Legal marijuana has become the fastest growing business in the United States, according to a report from The ArcView Group (see Sources below), a cannabis industry research firm based in Oakland, Calif. Cannabis sales have exploded from 74 percent in 2014 to $2.7 billion, up from $1.5 billion just the year before, so it’s no surprise that the marijuana biz is expected to soon surpass the success of the organic food industry.
But along with the rising trend in pot sales, the demographic of pot consumers is changing. Gone are the days of skaters smoking in alleyways; lately, moms are swapping out their merlot for marijuana. Here’s what they say about smoking pot—or what they affectionately refer to as “mother’s little helper.” (Note: All of the mothers’ names in this article have been changed to protect their privacy, work situations and, most likely, so their kids don’t out them!)
“As a full-time working mom, smoking allows me to unwind, to shut off the chaos of everyday life and be in the moment,” says Sheryl, a parks and recreation director in a small Pennsylvania town who is raising a 5- and 6-year-old. “The to-do lists stop circulating, the stresses of life fade, and I feel completely content and relaxed. I smile and laugh more. The joys of my life are more evident.”
Ivory, a single mom and hairstylist in New York City, started smoking in her 30s when her son was 7 years old. Fifteen years later, she’s still smoking because “it gives me more insights. It takes the veil off what’s confusing in my life. I can see clearer.”
Speaking of being clear, Ivory (along with all of the moms interviewed for this article) believes that pot smoking is an adult-only indulgence and should be off-limits to her kids. Plus, Ivory says that her son, now an adult, has zero interest in getting high because “that’s what mom does, so it’s not cool.”
For Amy, a New York City singer and songwriter with two kids at home, weed is her ultimate sleeping aid. To her, smoking is like “changing the channel. It slows things down so I can sleep better. It lowers my anxiety. I tried sleeping pills and anti-anxiety medication, and felt terrible the next morning. Now, I wake up totally fresh after having smoked the night before,” says Amy. “I have been having tendonitis in several joints, and found that weed brings down the pain without having to take anti-inflammatory pills that are bad for my liver and the stomach.”
Marijuana, according to its proponents, has been called a cure-all for a wide variety of medical conditions such as pain caused by headaches—a common affliction for busy moms—nerve damage and glaucoma. It’s also helpful for patients suffering from more serious health issues such as muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis, nausea from chemotherapy, lack of appetite or weight loss from HIV or nerve disease, seizure disorders and Crohn’s disease, according to WebMD (see Sources below). Medical benefits like these are part of the reason why weed is now legal in 23 states and the District of Columbia (with many more states expected to legalize marijuana soon), and also part of the reason why women are finding relief from the stresses of motherhood by taking a hit.
With all that said, Dr. Margaret Haney, a professor of neurobiology (in psychiatry) at New York City’s Columbia University Medical Center who runs a marijuana research laboratory, warns of the potential side effects: “Consequences of cannabis use include short-term memory deficits, increased food intake… and with daily, repeated use, addiction can occur.”
Regardless, this doesn’t seem to faze Ivory, who lights up her private weed stash of “Girl Scout Cookies” each morning while she sips on a cup of coffee. “I am just a better mom because of it. Two puffs and I’m good to go the rest of the day.”