Can Children’s Books About Cannabis Alter the Future of Weed?


A new generation of children’s books are discussing cannabis in a way that is each educational and cautionary. Speaking (and reading) to your little ones about pot has under no circumstances been so exciting and vibrant.

Lead image from “It really is Just a Plant” by Ricardo Cortés

From the get started, the campaign to demonize and criminalize marijuana destroyed each and every chance for cannabis education. The War on Drugs colored public education and discourse about drugs with prohibitionist rhetoric, ranging from naive misinformation to blatant propaganda. And even though it is quick to laugh now at ludicrous cautionary tales like 1936’s Reefer Madness, quite a few folks of that time blindly accepted danger and death from pot as scientific reality.

As lately as the 1990s, 75 % of U.S. schools have been participating in the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) plan, which allegedly aimed to prepare students for the dangers of a substance abuse-plagued society with part-playing and exaggerated warnings of the dangers related with cannabis and other street drugs. State, regional, and federal agencies spent hundreds of millions of dollars on the plan more than the years, regardless of various research displaying zero proof of DARE attaining its aim of stopping drug use by little ones. 

As the truth (the actual truth) about cannabis started to spread, the have to have for educational supplies focusing on the plant’s quite a few advantages became increasingly apparent. Books and magazines committed to the energy of pot have been published. And then came the Online, which became a vast depository for cannabis info. But almost all of this media was intended for adults, leaving little ones out of the marijuana education curriculum.

 Illustration from “It really is Just a Plant” by Ricardo Cortés

To fill this have to have, a handful of authors have made children’s books that try to clarify elements of the cannabis expertise. Ricardo Cortés, an author and illustrator primarily based in Brooklyn, New York, is a pioneer in the genre, penning It is Just a Plant in 2004. He was active in drug policy reform advocacy and wanted a tool to aid folks appear at pot from a new point of view.

“I believed the book was a way of reaching an audience on a subject that I feel a lot of folks had currently created their personal choices about, no matter if or not they believed marijuana must be legalized at the time,” Cortés told MERRY JANE in a telephone interview. “So I believed this could be a Trojan horse way of finding into a provocative conversation, figuring out that folks would get upset about the concept of speaking to youngsters about marijuana.” 

It is Just a Plant follows a young girl named Jackie who becomes curious about marijuana right after walking in her parents’ space a single evening to come across them smoking a joint. A journey of discovery ensues, top to a farmer who grows cannabis (while he does not use it) and a physician who discusses prospective advantages of the herb even though clearly stating that it is not for little ones. Excited by her new information and confident that marijuana is a superior issue, she is all of a sudden faced with the harsh realities of prohibition as she witnesses a group of young males becoming arrested for smoking weed.


 Illustration from “It really is Just a Plant” by Ricardo Cortés

Cortés says It is Just a Plant is an sincere appear at society’s connection with cannabis and in no way promotes use by youngsters. But the cultural and legal landscape 15 years ago was a great deal extra delicate, and he was unable to come across help for the book.

“I sent it out to a bunch of unique publishers and no one wanted to touch it,” he stated.

Undaunted, Cortés published the book himself in 2005. It is Just a Plant discovered its industry, promoting out its original run and prompting two extra printings. He also just completed a new cover and art for a 15th-anniversary edition of the book which will be readily available on line in April 2020.

Though It is Just a Plant requires the format of a children’s book, Cortés explained that for parents it is intended to be “a tool to aid get the conversation going and also a small bit of affirmation that you happen to be not alone in this.”


Callie Cannabis illustration by Corbin Hillam

Giving sources for parents was also the motive behind Kris Morwood’s “Callie and Buddies” book series. Functioning in the cannabis sector and with the non-profit Foundation of Unified Cannabis Requirements, the dearth of educational supplies about the plant was brazen to Morwood. So she and pal Juliette Benz, who worked for a college district in Colorado, made “Callie Cannabis” with the aid of illustrator Corbin Hillam in 2014.

Morwood created it clear that Callie must be interpreted as an older character and not a young girl mainly because she is not advocating cannabis use by little ones. Alternatively, Callie is a guide that shares information about the plant in a manner that little ones come across engaging. In the initially book, Callie Chats About Cannabis, the history of herb and present attitudes like unique state laws are explored. Like Cortés, Morwood says that the messages in her perform have deep implications.

“It really is not just for youngsters,” she stated. “You can give it to your grandmother who has glaucoma or you could give it to your aunt who thinks it is the devil’s lettuce or you could give it to your nosy neighbor who’s questioning what plants you happen to be expanding in your greenhouse.”

Morwood stresses that accountable cannabis use and storage is crucial for parents. But little ones can also be empowered to keep secure with no encouraging use.


