Parenting isn’t easy. It’s a hard job that’s often its own reward. Raising happy, healthy children is the goal of loving parents, and it’s not always simple to balance that with your own needs. Even though it’s a job, there are no sick days or time off.
This can be especially challenging when you’re consuming cannabis for any number of reasons, including symptoms of chronic pain, depression, anxiety or even just recreationally. And let’s face it, even though cannabis has been thrust into the national spotlight, there is still a lot of stigma surrounding its use.
As a parent, you want to be responsible. You may feel that consuming cannabis and being a caring and kind parent are mutually exclusive concepts. They don’t have to be. You can be a conscious cannabis consumer and still effectively parent.
There’s a lot of misinformation about cannabis out in the world, and you may have heard much of it growing up. Until very recently, cannabis was perceived as a dangerous substance with little merit. However, emerging studies and everyday user anecdotes are beginning to challenge these notions.
We all understand that some substances can be abused. It is also true that some substances can be dangerous and over time can lead to undesirable consequences. However, there are also substances that can benefit our lives in meaningful ways. Although research is new and emerging, there is some evidence that cannabis can have positive impacts.
As a parent who is consuming or may want to consume cannabis, the most important step is to become informed. There is no shortage of how cannabis is framed in popular media but separating fact from fiction can determine a course of action. Being educated on what cannabis is and what it does along with possible legal issues can keep you and your family safe, secure and happy.
What is Cannabis and What Does It Do?
To get a handle on this issue, it’s important for you to be clear on what cannabis is and what it does. It is a plant-based substance with reported medicinal properties along with some psychoactive effects. It is derived from the plant family Cannabaceae. Its potency spans the spectrum and is often divided into strains. Many of these strains are specially bred to amplify or enhance certain effects.
Cannabis contains terpenes, substances responsible for aroma as well as flavonoids and other chemicals. However, the major components of cannabis include THC and CBD. These two compounds affect the body in different ways. THC or tetrahydrocannabinol is largely known as the psychoactive element of cannabis. It is what makes people feel “high.” It achieves this effect by impacting receptors in the brain.
These receptors, CB1 and CB2, are responsible for movement, memory, mood, body temperature and pain. CB1 receptors are often found in regions of the brain while CB2 receptors are typically found in the peripheral nervous system. CB1 and CB2 receptors work with neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are like chemical messengers, passing along instructions to the brain that can be interpreted.
Instructions often include how the body responds to outside stimuli. A spike in temperature, for example, can occur if a neurotransmitter cites that an infection is afoot. The brain can interpret these messages and certain responses will be elicited. Messages are passed from receptors along the nervous system and to the brain. The brain functions much like the central processing unit of the body.
Neurotransmitters include compounds like serotonin and dopamine. When THC is introduced into the body, it can bind to receptors and block the reuptake of these neurotransmitters. What this means is that receptors and portions on the THC molecule fit like a lock and key.
Once securely engaged, THC can keep the receptors from reabsorbing these compounds. Neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine can uplift mood and induce feelings of happiness, contentment, and pleasure. When they flood the brain, they can have an impact on emotion and mood.
CBD or cannabidiol is another component of cannabis. It has been indicated as the non-psychoactive element in cannabis. It works a little differently than THC. It doesn’t directly affect receptors, but it does change the receptors’ structure, allowing the receptors to more readily accept molecules such as THC.
The CB1 and CB2 receptors are a part of the endocannabinoid system or ECS. The ECS helps to regulate the body. Homeostasis is achieved through the ECS as it functions to create balance through a variety of processes including temperature and mood. The body creates molecules quite similar in structure to THC and CBD. These substances are known as endocannabinoids.
Together, THC, CBD and the host of other compounds in cannabis combine in ways that researchers think may be valuable. Cannabis may help mitigate a litany of physical complaints, from nausea to headaches, chronic pain, stress and possibly cancer treatment symptoms.
Cannabis Fact Vs. Fiction
Myth: Weed is a Gateway Drug
You’ve probably heard this repeated often during your formative years. According to the Drug Policy Alliance, this simply is not true. People that use marijuana are not more likely to abuse other drugs. In other words, there is no direct correlation between cannabis consumption and the use of harder, more illicit substances.
