Parents Choose Cannabis Over Alcohol During Pandemic

The Covid 19 pandemic has presented parents with many hard choices. Many families are juggling homeschooling and working from home at a time of unprecedented uncertainty. We all need some help getting through this time. Parents have found themselves debating this dilemma:

While cooped up with the kids, are the needs of the family better served by Mom and Dad reaching for a shot of alcohol or seeking the refuge of a regulated medical cannabis product?

Marijuana Is More Popular than Alcohol During Covid-19

The marijuana positive answer comes from a December 2020 Harris Poll commissioned by Curaleaf, an American cannabis company listed on the Canadian stock exchange founded by Russian billionaire Boris Jordan. The Harris survey’s findings indicate that adults with children under 18 years old are, at a greater rate than adults who have no children, choosing cannabis over alcohol for relief from the stress of ongoing difficulties caused by the Covid 19 pandemic.

Of the 2,000 people aged 21 and over surveyed by Harris Polls, 45 percent said they had reduced or replaced alcohol consumption through cannabis use during the Covid 19 restrictions. Among survey respondents who are parents, that rate of depending on cannabis and reducing or replacing alcohol consumption during the coronavirus pandemic jumped to well over half, 60 percent.

The three most common reasons respondents gave for preferring marijuana to alcohol are:

  • the superior therapeutic properties of cannabis in managing stress and anxiety (over 50 percent)
  • relaxation (50 percent)
  • as a sleep aid (48 percent).

Pennsylvania medical marijuana education center (PAMMEC) logo.

Why Choose Marijuana Over Alcohol?

Shared alcohol consumption can be an enjoyable route to raising spirits, until it goes too far. Adults who are familiar with the enhanced mindfulness and physical soothing of modulated cannabis use believe that taking advantage of marijuana’s calming properties in enduring stressful situations is safer, saner and more serene for the family during Covid 19 than pouring alcohol on the difficult situation.

The perception that cannabis is free from the dangers of alcohol overconsumption doesn’t necessarily mean marijuana users are smarter than alcohol drinkers. However, scientific research indicates that prolonged alcohol use results in forms and degrees of brain impairment absent from long term cannabis users.

Scientists conducting a recent study at the University of Colorado Boulder scoured brain scan imaging of 853 adults between 18 and 55 years old and 439 juveniles aged 14 to 18. The University of Colorado researchers concentrated on the brain’s gray matter volume and white matter integrity. Gray matter is the brain’s surface tissue. It’s made up mostly of nerve cell bodies. White matter is tissue located deeper in the brain. White matter contains the myelinated nerve fibers responsible for accelerating the brain’s electrical impulses.

The University of Colorado scholars found a reduction in gray matter volume in the brain imaging of alcohol users, particularly among adults, coupled with diminished functional integrity of the brain’s white matter.

Among teenaged and adult marijuana users, the brain’s gray matter volume and white matter integrity both remained undiminished.

The University of Colorado’s scientists noted that any reduction in gray matter volume or white matter integrity “can lead to impairments in brain functioning.”

In the spirit of peer reviewed university research, here are four more no brainer reasons why cannabis using parents believe a dose of regulated marijuana products is better for family unity during the Covid 19 pandemic than an alcohol binge.

1. Marijuana lacks alcohol’s potential for crippling hangovers.

Headache, nausea and irritability are three conditions that will only complicate and undermine the delicate balance of patience and firmness required by parents nurturing the mental states of their children in the age of pandemic. With educational and socializing opportunities upended by Covid 19 restrictions, children more than ever need a mindful, calm, present guardian and guide.

2. Cannabis is far less likely than alcohol to trigger raging or violent interactions.

When people, close people, family even, are jammed in with one another in confined spaces with no end date in sight, tempers will flare. A sibling’s individual quirks and unconscious habits become more irritating than endearing and can in time be interpreted as outright provocations. A parent who takes advantage of regulated medical cannabis’s stress relieving therapeutics is more reliably a parent who will divert and deescalate family conflicts.

3. Cannabis use doesn’t tend to encourage risky behavior.

A top imperative of this extended season of Covid 19 is to minimize risks associated with the virus. Alcohol is known and loved for eliminating inhibitions, loved until those shredded inhibitions are reasonable and necessary to self preservation. No child will benefit from being carried along in a parent’s alcohol fueled impulse to storm the local police station in a bare chest protest against wearing protective face coverings.

4. Of the many ways for parents to ingest cannabis, several are indistinguishable to their children.

Even at a very young age, kids learn to distinguish indications that their parents have been drinking alcohol. The older children will warn younger siblings that Mom or Dad isn’t really in a happy mood. “Smell that medicinal taint on their breath? They’re drunk, and they’ll be in a bad mood within the hour.” In contrast, the parent partaking of therapeutic cannabis products of the noncombustible variety (i.e. edibles, tinctures, salves) maintains equanimity of spirit and attitude that is truly inspiring and to be emulated. The kids perceive nothing to indicate that Mom and Dad have achieved a Dalai Lama level of chill on anything other than the power of their own personalities.

The downsides of using alcohol to deal with stressful circumstances far outweigh any of its benefits. The benefits of using cannabis to deal with stressful circumstances far outweigh any downsides.

Put down the bottle. Your kids are freaked out enough by the Covid 19 debacle; they don’t need to navigate a tipsy parent on top of everything else.

Written by
Allan MacDonell
Allan MacDonell

Allan MacDonell’s work has been featured in publications ranging from Dazed and Confused UK to the New York Times and Washington Post. He is the author of Prisoner of X, Punk Elegies and Now That I Am Gone, and was a founding editorial director at online outlets including Buzznet, TakePart and Kindland. MacDonell views teaming with Leafwell as an opportunity to encourage the emerging role of legal cannabis as a highly effective medical treatment.

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