabis has enriched my life, and my family’s, in so many ways. Here are just a few of them:
1. Cannabis assists with sleep
Back in the day, I used to “sleep like a baby.” That was before I had actual babies, who didn’t sleep — like, at all. Ever. Just as my first-born reached toddlerhood and started (kinda) sleeping on his own, I gave birth to my daughter and began the whole over-exhausted, caffeine-fueled parenting phase all over again. After five years of pregnancy, breastfeeding, and waking at all hours, my own sleep rhythms were shot.
Cannabis came to my rescue. A dose of the right tincture — one with CBD (a non-psychotropic cannabis compound) and CBN (a component of cannabis with potential as a sleep aid) — a half-hour before bed helps me fall asleep and stay asleep so that I can function the next day. Even amidst the anxiety-fueled doom scrolling brought on by the pandemic and its many interrelated challenges, I (mostly) sleep through the night. With cannabis, I’m not groggy the next day, nor am I out of sorts when, on the rare occasion, one of kids (now 8 and 11) needs me in the middle of the night. Cannabis has given me the gift of good sleep — which, when you’re a parent, is pure gold.
2. Cannabis aids play and creativity
Cannabis’s well-known relaxation and mood-enhancing effects are, quite frankly, a game-changer in my life as a parent. With a micro-dosed THC edible, I get a subtle shift that helps me set aside my own towering to-do list and dive into making collages with my kids, or concocting salt dough recipes, or playing another round of Minecraft Dungeons. Micro-dosing also serves me well while playing tag with my family at the neighborhood park, or reading just one more chapter of our favorite series at bedtime. (Plus, with an edible, I don’t even smell like weed!)
Let me take a moment to reassure the skeptics: I’m fully aware that cannabis fits seamlessly into my life as a parent in certain — but not all — situations. When driving, swimming, caring for a baby or toddler alone — or during any parenting activities that require my quickest reflexes — I don’t consume. Cannabis works best for the low-stakes parenting moments when connection is my main objective.
3. Cannabis helps me teach my kids about inequality and justice
As the author of the new book, Weed Mom: The Canna-Curious Woman’s Guide to Healthier Relaxation, Happier Parenting, and Chilling TF Out, you can bet I talk to my kids about cannabis. I tell them it’s a plant that some adults use for medicine and other adults enjoy for relaxation, while some people — like me — consume it for both. They understand that it’s not healthy for their developing brains, and how to recognize cannabis products to keep themselves safe out in the world.
We also talk about how marijuana prohibition and the so-called war on drugs have been rooted in racism and carried out with disproportionate harm on communities of color. During our Passover seder this year, we drew comparisons between our familiar stories of freedom from bondage and the fact that too many People of Color are still in prison for the kinds of cannabis offenses that are no longer illegal in a majority of states. As Jews, we have a connection to stories of oppression and injustice; my kids understand that tikkun olam, at least some of the time, means working to change unjust systems and laws. During our seder, my family decided to give tzedakah to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), and the Last Prisoner Project, an organization dedicated to freeing nonviolent cannabis prisoners, many of whom are BIPOC.
4. Cannabis helps me attune spiritually
It’s true that my family’s Jewish identity leans toward the secular side, but my husband and I still seek to nurture a connection to something bigger than ourselves. While lighting the Shabbat candles, walking together in nature, or writing down our worries and wishes with the moon’s cycles, cannabis helps me access the more contemplative and wondrous side of my nature. Again, it’s a micro-dose — not a heavy dose — taken with mindful intention that helps me attune to the magic in the mundane. I prefer inhalation for those moments when I want to shift perspective without the longer experience of an edible; for that, I might take a moment away from my family to consume a puff or two of an uplifting cannabis strain, or use a low-odor vaporizer.
5. Cannabis research connects me to Israel
Dr. Raphael Mechoulam of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem was the first to identify THC (the primary compound responsible for cannabis’ elevated or “high” feeling) in 1964, and later he discovered and named one of our body’s own cannabis-mimicking molecules, anandamide. Since then, Israel has become a world leader in medical cannabis research and is now home to a large and growing number of medically-oriented cannabis companies. That’s in no small part to the fact that the government is only one of three worldwide to officially support cannabis research. Reportedly, Israel’s climate is also favorable for cultivation, and near-term, full cannabis legalization in Israel is a real possibility. I’m proud that Israel is leading the way in developing our base of knowledge about cannabis’ potential benefits for conditions as diverse as autism, cancer, and even Covid-19.
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