Fact: Weed Can Be Used for More Than Just Smoking
Users can do more than simply light up a joint. They can vape, use tinctures, or partake in edibles. Other ways include dabbing, bongs, bowls, oils, and even transdermal patches. When it comes to CBD, the choices are even more varied. You can get CBD-based lotions, creams, coffees, teas, and even dog treats.
Myth: CBD Will Get You High
There are many who think that CBD and THC are the same things. There has been an explosion in CBD-based products, and none of them are likely to get you high. The key difference between the two is most likely an easily missed structural one.
There is only a tiny difference between THC and CBD on the molecular level. However, this small variance makes a big difference. The two substances don’t behave in the same way, and if you eat CBD gummies, you’re more than likely going to feel clear-headed. CBD is typically taken for its therapeutic effects and doesn’t get you high. It is even reported that CBD may decrease the psychoactive effects of THC.
Fact: Taking THC Does Have Some Side Effects
Not everyone that takes cannabis will have the same experience. Newbies to lighting one up may have to be careful. A strain can contain lots of THC and may cause an amalgam of symptoms, known collectively as “greening out,” and includes vomiting, nausea, dizziness, paranoia and dry mouth.
Myth: People Who Consume Cannabis are Breaking the Law
This is an area that most people get a little wrong. Although cannabis is considered illegal federally (it is still listed as a Schedule I drug), each state has its own rules on how individuals can or should consume cannabis, if at all.
Some states even offer medical cards for those that can prove that cannabis would confer some much-needed medicinal benefit (usually with a doctor’s approval). In Hawaii, for example, toking up for medical purposes may be perfectly legal if you can get approved for a card. Growing cannabis may be illegal in some states, but legal in others. Some have specific ways in which the plants can be grown.
CBD derived from hemp was legalized via the Farm Bill of 2018. This bill made it legal for individuals to use products that contain CBD. The only caveat is that the CBD that comes from hemp should contain less than 0.3% THC. Hemp is now considered an agricultural product and not a drug.
What You Can Do As a Parent
- Be sure cannabis is legal in your state: Observe specific state laws and restrictions. Be informed of things that change. And yes, they can change on a dime. It’s great to be informed about what your state says about what you can do with cannabis. You don’t want to run afoul of your law and get in trouble.
- Wait for bedtime: If you’re watching the kids and need to unwind or are in lots of pain, toking up may not be the best idea. Wait until they are in bed and you’re about to go yourself. THC can often cause sleepiness and “couch-lock,” a phenomenon where a person can feel so relaxed, they don’t want to get off the couch. If your children are up and running around, it is best for you to be clear-minded.
- Stay off social media: The best way to get questioned on your parenting is to advertise your cannabis use. There is still stigma and misinformation out there, and people that know you light up may feel that you are unnecessarily putting your children in danger. While this may not be true, it is enough to cause problems. Parents often joke on social media about it being “#wineoclock,” and there are no shortages of memes about moms taking a drink of wine while children are afoot. However, cannabis is a lot different. Things may be changing, but people still question cannabis and its place in our society.
- Use discretion: Although cannabis use may be perfectly fine, you can avoid some questions by making sure you use sprays, fragrances, and deodorizers to cover up any aromas or smells. You should also have a safe place where your stash is secured and away from curious little hands and questions from well-meaning relatives and friends.
- Toke low and go slow: Until you know for sure how you will feel following a toke sesh, you should exercise caution, especially when experimenting with a new strain. Using a small amount and going slow with your intake can go a long way in alerting you when you’re approaching an aggressive high. If you find yourself in this situation, you can try curbing your high by hydrating, trying to calm down, taking a cold shower or going to bed.
Final Thoughts on Balancing Marijuana and Parenting
Parenting is the cornerstone of our society. Raising happy, well-adjusted children helps progress our society forward. However, it’s a difficult job. It can be even more challenging when talking about cannabis consumption and parenting. If you follow a few guidelines, you can ensure that parenting and your cannabis use can be a seamless experience.
Make sure that you’re well aware of what’s legal and illegal in your state. You don’t want someone knocking on your door regarding your use. You should also become as informed as possible about what cannabis does and how it can affect you.
Lighting up is fine if it is legal in your state, but it may not be the best decision if your children are around. Practice discretion in how you smoke or consume cannabis as well as how you reflect this to the world.
In all, parenting and cannabis consumption doesn’t have to be separate ends of the spectrum. The two can be part and parcel of your life. Finding a healthy medium is important.