Guide to Parents – Consuming Cannabis as Responsible Parents

Parenting brings with it a deluge of joy, as well as chaos. With the more widespread admission of cannabis usage across society, trends have begun to emerge, like “cannamoms” who find that they are more able to handle the challenges of parenting with the help of cannabis in various forms. Many parents who consume cannabis prior to becoming parents face a dilemma: can they, or should they, continue to use cannabis as they take on the new and important responsibilities of parenthood? What is the effect of cannabis on their parenting, their own health, and that of their children?

In this guide we will cover everything you need to know about how to consume cannabis responsibly as a parent.

Cannabis and Parenting

How can cannabis use affect my parenting abilities?

Cannabis has seen a surge in popular acceptance across America and the globe. Currently it is perceived as less risky than other substances like opioid and even alcohol.

Still, cannabis, like any substance that alters perception and cognition, can impact your ability to parent effectively. According to Health Canada, using cannabis may reduce a person’s ability to pay attention, make decisions, or react to emergencies [3]. This can affect how parents respond to a child’s needs and keep them safe. For instance, parents under the influence of cannabis may miss important cues from their children or fail to respond appropriately in emergency situations.

The majority of Americans still feel it is inappropriate to consume cannabis in front of minor children [9]. Cannabis use can also affect parent-child interactions and attachment. The effects of cannabis can last for several hours, during which time the quality of interactions with your child may be compromised [3].

Potential risks and benefits
  1. Cognitive Impairment: Regular cannabis use can lead to cognitive impairment, including memory loss and difficulty concentrating. This can make it harder to keep up with the demands of parenting [3].
  2. Mental Health Issues: Studies have linked cannabis use to mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and even psychosis [1]. These conditions can make parenting more challenging.
  3. Modeling Behavior: Children learn by observing their parents. If you use cannabis regularly, your children may be more likely to view drug use as normal and acceptable, potentially leading them to experiment with drugs themselves in the future [3].

While the risks of cannabis use are significant, some parents report benefits from using cannabis responsibly. For instance, some parents may use cannabis for medicinal purposes, such as pain relief or to manage symptoms of conditions like insomnia or reduced appetite. Parents even report using cannabis to cope with the stress and anxiety that parenthood itself provokes.

How can I discuss cannabis use with my children in an age-appropriate way?

Historically, advice for these kinds of discussions have centered around cautioning children against using cannabis. Now another dimension to consider is the parent’s own relationship with cannabis and patterns of usage. Discussing cannabis use with your children can be a challenging, so here are some tips:

  • Start Early and Talk Often: Start the conversation about drugs, including cannabis, at an early age and continue it as your child grows. This helps to establish open lines of communication and makes it easier to discuss difficult topics.
  • Be Honest and Open: Be honest about your own cannabis use. Explain why you use it (for example, for medicinal purposes), and discuss the potential risks and benefits.
  • Discuss the Legal Aspects: Depending on your location, cannabis use may be legal for adults but not for children. Make sure your child understands the legal implications of cannabis use.
  • Talk About Peer Pressure: Discuss the potential for peer pressure to use cannabis and other drugs. Equip your child with strategies to make healthy and independent decisions.
  • Encourage Questions: Let your child know that they can come to you with any questions or concerns about cannabis or other drugs.

Remember, as a parent, your primary role is to guide and protect your child. If you choose to use cannabis, it’s essential to do so responsibly and to have open and honest conversations with your child about it.

Regarding adult children, each family will have a different approach. Some children continue to feel awkward discussing or consuming cannabis with a parent while others make a bonding experience out of it. That said, about 47 parents who use cannabis at least once a year say they have done it in front of their adult children or even used it with them [7].

Expert Interview

Danielle Brand, MH, BA

Danielle Simone Brand writes articles and essays about parenting, cannabis, yoga, and relationships. She holds a BA from Dartmouth College and an MA from American University.

Danielle Brand, MH, BA
Could you share your initial experience with marijuana and how you became a "cannabis convert"?

Initially, I was a hesitant cannabis convert. It wasn't until I was a mother of two in my late thirties that I started delving into the scientific and historical aspects of cannabis as a freelance writer. The more I learned, the more intrigued I became. When recreational use became legal in California in 2018, I decided to dip my toe into the world of legal cannabis out of sheer curiosity. To my surprise, it had a profound impact on my yoga practice, which had been an essential part of my life for years. The experience of practicing "elevated yoga" with cannabis was transformative, allowing me to connect deeply with my body and breath. From that moment, I realized that cannabis had the potential to enhance my overall well-being as a mother, a professional, and as an individual. It didn't take long for me to become a full-fledged enthusiast and advocate.

