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Celebrating Mother’s Day with Cannabis Patient, Advocate and Super Mom Julie Engle

There is nothing easy about being a mom – starting with the process to get there. Whether you physically gave birth or navigated the long road of adoption, whether you are parenting a newborn or a teen or an adult child, or whether you are a non-parenting birth mom, we at Goodness Growth Holdings and Vireo Health applaud you!

We also recognize that Mother’s Day can be difficult for some people. If you have lost a loved one, faced difficulties with becoming a mother, or have challenging relationships with your parents or your children, please know we see you and support you too.

This Mother’s Day, we sat down with Julie Engle, mother of three and cannabis patient and advocate, to talk about all things mom: the joys and challenges of being a mom, how cannabis has helped her be the mom she wanted to be despite a fibromyalgia diagnosis, and advice for other parents about discussing cannabis with their children or other parents.

Read on for this and more from Julie!

Tell us a little about your kids and family.

I have three beautiful and active boys: Brady-12, Dylan-10 and Jimmy-7, and two adorable dogs, Callie and Daisy. We live in Minnetonka, Minnesota.

What’s your favorite part of being a mom? 

I am very playful, so I love running around with them and laughing with them. I also place a lot of emphasis on teaching them important values, how to be a kind person, how to deal with conflict, etc. When I see them do certain things in action, it makes my heart melt knowing that I am raising such kind and thoughtful boys.

What are some of the challenges of being a mom? 

Being perpetually exhausted! They are all very athletic and in sports, so when they are not in school, we are constantly running around. Being a mom is hard… keeping them off the screens, making sure they’re active, making meals, keeping up with all of the emails from school/sports/camps… it is a full-time job!

You’ve talked publicly about taking cannabis to find relief from the symptoms of ulcerative colitis and fibromyalgia, and your work fighting to end the stigma around medical cannabis. Tell us a little more about your journey as a cannabis patient: Did you have hesitations before you tried it? Have you faced stigma or assumptions as a cannabis patient?  

When I first learned that I qualified as a medical cannabis patient because of ulcerative colitis, I remember thinking that it was “cool” that I could use cannabis legally, though I did not really understand how it would help me medicinally. It was not until I got diagnosed with fibromyalgia that I really started my journey to understanding the healing properties of the plant. When I explain to people that I use cannabis as medicine, I approach it in a very medicinal, responsible manner. I also share how it helps with my sleep and anxiety; I feel that most people can relate to that, which helps them open up to the idea that cannabis can help with a myriad of other issues. Most people are very interested and want to know more. I have never felt judged for using cannabis as medicine.

Has cannabis (and its ability to reduce symptoms) changed anything about your relationship with your kids, or what you are able to do with them? 

Oh my gosh… yes, yes and yes! It gave me my life back. I was always a VERY active, young mom and was not available for my family or kids as much as I used to be during this difficult time in my life. It was truly heartbreaking. I feel grateful to say I am once again the mom that I always was and wanted to be. For me, cannabis has been a gateway to a better life.

Have you talked to your kids about cannabis? Do you have any tips for parents on how to talk to kids, in an age-appropriate way, about cannabis? 

Just as I do with friends/peers, I approach it in a very medicinal way. I simply explain to them that it’s Mommy’s medicine, just like those orange pill bottles they get when they are sick. I keep it simple and let them ask questions.

I recently had a conversation with my niece and nephews about it, as they are in high school and were asking my sister why I “use marijuana” if it is an illegal drug. Again, I kept it very simple. I asked them if they remember me being very sick? I tell them that the medications my doctors were giving me were not helping. I emphasized that cannabis can be used medicinally, and it works so well for my body. I also stated that is it not good for kids with underdeveloped brains to use socially. I kept it very matter of fact and made them feel comfortable asking me questions at any time.

How about other parents in your community? As an outspoken advocate for medical cannabis, have you ever had negative responses from other parents? 

I have never had any negative responses. Once I decided to really put myself out there as an activist, I was a bit worried… Would my kids’ friends’ parents start judging, not allow their kids to come over to our house, etc. Not one thing has changed with any of their friendships. Actually, what usually happens is that parents will come up to me and tell me stories about how cannabis helped them or has helped a sick family member. That is, by far, my favorite part about being an outspoken advocate.

What advice would you share with other moms who take cannabis? What advice would you share with other moms who DON’T take cannabis? 

To other moms who consume cannabis, I suggest that they tell people about it!! There are so many sick people out there dealing with chronic pain, anxiety, or sleeping issues, among other things. You should let them know about your success with cannabis. The more we talk about it, the less of a stigma there is. For moms who do not use cannabis, who may be struggling with any health issues, I would like them to know that cannabis might be an alternative or may be used as an adjunct treatment to their modern-day medicine. That it certainly does not work for everyone, but that it is worth a try when they are ready. I always tell them to start low and go slow! I also note that it is a lot of trial and error; it takes time to figure out which strain and dosage works best.

Thank you, Julie, for taking the time to share your story with us! You can follow Julie on Instagram for more information on parenting, cannabis, and more.

And to ALL the mothers out there – Happy Mother’s Day from Goodness Growth!