The Birth of CannaMama Clinic

Isn't she beautiful!

I always knew I wanted to help people, but I didn’t know how best to go about it professionally. I knew I wanted my opinion to be recognized and taken seriously on an international level. I imagined myself as a political analyst, interviewed by media about my opinion on important topics. The truth is, I was in a heck of a rut. I had no clue what I was doing with my life. I graduated college three years ago, and needed to find a big girl job.

I think I started this blog to prove I could do it. I had online friends and bloggers, the owner of Breast Feeding Mama Talk, Kristy Kemp, and owner of Balancing the Blys, Daphney Bly, pushing me to write for the longest time. I had big, keyboard-warrior fingers, perfect for online activism, and a decent Facebook following from it. Why not use my social media skills and following, and hope for the best?

I never expected my article, CannaMamas Need the Freedom to Breastfeed, to receive the attention it did. I knew it was controversial when I published it, but I didn’t expect so many people to actually read it. People read my article, and women related. I got an awesome response from the people in my circle, and surprisingly little negative feedback in general, so I contacted the online publication Ladybud. Diane Fornbacher (fyi, she’s a badass power chick and cannabis activist) agreed to post my article. I remember she felt the story of discrimination against pregnant and breastfeeding cannabis consuming mothers needed to be told. I owe endless gratitude to Ms. Fornbacher for publishing my article, everything she has done for the movement, and continues to do.

Women began to contact me primarily through Facebook to ask me questions about cannabis use during pregnancy and breastfeeding. I spent hours communicating with strangers about their fears. Not surprisingly, most were afraid of the government and child protective services, not the negative side effects their cannabis consumption could have on their unborn children and nurslings. Quite the opposite, the testimony to the healing properties of cannabis grew abundant.

My husband, his grandmother, and I created CannaMama Clinic in the living room of his childhood home after a couple of weeks of me getting nothing else done but helping strangers. I couldn’t go on at that pace. I still needed to find a job, but I finally found what I wanted to do with my life! I finally found the way to help people and which people to focus my efforts on. I wanted to help these women. These cannamamas! I wanted to end cannabis discrimination against mothers, pregnant and breastfeeding included.

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I have been an activist as long as I can remember, before I knew what activism was. I went to college, and chose a major I believed ripened my adolescent, idealistic desire to change the world. My passions included diversity, lactavism, and feminism. I never really considered myself a “cannavist” (cannabis activist) until CannaMamas Need the Freedom to Breastfeed went viral even though I had consumed cannabis regularly, and much of the time daily, for almost twenty-one years and had PLENTY of experiences to wear the label proudly.

I used cannabis medicinally in 2004 while pregnant with my son. I suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum, and I credited cannabis for the relief I didn’t receive from zofran or phenergan. I credited cannabis for my son’s life, but still did not consider myself a cannavist. I was ashamed. I quit cannabis consumption at about seven months pregnant because I believed cannabis would interrupt the final stages of development. Although my doctors knew I chose to consume cannabis during my pregnancy, neither my baby nor I was drug tested upon delivery.

Even after my medicinal cannabis consumption for hyperemesis gravidarum, I still failed to understand the medicinal properties of cannabis. Reefer madness propaganda is deep, y’all. Afraid for my son’s health and burdened by the opinions people have of mothers that “smoke pot”, I did not resume consumption until my son was about six months old even though I suffered without the medicinal benefit of the plant. I actually fed my on-demand, breastfed baby pumped milk because of the guilt I felt which I now know, from experience and outcome, was an absolutely pointless and unnecessary disruption of our breastfeeding relationship. I bought into the lies told about breastfeeding and cannabis consumption: hook, line, and sinker.

By 2009, I was a partner at a dispensary, Medicinal Alternatives, and owner of an edibles brand, Mile High Medi-Munchies, in the state of Colorado during what is now known as the “Wild West” pre-regulation days. By 2011, regulations pushed me out along with many others. I never imagined another cannabis company in my future, and although I was an intern at the State Capitol, I was again too afraid to speak there about cannabis, my medical experiences, or my involvement in the budding Colorado cannabis industry. My cannabis activism peeked out through the occasional Facebook post to my friends. 