How does cannabis interact with our endocannabinoid system, and what does this system control in our bodies?

Our endocannabinoid system plays a crucial role in maintaining homeostasis in our bodies. It regulates various functions such as mood, appetite, pain signals, sex drive, and more. Humans naturally produce cannabis-like compounds called endocannabinoids, but chronic stress can deplete these stores, making it harder for us to achieve balance. Cannabis interacts with our endocannabinoid system, acting as a supplement to help restore homeostasis. Through conscious cannabis consumption, including THC and other cannabinoids, I have found that it supports a better balance of sleep, appetite, and mood, leading to improved physical and emotional well-being, even surpassing my younger years.

What does current research suggest about marijuana use among teenagers? Is there an age when the brain/body is developed enough to handle cannabis?

While we are still in need of more research on this topic, the medical community generally agrees that delaying and minimizing THC use until after the age of 25 is advisable. By that age, the pre-frontal cortex, responsible for decision-making and impulse control, is fully developed. There are concerns that frequent use of highly concentrated THC products may potentially trigger or worsen mental health conditions like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder in young individuals.

However, it is important to note that cannabis advocates argue that some young people with pre-existing mental health issues may turn to cannabis as a form of self-medication. This does not mean that cannabis causes or exacerbates those conditions. The relationship between cannabis and mental health is complex and not yet fully understood. Moderate THC use, particularly when combined with non-psychotropic cannabinoids like CBD, is unlikely to have long-term negative effects on young adults. It's crucial to consult knowledgeable cannabis healthcare providers when considering medical THC use for young individuals.

On the other hand, CBD has shown positive effects when used by some young people in various forms such as topicals, tinctures, and capsules, provided the quality and quantities are properly calibrated. In "Weed Mom," I address the topic of kids and cannabis, presenting existing research, knowledge gaps, and guidelines for responsible discussions about cannabis with children and teens.

The negative perception and stigma surrounding cannabis in the United States have been unfortunate. What factors do you believe contributed to this situation?

In Chapter 3 of "Weed Mom," I explore the extensive history of human-cannabis interaction and the peculiar blip of cannabis prohibition in the last century. Throughout our history, cannabis has been utilized in diverse forms for building materials, nutrition, medicine, celebration, and relaxation. However, starting in the 1930s, various factors such as racism, monetary interests, and the exertion of power by governments led to the demonization and eventual prohibition of cannabis. Propaganda campaigns disseminated lies and misinformation about the plant, poisoning the perception of cannabis among mainstream Americans.

Fortunately, the stigmas associated with prohibition are gradually diminishing. Recent polls by Pew Research indicate that 91% of Americans support medical cannabis legalization, while 60% favor legal access for all adults.

According to your book, the most common reasons for using medical cannabis are pain, anxiety, depression, headaches/migraines, nausea, and muscle spasticity. Can a reputable cannabis dispensary prescribe specific types and forms of cannabis for addressing each of these ailments?

In short, no. It is highly recommended that individuals seeking to treat health conditions with cannabis consult specialized cannabis nurses or doctors who are well-versed in cannabinoid therapy. These professionals can provide personalized recommendations based on individual needs. Licensed dispensaries can then assist in locating the recommended products and ratios as prescribed by the healthcare practitioners.

"Weed Mom" focuses primarily on cannabis consumption for wellness and enjoyment, providing ample guidance and room for experimentation. Once individuals have a solid understanding of cannabis and its effects on their bodies, they gain the empowerment to utilize different cannabis products and dosages to support various wellness goals and recreational activities. Whether it's for sleep, sex, mood, stress relief, or minor pain management, there is a vast and exciting world of legal cannabis on the horizon, and "Weed Mom" serves as a guide to responsible consumption within a healthy lifestyle.

Responsible Use of Cannabis

What does responsible cannabis use look like?

