Although she notes we don’t yet know the long-term effects of cannabis on women’s health, McIlvaine-Newsad also believes the persistent focus on negative effects of cannabis is a political holdover from cannabis prohibition, rather than the product of legitimate medical concerns. “As long as society at large and politicians in general continue to hold the belief that cannabis is bad, then those are the kinds of questions that science will ask,” she stresses. “Not ones like, ‘Can cannabis be used to effectively manage postpartum depression?’”
Different communities have different levels of stigma around parents using cannabis, even in countries and states in which cannabis is legalised. McIlvaine-Newsad says the social acceptability of mothers using cannabis depends on where a mum is located – whether in a specific US state, the country writ large or in the world. The legality of cannabis plays an obvious role in its social acceptability, though even in places where it is legal, McIlvaine-Newsad stresses “it depends on your socioeconomic status, on the educational status of the community that you live in, and the political status”.
In countries in which cannabis is now legal, a combination of research and legalisation has somewhat helped shift societal perceptions of cannabis – especially from where it was decades ago, when it was erroneously believed to be as dangerous as illicit drugs including cocaine and heroin, while offering no medical or societal benefit.
But, again, we still don’t have a full picture of the risks of cannabinoids and recreational cannabis use – microdosing or otherwise. As a result, for many, cannabis use still stays counterculture, rather than mainstream. Regardless, as McIlvaine-Newsad says, parents are continuing to use cannabis. As an increasing number of US states and countries across the globe make some steps toward adult cannabis legalisation – however slowly – the cannamom movement seems poised to grow.
McIlvaine-Newsad says generational attitudes are beginning to shift across the board – some of her students even report their grandparents using cannabis. She believes this generational easing has occurred at precisely the right time to serve the burgeoning cannamom movement. She also believes younger generations are less judgemental, so, since the “cannamom demographic is slightly younger”, McIlvaine-Newsad believes the “fluid” views of millennials and Gen Zers will help shake off some stigma.
“Lots and lots more women are coming out of the green closet,” agrees Brand.
Thomas believes her sceptical neighbours should get used to the fact that many people around them are already consuming cannabis, across all demographics – something she’s seen first-hand as the owner of a dispensary.
“People would be shocked by the diversity in ages, the diversity in race and the diversity in occupation,” she says. “There are quite a few stay-at-home moms who are consumers, and that’s more than OK. I pray that we get to a place very soon where we can have canna-mom nights – let the older kids watch the younger kids and we can just relax and have a good time.”
(Image credit: Courtesy of Danielle Simone Brand)