In 2013, I conceived my daughter. This pregnancy differed from my last pregnancy dramatically. Although still very ill and miserable (I am not the jolly pregnant woman) I knew better than to stop cannabis when I viewed the double pink line that indicated my new pregnancy. I finally had a much better understanding of the plant and its ability to heal. I consumed my entire pregnancy with my daughter until I went into labor. In hindsight, I wish I had brought edibles, tincture, or transdermal cannabis to the hospital for my recovery, but again, fear prevented me. I resumed cannabis consumption as soon as I returned home 2 days later.

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That same month, recreational cannabis became legal in my home state of Colorado. I have since learned regulated cannabis led to an increase of the testing of new mothers and their babies upon delivery. This time, my chart was flagged when I answered honestly about my medical choice. I tested positive for cannabis, and the hospital forced me to speak with one of their social workers before they would discharge us. I gave birth twice that week: to a child and a new passion for cannabis activism. I didn’t realize it yet, but no longer would I be afraid to speak about my choice to consume cannabis while pregnant and breastfeeding.

In June of 2014, I created a secret Facebook support group for moms like me because of my experiences in life and in online mommy, TTC (trying to conceive), and pregnancy groups. The cannamama shaming is REAL! I called my group Cannabis Consumption and Peaceful Parenting.

Although confident and with family support, I did not share my personal story outside of my Facebook group until I wrote my article, CannaMamas Need the Freedom to Breastfeed. After a couple months of reading posts by women with their rights violated in the moments that followed childbirth, their babies tested for cannabis without their consent, their families threatened by government agencies because of their medical choice, I could not remain silent. I felt compelled to share my story so common to cannamamas with the world.

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People often ask me what a cannamama is and how I came up with the name for my company. I chose to refer to the women that choose cannabis while pregnant and breastfeeding and throughout the duration of motherhood as “cannamamas” because my former favorite Facebook peaceful parent community called its members “opinionated mamas” and I continued to see myself as one of them only a proud cannabis consumer now. I had no idea at the time I was not the first to use the term. Silly me.

When my family and I decided to open the business, one of the first things we came up with was the name. We chose “CannaMama Clinic” because of my initial goal to educate the women that sought my help. People regularly mistake my business for a brick and mortar dispensary. I understand the confusion, but I don’t sell cannabis or products that contain THC. Cleverly, I recognized there is more than one meaning of the word and the marketing usefulness of the play on the word.

Merriam Webster, Full Definition of CLINIC
1
: a class of medical instruction in which patients are examined and discussed
2
: a group meeting devoted to the analysis and solution of concrete problems or to the acquiring of specific skills or knowledge <writing clinics> <golf clinics>

**(CANNABIS CLINICS)**
3
a : a facility (as of a hospital) for diagnosis and treatment of outpatients
b : a group practice in which several physicians work cooperatively
4
: a facility that offers professional services or consultation usually at discounted rates <a legal clinic>

**(Does online count as a facility? I think so!)**
5
: an exemplary display or performance <put on a clinic in the tournament>

I loved it the instant it popped into my brain and my husband and his Grandma did too. CannaMama Clinic was born.

I now have an online radio show called Coming Out With CannaMama Clinic on Tokeradio.com. My two co-hosts are Daphney Bly (imagine that!) and Lady A. We air live weekly on Tuesdays from 11-1 MST. Reruns of the show can be found Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays at 8AM MST.

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Last week, someone commented on the Facebook Live recording of Coming Out With CannaMama Clinic and asked how CannaMama Clinic has changed us so far. I would like to address her question here.

CannaMama Clinic helps cannabis consumers step out of the “cannacloset” with pride, knowledge, and resources. However, CannaMama Clinic is more than a cannabis advocate organization. We have cultivated a unique cannabis community for peaceful parents and female empowerment. Daily, I receive messages of gratitude that make me cry. I know I change lives, and in turn, my life has changed.

I’m so happy I overcame my fears and pressed “publish” with trembling hands. Now I feel like everything I did and everything I went through prepared me to help cannamamas. I could not be more honored or delighted.

I’m still an activist, and there’s no doubt I am a cannavist now. My Grandma always said if I love the work I do, I will never work a day in my life. I love being a cannamamapreneur, and definitely do not consider managing CannaMama Clinic work. Life has a funny way of turning out.

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No Apologies for Passions, Part II of CannaMamas Need the Freedom to Breastfeed

I haven’t written anything since my last article, CannaMamas Need the Freedom to Breastfeed, because I didn’t want to go overboard on the topics of cannabis and breastfeeding and bore my readers.  I was apologizing before I even got started for the passion I have to speak on these issues.  How’s that for female socialization?!

