“Cannamoms”, or mothers who consume, advocate for, and work in cannabis, are on the rise as a consumer demographic, an influential voice in the legalization debate, and a growing presence across social media platforms. With this rise comes both opportunities and pitfalls, not just for mothers but for all women-identified people who contributed to the increase of cannabis sales to female customers by 55% in the past year.
The term “Cannamom” was initially coined to identify “a group of passionate mothers advocating for the right and option to utilize cannabis in the care of their own critically-ill children” (Urban Dictionary). Employing advocacy and education, these women used their own stories to spread the word about marijuana’s medicinal benefits. The term “Cannamom” has since come to encompass an entire subculture within cannabis that includes any mother who consumes marijuana, as well as those working to break down the stigmas surrounding its use. There is a TikTok Cannamom community that shares posts under the #cannamom tag. It is comprised of moms who proudly smoke weed and tout the numerous ways it helps them deal with the everyday stressors of motherhood and parenting. The tag has amassed well over half a billion views. There are also numerous Facebook groups, blogs, YouTube channels, and Pinterest boards proselytizing about “Cannamom Life”.
Brightfield Group, a market research firm (which defines its complex user group “Moms that Toke” as women with children in the household who report using cannabis at least weekly), has conducted research that has found that 78.2% of “Moms that Toke” reported using cannabis at least daily in the first quarter of 2022, while 57.9% reported using cannabis multiple times per day in the same period. This is higher than daily use in the general cannabis consumer population, which was 61.5%. Brightfield’s data also showed that “Moms that Toke” gravitate towards vape carts as their preferred mode of consumption, likely due to ease of use and discretion. 63.4% of cannabis-consuming moms reported seeking emotional relief from cannabis and prioritized having more energy over fun when asked about what motivated their consumption.
Though the social media face of the liberated Cannamom may be glowing, mothers who use cannabis to deal with stress, anxiety, sleeplessness, or any of the other numerous side-effects of parenting do so at a significant risk. Those who are drug-tested on the job risk being disciplined, suspended, or fired by their employer. In some cases, such as those mothers serving in the military, they can be discharged for even using a CBD product if they are administered a test that cannot differentiate between CBD and THC. These failed drug tests not only result in potential job loss, but loss of health care and accrued retirement benefits as well.
Family law is another area where mothers may encounter serious consequences for cannabis use. In states where marijuana is illegal and a parent is found guilty of possession or use, the parent can lose visitation or custody. Even in states where marijuana is legal (such as Michigan, where it would be considered similarly to alcohol consumption in child custody is cases), marijuana may not be treated in the same manner by the court. If there is a suggestion of habitual consumption, dependency, or addiction to the substance, even if it is legal, this can also cause a custody issue. There have even been cases where Child Protective Services became involved because a parent obtained a medical marijuana card.
Cannabis use has been shown to offer certain health benefits, but for expectant mothers, marijuana use during pregnancy might be another instance where not only custody but health concerns for mother and child can arise. These include lower birth weight and abnormal neurological development of the infant, including attention deficits, memory, problem-solving skills, and behavior later in life. Though cannabis can be effective in treating nausea and vomiting during pregnancy and is, in fact, the most common illicit drug used during pregnancy, there is no known safe level of cannabis use during pregnancy or lactation.
Cannamom culture will, no doubt, continue to thrive as legalization spreads and more and more women with children experience the benefits of cannabis as an alternative to prescription medications, alcohol, and other substances. Though cannabis use can be both positive and problematic for mothers, there is a growing community of “Moms that Toke” out there willing to put their consumer dollars, reputations, and platforms behind marijuana as a plant ally for the modern mom.