How I Became My Child’s Drug Dealer
By Julia Bailey
Before you report me, let me explain . . .
When my daughter went off to college, her anxiety, which she had been managing well for years, erupted like a mushroom cloud. I was proud of her for facing it head on by visiting the student health center, updating her anxiety treatment, trying acupuncture, doing yoga, and finally, keeping a stash of weed at the ready. She explained to me how it helped when she felt panic attacks coming on, and for unwinding after classes and studying were done for the day. Also, let’s be honest, marijuana came in handy for partying and hanging out with friends.
They’re saying now that anxiety is an epidemic with children, especially when they leave the nest. Studies show that campus rates of moderate to severe anxiety rose from 17.9% in 2013 to 34.4% in 2018. Do we blame screens? Social media? Increased scheduling and competition? Overparenting? I say probably all of the above. It’s a crazy, crazy world they are growing up in, and thanks to hyper-connectivity, they know all about it in real-time. For my daughter, her anxiety symptoms have always been linked with her ADHD. Weed helped her with that too.
When I found out how much she was relying on cannabis for anxiety, and how much she said it was helping her, I decided to learn more about this stuff I grew up thinking was just plain wrong. Luckily, I have a friend and neighbor who is a cannabis expert and soon-to-be-published author on the subject. Penny grows towering cannabis plants in her lovely, little backyard and makes her own tinctures, salves, and teas from the harvest. She and her business partner, Kaisha, a cannabis writer and historian, host workshops in the East Bay. That’s where my education began.
At one of their Let’s Sesh Workshops, I learned about the long history of cannabis, the criminalization, the legal aspects today, but my biggest take-way was that cannabis truly is a medicine, and my daughter’s self-medication with it is a good thing. Well, mostly a good thing. She was buying it from a friend she trusted but still had no idea what was in it and where it came from, and she probably wasn’t using the cannabis strain that could really help her.
Most people have heard about Indica and Sativa. Indica is the short, bushy, sturdy plant with wide leaves that treats things like insomnia, chronic pain, anxiety symptoms, and loss of appetite. Sativa is the taller, tree-like plant with thin leaves that is stimulating, increases creativity, lack of focus, depression, and fatigue. These two monikers are broad strokes and some say dubious distinctions. Penny broke down the science even more. We got into the cannabinoids and terpenes in a very granular way.
In short, the most common cannabinoids are THC, which get you “high” and usually is invited to the party. Then there is CBD, which is used for the health and therapeutic benefits and is getting prescribed more and more these days. My parents are even talking about CBD. The truth is that THC and CBD work really well together, synergistically, like ying and yang. At a dispensary, look for a 1:1 ratio to find this pairing. When looking for cannabis products and strains, it’s all about the ratios:
0:1—All THC, no CBD, so likely to intoxicate and cause euphoria.
1:1—Calming, effective for pain, sleep, and inflammation. Excellent all-purpose help.
1:0—All CBD, no THC. Anti-anxiety. Zero high.
So my daughter was probably using 0:1 off the street or something close to that, even though she would get better and more long-lasting results from something in the 1:1 to 1:0 range. The only way to really know is to go to a reputable dispensary. Even getting CBD at your local pharmacy isn’t a good idea because it’s not currently regulated. So after the workshop, we all went on a “field trip” to ECO (Equity|Cannabis|Oakland) where a friendly and knowledgeable “Budtender” helped me pick out my daughter’s birthday present. Also, I may have picked up a few goodies for myself as well.
I’m not suggesting you all go out and buy weed for young kiddos. It’s not good for developing brains. However, I would recommend that you talk to your children about the real facts about marijuana before they head off into the world. Packing a tincture, tea, balm, or even some CBD-rich pre-rolls in their duffel before you drop them off at the dorm will not make you a bad parent, just a realistic and well-informed one.
My daughter was thrilled with her gifts, and after a few weeks, she let me know how much the CBD Selfies were helping and asked for more. I took the opportunity to tell her more about what I have been learning and recommended a CBD/THCA tincture for her to try and she said, “Never thought the day would come when you know more about this stuff than me.”
So, you know, technically I AM her drug dealer, but I prefer to look at it as me trying to provide another safe and effective medical solution for her anxiety.