Ever since Kiri Westby published her controversial and totally not anonymous piece “Confessions of a Pothead Mom” last week I’ve gotten many a text/DM/FB message/email from someone asking “Be honest — are you the HuffPo Pothead Mom?”
I’m not, of course, Kiri Westby is — but the fact that so many people were wondering if I had written the post speaks to two things: The first, being that my reputation has preceded me, and the second, that the stigma against marijuana is still so strong that the assumption is that when someone speaks out in favor of it they are doing so under a pseudonym because who in their right mind would admit to toking on the Internet? Until today, not me.
When I read Westby’s piece I reacted, and reacted again. It was a roller coaster of a read for me, and although I instantly felt compelled to respond, I realized as I sat down to write that I had so many conflicting feelings on the issue my head was practically spinning with angles for this post.
- Nooooooo….don’t call yourself a Pothead Mom. Don’t do that to us. Don’t give us that label.
- No, no she’s totally right. This is a double standard that needs to be discussed. Parents are drinking wine and bragging on social media all day long and yet we’re stuck smoking joints behind planters with rubber gloves on.
- Why do we have to create parenting identities out of our vices anyway? Wine-swilling Mom. Cursing Mom. Pill-popping Mom. Is being a parent so terribly uncool that we must compensate by showing the world how hard we can party regardless of who is under our supervision?
- Wait a minute. I’m a medical marijuana patient. This isn’t a vice. This is a prescription which I’m using as prescribed. Why am I so shamed by it?
It was that last thought that spun my perspective around. We’re a generation that’s been highly medicated since our youth, and yet it’s rare that we stop and think about the medications we’re taking and how they affect our body. As a fibromyalgia patient with an anxiety disorder I’m prescribed any number of benzos, painkillers, muscle relaxers, and antidepressants pretty much whenever I ask. I don’t feel any shame over taking any of those pills because they’re warranted by medical conditions as far as most people are concerned.
But when I take the xanax for my anxiety, my energy level plummets along with my nerves. I once lost a writing job because I was overly sedated in a meeting. When I take the soma for the debilitating hip pain and radiating arm pain that my fibromyalgia brings, I often don’t remember portions of the evening when I wake up the next day. And not the final moments of the evening. I lose chunks of my night like you might if you were getting black out drunk. If my child woke with appendicitis in the middle of the night and came in to wake me, there’s a very good chance I wouldn’t wake up, and perhaps even more terrifying, if I did, I might take her to the ER and not remember how we got there the next day.
A few weeks ago I decided that I was going to quit marijuana for good. I was carrying a lot of discomfort about how much a part of my routine it had become and I thought it was best to just kick it to the curb.
And then something strange started happening. I went through my xanax prescription twice as fast as usual. I started taking the soma more and more frequently. Days kind of started blending in to each other because I’d wake up groggier and groggier. I had eliminated the wrong thing. Marijuana (which, in case I haven’t been clear I am totally legal to use under California Senate Bill SB420 — and yes it’s really called that) was the medication that was helping me most. It was prescribed for the same conditions, and yet, every time a young celebrity overdoses and dies it’s the only thing in my medicine cabinet not inevitably listed on their toxicity report. Because unlike EVERY.OTHER.MEDICATION I’ve been prescribed to help with my buffet of auto immune and anxiety issues, marijuana can’t kill you.
We have so far to go in this country with just the simple stigma of Marijuana as street drug rather than beneficial natural medicine which as an added bonus can also be made in to useful cloth, paper, oil, and is easily renewable. We stand by as children have life-threatening siezures and give them drugs so strong they risk shutting down their brain stem when just a few drops of CBD extract (a non psychoactive element in marijuana — meaning it doesn’t make you feel “stoned”) can give them something closer to a normal life than many of their families have ever dreamed. We watch as pregnant women lose babies and risk death from illnesses like hyperemesis gravidarum while science has shown time and time again that marijuana could have wildly positive effects on morning sickness of all severities with no negative effects on the unborn child. Instead, we continue a manufactured war on a valuable renewable resource that’s been portrayed by the US Government as a class I drugwhile they are simultaneously funding studies that determine that marijuana has medical value.
In her piece, Westby wrote —
I’m obviously not the only mom who smokes pot. In fact, I’m guessing that there are a lot of us out there. Sometimes we recognize each other and, in doing so, enter into a sisterhood of winks and whispers, complicit in our mutual understanding and our public shame.
That resonated with me. I’ve felt that shame too. I’ve shared the same glances. I’ve invited the woman from my pot shop and her kiddo to my daughter’s birthday party because she told me she doesn’t want to the stigma of her job to overflow onto her daughter’s social life so she keeps her distance from most Moms. But shame indicates a problem. Shame indicates we’re doing something wrong. We’re not. For Moms like Kiri Westby and myself, we’re not even doing anything illegal.
If we’re going to have a conversation about pot, medicinal or otherwise, I think it needs to start with the stigma even those of us who support it and benefit from its medicinal properties have trouble shaking. For me that starts with the decision that there doesn’t need to big a big secret or a big confession. I’m a Mom. I’m a card carrying medical marijuana patient. Those are just two of about a million things about me.