MILL VALLEY (KPIX) -- You could call it mother's little helper. A new survey found that 20 percent of parents use pot.
Emma Cunningham is one of them. She's mom to 10-year-old Julian and 12-year-old Dylan. Keeping up with them isn't easy, so she says to stay on her game she uses marijuana - regularly - and she isn't shy about it.
"It makes me present and calm and I have two boys, and they fight and they argue with me and so instead of reaching for a glass of wine here and there in the evening when I come home from work I can go downstairs, outside my door and vape," said Cunningham.
Forty-five-year-old Emma lives in Mill Valley, and she's been smoking marijuana more than 20 years. First as a way to heal aches from a car accident in her 20s. She found that she needed more of it, when she became a stay-at-home mom for 5 years. Emma now works as an executive coordinator and office manager at Eaze - the San Francisco-based marijuana delivery startup.
"It doesn't make me less of a parent because I'm honest about the one thing I need to help me get through the day or get through an evening," she said. "It's not all the time but it is most of the time and I think it makes me a better person and a better mom just by being honest about it - because it's natural."
And what does her husband think?
"He's very proud of me - he's proud that I'm open and honest," Cunningham said.
A recent study on the "Modern Marijuana Consumer" by Eaze found that one in five cannabis users in California are parents. And of those - 63 percent consume it daily.
Emma always keeps her products in a locked bag, and out of sight from her children. She vapes and smokes flower but says she never uses in front of them. She does talk about it openly with her sons.
"Much like medication that most of us take - Advil, any medication, it substitutes that for me and I would prefer if I had a headache to partake in marijuana than I would popping pills," she said.
Anna Lembke is chief of Stanford University's Addiction Medicine Program.
"I'd just like to reach out to her and say there are better, safer, more effective ways for her to achieve the same thing," said Lembke. By using marijuana daily in this way not only is she exposing herself to physical harm because of smoking... but she probably is likely after 20 years of using marijuana at the very least physiologically dependent on it and probably addicted."
The CDC says it has strong evidence that marijuana use can lead to addiction, and breathing and memory problems.
"I take her at her word that she feels that it is helping her be more calm and more present but I think especially when it comes to mood altering substances, it's very important to check in with others to access the objectivity of our own subjective experience," said Lembke.
Using marijuana hasn't come without judgement for Emma.
"A few of the moms were just appalled," said Cunningham. Others pulled me aside, because they were curious about using marijuana.
She says she wants to help erase the stoner stigma.
"Better parenting with marijuana, it's possible, it's definitely possible, learn your strains and know that it's okay if you need a little extra help," said Cunningham.
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