"Saying the word 'joint' in a bedtime story did feel a little strange." (Provided by Ricardo Cortés)

“It’s Just a Plant” gives kids candid look at cannabis (book review)

Encouraging my son to read is something that is very important to me. I was, and still am, a book lover. Growing up my face was always buried in some new page turner — a mystery, memoir, a tragedy. And it all started because my parents took the time to read to me, to make literature an important part of my upbringing.

I’m a big believer that Sir Francis Bacon had it right when he wrote “ipsa scientia potestas est,” latin for “knowledge itself is power.” As part of my parenting plan I intend on giving my son as much age appropriate information as I possibly can. In my lifetime I have found that the more I know, the more I grow. I strive to pass on the confidence that being educated comes with to my son.

"It's Just a Plant" by Ricardo Cortés
“It’s Just a Plant” illustrated children’s book (Provided by Ricardo Cortés)

“It’s Just a Plant,” a children’s book written and illustrated by Ricardo Cortés (who also illustrated the best-selling “Go the F**k to Sleep,” is geared toward starting a conversation with your child about marijuana. In the book, young Jackie, having woken up after bedtime, finds Mom and Dad smoking marijuana in their bedroom. Jackie’s mom promises to teach her about “mar-a-whahh” the next day. On their educational tour of the city by bicycle Jackie meets a farmer who grows but doesn’t consume cannabis and a doctor who tells Jackie that marijuana is strong medicine, not good for little Jackie right now. When she and her mom see some police officers confronting men smoking on the street corner Jackie learns that marijuana is against the law. The next few pages detail that sometimes laws aren’t created for the greater good but for the good of a few. At the close of the book, Jackie is falling asleep and dreaming of ways she can change the world.

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This book is going to stay with us through my son’s childhood. We read it to him at bedtime one night this last week. The story reads like any other children’s book and mostly feels pretty natural to deliver. Saying the word “joint” in a bedtime story did feel a little strange. There isn’t an overwhelming amount to read on each page and the pictures are plentiful and bursting with color and originality. My guy was intently focused on the pages for about three-quarter’s of the way through the 40+ page book. I flipped past the legal talk to the end where Jackie falls asleep, which my 2-year-old did not notice at all.

I would say this book is definitely intended for a kid older than mine is. While I do want to introduce him to the subject so that marijuana is no secret to him, he is at the age where he repeats everything that comes out of my mouth. Twice. For that reason I’d only expect to read this to him once every few months; maybe two or three times this year. As he gets older and begins to understand more and ask more questions I imagine “It’s Just a Plant” will make more frequent appearances.

Some folks may think being candid with my son at a young age about marijuana is wrong. That’s OK. I’m sure people disapprove of me letting him drink out of pink cups because it might confuse his gender identity. Others will pooh-pooh (I love that term) that I will also be educating him about what is a good touch and what is a bad touch. But it all boils down to individual parenting choices, right?

The part of the book that explains that marijuana is illegal and that sometimes government officials make laws for the wrong reasons MIGHT be a permanent skipping point for us. It is legal where we are, for one, but I also don’t want to implant a suspicious nature into my son. I’d like him to have a healthy curiosity of authority and question things, but a kid with government conspiracies in mind isn’t something I want to generate as a side effect.

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“It’s Just a Plant” is great resource for parents who are looking for a practical way to pass on some knowledge. It details marijuana’s useful properties, emphasizes that it’s for responsible use by adults and gives you a little legalese. At the right age this book will address “what’s that smell” with as little awkwardness as a parent could hope for.

“It’s Just a Plant” (written and illustrated by Ricardo Cortés, Magic Propaganda Mill Books) can be purchased online here.  It also can be found in retail shops, though I have yet to spy a copy myself.