I recently had an enlightening conversation with Kaycee Lei Cuesta, creator of The Cannavist Mom. She has cultivated a dynamic community of mothers who choose cannabis, and even appeared on the “Today” show to explain her perspective and break down some of the stigma that so many cannabis consumers — especiallyparents— still endure. Read on to learn more about her mission, experiences and my favorite organization of hers, Cannavist Moms After Dark.
Ashley Manta: What is The Cannavist Mom — what’s your mission, and how do people access your community?
Kaycee Lei Cuesta: The Cannavist Mom is a passion project I started around five years ago. I found cannabis at the age of 24. I spent the first 24 years of my life sadly miseducated and judging those who chose cannabis for whatever reason. All of the sudden I was a mom discovering cannabis for chronic pain. When I realized that I probably wasn’t the only mom looking for information or hiding in the closet with their cannabis plants, I decided that I would give back to the plant that gave me a second chance at a normal, healthier life. I’m an advocate for cannabis-choosing moms. The idea of mothers “smoking pot” is seen as neglectful and dangerous for our children to the uneducated/judgmental eye. I started The Cannavist Mom as a resource for these moms who felt alone, like me. We have a Facebook group named Cannavistmoms Club with almost 15,000 cannabis-choosing moms.
How did your life change after being on the “Today” show last year? Is there anything you know now that you wish you knew then?
It got very crazy very quickly. I have had one visit from CPS [Child Protective Services] since starting The Cannavist Mom. As a child, I grew up in foster care because my parents were addicted to actual drugs. That [CPS visit] was the hardest day of my life. My children were questioned, my home was inspected. It was all over in two hours. I was a fit mother, there was no neglect in my home. I was a legal cannabis patient in the state of California. There were thousands of people calling me a terrible mother across the U.S. But, for every bad comment, there was a member of the cannabis community there to defend me and this plant, sometimes even a fellow mom! We rallied those moms to Cannavistmoms Club! We have created such a great space for moms to be themselves. I know you have heard a horror story or two about a mom group on Facebook … but what if those moms were just like you? When the interview aired, I held my breath for a while, scared, but I have been repeatedly reassured that it was desperately needed. Moms are thriving with cannabis, and some gained the courage they needed from that segment to share that [part of themselves] with the world.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions about moms, parenting and cannabis?
[That we’re]lazy, dangerous, neglectful, selfish — if you name it, this mom has heard it! I think, first off, people outside of our community don’t account for tolerance. Just because they may have smoked a joint five years ago and slept for 24 hours doesn’t mean [when I smoke] I forget to pick my kids up from school or how to be a responsible parent. Right now, we are focusing on cannabis consumption through pregnancy and breastfeeding. We have moms who live with diagnoses like bipolar disorder, which doesn’t just go away when you get pregnant. The side effects of the typical prescriptions for these conditions are intense, even outside of pregnancy. Cannabis is a safe option for both mom and baby. Through sharing our own stories of healthy, happy pregnancies and babies, new moms are learning that cannabis as a viable option medicinally during these times.
Tell me about Cannavist Moms After Dark, and how that community has developed. Why it was important to have a space that was distinct from The Cannavist Moms community?
Sometimes it’s hard to step out of the mom role and [have] moments of pleasure. I felt we needed a space where the “mom” falls away for a moment, and pleasure is the most important thing in that moment. We created a safe space for moms to share, educate and support each other in all things sex and relationships. Moms wanting to explore more things, but would never think about asking for advice from that one “mom group,” because we have zero tolerance on judgment there. We fully support the LGBTQA+ community and all things fetish. This is a sexy group! We have some of the most amazingly supportive ladies, and it comes completely judgment-free … smoking hot, too! We have moms post things like, “I sent my significant other this picture, I thought I looked super sexy, and all he said was ‘NICE!’” What we say to those moms is, POST THEM HERE! We will appreciate them if he won’t!
What’s next for The Cannavist Mom in 2019 and beyond?
My hopes for 2019 and beyond are to move these spaces outside of social media, as well as continuing to aid in ending the [cannabis] stigma. My story with CPS isn’t the same story for all moms across the U.S. Especially when it comes to choosing cannabis during pregnancy. Moms are met in the delivery rooms with CPS and put through the ringer for absolutely nothing. My hopes are, the more moms we bring together, the more support they will feel in their decision to share with the people in their lives why they chose cannabis. If we have an army of moms banding together, saying, “Cannabis is a legitimate option helping mothers and fathers medically, as well as giving them a safer way to wind down recreationally,” they just might listen.