Cannabis is becoming increasingly accepted in mainstream society, but there’s still a long way to go. Case in point: parents who use cannabis. Some think that it may be acceptable for people with no children or parents with adult children to use cannabis, but these same people may also believe that it’s definitely not okay for parents of children under 18 years old to do the same. You are probably not shocked that we disagree with this sentiment!

We Get It

In some sense, this concern regarding parents using cannabis is understandable. Parents of children under 18 years old are responsible for their kids, not just themselves. Therefore, the argument may be made that parents should not be using cannabis because it makes them unable to properly care for their children. Specifically, there may be concerns about the side effects of THC that would make adequate parenting (particularly in an emergency situation) difficult to perform.

Inconsistent Standards

However, there are at least two major problems with this argument. The first is a problem of inconsistency. If the standard for parenting is alert sobriety, being ready to jump to your child’s need at a moment’s notice, then parents should definitely heave the following substances out of the nearest window:

  1. Alcoholic beverages.

  2. Prescription or over the counter drugs with side effects (drowsiness, depression, irritability, nausea, etc.) that affect daily functionality. 

  3. Any other substances that, when consumed, makes you drowsy, unfocused, or unable to function at 100%. 

See the problem? We don’t ask parents to abstain from these types of substances — we ask them to be responsible with them. The same should be done with cannabis, according to guidelines for responsible use and an overall desire for cannabis use to help you feel well, not high.

Functional Cannabis Use

A second problem with the argument against parents using cannabis is that many cannabis users want their use to allow them to be functional, rather than being high to the point of couchlock or deep paranoia. To further investigate this point, let’s dive into New Frontier Data’s recent report, “Understanding Fathers Who Consume Cannabis.” In their recent survey of over 3,000 cannabis users, a few high-level trends indicate a pattern of use among fathers of children under 18 that is quite different from men with no children or adult children.

“Fathers of kids under 18 consume cannabis in more forms, compared to other males.”

Whether they are using vaporizers, edibles, beverages, dabs, topicals, tinctures, or pills, fathers of kids under 18 definitely seem to be exploring their options! But what’s the significance of using cannabis in these forms, rather than the more common methods like joints, blunts, or pipes? For starters, nearly all of these alternative forms of cannabis consumption allow people to control their doses with a lot more precision than simply smoking flower. Edibles (or anything clearly labeled with how much THC one “serving” contains), are a far more reliable way to predict the effect of cannabis use, compared to taking a few pulls of a joint and hoping for the best. 

“Fathers of kids under 18 are more likely to consume cannabis alone than are fathers of adults or childless men.”

This is just a theory, but it is reasonable to assume that people consuming cannabis alone (including fathers of kids under 18) are more likely to be using it for a practical, medical reason than other users. Indeed, 34 percent of survey respondents who are fathers of children under 18 years old reported that their cannabis use was either “only medical” or “primarily medical.” Only 27 percent of men without children and 25 percent of fathers of adult children reported this same purpose for their use. 

The same pattern holds when assessing those who self-report as recreational users: 65 percent of fathers of children under 18 reported having cannabis use that was either “only recreational” or “primarily recreational.” This is a lower percentage than men without children (73 percent) or fathers with adult children (75 percent). The main takeaway from these data is that fathers of kids under 18 seem to be more likely to use cannabis alone and for a medical reason, compared to other men who are using it with other people recreationally. 

“Fathers of kids under 18 consume more frequently than either those with adult children or men without kids.” 

At first glance, this might seem to indicate that these men are bigger “stoners” than the other groups of men; 75 percent of men with kids under 18 report weekly use, compared to 46 percent of men with adult children or 62 percent of men without kids. However, this could also further substantiate the idea that these men are regularly and purposely using cannabis, perhaps in smaller, more functional doses compared to their counterparts. Sure enough, these data do not indicate that more frequent use is positively correlated with higher doses and lower functionality — for all we know, the opposite may be true! 

Overall, we have some interesting data indicating that fathers of children under 18 should not be so quickly dismissed as irresponsible or incapable of keeping their kids safe. Indeed, we may be seeing an increasingly clear picture of what responsible, purposeful, and socially acceptable cannabis use looks like in a country recovering from decades of demonizing cannabis prohibition.