Responsible cannabis use involves consuming THC-infused products in a way that doesn’t adversely impact your day-to-day life and commitments [4]. It’s about understanding the effects of cannabis and using it in a manner that respects your health and the well-being of those around you. Here’s what responsible cannabis use might look like:

  • Moderation: Use cannabis infrequently and in small amounts [4].
  • Understanding Effects: Be aware of how cannabis affects you personally. This can include relaxation, giddiness, increased appetite, altered perception of time and events, and increased focus and creativity [3].
  • Safe Consumption: Choose low-THC products and start with a low dose, especially if you’re new to cannabis [4].
  • Legal Compliance: Always comply with local laws and regulations regarding cannabis use.
How can I ensure I'm using cannabis responsibly?

Especially if you are a parent and have decided to continue using cannabis, it is important to check-in with yourself and take steps to minimize potential risks. Here are some tips:

  • Know Your Limits: Understand how cannabis affects you and know your personal limits. If cannabis makes you tired or distracted, avoid using it when you need to be alert and focused [6].
  • Choose Legal Sources: If you live in a state where cannabis is legal, opt for the legal market rather than the illicit one. This ensures that the product is tracked and generally offers some protections.
  • Take Regular Breaks: Regular breaks, or “T-breaks”, of two days or more can help prevent dependence and keep your tolerance in check [7].
  • Avoid High-Risk Situations: Don’t get behind the wheel immediately after using cannabis or use it in other situations where it could pose a risk [7].
What steps can I take to keep cannabis products safe and out of reach of children?

Keeping cannabis products safe and out of reach of children is a critical aspect of responsible cannabis use [1]. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Secure Storage: Store cannabis products in a secure location that children can’t access. This could be a locked drawer, cabinet, or a specific safe designed for cannabis storage. Be particularly mindful about edibles that might resemble irresistible sweets and candies.
  • Child-Resistant Packaging: Use child-resistant packaging for your cannabis products. Many legal cannabis products come in child-resistant packaging, but if yours doesn’t, you can purchase it separately.
  • Educate Your Children: Talk to your children about the dangers of cannabis use for minors. Make sure they understand that these products are for adults only and can be harmful to children.
  • Dispose of Cannabis Waste Properly: Ensure that any cannabis waste, such as leftover edibles or used vape cartridges, is disposed of in a way that children can’t access.

Remember, responsible cannabis use is about more than just how and when you consume. It’s also about how you store and handle cannabis products, especially when children are involved.

Health Implications

What are the potential health risks associated with cannabis use?

Cannabis use, particularly chronic and heavy use, can have several potential health risks:

  • Mental Health Issues: Regular cannabis users are more likely to experience suicidal thoughts, and there’s a small increased risk of depression [5]. Cannabis use can also lead to anxiety or paranoia [3].
  • Cognitive Impairment: Cannabis use can lead to reduced cognitive ability, affecting memory and concentration [1].
  • Physical Health Risks: Chronic cannabis use can carry reproductive risks, potentially affecting both the mother during pregnancy and childbirth and the fetus and neonate [6].

Long-Term Health Risks: The full extent of long-term health risks of chronic cannabis use may require a latent period of 10-20 years to be fully understood [6].

Can cannabis use have any benefits for mental or physical health?

While cannabis use can pose several health risks, it can also have potential benefits for mental and physical health:

  • Pain Relief: THC, the main psychoactive component in cannabis, has potential medicinal effects for conditions like pain [2].
  • Nausea Control: Cannabis can be used to control nausea, particularly in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy [2].
  • Appetite Stimulation: Cannabis can stimulate appetite, which can be beneficial for individuals with certain health conditions, such as HIV/AIDS or certain types of cancer [2].

Mental Health: Some people use cannabis to manage symptoms of mental health conditions like anxiety and PTSD, although this should be done under the guidance of a healthcare provider due to the potential risks [1].

How can I monitor my health and wellbeing while using cannabis?

Cannabis has a wide range of effects that are highly individualized. Even though isolated components like CBD aren’t psychoactive, they can still affect how you feel in your body. Monitoring your health and wellbeing while using cannabis involves being aware of both the physical and mental changes that may occur:

  • Regular Check-ups: Regular medical check-ups can help monitor any potential physical health effects of cannabis use.
  • Mental Health Awareness: Be aware of any changes in your mood or mental health. If you notice increased feelings of depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts, seek help immediately [5].
  • Self-Monitoring: Pay attention to your own body and mind. Notice any changes in your appetite, sleep patterns, mood, or cognitive function.
  • Use a Journal: Keeping a journal of your cannabis use, including how much you use and how it makes you feel, can help you track its effects over time.

