As more countries legalize cannabis for medical and recreational purposes, the stigma associated with cannabis use continues to dwindle. Thankfully, the pathway to cannabis normalization can offer benefit to parents who also happen to be consumers. Irie Selkirk, a cannabis consultant, shares her experience and insight around consumption and parenting, and why she thinks pot makes her a better parent.
Why do you consume cannabis?
Cannabis is a tool that I use in my overall wellness. It calms me down when I am overwhelmed; helps me relax and sleep when I don’t feel well; and gets me going and helps me prepare for the day ahead. Cannabis makes me a better person and a more patient parent by knowing that I have something safe that works for me and enhances my day-to-day experiences.
When did you first discover that cannabis could help to improve your life?
I started using cannabis therapeutically during my university years; I did not consider it “self-medicating” at the time. I was offered the “performance and focus enhancing” pharmaceutical Adderall, along with benzodiazepines to help combat the side effects, and I began to realize that cannabis allowed me to focus, as well as cope, and it was about curating the way I used it to achieve the best results for myself. That’s when it dawned on me that cannabis was a part of my personal self-care practices and helps me to feel better overall.
When you had your kids, were you apprehensive about continuing to consume cannabis after becoming a mother?
Parents are always worried about how their choices will affect their children. Cannabis has always been a safe choice for me, so my concerns focused solely on judgment, stigma and legal repercussions from Children’s Services. As a cannabis advocate, it’s important to me that other parents feel empowered to know their rights as patients, and as responsible consumers.
What are the most common misconceptions people have about cannabis use and consumers?
Common misconceptions are based on stereotypes and out-dated tropes; they are borne from a century of prohibition and based in racial and social discrimination. In my experience, cannabis users are generally more open to discussion, not “flakey”; they are often calmer and deal with stress better, not “lazy”; they are less likely to judge others and keep an open mind. People are always surprised when they find out that there truly are “high” functioning parents, executives, teachers, civil representatives, etc. It’s a great time to rethink cannabis usage.
How are these misconceptions, or stigma, especially prevalent among parents?
Parents are under the microscope for so many reasons, and understandably so as we are raising the next generation–cannabis use is no different. When I was pregnant, I recall a stranger coming up to me at a sushi bar to explain that I shouldn’t eat raw fish, and I remember thinking: “But what about all the Japanese babies?”… as well as, “Mind your own business.” Over nine months I had soft cheese, honey, peanut butter, caffeine, sugar, sleep and stress explained to me as if I had never stepped foot outside before. We hold parents to a higher standard in making responsible choices. Now we get to understand why cannabis is such a safe choice for people through research and facts, and hopefully, more parents will feel empowered to discuss their use openly.
Working in the cannabis industry, what do you think could be done better to make parents feel more informed or less apprehensive about consuming cannabis to improve their lives?
More accurate information and education from non-partisan entities. When we don’t understand something, we can’t trust it. Especially as parents, we want to be able to research and decide for ourselves how to best take care of our families. We also need more parents admitting their use; cannabis doesn’t have to be a clandestine secret (that’s kept in a tin above the fridge for when the kids go to bed). It’s a safe, therapeutic herb that has helped mothers cope for millennia.
How does consuming cannabis make you a better person/parent?
I’m more patient. It also helps me with the aches and pains of running around after an active 5-year-old (jungle gyms are far more navigable!). Using a cannabis-infused topical at the end of the day helps far more than my OTC muscle rub. I’m less likely to freak out about the cereal spilling on the couch and I can manage listening to Peppa Pig in one room and Shakira from the next room without getting irritated. All in all, it keeps kindness in my heart.
Have you talked to your kids about cannabis use? Why or why not?
Absolutely, it is a topic we have discussed every once in a while. Cannabis has never had a negative stigma in our home. It’s been medicine for very sick family and friends, and it’s also been safely incorporated in my lifestyle in a responsible way. I want them to know the facts, so they can make safe choices. I’m not leaving that up to chance and schoolyard gossip.
How do your kids feel about it?
It’s become a non-issue at our house. When my 10-year-old realized that some people would judge cannabis users negatively, she was concerned that other people would look down on us. Those concerns were quelled when she noticed that other parents come to me for answers on how to heal themselves and their families with cannabis.
If there were one thing you could tell people about cannabis use and parenting, what would it be?
Don’t be quick to judge cannabis users who have children! We all know there isn’t one right way to raise our children; it’s about doing all the little things that you can do correctly each and every day. We are breaking down a century of cannabis misinformation and prohibition that is based on fear. Cannabis use is about returning to caring for ourselves and making safer choices with the substances we put into our bodies. As a parent, I am more concerned about the opiates my kids’ school bus driver is taking for chronic pain and [as an example] the interaction of benzos and hypnotic sleep aids combined with a legal glass of wine at lunch. We are recognizing that we need to be more aware of what we consume for medicine and self-care. So, inform yourselves and try to understand why other parents are choosing cannabis over other substances–maybe they just really hate cartoons and hangovers?! Mothers and caregivers have been using cannabis safely for years–it’s time we trust in it again.
Story by Odessa Paloma Parker
Illustration by Elena Boils
The preceding is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to condone the use or consumption of cannabis. For more information, please refer to our disclaimer.