Parenting is not easy. That's a fact. It’s never been a walk in the park, but now with the Covid-19 pandemic, parenting stress has been at an all time high. Zoom classes, Youtube addiction, lack of play time with friends, and juggling remote work is enough to make a parent go a little batty. Pile that on top of the usual every day parenting stress, and you’ve got parents who are a ball of nerves and sorely in need of a reprieve.
As more states in the U.S.continue to legalize cannabis for recreational use, more parents are turning to it as a way to relax after the kids are tucked safely in their beds. Alcohol has long been accepted in parenting circles as a way to relax, but cannabis use has still carried something of a stigma. As time marches on, more people are recognizing the benefits of cannabis -- from CBD-forward hemp options to high-THC options. Cannabis isn’t just for parents of young kids though. Aging parents of older kids and even grandparents are recognizing that the plant offers temporary relief of aches and pains, as well as helps them be more engaged and open with their children and grandchildren about societal issues and more.
We spoke with Toast Sales Manager, Jeff Kennedy, who also happens to be a father of two and a grandfather, about his work in the cannabis industry, and how it’s helped his relationship with his children.
Give us a brief overview of yourself, your family, and how you came to work with Toast.
My wife Jennifer and I live in Gypsum, CO, and have called the Colorado mountains home for almost 30 years. My two daughters, Jenny and Juliet, both live in the area as well and are both parents in their own right.
I came to work with Toast when I was introduced to Toast CEO Punit Seth and Toast COO Shovahn Rincon through a mutual friend. I was excited by their vision of creating a brand that would be inclusive for more of society than just the narrow concept of the traditional cannabis consumer at the time.
What is your daily routine with your kids, and what do you like to do with them for fun?
Since my kids are older, 26 and 27, they are now fully occupied with the daily routine of their own families. We still text or talk almost everyday. I offer my advice on all the questions they ask me, and every once in a while they follow it. Fun now is mostly about the grandkids. When they are young, anything we do from going to the park to arts and crafts is fun (and a great break for Mom).
What made you want to be a part of the cannabis industry?
As an entrepreneur that has owned businesses and worked in several different industries, I was intrigued by the potential of cannabis becoming accepted and understood both as a consumable product and as a healthy part of mainstream culture.
How has working in the cannabis industry made you a better parent?
It has made our communication more open and transparent.
Do you use cannabis regularly (hemp or marijuana)? If so, how has it aided in your parenting style?
I use both, hemp-based and THC based products; hemp for wellness, THC mostly for sleep. As I have gotten older, sleep is a challenge for me. The better I sleep, the healthier I am and that translates to being a better, more thoughtful parent.
How do you talk to your kids about cannabis and the industry?
My kids initially had their own feelings about cannabis, and they had been fed a lot of anti-cannabis talking points both in school and by society as a whole. When I became a full time cannabis advocate, we had a lot of conversations about who was putting out negative cannabis information, and what their motivation was in doing so. I think those conversations helped them see the world differently, and taught them to question things that they read or heard, and not just accept them as fact.
While alcohol is widely deemed socially acceptable, cannabis still has something of a stigma -- especially for parents. Working in the industry, what education can you provide for those who still see cannabis as a danger for parents?
I would encourage people to do their own research. While there can be long term health effects from excessive cannabis use, they are historically much less severe than the negative effects of alcohol.
The rise of medical cannabis and the myriad of positive medical applications is simply something that does not translate to alcohol. I believe that is something we can teach our children.
How do you see cannabis and parenthood changing in the future? Do you believe the stigma will let up, and if so, where do you see that happening first?
It is happening already, and much faster than I had ever hoped. One of the keys to changing the perception of cannabis are the recreationally available medical products. Meaning that, in states where cannabis is legal for anyone over 21, we are seeing more and more products that are targeted at a specific ailment or symptom, rather than something just to get a consumer high. That specific market creates returning customers and brings in new customers.
What advice can you give parents who would like to try using cannabis to relax?
Start low and go slow, specifically where THC is concerned. Before trying a cannabis product, talk to your local store and articulate a clear picture of what you are trying to achieve.
I think of THC like salt in cooking, you can always add more, but you can’t take it out once you have put it in. If you are uncomfortable with THC, try hemp-based CBD products.
Lastly, what’s your best dad joke?
I was going to tell a time traveling joke, but you didn’t get it.