Judy Yee, Founder of Mad Lilly
(This conversation has been edited for clarity and conciseness.)
Today is a special day—International Women's Day!
For me, it's a day to take a pause and recognize all the great achievements and progress women have made across the world in areas of business, politics, culture, and economics. But it's also a day to take a pledge in saying, “Hey, we're gonna do what we can to continue to make progress to achieve gender parity in all aspects of life.”
Out of all the Fortune 500 companies today, only 7.4% are led by female CEOs. In cannabis, it's a little better at 8%. But if you contrast that to the fact that women make up at least 83% of all the household purchasing decisions, there's a disparity there. You have people that are driving companies, making products, offering services, that are mostly not women, yet women are the consumers driving the economy. So we still have a lot of work to do.
And this brings me to the topic we're going to talk about today: cannabis. It's about empowering women with information and knowledge for them to make smart decisions in terms of health and wellness. So I am super thrilled today to be talking with Danielle Simone Brand, a professional writer in the areas of cannabis and parenting. She's also the author of a book called Weed Mom, a book for moms to help understand and celebrate how cannabis can be a safe and healthy way to relax, to de-stress, and to improve all aspects of their lives and relationships. Her work is really helping change the conversations around parenting and cannabis.
So, Danielle, how are you? Tell me a little bit more about yourself and what were your initial views or opinions on cannabis before you even wrote this book?
I tell the story in my book of being a former cannabis skeptic; I really didn't enjoy it much for years and years and didn't appreciate its wellness elements until I was a mom of two in my late thirties. Cannabis really wasn't on my radar at all. But with legalization in California, I became aware of so many ways I could enhance my health and wellness with cannabis that I didn't know about before. I started writing about the subject a few years before writing this book, and I was also writing about parenting at the time. Once in a while I'd write about the two subjects together, but I found that, more and more, people wanted to talk about it. And there just wasn't a solid resource about the new world of cannabis—especially a guide to the legal marketplace—for moms. So that's why I wrote this book. Before I was a writer, I was a yoga teacher on Capitol Hill in DC and in San Diego. I also have a Master’s in Peace and Conflict Resolution.
How did you first get introduced to cannabis?
Well, I experimented with cannabis in college, but there was no rhyme or reason in it for me and it wasn't my go-to. Alcohol felt much more predictable, but that changed over time as I became much more confident in cannabis.
I realized there's so much more predictability if you know specifics about how the plant works, how to calibrate your right product and dose.
My first adult experience with legal cannabis was on my yoga mat. It was just me, my mat, and a low dose of THC. People were telling me that cannabis helped them with creativity, with anxiety, with focus, with sleep—all the personal and professional ways. So I wanted to find out for myself.
What was that first experience like for you? Was it an edible? Was it a different format? Where were you and were you with anyone?
It was a really low-dose vape pen, the kind where you can calibrate 2.5 mgs or 5 mgs of THC. It was really important to me that I didn’t take too much; I was cautious. My kids weren't home at the time, but I really wanted to be sure that I knew what was going on. So I took an inhale of the vape, got on my yoga mat, and just moved my body. Even having practiced for years and years and having taught yoga for a long time, I still found that cannabis gave me a different window in—a deeply embodied experience. And one where I felt really, really good. That was a push in the direction for me to experiment with bringing cannabis to my other self-care and wellness pursuits. Now I’m able to incorporate it in so many ways!
For a lot of the ‘canna-curious’ moms out there who may not be as experienced, what advice would you give them in terms of really figuring out what is that right level for them? And what form factor should they consider?
There are lots and lots of considerations. Really, that's why I wrote the book—to help complete the picture and help moms understand the whole context around cannabis: how to consume, the different modes of consumption, etc. We can smoke, we can vape, we can eat, we can drink, we can rub it on our bodies...there are so many different ways to use cannabis. And I think that drinks like Mad Lilly and other low-dose edibles are just a great, easy-entry product for people to know exactly how much THC and CBD they’re putting in their bodies. (It used to be hit or miss with any sort of edible or consumable!) I would recommend starting really low and going really slowly. You have plenty of time to experiment! The way I introduce dosing in the book is basically to start with one milligram of THC, or a single puff of a vape pen or a joint or pipe if you’re smoking flower, so you can get feedback. See how you feel, and then add on the next time. It’s a very slow way to start, but I want people to have good first experiences with legal cannabis!
Let's talk about perception and stigma. I’d love to get your thoughts on how to have those conversations with people who might not agree, or understand what cannabis is, in a way that is inviting and encouraging.
I think that there are ways into the conversation with CBD, because it’s non-psychoactive—meaning it doesn’t affect us in an intoxicating way. So CBD is a great entry point because it helps a lot of people, either topically for workout recovery, or internally with sleep and anxiety. And since it's not intoxicating, that's something that people can often accept. Whether you’re using just CBD, or THC, too, I'm generally a fan of getting into the conversation with a cannabis skeptic by talking about what's helpful for you; in other words, make it personal.
If you say, “hey, cannabis really helps me relax and de-stress so I can be a better parent and engage with my kid,” is that a bad thing? It's not. And I think a lot of people would be able to recognize that; there's responsible use as a parent and cannabis can absolutely enhance so many aspects of our lives.
We definitely have seen a lift in cannabis use since the pandemic started, but I also think from a societal standpoint, people are much more open-minded in looking for other remedies—especially around sleep, relaxation, and mental health. Are you also finding that, a year into the pandemic, cannabis enters into the discussion differently than it did before?
Yes! I wrote part of the book in the beginning of the shutdown and so I was interviewing women about cannabis, consumption, and attitudes—all of that—during the pandemic. And it was really, really interesting.
A woman I interviewed said that her mom friends were now so much more ready for that conversation. The added stress and anxiety, especially if we're working at home—but even if we're not working at home—taking care of kids 24/7...it’s non-stop.
And a lot of parents have relied on alcohol to keep them relaxed. While I don't love the weed vs alcohol comparison, I do use it because most people can understand; cannabis is so much more nourishing for the whole body than alcohol. You know, alcohol is a neurotoxin and it makes many of us feel crappy even if we also enjoy its short term effects.
You can find Danielle’s book, Weed Mom on Amazon.