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I'm Changing The Perception Of Moms Who Smoke Cannabis

I find my happiness in moments when bae and I smoke weed together after successfully running a vibrant home.

As Told To

As Told To is a recurring segment on xoNecole where real women are given a platform to tell their stories in first-person narrative as told to a writer.

This is Shonitria Anthony's story, as told to Charmin Michelle.

So, I'm a Blunt Blowin' Mama.

No, really, that's my brand.

But my brand isn't just referring to me. It's an entire community of real moms and ladies who proudly and openly consume cannabis. One day, I decided to stop hiding my cannabis use in hopes of finding and bringing together other women and moms who did the same. I spent hours trying to find women who looked like me (young and brown) and that were both open stoners, and proud moms.

And I couldn't find any.

So I said to myself: " F*ck it, since that space doesn't exist, I'll just create it myself."

I remember I smoked weed for the first time as a freshman in college. I was with a friend who had wanted me to try it out for forever, so I did. And I ended up loving it. From there, we would meet to smoke and hide it from our parents, teachers, certain roommates. Keep in mind, the stigma was really heavy on the plant during those days—hell, it still kind of is now. But to be living in Georgia as a black teenager at the time, smoking weed was terrifying. You think you're worried now, back then was damn near open season. Police back in those days would absolutely use the excuse of a black person having weed on them to send them to prison, so I was risking heavy jail time every single time I decided to smoke.

Don't go to jail, don't get arrested.

You've got this, Shonitria.

This fear would consume me.

It also caused me to create a private ganja-loving world that I happily lived, and found peace, in. I never talked about it much or smoked in public. I was all the way in the closet about my cannabis use for many years—simply out of fear of losing my freedom.

But back to my story, I'm a journalist by trade. I attended Georgia State for journalism, and obtained a master's degree in it as well. I moved to New York about a year after graduating to attend Columbia for grad school. I stayed in NYC for a while after graduating and worked as an editor at some really cool companies: ABC News. HuffPost. Blavity. It was fun and I learned a lot, but I never felt I was genuinely challenged enough, or that my own personal career development was taken seriously by the powers that be—which is how the Blunt Blowin' Mama podcast came into fruition: unappreciation—like most businesses. This wasn't the first time I tried to create and host a podcast, I had pitched and worked on about three other podcasts at various media companies. None of those worked out, but I never gave up on the idea of one day having my own.

Now, I've built my platform in West Hollywood, which is where I've been living for the past three years.

And living in California, the way weed is so openly embraced, absolutely inspired the creation and evolution of the Blunt Blowin' Mama brand. I went from hiding who I was, to happily educating the public on stigmas of weed consumption. The difference is almost astonishing.

Now, I puff everyday.

Courtesy of Shonitria Anthony

Don't get me wrong, this isn't some rebellious, trendy humble-brag about how much I choose to smoke. My story is solely told to create a flourishing platform that leads the change of the perception of women and mothers—especially those of color—who smoke.

This is much bigger than me.

And here's why:

Many moms who smoke weed are scared and feel alone, which would oftentimes mean that they are actively seeking a sense of community. A lot of these moms have been reprimanded by either the people they know, or by their own communities for smoking weed. It's almost ridiculous that people still feel and think that way, especially in 2020 with all the low-risk statistics and information available to everyone. I have spoken to dozens upon dozens of moms, both on the Blunt Blowin' Mama's podcast, and just via direct communication, and I have come across nothing but the most responsible and loving parents who also just happen to smoke.

BUT,

The shift in acceptance comes with its own set challenges, and that's where things can get complicated. Yes, there's this social shift happening—great. And people are not only being more accepting of cannabis, there's also been an increasing interest in moms who consume the plant. But, as cannabis is becoming more and more mainstream, the face of "advocates" have all been non-inclusive. And this is definitely the case when it comes to the poster child of the mom who smokes weed.

Yes, I'm saying that generally, the face of our community is always a white woman.

Story headlines:

"Moms Agree That Smoking Weed..." blah blah.

or

"Studies Show That Mothers Who Smoke Weed Once A Day Have Better..." blah.

When I began researching online, I had a hard time finding any black millennial moms who were openly advocating for moms who responsibly consume cannabis with a large platform. Black and brown people have been criminalized for weed for generations—where are we? And now white people are becoming rich off of what has torn our families apart for over 50 years. Legally.

To be frank, it's f*cked up. And I feel a deep obligation to be a voice as often as possible. The importance of cannabis education, is to always push to decriminalize and legalize the plant as equitable as possible. Too many dispensaries are looking like the Apple Store.

The. Apple. Store.

So, nah. Not on my watch. I instead chose to brand myself and have my hand in taking back this power.

It's ours. This country owes it to us.

My biggest supporter in my world is my partner. He hears my rants or listens to my tough days. We have been together for almost eight years at this point and he was actually the person who helped me brand myself. He's such a good man and father, he knows that cannabis is medicine, and he supports moms and my mission of normalizing cannabis consumption among moms. My beautiful babies are still very young at 13 months old and 4 years old, so they don't quite understand what is going on around them, but I plan to be open about it with them as they get older. And even in all my somewhat hippy liberation, I make it a point to never smoke around them, as well as take extra precaution to ensure they don't smell it.

Some of my extended family knows about my choice to medicate with cannabis and others do not. My parents are both incredibly conservative —especially when it comes to their views on weed, so it has been tough at times to explain it to them.

But I still find my happiness in moments when bae and I smoke weed together after successfully running a vibrant home, and loving on our family as much as possible.

Ultimately, my biggest hope is that my platform truly educates naysayers. That's all I really want. People need to know that moms who smoke weed are not some dangerous, forbidden drug addicts putting our children in harm's way. We are simply women who have taken charge of a taboo industry, and made it ours for our benefit.

We are women who work in corporate offices.

We are women who take their kids to soccer practice.

We are women who attend PTA meetings.

And we are women who do it all with a lil' THC.

To keep up with Shonitria, you can follow her and the Blunt Blowin Mama community on Instagram. You may also listen to her podcast and catch up on her latest episodes.

If you have a story you'd like to share, but aren't sure about how to put it into words, contact us at submissions@xonecole.com with the subject "As Told To" for your story to be featured.

Featured image courtesy of Shonitria Anthony.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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