Many a meme has been made about “wine moms”—mothers who joke online about their love for a relaxing glass of cabernet, or three. But a new drug is gaining popularity with the playgroup circuit. As it becomes more socially acceptable, more moms are using marijuana and its various incarnations to deal with everything from the daily aches and stresses of motherhood, to postpartum depression and anxiety, to menstrual cramps. And forget the simple bongs and pipes of the past; as the industry expands, it’s creating a whole new world of sprays, drinks, drops, and oils. The needs of this market of marijuana-friendly mothers have inspired a new crop of cannabis products.
In her recent High Times article, Jessica Delfino discusses the changing social attitudes toward motherhood and marijuana: “Mothers and women who use medical marijuana…are often put into a position in which they feel they have to explain themselves and what their condition is, and then steel themselves for the judgment that will inevitably follow,” she writes.
But also, Delfino tells me: “I think cannabis use in moms is becoming more widespread because it’s becoming more legal, and so people feel more willing and able to discuss it.”
Adam Grossman, the CEO of the cannabis company Papa and Barkley, has also noticed a burgeoning interest in marijuana from moms. “In the last month alone, we have seen the emergence of cannabis-and-parenthood workshops, new ‘parenting and cannabis’ publications like Splimm, and Facebook groups,” he says. “More and more parents are starting to have the conversation about cannabis and breastfeeding, cannabis and pregnancy, and cannabis and parenting.”
But according to those in the pot industry, one new product in particular is spreading fast in mom circles: sublingual spray, a convenient, THC-infused ingestible liquid.
Once you spritz the liquid under your tongue, it activates quickly (within 60 seconds), it’s hard to overdo, and the high doesn’t last very long, says Leslie Siu, the CMO and cofounder of cannabis company Mother and Clone. “After a minute you’ll start to feel this uplifting euphoric feeling, almost like a gentle rush,” Siu says of her sublingual nano-sprays. (Nano-sprays are a form of microdosing—Mother and Clone bottles deliver a metered dose of the drug.) By the five-minute mark, she says, you’ll know just how strong the effects will be for the next hour and you can decide to re-up and spray some more—in the industry this is called “stacking.”
Siu was moved to start Mother and Clone after she experienced postpartum depression. “Everything felt dark,” she recalls of that first “ominous” year after having her daughter Veda. Siu started searching for ways to ease the overwhelming, stressful feelings she was having. “Then a few things happened that got me back on track,” Siu says. “Time, therapy, running, and weed.”
Siu wanted to create a cannabis product that would be easy and safe for mothers in similar situations to use, and she landed on sublingual sprays. Because it’s easier to control the dose with sublingual spray, Siu says that it’s ideal for parents (her products also have child-resistant bottles). The sprays can also help with sleep, she says. “A lot of [postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety] sufferers develop terrible insomnia even if the baby starts to sleep through the night.”
Although they are ingestible, sublingual sprays are a gentler and more predictable experience than edibles. Edibles are more potent, and factors such as meal size and metabolism can make dosing with them unpredictable. A public-education campaign in Colorado (where Mother and Clone is based, and marijuana is legal) from the Marijuana Policy Project has a slogan for edibles: Start low and go slow.
When someone eats a brownie, candy, or other edible laced with marijuana, the cannabis is metabolized in the liver. Enzymes in the liver turn the active compound in cannabis, delta-9-THC, into the more psychedelic compound 11-hydroxy-THC. With sublingual spray, 11-hydroxy-THC is not a factor; you’re only ingesting delta-9-THC because the drug is absorbed into the bloodstream under the tongue and doesn’t get processed by the liver. “This is more like a Xanax,” explains Siu. “It leaves you very clearheaded, you’re able to stay productive, and you don’t feel guilty or irresponsible around your kids.”
Siu says she doesn’t think it’s possible to go overboard with her sprays. “I took 30 times the recommended dose as an experiment once,” she says, “and it still only lasted just over an hour and I didn’t feel paranoid or weirded out.” Uma Dhanabalan, a physician and cannabis-therapeutics specialist, agrees that it’s difficult to take too much sublingual spray. Since you can feel the effects immediately, it’s easy to tell when you’ve had enough. “The worst thing that can happen is you may feel overwhelmed,” she says. “Nausea, vomiting, paranoia, anxiety. These are symptoms of overconsumption. You cannot die.”