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So fuck it, and fuck you if you are already sick of my articles on these two issues.  I don’t want to be that cutie pie.

I’m happy, and I want to tell the world what I have discovered but always knew deep inside!!  That there are women all over the United States (and world) ready to come out of the cannacloset.

I never expected the reaction I received from my last article.

I thought I would receive hate mail, and sure, there were plenty of people that disagreed, and some even made nasty remarks on Facbook (oooohhh!), but the overwhelming majority of messages I received from women were expressions of gratefulness.  Message after message I received were from women who thanked me for speaking up and taking a stand.  They called me brave, one after another.

I’m not brave!!  I was terrified to hit the publish button on that post, but I am fed up.  In a matter of days, hundreds of women reached out to me.  They wanted advice and help.  This made me angry to see so many women hurting and afraid.  I have now focused most of the fucks I have to give on cannamamas.  After seeing the help one single article could do to end the negative stigma of cannabis, I feel reaffirmed in my convictions.  I am more determined than ever to help end cannabis prohibition.

I want to share some of these women’s words that touched my heart and fuel my fire.

You’re amazing, and what you’re doing by posting about breastfeeding and your cannabis use is so important and brave! I’m 20weeks pregnant with my first here in Denver, and I hope can be as open and honest as you seem to be. More power to ya, keep doing what you’re doing!” Denver, Colorado, USA

Hi Jeanna! I read your article and as a cannamama who has a bachelors in poli sci and used to work in dispensaries and agrees with everything you wrote I just have to say you are my hero for writing it. You are doing everything I am dreaming of doing, only I live in NYC again (I lived in Colorado for five years) and our MMJ is just starting to happen… Anyway, I just wanted to tell you I loved your article a lot!” Vlada Vik, NYC, USA, 08/04/2015

I’ve been DYING to talk to you ever since you posted your article on Twitter. I just have a few questions. What situations would cause a pediatrician to test a baby? How often do you smoke/consume? And about how much? I haven’t smoked since my morning sickness went away with my youngest because I’m so afraid of losing my kids. I took a bite of an edible a few months ago and it didn’t affect my daughter at all. But that’s all I’ve had and I just want to know what I can do to be safe / a little more informed.” Hope Smith, Tuscon, Arizona, USA, 08/04/2015

I just read your article on BFMT.. I just wanted to say THANK YOU!!! I’m so tired of mothers and parents in general being threatened over cannabis! It took so much bravery for you to come out fighting and tell it how it is, and I’m so glad someone is finally calling out all the bullshit surrounding this PLANT. I hope eventually it will be completely legal in every state. I rarely smoke, but it absolutely has no influence on my parenting. My children are clean, fed, played with, and loved! I’m pretty sure some states have passed laws where they can drug test and jail women for failing I’m not sure if it includes cannabis, but that is scary to me!!! I’m not saying leave a child with a heroin addict, but there is no reason to put a child in the system and strip a woman of her rights because of a plant that grows out of the ground. It’s out of control! Don’t worry about the negative comments. Those people must have never smoked or they have just been duped by the governments “reefer madness”.”  B. R., Nashville, Tennessee, USA, 08/04/2015   *BFMT is Breastfeeding Mama Talk, an excellent resource for breastfeeding support.*

I wanted to thank you for your article that I just read via badass breast feeders. I was an avid marijuana user prior to my pregnancy. I also smoked everyday while losing 60lbs, obtaining my masters in educational leadership, and teaching high school. I was so scared about smoking with my pregnancy that I quit and have not started again. My daughter is 1 now and still nurses 2-4 times a day. I want to start smoking again as it helps with migraines, stress, and my anxiety. My mind isn’t made up yet but you definitely bring up a number of good and valid points.
Thank you for your honesty.” C. S., Baltimore, Maryland, USA, 08/04/2015  *shout out to the Badass Breastfeeder mentioned above. Thank you for sharing my article and doing what you do.*

I have no idea who you are or where you are from but I just read the article you had written and I can’t be anymore grateful to you for being so brave. I myself used “cannabis ” during my pregnancy with my son ( it was the only way I could eat or drink) – like you said it literally saved my pregnancy and from me going insane lol ! — I also used cannabis while breastfeeding my son for the first year of his life ! … He is now two And I shit you not EVERY mother that comes in contact with my little guy literally says to me ” wow he is speaking in full sentences already” his day care lady compliments all the time on how developed and smart he is. Thank you for speaking out ! Because through that whole time I remained silent and hidden incase of being called a drug addict ! Hats off to you girl ! Totally joining your secret group !!! Keep doing your thing !! And thanks again! S. M., Pennsylvania, USA, 08/04/2015

This IS a movement.

