Despite it being legal, stigma around cannabis – and those who use it – certainly aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. But one B.C. woman is hoping she can change the negative perceptions of weed-smoking moms, one website view at a time.
Shannon Chiarenza, a Vancouver mom of two, said she started weedmama.ca to act as a guide for newcomers to legal cannabis, specifically mothers who are interested in ditching the merlot for the versatile plant.
“My background is website design, but I’ve been a stay at home mom now for a few years,” she told Black Press Media. While living in the Kitsilano-Point Grey area, she said as a cannabis-user herself, she noticed quickly that other mothers seemed to be comfortable drinking wine, but smoking up was left for the dads.
“I never really figured out why – but then I felt it myself, as a mom – feeling that as a mother you have to hold up a higher standard than even dads, for some reason,” she said. “It’s not really a spoken thing, it’s a felt thing. It’s something we have in our own heads, in our own consciousness.”
Chiarenza herself admitted that she oftentimes hid her cannabis use from other parents at her children’s school to avoid criticism or judgment.
“You do kind of feel like you’re the bad mom,” she said. She quickly realized she wasn’t alone, as she connected with other moms and kicked off her Weed Mama project on social media.
“They hide it. They were embarrassed and they didn’t want to tell anyone and they had to hide it in shame. So I realized there was definitely a market or place for this kind of a thing where women can feel accepted for what they do and find other moms who do the same thing.”
Ironically, it was motherhood that reintroduced Chiarenza to cannabis.
“I had a very traumatizing birth with my son, and my first pregnancy was painful, too, and it left me with a lot of pain” she said.
After a six year hiatus, at the age of 41, Chiarenza decided to try vaping with her husband.
Despite being worried at first that it would trigger her anxiety, “it made me relax, but it took all the pain away,” she said.
From the basics like how to purchase pot to what it does to your body, as well as how it can help stomach pains or the top three “ahhhmazing ways to experience cannabis,” Chiarenza said she’s hoping her website she can educate people on safe use but also the positive culture.
There’s also a special section dedicated to cannabis’ benefits for women.
“For me, at least, this is one of the biggest areas that cannabis can help woman – for painful sex and menstruation and pain that comes after child birth – it can really help reduce that,” she said.
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Generalized anxiety/ panic disorder, that was my diagnosis when I was pregnant with my first child. Genetic in my case, I've had this since childhood. The worst anxiety I've ever felt was before I had children, triggered when I quit smoking. One year of the worst anxiety you can possibly imagine, with severe panic attacks lasting for weeks on end, the anxiety was so bad my body was wracked with intense physical pain. A few times I considered checking myself into the hospital. I could write a book about how anxiety has wreaked havoc on my life and all the things I've tried. In the past 20+ years I've tried everything in my desperation to overcome anxiety; I've taken medication, read dozens of self help books, spiritual books, philosophy books, brain science books, numerous anxiety "cure" programs, yoga, meditation, group therapy, group meditation, spiritual classes, reiki, tapping, body talk therapy, chakra cleansing, chanting, primal scream therapy, saw psychics, spiritual healers, shamans (I have stories) past life regression therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, watched numerous ted talks, attended numerous seminars, tried so many different supplements, cleanses and diets saw a therapist for several years, several doctors and acupuncture, and I'm sure I'm forgetting things. What finally worked was a combination of things I learned from my therapist, realizing anxiety can't really be cured but it can be trained to behave and, modern cannabis. CBD has allowed me to relax. It soothes and calms the anxiety. If you have anxiety issues, give CBD a try, it's safe and non psychoactive. There's many ways to take CBD including oil infusions that can be added to your morning coffee or smoothie. A good dose to start is around 25mg and adjust as needed. To get the whole plant therapy (entourage effect) take with a low dose of THC (less than 5mg) and/or use cannabis plant derived CBD rather than hemp. I've tried many brands and have been disappointed by many. I'm working on compiling a list of good ones, hope to have that soon, meanwhile if you use a brand you like please share it in the comments! (Pictured is a CBD vape pen by @culture_pens )
As Canada enters a new age of legal cannabis, Chiarenza said the culture will hopefully move away from negative connotations for those looking to take part, especially for moms.
“You can find things that are very sophisticated – there are connoisseurs… it’s not just this one-sided thing,” she said, pointing to those who use it as soft-medical relief for pain and other symptoms.
Since launching her website, Chiarenza said she’s received both support and concern, including one person who asked her if she thinks it’s wise to be be doing this as a mother and questioning her responsibility.
“This is exactly why a lot of moms don’t talk about using cannabis, because people still have this old-fashioned ideas about what it is, and modern cannabis is so much more than that and there is a lot of good science coming out about it now. My goal is to educate people so moms don’t feel that anymore, they can feel like they’re a good mom and can also do cannabis to unwind.”