image of mom on couch with children running around and weed in background
Image by Denzel Boyd for COURIER.

It should not be controversial for moms like me to admit we smoke weed. Instead, it should start a conversation—in a country with no universal health care that disproportionately burdens us with child care—about why.

During the first few weeks of the pandemic, I summoned all my creativity and optimism. “I got this,” I mumbled to myself throughout the day. I took my young daughters out for walks and bike rides nearly every morning. We did yoga at home, baked scones, and made flatbread. They painted and did Zumba for kids on YouTube. Once my kids went to bed, I tried to research, write, and pitch stories, but I got mostly rejections. Budgets had been cut, editors were being pickier with their commissions, and entire publications were being shut down. In the midst of the stress and rejections, it was weed that saved my sanity. 

At the end of April, my anxiety went from a five to a nine. It was clear that the end of the pandemic was nowhere in sight, and we all were going to be spending months more at home. My already dwindling well of optimism dried up; I felt my mental health slip away from me. I was irritable and anxious—tired and wired all at the same time. I recognized this deadly combo of lethargy and pessimism, fury, and misanthropy. After the birth of my first daughter, I had fallen into a two-year, misdiagnosed postpartum depression that left me struggling to get through the days and find meaning in life and a way to cope with its suffering. It was this experience during the past 10 months that led me to come out of the mom weed closet and encourage other mothers to do the same. 

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It was the weed that got me through the worst part of the postpartum depression as well as the worst part of this pandemic. The banality of life at home all day with my immediate family, all the added domestic work and teaching layered on top of the income earning work—it was all too much. Like many people, I turned to baked goods instead of breakdowns. But, I also turned to Mary Jane instead of digital therapy sessions I couldn’t afford and anti-depressants that I’ve tried but unfortunately never worked for me. Marijuana helped me be more like Ms. Honey than Ms. Trunchbull (on most days). In spite of my depression and anxiety, it helped me find the will to take out the barnyard puzzle for the hundredth time.

And I wasn’t the only one who turned to weed during these past 10 months. In Colorado, marijuana sales went through the roof as soon as the crisis began. At the federal level, the House is trying to make it more accessible and less stigmatized, which has major implications for the Black Lives Matter movement and feminist movements. At the beginning of December, the House voted to legalize marijuana federally. The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act would directly affect communities hit hardest over the decades by the war on drugs, namely Black people and Latinos, by expunging federal records of prior federal marijuana convictions and place a federal tax on the substance to fund programs for those same communities. Now that Democrats control both the House and the Senate, the bill might even stand a chance in front of President Joe Biden.

In the aftermath of the election, pandemic, and civil unrest across the nation, society has been forced to contemplate many difficult realities—including the vast racial and social discrepancies that directly affect access to health care, poverty, job loss, child-rearing, and unpaid domestic work. Unfortunately for women and people of color, society still views marijuana consumption largely through the lens of patriarchy and racism. Its prohibition has kept Black people and Latinos locked up in disproportionate amounts compared to their white counterparts, even though those communities use marijuana at the same rates as white people, even in states where marijuana is legal. Women of color who use cannabis or illegal substances are also much more likely to lose their children than white mothers. I have always understood that prohibitionism was inextricably linked with feminism and racial justice, but this year that lesson hit home a lot harder for a myriad of reasons including the pandemic and the massive women’s and BLM social justice movements that we saw across the world. 

I won’t end this and say that I had all this special bonding time with my family because that’s simply not true; I’ve spent most of the past 10 months running away from my kids in my three-bedroom apartment. But my herb did help me take a step back and focus on my two very young daughters when I needed to. It also helped me feel less guilty about turning on My Little Pony for seven-hour stretches and dedicating that time to self-care and trying to work. Weed helped me expand my consciousness to react less and be more patient, creative, deliberate, and present during a remarkably difficult time—and that means it made me a better mother. 

As we round the corner of an incredibly bad year and settle into the beginning of a new one, coming out of the mom weed closet for me is much more than just an admission to a society that rejects my choices and judges me harshly for them. It’s me smashing the patriarchy and racist structures that perpetuate social inequality—something I plan to do much more of in 2021 and beyond.  

READ MORE: America’s Mental Health Crisis Is Exploding During the Coronavirus Pandemic