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CannaMamas Need the Freedom to Breastfeed

A couple of weeks ago, after speaking with a handful of receptionists in an effort to find a new primary care physician, I realized there must be a large number of people who are unaware cannabis is the technical term for marijuana.  I discovered this when I asked for the doctor’s stance on cannabis use, and the reply from the other end of the line was “huh?” or “what?” followed by a short explanation from me.  I’m still surprised physician staff in a legal state do not know, and do not use scientific terminology.

Proper term use helps combat the stigma associated with cannabis consumption.  This is important for a number of reasons, one highlighted in mid July by the Colorado Board of Health’s failure to add Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder to the list of debilitating conditions accepted for medical marijuana prescriptions despite the recommendation to do so from the Chief Medical Officer.  Preconceived notions should not dictate law or interfere with personal medical decisions, but they are exactly what caused the Colorado Board of Health to decline the addition of PTSD to conditions treated with medical marijuana, or simply cannabis.  Otherwise, the board members would have listened to the research that shows remarkable results.  Too often when lawmakers and people outside of the cannabis community hear “marijuana”, or even “medical marijuana”, images of “reefer madness” are conjured up.  The stereotypes, and frankly threats, follow.

This decision to ignore the recommendations of medical professionals and patients already has a serious impact on women and particularly mothers because according to the US Department of Veteran affairs, women are more than twice as likely to develop PTSD than men, and half of all women experience a traumatic event which results in PTSD.  The United States Census figures 81% of women were mothers by age 40 to 44 as of 2010.  

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The consumption of cannabis is taboo, but no group of people are more hesitant to discuss their use than pregnant and breastfeeding women, a class of people who already face extreme challenges.  The reason we are hesitant is we face more than snide remarks and “side-eyed” looks.  We face more than discrimination.  We face the fear of losing our children.  Yes, I said “we”.  I am a cannamama that currently nurses my eighteen-month-old daughter, and used cannabis for about nine months of my breastfeeding relationship with my ten-year-old son.

Mothers should not fear losing their children because they choose cannabis to treat their ailments.  Months of government involvement in personal lives is not a good use of limited and precious resources meant to protect children.  Arbitrary rules and the whims of individuals should not rip families apart, but this is the current system that deals with reports of mothers that use cannabis.  I speak with women often about their experiences with child protective services (CPS) and the investigations that begin moments after giving birth.  Many of the stories sound familiar to my own.

I was handed a urine analysis cup before I was taken to recovery after the birth of my daughter in January of 2014.  I returned my cup to the nurse full of blood.  Meanwhile, another nurse rushed my newborn’s meconium to a lab to be tested as well.  Parental consent is not necessary.  Our bodily fluids and the bodily fluids of our children do not belong to us according to hospital staff.

The following day, a hospital social worker invaded my time with my family and new baby to spread propaganda and fear.  It was all very shady.  My husband and I were questioned at length, but kept in the dark as to what would happen next.  On the day we were to go home, a nurse told us that we would have to wait to be discharged until after we saw the social worker again.  All I wanted to do was get home and snuggle in my bed with my newborn, but instead we waited in fear.  We remained in a state of apprehension before a nurse came in and said we could leave.  It was horribly weird.

My husband remembers feeling uncomfortable and threatened.  It was clear they were ready to rip a newborn from a mother’s arms for using cannabis although I had refused pain medicine during labor, delivery, and recovery.  I didn’t have more than Ibuprofen and maybe a single Vicodin (I’d have to check my medical records to be exact) to relieve the pain from second degree tears and a hemorrhage the doctors had difficulty stopping, but the state was worried I was a druggie because I use cannabis.  It was quickly apparent to us that my husband’s sobriety, my insistence to protect my rights, and dedication to our baby’s health were top factors in the social worker’s choice not to pursue an investigation.

