Life

"Dear Jenny" collage with a woman's hand writing a letter and a woman smoking a joint.
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I Want To Try Weed Instead Of Wine. Is That Bad?

Is chilling out with gummies or a vape any worse than downing a glass of Chardonnay?

Dear Jenny,

Moms who drink — especially moms who drink wine — get a big pass in our culture. I definitely drink. But the older I get, the more concerned I am about what all this alcohol is doing to my body. Still, I need some relief after a day of toddler meltdowns and general pandemic/life stuff. I don't want to hear any more advice about yoga and meditation, etc., etc. I do all that stuff. This is my question: What is the deal with cannabis? I'm curious enough — desperate enough? — to try it again (it's been decades). But besides the fear of being obliterated and unable to take care of my kid, I'm afraid my use would get back to my parenting community. Maybe I'm a little afraid that the stigma is true — that smoking (or otherwise imbibing) pot makes me a bad mom.

Signed,

Smokeless (So Far)

Dear Smokeless (So Far),

Consider this your license to light up.

When I was in college in the early 1990s, I smoked some pot. It never agreed with me. I never understood how it had a reputation for making people silly and relaxed. It freaked me the f*ck out. I felt self-conscious and horrible. I got better at turning down bong rips, and for the next twenty or so years, I abstained.

Then, a couple years ago, someone in my family with a seizure disorder visited from out of state. On their first day here, they went to a local dispensary. A week later, they left a vape pen in our bathroom because of travel restrictions. For the next year and a half, I cleaned around it.

Then the pandemic hit. One night, trapped in this f*cking house with these f*cking people, I thought, I'M SO BORED AND STRESSED OUT. I read the instructions on the vape pen, plugged it into my laptop to charge it, screwed in the 4:1 CBD canister, and after a few tries figured out how to use the button, which allowed me to inhale a smokeless, tasteless vapor.

I did not get "high." I got RELAXED. And it was AWESOME. This was not your grandfather's weed (to be clear, to my knowledge, neither of my grandfathers smoked weed. One smoked cigarettes and sold flour for Pillsbury, and the other drank gin and played the violin).

For an expert perspective on parenting and cannabis, I spoke with writer and mom Danielle Simone Brand, author of Weed Mom: The Canna-Curious Woman's Guide to Healthier Relaxation, Happier Parenting, and Chilling TF Out.

The need for parents to relax and connect is critical, she says, and cannabis is safer and healthier than the fully legal option we're all bombarded with: booze.

"With alcohol, you get hangovers, sugar cravings, difficulties getting up the next day. If you're a parent, that sucks," she says. Not so with cannabis, she says, when used in the right quantities — and it's definitely less destructive than the Chardonnay/Ativan combo so many of us are fond of.

Alcohol being legal over cannabis "makes no sense from a public safety standpoint," she goes on. "Alcohol is more damaging to your brain and internal organs. Alcohol is more associated with aggression and violence and sexual assault."

As of this writing, cannabis is fully legal in 16 states (although an appeal to South Dakota's legalization is being considered by that state's Supreme Court). An additional 26 states have legalized some form of medical cannabis (seven of those allow only CBD oil — bo-ring!), and a total of 31 states have decriminalized it, a critical step on the pathway to racial justice: In states where cannabis is still criminalized, Black and Brown people are still disproportionately arrested for cannabis-related "crimes" (the difference between Black and White people is particularly stark, with Black people being 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for possession, according to the ACLU).

In only six states — Idaho, Wyoming, Kansas, Tennessee, Alabama, and South Carolina — is cannabis still fully illegal and criminalized. It's fair to say that the national tide on cannabis is turning.

First, Brand says, yes, "there is absolutely still stigma." The stereotypes are: "You're lazy, you're going to be checked out and not involved with your kids, you're self-medicating because you're not able to handle your life. And obviously that you're, in some cases, breaking the law."

That doesn't change the reality, however, that cannabis use, for many moms — IN MODERATE QUANTITIES — can be a game changer.

When it comes to parenting, cannabis is for "the low-stakes moments," says Brand. "Not for when you need to drive your kids across town and your highest executive functioning." NEWS FLASH NEVER DRIVE WHILE INTOXICATED IN ANY WAY IT IS ILLEGAL AND DEADLY.

("Even if you're a low to moderate consumer," she writes in her book, "it's important to know that the act of smoking cannabis isn't risk-free." She points to some potentially intense side effects from heavy, daily use over time, as well as the well-known effect a layperson may be more familiar with: what she calls "greening out," and what the rest of us call "getting too f*cking high.")

But self-care is a huge part of personal use: "It's not about just mindlessly getting high and eating a bunch of food," Brand says. "Walking, being outside in nature — these are self-care activities that, for me, cannabis really enhances. Shifting a couple degrees away from my busy agenda-filled mind to the wonder of the moment, feeling the air on my skin."

There are important things to know for the canna curious, says Brand — in particular, "dose dependence" and "understanding that there is a spectrum experience."

"The legal marketplace gives us so many more options," she says. "If you are interested in flower [the cannabis plant, not a processed product], we're not talking about your dime bag from college where you have no idea how much THC or CBD or anything else is in there, the quality, or how it was grown."

"Tailored experiences," including with "vaporizing flower" (rather than "combusting"), edibles, infused drinks, sublinguals, and sprays, can help with cultivating focus, sleep, or "getting into your sexy brain."

Oh, hello: Brand says that cannabis is a vasodilator, meaning "it can increase blood flow to your genitals, if that's what you're interested in."

That's what I'm interested in!

As for the stigma around parenting and cannabis, Brand says it will take a diversity of parents being more open about their use and its benefits, pointing to Instagram for community.

"Responsible adults have a right to try to feel better and alter our consciousness," she says. "It's not degenerate to say I enjoy the feeling of using cannabis."

CANNA-CURIOUS? IF YOU LIVE IN A STATE WHERE CANNABIS IS LEGAL, GET YE TO A DISPENSARY. More people — including, importantly, legislators — are accepting cannabis as a safer way to manage physical, emotional, and mental pain — and to relax and connect with your loved ones, including your kids. (Plus, the peach gummies are yummy!) YOU GOT THIS.

<3 Jenny

Dying to ask Jenny a question? Email advice@romper.com.

Jenny True, aka Jenny Pritchett, is the author of You Look Tired: An Excruciatingly Honest Guide to New Parenthood (2021), available now from Running Press.