Moms working in the pot industry band together

From left, Jay Mills, Chanda Macias, Shawnta Hopkins-Greene and Jennifer Culpepper meet regularly to talk about how they should discuss marijuana with their kids.
From left, Jay Mills, Chanda Macias, Shawnta Hopkins-Greene and Jennifer Culpepper meet regularly to talk about how they should discuss marijuana with their kids.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Before Chanda Macias drops her 6-year-old son off at school, she spritzes some Febreze on herself. If anyone sniffs a trace of marijuana on her, the mother of four worries she would be labelled an unfit parent — or at least a mother unfit to host play dates.

Macias, a former cell biology specialist at Howard University, left her job last year to foray into Washington, D.C.’s nascent pot industry and open a medical marijuana dispensary. Her business is legal, but the stigma has her questioning how to discuss her profession with her children.

In the male-dominated industry, there are few mothers she can turn to. Macias connected with other moms in the local marijuana business, forming a support group to navigate child-rearing in the murky age of legalization.

The four mothers meet every other month or so and regularly call each other with questions ranging from how to avoid glorifying marijuana to stashing pot-related possessions during play dates.

The parents say they are proud of their professions, but don’t want their children to be inundated with marijuana talk — or be judged at school by adults and children who disapprove of their parents’ work. Three of the mothers live in Maryland, where recreational marijuana use is illegal, and say they are not cannabis users.

“I have a PhD and MBA, but I know if I pick him up smelling like marijuana, everyone will ask him, ‘What does your mom do?’” Macias said about her 6-year-old son, as she sat with other mothers during a recent gathering. She owns the National Holistic Healing Center in Washington, the group’s meeting place.

Chanda Macias displays products at the National Holistic Healing Center.
Chanda Macias displays products at the National Holistic Healing Center.

“Oh, the dreaded occupation question,” said Shawnta Hopkins-Greene, chief executive of CannX, a D.C. medical marijuana consulting company. “I always just say I’m an entrepreneur.”

Medical marijuana was legalized in D.C. in 2013. Recreational pot became legal in February 2015 after 70 per cent of D.C. residents backed a ballot measure that legalized growing and possessing small amounts of marijuana. But because of congressional meddling, it’s not legal to buy or sell the drug.

Maryland legalized medical marijuana three years ago, but the program remains in the early stages of making the drug available to patients.

The drug, however, is still illegal in the eyes of the federal government.

“Having kids while we’re in this industry is kind of taboo,” said Macias, who lives in Fort Washington, Md.

The mothers have different philosophies on broaching the topic with their kids. With her youngest, age 6, Macias refers to marijuana as medicine, and tells him “marijuana” is an inappropriate word to use.

Macias and her husband, who also works at the dispensary, categorize some marijuana-related words alongside curse words. Banned words include “dispensary” and “pre-roll,” as in a pre-rolled joint that is sold at the business here. Her young son thinks she works at a pharmacy.

Her concerns are practical. She doesn’t want his classmates or teachers to think she is a drug dealer or that she uses marijuana in front of him. A first-grader could have trouble distinguishing in conversation that his mother doesn’t sell marijuana to everyone — only to those with a medical marijuana licence.

“He knows it as the medicine,” Macias said. “So when he has a cold, he’s like, ‘Mom, do I need the medicine?’ And I say, ‘No, no, you need a cough drop.’”

Hopkins-Greene, of Columbia, Md., said her 10-year-old son knows about the drug and its controversies, and she tries to answer his questions in age-appropriate ways.

Jay Mills, who lives in Washington, teaches classes on how to cook edibles and grow marijuana. She gardens at home with her 3-year-old son and he helps with the tomato, onion and, yes, marijuana plants. As he grows older, she plans to be transparent. But there are boundaries: his friends who come over can’t see the marijuana plant.

Jennifer Culpepper, of Annapolis, Md., still isn’t sure how she wants to discuss her new profession with her 7- and 9-year-old children. They haven’t asked questions, so she hasn’t said much. Culpepper, a branding and market consultant, recently started a second company, Brand Joint, which focuses on branding marijuana-related products.

“I’m still developing how I want to handle it with my kids, and for me, it’s key to hear from other mothers,” Culpepper said.

Her daughter once had a school assignment to write a business letter and tried to write it on “Brand Joint” letterhead. Culpepper swapped it.

What's Your Reaction?
Cute Cute
Buzz Buzz
Geeky Geeky
Win Win
Angry Angry
Fail Fail
Love Love

log in

reset password

Back to
log in