Attendees at Denver's 4/20 rally in the Civic Center congregate by a mural on April 20, 2014. (Seth McConnell, The Denver Post)

Opinion: Stop the public shaming of parents’ personal cannabis choices

Change is in the air, so naturally a fringe group of suburban parents are up in arms.

As The Cannabist reported last week, a group of parents are threatening to stand guard outside Aurora’s first recreational marijuana shop to enforce their personal moral code on law-abiding citizens — to see if they recognize anyone, to take photos to share with one another, to “publicly shame those who think pot is cool.”

I bit my tongue on responding because this small fringe group, if it even exists, barely deserves the attention. I changed my mind because it is important that the parents who choose to exercise their freedom to consume cannabis in the state of Colorado know that they are supported by me and many other parents around the country.

Read the original letter: “The upper class suburbs are no place for potheads…as this store will soon find out.”

Let’s be clear: The parents targeted are law-abiding citizens of Colorado that choose cannabis as a part of their personal health treatment plan for PTSD, chronic pain or anxiety. They are among the millions of overwhelmed moms taking antidepressants but looking for a better alternative. They may be picking up cannabis for a loved one suffering from nausea associated with chemotherapy. A parent or grandparent may need relief during hospice care. A CBD tincture may control their child’s debilitating epilepsy.

And some of the parents shopping at the Aurora pot shop in question may just prefer cannabis to beer.

It could be any of the above, and all are none of your business.

I commend the Cherry Creek Parents’ Council for distancing themselves from vigilante parents conspiring to pass judgment and bully fellow parents. Maybe we should publicly shame those who think public shaming is cool? In recent history, vigilante parents took to publicly shaming gay parents found outside known gay bars or clubs. Those parents were also accused of being unfit to chaperone field trips and host slumber parties — just like any marijuana-using parent should be, according to the reader who allegedly organized the group of Aurora pot shop spies.

It is 2014. Gay marriage and marijuana are legal in the state of Colorado. And it is time to get over it.

Parenting: 10 ways to keep your stash away from kids

Far more children are put in harm’s way by unsecured cleaning solvents under the kitchen sink and prescription medications in the medicine cabinet. Constructive, parent-led initiatives are underway in Colorado to ensure child-proof cannabis packaging works, and they’re also educating parents on the importance of storing marijuana products responsibly.

Clearly some parents are clinging to the past, using fear mongering and thinly veiled racism to lead an effort that will only embarrass them. The white middle-upper class has long used marijuana at the same rate as low-income minority urban dwellers, but suburbanites like me were privileged to not have their families torn apart by the failed drug war.

While my professional pseudonym is Jane West, in my personal life as Amy Dannemiller I am open about my cannabis consumption — just look at this Nightline segment about me and others titled “Confessions of a Pot Mom.” Parents like us are often scrutinized, but ignoring or hiding from judgment is not the answer.

Cannabis is legal in Colorado, and to end the stigma parents should join me in coming out about cannabis use. We already know it makes dealing with the gossipy busybodies palatable.