a better high

Yeah, I'm A Weed Mom

And I want other people to be just as comfortable with the option.

Written by Molly Wadzeck Kraus

The first time I smoked weed, there were no state decriminalization initiatives on the horizon, the hit Showtime series Weeds was still a plausible concept, and parenthood wasn't even on my radar. Now I’m a mom of three, and cannabis use is prevalent in my social circle, recreationally and medicinally. But conversations about it are still discreet and often involve justifications, despite the fact it’s legal where I live.

I’ll be straight up about it: I use cannabis almost daily, and I’m starting to embrace the label "Weed Mom." Introducing cannabis into my self-care routine has been liberating and healing. And I want other parents to feel comfortable trying it, too; I talk about it as openly and often as I can with other parents.

I came to the weed mom life as part of my decision to quit drinking. A few years ago, I began the journey to overcome alcohol addiction and address my mental health issues. But the breakup with booze wasn't the panacea I'd hoped for. Don’t get me wrong, it was an improvement to my life, but I still grappled with anxiety, insomnia, and general emotional dysregulation. Given family history and my addiction struggles, I worried about recommended prescription medications like Xanax. But I knew I needed more effective ways to manage my anxiety beyond the usual advice of exercise, good sleep (as if it were that simple), and annoying breathing exercises.

And so I started thinking about cannabis. I had lingering reservations as a 90s kid raised during the D.A.R.E. program era, when every message about weed was full of inaccurate, over-the-top negative stereotypes. Using it casually and socially in my childfree early 20s was acceptable, but even then, I didn’t want to get labeled a “stoner.”

But cannabis consumption is a lot different than it was in the early 2000s, when my typical consumption involved sitting in a dimly lit living room and passing a joint around. My perspective shifted when I listened to friends who had moved to states with more permissive cannabis laws describe the vast array of products they could now explore as cannabis users. Then, earlier this year, the opening of our first local dispensary left me astounded by the variety of offerings: oils, tinctures, chocolates, gummies, and dozens of vape options adorned the glass display cases. You can just walk in and ask questions, tweaking your choices until you get exactly what works for you.

Support for legalization is at an all-time high, but there’s still a lot of stigma tied up with being a cannabis-using mom. (Plus, the legality of cannabis varies from state to state, and it remains illegal at the federal level.) At the very least, I wanted to avoid being labeled as an irresponsible and untrustworthy parent. Discussing it openly with other parents is a rarity unless you are at a music festival. Meanwhile, being the mom with a glass of wine in hand makes you seem normal and fun. It's so normalized as a way to relax. But being the mom with a joint? Not everybody wants to arrange playdates with her, or so I worried.

And yet, many moms — including me, at one point — seek or have sought comfort in holding a glass of wine during tough moments, often making light-hearted remarks about needing a drink when our kids became unruly or as the clock approached 5 p.m., signaling the challenging evening ahead. It’s been a part of the way we talk about motherhood in America for decades. But for some people, it leads to a dark place. And maybe for some of us, cannabis is a better, safer option. Why keep cannabis consumption a secret while people openly talk about cocktails?

What's considered responsible for a mom, anyway? Was it responsible when I had mimosas or bloody marys at morning playdates with my mom's group? Or when kid-focused events routinely included "B.Y.O.B.," and I joined in with the wine while the kids played? The guilt I carry for my kids witnessing me intoxicated weighs heavily on me. I've worried that exploring cannabis might jeopardize the clear-headed, stable version of myself I worked hard to become.

We have to change the conversation around substance use in parenting circles and support those who opt for alternatives like cannabis over alcohol. We need to create an environment where parents can make informed choices for their well-being and their families without judgment or stigma. Parenthood is demanding enough without scrutiny over how we choose to relax.

My journey as a "Weed Mom" has been enlightening and transformative. I've discovered that cannabis can effectively help manage stress and regulate my nervous system, and talking openly about it can help challenge the harmful culture of excessive alcohol consumption. As parents, it's our responsibility to choose what's best for our families and ourselves. For many of us, that means redefining how we unwind and care for our mental and physical health.

Early aughts fashion disasters might be coming back, but it doesn't mean we can't leave the marijuana panic in the early 2000s where it belongs.

Molly Wadzeck Kraus is a freelance writer and mother of three. Born and raised in Waco, Texas, she moved to the Finger Lakes region of New York, where she worked in animal rescue and welfare for many years. She writes essays and poems about feminism, mental health, parenting, pop culture, and politics. She is usually late because she stopped to pet a dog. She tweets at @mwadzeckkraus.