Hana Hemp illustration by Blair Barbour

“We can teach youngsters not to touch a hot stove, we can teach them not to cross the street,” stated Morwood. “We can teach them not to speak to strangers. And we can also teach them not to touch mom’s cannabis, or place it safely away. So security is our quantity a single concern.”

In 2017, “Hana Hemp” joined the “Callie and Friends” series for A Healing History of Hemp, which discusses the history and utilizes of hemp. It was even updated this year to involve language from the 2018 Farm Bill that federally legalized the crop.

Callie’s subsequent adventure is currently in the performs, with a multi-generational tale about the geriatric utilizes of the plant coming quickly. As cannabis policy continues to spread and evolve, there requirements to be an option to propaganda and inflammatory rhetoric.

“It really is a societal situation now that we truly have to appear at and we have to normalize the conversation,” Morwood says. “We have to get more than the reality that we have had misinformation. We have to move forward.”


Illustrated by Gustav Davies

Normalizing the conversation about cannabis is also the aim of Susan Soares, a cannabis activist and founder of the non-profit Cannabis Advocacy, Rallies, and Events (C.A.R.E.). The advocacy group’s logo and slogan, Just Say Know, are purposefully reminiscent of these plastered on DARE ephemera for years. Soares became an activist right after cannabis ended the migraine headaches she suffered as a outcome of a head injury.

She was inspired to create her personal children’s book, What’s Increasing in Grandma’s Garden, when a radio show host asked her how she had talked about cannabis with her youngsters, who are now grown up.

“He asked me how I talked to my youngsters about cannabis, and I did not mainly because it was appropriate just before [Proposition] 215 had passed. It was incredibly illegal,” Soares explained. “I was nonetheless a Mormon and it was anything that I certainly hid from my youngsters.”

In Soares’s book, a young boy enjoys spending time with his grandmother in her garden. He loves finding out about all of the plants and creatures that reside there. When he becomes curious about the cannabis plants expanding in her greenhouse, Grandma explains that these unique plants must under no circumstances be touched mainly because they are for adults only. The story, Soares explained, can serve as a conversation starter for parents who may well not know exactly where to start. 


Illustrated by Gustav Davies

Though she under no circumstances intended to be an author, Soares believed a children’s book could be an chance to teach little ones about cannabis’s new spot in society. She published the book this year, and it is at the moment readily available on line.

Soares says that What’s Increasing in Grandma’s Garden also has a message for parents and the other adults in kids’ lives.

“I want grown ups to understand that the youngsters are smarter than you feel they are,” she stated. “If you feel you happen to be hiding your cannabis use from little ones, you happen to be not. They know. And what are you teaching them if you hide it from them?”

And in jurisdictions that have legalized marijuana, like her dwelling state of California, Soares wonders why parents are nonetheless attempting to conceal their consumption in the initially spot.

“We do not hide our alcohol use from our youngsters. Why are we hiding our cannabis use from our youngsters?” she asked. “As extended as you happen to be not appropriate subsequent to them and in a space with no circulation, they are not going to get a second-hand higher. In the book, for the duration of the loved ones barbecue, Grandma is more than by her greenhouse, downwind smoking a joint. Since it is acceptable now. Let’s personal it!”


Illustrations by Rob Benavides

Although the books by Cortés, Morwood, and Soares try to clarify cannabis to youngsters, Eve’s Return by Allison Ray Benavides and her husband Rob Benavides tackles the generally nonetheless taboo topic of cannabis use by youngsters. 

The book is primarily based on the Benavides’ individual expertise with pediatric cannabis and relates the story of a mother whose young son is facing a severe illness. Unsure exactly where to turn for aid, the young mom relies on her instincts and expertise with a unique — albeit forbidden — plant to heal her son. Allison says that she had discovered herself in the very same circumstance. 

When their son Robby was diagnosed with a seizure disorder recognized as Doose syndrome and conventional pharmaceuticals weren’t helpful, they turned to a Charlotte’s Net tincture for aid.  Five years later, Robby is primarily seizure-totally free. Allison told MERRY JANE that her son is element of a unique group of little ones that brought on the contemporary healthcare neighborhood to lastly accept the notion of cannabis as medicine. She sees these little ones as heroes and desires them to fully grasp the significant contribution that they’ve created.

“My hope is that the youngsters will take away how unique and brave they are, that they are worth any threat,” she stated.


Illustrations by Rob Benavides

She also desires to show the little ones how brave their parents are by following their intuition and attempting cannabis, regardless of the pressures against undertaking so. And possibly most importantly, she desires other folks to join the conversation.

“The extra we’ve talked about this, the extra it is gotten much better for our little ones,” Benavides says. “So let’s preserve speaking about it.”

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