By Marissa Fratoni, Holistic Nurse
Stigma is discrimination based in disapproval for a group’s perceived differences. It tends to be steeped in misunderstanding and prejudice. Stigma is something that most cannabis users face at some point, simply because they choose to use a substance that has stood on the outskirts of counterculture for the last eighty years for racist and political reasons, not because it was ever a public health issue.
As cannabis prohibition comes to an end the world over, stigma still exists amongst certain groups. Arguably, the most stigmatized group of all cannabis consumers and enthusiasts are mothers. Why? For one thing, most mothers have been criticized for their parenting practices and decisions. In fact, according to a poll conducted by the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan, six in ten mothers of children ages 0-5 have been criticized about their parenting skills in some way, shape, or form. Breastfeeding, formula feeding, cloth diapering, disposable diapering, discipline, sleep training, co-sleeping, bedsharing, diet, lifestyle, homeschool, no-school, public school. Anything related to the care, feeding, and nurturing of children could become a topic of criticism. So it’s really no surprise that moms who choose to use cannabis face stigma and criticism, sometimes in extreme ways.
Stereotypical stoner image clashes with that of the good mom
Ask anyone to conjure up thoughts of a person who consumes cannabis and most will respond with some fairly stereotypical imagery. Cheech and Chong-like characters surrounded by clouds of smoke with squinty, red-tinted eyes and permanent grins splashed on their faces. These characters are completely devoid of any motivation to do anything other than consume more weed or eat junk food. They are entirely intoxicated and impaired, unable to complete important tasks and function optimally.
Now conjure up the image of a “good” mother. Moms are held to high standards of functionality. The variables that define a good mom are numerous and subjective, but in most cases, good moms are fully committed to their family’s needs. They are excellent jugglers who keep all of the balls in the air, thereby maintaining the peace, calm, and functioning of their well-kept households and equally well-kept children.
Jumping off of that lofty image of the good mom, well-kept home and children and all – it’s relatively easy for some people to have a difficult time understanding how a mom could function well, meet the needs of her family, and also happen to consume cannabis whether it be medically, therapeutically, or recreationally. After all, stoners don’t get anything done, and they certainly don’t have the awareness needed to maintain the health and safety of children. At least, that’s what the stigma says.
Banish the stigma – good moms do consume cannabis
You’ll find them on social media, supporting other moms through criticism and challenging decisions. You’ll see them taking their kiddos to the library for early learning time, or to the park so their kids can run, breathe in fresh air, and learn about all of the flying, furry, and feathered creatures that live there. You’ll find them pulling nutrient-dense meal recipes for kids off of Pinterest, and trading at home-activity ideas for rainy day fun with other so-called “good” moms. You may also find them consuming cannabis discreetly to treat any number of symptoms they are struggling with, ranging from pain to PMS to anxiety and depression. Their goal is to feel better, not to be high or impaired. Or you may also find them tucking in their kids at night after reading a book or two, and then slipping out to the porch for an evening puff instead of a glass of wine.
So what’s the problem with stigma?
For all people who are raising children, the notion that it takes a village is very true. Every mother depends on her village to help her as she raises her children in some way. But stigma is isolating. It harms the very people who rely on their villages to raise healthy children who grow into healthy adults. Harming mothers — the typical primary caregivers for the next generation of human beings since the beginning of time — hurts all of us. It’s time we rise above stigmas like this for the benefit of each other and the benefit of our fellow humans. Support good moms who consume cannabis. It’s not that difficult.