I’m not telling my story for sympathy.  I’m over it.  I have my precious daughter and CPS left us alone after the initial visit.  We are happy as can be.  However, this is not the outcome for every cannamama, and stories like mine are common.  These experiences should not happen to any woman that has just birthed new life simply because they chose cannabis as opposed to a prescription drug especially when the majority of these women, myself included, disclosed our choice of our own volition.

It’s not the best policy to treat honesty so harshly.  Because of my experience and the experiences of other cannamamas, I recommend lying where this matter is concerned when pregnant cannamamas ask my advice.  Women are afraid of their healthcare providers.  These are the same women with doctors who thrust Phenergan, Zofran, Reglan, Meloxicam, Flexeril, Vicodin, Oxycodone, Percocet, Fentanyl, Procardia, Amoxicillin, Prednisone, Tramadol, Dilaudid, Morphine, Celexa, Valium, Lexapro (need I go on?), and endless other pharmaceutical medications plus over-the-counter drugs at them.  I mean, not to get stupid, but cannabis has caused less deaths than Tylenol.

Stop treating us like chronically addicted drug abusers.  We aren’t, and our children are not in danger.  Most of us are good parents invested in raising quality human beings.  We get on the floor and play with our kids, we interact with them and enjoy watching them grow.  We worry about their health and education and all the other things good parents that don’t use cannabis worry over.

People seem to be under the impression that I have just done a hit of acid. I don’t know how to explain to the general public I’m totally normal other then my bullshit tolerance has gone WAY up.” – Elizabeth S., Denver, CO

A couple of days ago, someone in my secret Facebook group for cannabis-consuming peaceful parents shared a recent Cosmopolitan article written by cannamama, Lea Grover.  I agree with her, but she only admits to using occasionally when she is stressed as if to appeal to her readers and prevent harsh judgement.  I’m putting it all out there.  I “wake and bake“.  Using cannabis is part of my daily routine like brushing my teeth and flossing, and has been for more than half my life.

Cannabis saved my pregnancy with my son, made my pregnancy with my daughter tolerable, and helps me in my day to day life.  I don’t care if you believe me.  I care that you leave us alone.  I know what cannabis has done for me, and I know women that credit cannabis as their savior too.  I also know women forced to stop breastfeeding.  I know women forced to take parenting classes.  I know women that have had their children removed from their home.  I can’t remain silent any longer. The misplaced judgement must stop.  I expect critics, but I’m tired of hiding.  I know a slew of women tired of hiding too.  I come out of the cannabis closet for them.

If you are a nasty critic you may be wondering how my ten-year-old son, product of my first pregnancy in which I chose cannabis over Phenergan and Zofran to treat hyperemesis gravidarum, turned out.  I am proud to report this year he enters fifth grade and beginning his fifth school year as an HGT-identified (highly gifted and talented) student.  This means he is part of the one percent of the district’s student population that qualify based on “demonstrated achievement”.  He plays tackle football, performed in several Disney plays with a local theater troupe, gets along well with his peers, enjoys golf and reading…he’s already completed the Harry Potter series and read over a million words last year (that’s just what they tracked at his school and gave him an award for)…he loves math, and wants to pursue a STEM career.  I could go on and on.

As I have said many times in many conversations, I wish my son was involved in a study on the effects of cannabis on children exposed in utero and through breastmilk in order to help debunk the myths.  My daughter could be studied too as she currently exhibits similar attributes.  She amazes me daily with her abilities at this young age.

Coming out of the cannabis closet as a mother that uses cannabis and breastfeeds will impact my life professionally and personally.  My Grandmother-in-law is already concerned my husband and I will get another visit from CPS followed by threats of taking our children.

If you are a nursing cannamama, please know that you are not alone.

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***The website – www.poliscimommy.com – may provide general information about cannabis use. I am not a doctor or a lawyer. I cannot give you medical or legal advice. I do not warrant or assume legal liability or responsibility. If you, the reader, or anyone else has a medical or legal concern, I urge you to seek professional care from a licensed individual.

Again, the information on my website is not intended to provide diagnoses, prevent, or cure any disease. In case of any health concern, you should always consult a licensed doctor or trusted health care provider.

i encourage people to change the law as opposed to break it. If you are not in a location where cannabis is legal, I do not warrant or assume legal liability or responsibility for your actions.

These are my opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints. I make no warranties or guarantees, expressed or implied.***