When I saw the photo come across my Facebook feed, I cringed. A young mom, sitting on the couch nursing a babe in arms, while simultaneously appearing to draw from a bong being lit by woman sitting next to her.
The best we can do
My first thought was for the safety of the baby. I don’t make it a habit to judge other moms. We know parenting is HARD, and most of us are doing the best we possibly can for those little people of ours at every moment. What works for one won’t work for all, and expectations that we conform to some conventional ideal of mothering do little except induce shame and dangle in front of us an unattainable perfection.
But when there’s a chance that a child is being endangered, we must draw a line. I’m not referring to the fact that this mom consumes cannabis postpartum. In fact, I am a staunch advocate for a woman’s right to body autonomy. I believe in the power of cannabis medicine and I believe that this incredibly benign plant does far more good than harm. Further, I haven’t seen any compelling scientific evidence (save for a few “studies” funded by the NIDA and others of their ilk) that indicates that a nursing mom’s cannabis consumption has a negative effect on the nursing child’s development.
Smoking while holding a baby, on the other hand, alarms me. We know that an infant’s lungs should not be exposed to smoke of any kind. And common sense should dictate that combustion so close to a baby’s head could also lead to trouble. There are safer ways to consume, and certainly more appropriate times and circumstances.
Secondary to the health and welfare of the child pictured, I worry about the way this image feeds into stereotypes and perpetuates the stigma around cannabis consumption. Prohibitionists drool in eager anticipation of posts like this because these photos make their case for them: “See! We told you stoners are irresponsible parents!” they shout from the rooftops. While I assert that legalization and regulation are better choices for our children for any number of reasons, drug warriors point to this and laugh. We cannot possibly push our cause – and our society – forward when these are the images etched in people’s minds.
Of course, this is why we started Splimm. Our primary aim is to offer resources and education for parents who choose cannabis. This includes encouragement and modeling of responsible consumption and responsible parenting first. We promote healthy habits, wellness, and informed decision-making because we believe the shift to a cannabis-enhanced society is one that will benefit us all. We prioritize our children and families and we’re confident our community does the same.
Splimm also strives to more accurately represent the diversity and breadth of the cannabis community in order to counteract the impact of pictures like this one. These images will always exist, and they’ll throw fuel on the prohibitionists’ fires. We’re telling a different story at Splimm, and we’re going to keep going until the world notices.
We’re all in this together
I hope this mom’s life is not ruined by her lapse in judgment. The response to her post has been scathing, and I imagine she’s feeling pretty isolated and ashamed right now. I hope she seeks out a community and resources that support her in making better choices for herself and her child. Splimm is here for you too, mama, and we welcome the opportunity to help you in your journey as a responsible and compassionate cannaparent.