Article by Sam Riches, Growth Op
Jess Moran’s son recently raised a question while they were out for a drive.
Moran, a mother of two, has been working in the cannabis industry for about seven years and her son, 11, had some information to share.
“Did you know that some people, like, don’t like weed?” he asked.
Moran laughs recalling the moment but it’s a glimpse into a generation who are growing up in a world of legal pot and are curious about everything, including a plant that was prohibited until only recently.
Moran says that by the nature of her work — she is the founder and principal of JESSCO, a cannabis marketing and communications consultancy — cannabis has been openly discussed in her household for a long time. “What’s interesting about that, is they have no stigma,” Moran says.
Moran’s daughter, 13, is on the autism spectrum and uses CBD to manage some of her symptoms. Because of that, the medical aspect of cannabis is often front and centre in discussions about the plant, Moran says.
“I’ve always taken the stance that I am intelligent about it and I’m integrated into the industry, so I’ll give them the real facts,” she says.
As her kids grow older, Moran says they are increasingly interested in the history and different perceptions of cannabis. When 4/20 occurred last month, they asked about the origin of the date and what it represents. So they talked about it.
Knowing that memes and other Internet ephemera are easily available to kids and are also unlikely to provide accurate information or insight, Moran felt it was better to talk about it in the moment, rather than attempt to fill in the gaps later.
“I personally think the more taboo you make it, kids can sense that. And they’ll seek out their own sources,” she says. “If there’s no context around it, then that would worry me.”
It’s a problem made worse by the fact that social media accounts that post informative and educational cannabis content are routinely deactivated. Having straightforward conversations can help counter that imbalance, Moran says. And so would resources aimed at youth and parents.
“Unfortunately, there’s not one educational resource for kids that I can point them to, to be honest. But I would also like to see more education for parents who want to broach the topic.”
Moran says there’s no magical age for having these types of conversations and, in a legal environment, kids are going to be introduced to the topic, by storefronts, advertisements, and conversations in their daily lives. The discussions that follow don’t need to be unnecessarily complicated, she adds.
“Parents generally know when the timing is right. The conversation for me has just been about it, you know, this is regulated, it is a substance that people can consume, and it’s appropriate for adults, and that’s really it.”
Lindsay Heymans, a mother of two and a budtender at Mihi cannabis, comes to the topic from a different angle.
Having worked in retail throughout the pandemic, Heymans has earned a nickname at the store.
“They call me the Clean Queen,” she laughs. “Keeping everybody safe is always, always, always top priority.”
By the time Heymans arrives at the store for its 10 a.m. opening, she’s usually dropped off her kids, both aged five, picked up her husband from his nightshift, and done a load of laundry or two.
She started working at Mihi last August and was hopeful that the pandemic would soon be over. Things didn’t work out that way, of course, but working through the pandemic has offered insight into how others use a substance that went from illegal to essential within less than two years.
“I definitely see us as essential. I understand that. It’s helped me in so many different ways and I can’t imagine my life being any other way,” she says.
A few years ago, Heymans was injured in a forklift accident at a previous job that left her with lingering back issues.
“It’s medicine for me,” she says, “and definitely essential in my life.” She adds that medical cannabis allowed her to stop taking opioid-based painkillers. And though, legally, as a budtender, she is not allowed to discuss the medical aspects of the plant with customers, her family knows how it benefits her.
“I feel very lucky that I can explain to my kids that this is mommy’s medicine. I grow it in my backyard. They see it. They know not to touch it. It’s freeing.”
As for having conversations about the plant with her kids, Heymans says the most important thing is to be open and honest.
“Honesty, I believe, is key. Kids are a lot wiser than we think they are.”