For some hardworking moms, the end of a long, busy day filled with kids, work and stress means a glass of wine.
But some Valley moms have chosen a different path. The answer to their everyday challenges stems from the ground, literally.
“Mommy needs a joint, like mommy needs a glass of wine,” Kaycee Bawdon said.
Bawdon and some of her mom friends smoke marijuana every day even at play dates with their children.
“You can still be a good parent and use marijuana at the same time,” she said.
These moms say it makes them better moms by calming them and boosting their productivity.
“I can smoke it and go clean my whole house and do all my laundry and get everything done,” Elizabeth Orduno said.
“I feel like I'm actually more attentive and focused while I am medicated,” another mom, Saydee Perkins said.
Alexis Lippincott of Mesa loves playing at the park with her daughter, but that wasn't always the case.
“I’ve noticed quite a change in my lifestyle,” Lippincott said.
She’s been suffering from migraines for more than a decade – after trying over the counter meds and other prescriptions for years – she turned over a new leaf with medical marijuana.
“I'm able to be more active and you know I actually feel like I can be a better, well not a better mom, but more the mom I want to be because I'm not in so much pain, I'm not feeling sick,” she said.
What makes moms like Lippincott sick now, is the constant thought of being judged.
“There's such a stigma on being a cannabis user and being a mom. People will judge you, think less of you as a mom, or as a co-worker sometimes and so that's why I was scared at first,” she said.
In fact, during our interview the police were called, they said that got reports of a drug deal going down at the park. No one was smoking pot, so we had to explain to the officers this was just an interview.
“We're so afraid that they're going to pass judgment, because a neighbor did, somebody saw me in the park and they automatically assumed that because people were walking up to me that I'm selling drugs,” Audrey Van Kuren said.
Van Kuren says moms like them can’t let that fear of judgment get in the way.
“It's OK for us to make that choice, we choose medical marijuana, we choose cannabis over opioids, we choose cannabis over alcohol," she said, "it is OK for us as moms, as business people, as human beings in America."
Since 2002, regular marijuana use among middle-aged Americans jumped by nearly 50 percent. However, some doctors outside the industry warn that smoking in general is a health risk.
“Smoking is inherently unhealthy and by sending the message that we're smoking something to take the edge or to cope with pain, that sends a message to our children,” Dr. Larissa Mooney said.
The parents we spoke to say they've tried typical methods of medicine.
“Why do I have to go on Paxil, why do I have to feel almost zombiefied to feel regulated, to feel balanced,” Julia Morales said.
Morales says smoking marijuana clears her head and days without her dose of weed, wind up leaving her feeling cloudy and closed off, including to her daughter.
“She doesn't get the best of me, which means she doesn't get the best of her environment,” Morales said.
But she too has felt the stigma.
“It makes it harder for people like me to reach out, the mom groups, I can't reach out, if I go to those wine-tasting parties I'm not really welcome, because they don't say patients welcome as well, they can drink, they can smoke, I can't light up my joint,” she added.
So what about their kids?
“A lot of my friends just automatically assume that it's just to get high because she has dreads, so they're stereotyping her and me, they're assuming that I also get high and that it's just a hippie thing,” 15-year-old Gage said about mom, Audrey Van Kuren.
“Yeah that's the pot lady it's not OK, I want to go to my daughter’s functions and not be judged, I want to go out in the community and tell how wonderful this plant is and how wonderful this medicine can be for us and how it can heal and not feel judged,” Van Kuren said.
Despite the degrading comments, these Valley mothers say that marijuana makes them better parents, and if pot is the difference between pain or potential, they'll take this prescription.
To them, it's not about getting high, but about getting through a to-do list without interruption from migraines, chronic pain and the possibility of throwing in the towel when their kids are depending on them.
But in a world where opioids are causing a national crisis and alcohol is a recreational depressant -- where do these medical marijuana users fall?
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