I’m a cannabis-using mom. How should I talk to my kids about legalization?

Published on May 10, 2018 · Last updated September 24, 2020
Beautiful grandmother and teenage granddaughter sitting at a restaurant eating a meal together

I am a journalist living in Toronto who covers fashion, beauty and lifestyle topics. I smoked my first joint in my parent’s garage when I was 17 and they were away for the weekend. (Sorry, mom and dad!). Since then, I’ve treated cannabis as a fun escape on the weekends, on occasion indulging during the week.

I waffle between total transparency and not wanting to normalize it so much that she thinks underage consumption is okay.

In the past year, cannabis has begun to play a role in my career. I’ve learned more about the industry and how it’s going to change the country once legalization hits (either sometime this summer or fall). I’ve also digested information about different strains and the benefits that cannabis can have medicinally.

But one thing still has me stumped: How am I going to broach the subject of cannabis with my daughter? Thankfully, she is only a year and a half old, so I have some time, but it is something that I think of often.

My father-in-law uses cannabis medicinally, so it will be in her life. My husband and I vape almost every weekend after she has gone to bed. However, we have no issue with cracking open a beer in front of her on Friday afternoons, which I realize is a bit hypocritical of us. The fact the ‘beer’ was perhaps her tenth word is an entirely different issue regarding our parenting skills. (I’m sure she’ll be fine, right?)

I waffle between total transparency and not wanting to normalize it so much that she thinks it’s okay for her to start the habit of consuming when she is young and her brain is still developing.

My husband and I vape after she's gone to bed. But we have no issue with cracking open a beer in front of her on Friday afternoons, which I realize is a bit hypocritical.

I recently consulted two child psychologists and a family doctor, who all specialize in cannabis and young people, for a story that I wrote for the CBC. I gleaned some great advice, which might be obsolete by the time my daughter is in high school, but research is what I do, and knowing a few bits now helps assuage my fears and anxiety surrounding her well-being as she grows up.

One important tidbit I learned came from Dr. Sharon Cirone, who reminded me that as teenagers, we don’t really know the concept of peer pressure, because we don’t see that our friends have that much influence on us. Teens are still taking in so much information, and we have to let them make some decisions on their own, or else they’ll never know how to live life for themselves.

I also reached out to Alison Gordon, formerly of Rethink Breast Cancer and now CEO of 48North Cannabis Co. for her advice. “I believe it starts with demystifying cannabis and not creating an aura of mystery and excitement around it,” Gordon said about how she is talking to her two young boys. “You can start by explaining what cannabis is, how it is used, how it effects their brain, and the difference between legal and black-market cannabis.”

She also added, “I believe it’s really important to have open communication with your kids about all topics—sex, opioid addiction, mental health, etc.  Open lines of communication are key to being able to educate your kids and help them work through whatever pressure and confusion they may have.”

This all makes so much sense to me. Maybe I’m the type of mom who will talk to my kid ad nauseam about all of the above? My poor child.

Mostly, I think it will boil down to my peers. There are women in my direct circle of friends who will be going through the same issues surrounding cannabis as I will, so I can imagine we’ll rely pretty heavily on each other. And learn as we go. One of my close friends, whose parenting skills are next-level, actually asked me to send her all my articles about kids and cannabis so she can make sure she is properly armed should it come up with her teenager.

I guess doing what I do best, like going to a talk next month with a panel of moms who smoke weed, will serve me well in the coming years. And if not, I’ll just reach for some anxiety-reducing CBD oil.

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Michelle Bilodeau
Michelle Bilodeau
Michelle Bilodeau is a fashion, beauty, and lifestyle journalist living in Toronto. Bilodeau is also co-host of the On A High podcast.
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