Remember, while cannabis can have medicinal benefits, it’s not without risks. Always consult with a healthcare provider before using cannabis for medicinal purposes. If you notice any negative health effects, seek medical attention immediately.

Cannabis and Child Development

Cannabis use, particularly in regions where it’s legal, is becoming more common among adults, including parents. In fact, the majority of American cannabis users are parents.

Given these emerging demographics, the impact of parental cannabis use on child development is a topic that requires careful consideration.

Current Research on the Impact of Parental Cannabis Use on Child Development

Research on the impact of parental cannabis use on child development is still in its early stages. However, some studies suggest that parental substance misuse, including cannabis, can potentially undermine parenting capacity and harm children’s health and development, especially when other risk factors such as domestic abuse and mental health difficulties are present [2, 6].

Scientists have identified several patterns of cannabis usage over a person’s lifetime.

Moreover, it has been observed that the patterns of a parent’s usage has an impact on the probability of their own children using cannabis in adolescence and for how long [5].

This remains the most consistent research finding, that children of parents, specifically mothers, who use cannabis will start using at an earlier age. One Harvard study reported that children of cannabis users start using the substance two years earlier than peers whose parents are not cannabis users [9].

Ensuring Your Cannabis Use Does Not Negatively Impact Your Child's Development

Responsible Use

Use cannabis responsibly and in moderation. Avoid using it in front of your children to prevent normalization of substance use at a young age.


Secure Storage

Store your cannabis securely and out of reach of children to prevent accidental ingestion.


Open Communication

If your children are old enough, have open and honest discussions about cannabis. Explain why you use it, and the importance of waiting until they're of legal age and their brains are more fully developed.


Prioritize Parenting

Ensure your cannabis use does not interfere with your parenting responsibilities. Your ability to provide a safe and nurturing environment should always come first.

Potential Long-Term Effects of Parental Cannabis Use on Children

The long-term effects of parental cannabis use on children are not fully understood and more research is needed in this area. However, some potential concerns include:

  1. Normalization of Substance Use: Regular exposure to parental cannabis use may normalize substance use for children, potentially leading to earlier initiation of substance use, as shared above.
  2. Impaired Parenting: High levels of cannabis use may impair parenting abilities, potentially leading to neglect or inconsistent parenting [6].
  3. Psychosocial Impact: Children of parents who use cannabis may face stigma or bullying, which could impact their social development and mental health.

Resources and Support

Navigating parenthood while using cannabis can present unique challenges. It’s important to have access to resources and communities that can provide support, guidance, and education. In this article, we’ll explore the resources available for parents who use cannabis, the potential support groups or communities, and ways to further educate oneself about safe and responsible cannabis use.

Navigating Challenges

In today’s society, cannabis use is becoming more accepted in many parts of the world. However, it can still be a sensitive topic for parents to discuss with peers, and users may face criticism or judgment. Additionally, like any substance, cannabis use can become problematic if not managed properly. Here, we’ll address these concerns and provide some guidance.

Handling Criticism or Judgment About Cannabis Use
  1. Educate Yourself and Others: Knowledge is power. Understand the benefits and potential risks of cannabis use. This will not only help you make informed decisions but also allow you to educate others who may have misconceptions [2].
  2. Open Dialogue: Engage in open and respectful conversations with those who criticize or judge your cannabis use. Explain your reasons and the precautions you’re taking to ensure responsible use.
  3. Seek Support: Surround yourself with people who understand and support your choices. This could be friends, family, or support groups of cannabis users who can provide advice and empathy.
Addressing Potential Cannabis Use Problems
  1. Self-awareness: Regularly assess your cannabis use. Are you using more than intended? Is it affecting your work, relationships, or health? If yes, it might be time to reassess your usage.
  2. Seek Professional Help: If you feel your cannabis use is becoming a problem, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Therapists, counselors, and addiction specialists can provide strategies and resources to help you regain control.
  3. Set Boundaries: Establish clear boundaries for your cannabis use. This could be certain times of the day, specific situations such as when you are out of view of your children, or limiting the amount you use.
Balancing Personal Needs and Parental Responsibilities
  1. Prioritize Your Responsibilities: Your responsibilities as a parent should always come first. Ensure your cannabis use does not interfere with your ability to provide a safe and nurturing environment for your children.
  2. Set a Good Example: Children often emulate the behaviors they see. Use this as an opportunity to teach them about responsible substance use and the importance of moderation. If your children are old enough, have open and honest discussions about cannabis.
  3. Keep Cannabis Out of Reach: We really want to drive this point home. Just like any other adult substance, ensure your cannabis is stored safely out of the reach of children.

