Research says that the number of Canadians using cannabis has significantly increased after the legalization of recreational cannabis across the country. According to the National Cannabis Survey, there has been an increase from 16% to 22% in the first quarter of 2019, and that number represents male cannabis consumption alone. In females, the number remained relatively constant at 13%. With the number of people using cannabis, some are bound to be parents or will be one day. These people may use cannabis recreationally, medically or both. Were not here to judge by any means.
If you are a parent who uses cannabis, what’s often referred to as a cannaparent, then you take on more responsibility than a non-parent user and therefore must monitor your intake and levels of intoxication to compensate for this added responsibility. This is especially important since studies have shown that cannabis harms the developing mind, altering structures in the still-growing brain. Exposure to cannabis, specifically THC, at an early age can affect IQ but more importantly, it can also cause your children to suffer from lifelong problems in adulthood due to the brain not developing as it would unimpeded.
As a parent, what do you have to do to become a responsible cannaparent? At the same time, how might cannaparenting benefit your family?
History of Cannabis and Parenting
Secondhand smoke was all too common during the 60s, 70s, and well into the early 80s. You would often see parents walking with their family, holding their child’s hand with one hand and a cigarette with the other. You could see them smoking as children ran around them. Even pregnant and breastfeeding women smoked back in the day, as some doctors were naive enough to even recommend it.
Looking back at that time, it’s hard not to feel sadness for the people who were affected without knowing the risks. The general public knew little about the dangers of secondhand smoke then. As studies woke us up to the harmful effects of secondhand smoke, the trend of smoking around children slowly declined.
When cannabis was set to be legalized, the federal government’s main argument for doing so was ‘keeping cannabis out the hands of Canadian children’. While many feel this sentiment holds a large degree of fear-mongering, it is worth acknowledging that they are justified in wanting to keep cannabis out of the hands of Canada’s youth. The ease of access to cannabis is at an all-time high, making responsible cannaparenting even more challenging.
Our children’s safety is our primary concern. Nothing else matters as much as their wellbeing. As cannaparents, we have to be even more careful in not exposing our children to cannabis.
Benefits of Cannaparenting
Cannabis was only federally legalized last year in Canada, meaning that there are only a few of the presumably countless coming studies on the effects that cannabis has on various parts of our lives available. Before this, research with cannabis was unable to go forward as they were using what was considered an illegal drug. This lack of studies means we can only rely on anecdotal evidence. While it is better than nothing, we look forward to the days when we can cite legitimate studies on the impact of legal cannabis and families.
Using what anecdotal evidence we have, it is clear that there are already several benefits to cannaparenting. One main reason for this is symptom relief. Say for example you’re a parent suffering from mental and/or physical health problems. With medical cannabis relieving your symptoms and improving your quality of life, you’ll have more time and energy to spend with your children without your symptoms controlling you. It can also help you feel happier and relaxed, therefore having better control over your life. All of these can make your relationship with your children better.
Children are naturally creative and imaginative and cannabis is known to spark creativity, imagination, motivation, and focus. These effects can improve the way you make arts and crafts with your kids. It would be as if you’re a child again, allowing you to think of ways to make the day’s activities fun, memorable, and enjoyable.
Parents who are engaged with their children’s lives and activities build stronger relationships with them. The unique bond they form helps strengthen their children’s emotional and social development. A healthy parent-and-child relationship also helps in the normal physical growth and development of the child. Adding responsible cannabis use by the parent can often make a positive impact.
CBD Benefits and Cannaparenting
Children are dependent on their parents for everything. For example, I’m 30 and still need my mom to help me file my taxes. Thanks, mom. Responsible cannaparenting means putting your children’s needs before yourself. If you want to try medical cannabis for your symptoms but are worried about THC’s psychoactive effects, then choose CBD products.
Both THC and CBD have medicinal properties that can relieve symptoms. Used together, they become one powerful agent against medical problems. But THC has some side effects which could interfere with your ability to parent responsibly. CBD, on the other hand, avoids many of those side-effects. This makes CBD tincture, capsules, edibles, and vape pens/cartrdiges your best option.
Unlike THC, CBD has a very minimal psychoactive effect meaning you will not feel anywhere close to the typical THC high. This way you get CBD’s therapeutic effects without being too distracted or feeling stoned and potentially impairing your ability to handle whatever comes your way as a parent.
CBD doesn’t show up in drug tests since regular drug tests are sensitive to THC. So if you’re wondering about failing your company’s drug test and endangering your job, then CBD products will suit your needs very well. Just be sure to get your CBD from a trusted source, as poorly made CBD oil can often still contain some levels of THC.
Important Things to Keep in Mind If You’re a Cannaparent
Be a responsible cannaparent means:
- Keeping your cannabis products, both medical and recreational, out of your children’s reach in a locked cabinet. This means all cannabis products, especially edibles which, to a child’s eyes, are sweet treats.
- Knowing not to use cannabis products when you’re pregnant or breastfeeding your child. Cannabis crosses the placental barrier. It also gets passed into your breast milk. Exposure to cannabis at an early age can result in cognitive impairments, shorter attention span, hyperactive behaviour, mood problems, and impulsivity. These are negative consequences that your child can potentially carry into adulthood, which can affect their personal, social, and professional relationships with the people around them.
- Not smoking or using recreational cannabis around your children. Getting stoned while taking care of your children can make you miss signs of dangers and emergencies. It also makes you less attentive to your children’s needs. If you’re going to use recreational weed, always make sure your children have someone with them who’s not high and can take care of them and their needs.
- Never drive while under the influence of cannabis with your children in the car.
- Being mindful of the signs and symptoms that your child might have accidentally eaten cannabis products, especially edibles. Watch out for lethargy and sleepiness, incoordination and slurred speech, as well as difficulty breathing and increased stress and anxiety. Should you notice these signs and symptoms in your child, call emergency services immediately or bring your child to the nearest hospital as soon as possible. It does not matter if you are ashamed or afraid of the doctor’s reaction. Your child’s well being should be paramount and that means taking responsibility if they ingest your cannabis
Cannabis and Teenagers
- Educate your children (if they’re old enough to understand) about the dangers of cannabis to the developing brain. How you approach this matter can have a significant impact on your children’s relationship with intoxicants. If you tell them that they shouldn’t do it because ‘it’s wrong’ or ‘it makes you dumb’ then you are failing in your duty to inform them. Explain that cannabis, on a fully matured and developed mind, does not hold much of a threat. That being said, it can severely impact their brains when they are still young and developing, therefore leading to potential life long mental health issues that could have easily been avoided.
- Know that your teenager will likely try cannabis despite your best efforts. Do not antagonize them or try and shame them. Speak to them like an equal who is concerned for their wellbeing. It is far easier to earn your child’s trust when they know they can rely on you for help and information, not the shame that encourages them to keep more secrets in an attempt to appease you and avoid getting told off.
Recreational and medical cannabis offers parents many benefits. It can relieve your symptoms and help you cope with day-to-day life stressors. It can give you some breathing room to relax, therefore making you more involved in your children’s lives and activities. All this being said, your child’s safety should remain your number one priority. Only use cannabis if you are sure that it will not negatively impact your child’s life. This means keeping all cannabis products locked away and out of sight, being clear-headed enough to react to any emergency or problem put in front of you and discussing cannabis and responsible use with your children.
The world can be a very stressful and often overwhelming place. Being a parent does not make this any easier. Some would argue it makes it harder as you have additional lives to worry about. Cannabis can help you cope with some of these feelings and you are fully entitled to use it. Just make sure your role as a parent remains your priority over cannabis at all times. If it isn’t, then you should not be using cannabis as a parent.