Legal Repercussions

Even if you are a parent using cannabis responsibly in a state where it is legal, there could still be unanticipated legal consequences. For example, hospitals sometimes need to run routine tests on newborns and can screen for THC.

In an unsettling case from Arizona, a woman named only as Lindsay R. had used a medical marijuana prescription to treat hyperemesis gravidarum when traditional pharmaceuticals didn’t work for her [5]. Upon finding THC in her newborn’s blood, her hospital alerted Arizona’s Department of Child Safety, who put her on its child abuse and neglect registry.. With the help of many advocates the decision was reversed in 2022, but it still stands as a cautionary tale.

Another legal gray zone for parents is child custody. Family law practitioners have noted the disparity between the broad legalization of cannabis state-wide and more specific legislation regarding what kind of use constitutes abuse in cases of child custody [6]. Sometimes the specific sympathies and openness of a judge can impact whether they are going to see responsible cannabis use on par with a parent having a beer or wine after work, or not.

Judges have a lot of discretion in any case where there are children involved — they’re going to look at the mental and physical case of a parent who has a medical marijuana card. What gave rise to having to get one? What’s the dose? And how impaired are they by taking the drug? Those are some of the factors.

Stacy Rocheleau, Las Vegas Divorce Attorney
Stacy Rocheleau, Las Vegas Divorce Attorney

Slowly, states are catching up. The Superior Court of New Jersey has recently ruled that a parent’s cannabis use cannot be the sole ground for removing custody rights [8]. Still, family lawyers in other states emphasize the need for safe and responsible cannabis use by parents and warn that co-parents may still try to evoke an ex-partner’s cannabis usage as evidence against them [6].

Seeking Help

Taking good care of your children involves taking good care of yourself and reaching out for help when you need it. Recognizing the need for professional help with cannabis use can be a significant step towards healthier habits. It’s important to understand the signs that may indicate a need for assistance and the steps you can take if you decide to seek help.

Signs That You Might Need Professional Help for Your Cannabis Use
  1. Feeling Very Emotional: If you find yourself experiencing heightened emotions or mood swings, this could be a sign that your cannabis use is affecting your emotional health [4].
  2. Developing Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms: Using cannabis to cope with stress, anxiety, or other issues can become problematic if it’s your only coping mechanism or if it’s causing harm in other areas of your life [4].
  3. Intrusive Thoughts and Overthinking: If you find yourself constantly thinking about using cannabis or if it’s becoming a central focus in your life, this could be a sign of a problem [3].
  4. Extreme Exhaustion/Lethargy: If you’re feeling constantly tired or lacking energy, and this is affecting your ability to function in your daily life, it might be time to seek help [4].
Steps to Take If You Decide You Need Help with Your Cannabis Use
  1. Acknowledge the Problem: The first step in seeking help is acknowledging that there’s a problem. This can be a difficult step, but it’s crucial for moving forward.
  2. Reach Out to Trusted Individuals: Share your concerns with trusted friends or family members. They can provide support and encouragement as you navigate this process.
  3. Seek Professional Help: Reach out to a healthcare provider, a counselor, or a mental health professional. They can provide guidance, resources, and treatment options tailored to your situation.
  4. Explore Treatment Options: There are various treatment options available, including therapy, support groups, and in some cases, medication. Your healthcare provider can help you explore these options and choose the one that’s best for you.
  5. Develop a Plan: Work with your healthcare provider to develop a plan for reducing or stopping your cannabis use. This plan should be realistic, achievable, and tailored to your needs.


Parenting is a journey and there is no singular “right” way to parent. That said, there are many ways your behavior can negatively impact your children and it is this that any parent should seek to minimize. It is yet to be seen if there are any increased adverse effects of parental usage of cannabis as compared to alcohol and tobacco. As with those substances, it is wise to use them responsibly and be clear with your children about why you use them and what the risks are. With increased acceptance across society, hopefully the remaining stress and stigma of using cannabis as a parent will subside and people will be able to make informed decisions free from judgment.


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