Activism Archive Blog Canada Feature Growing Medical

Parenting during prohibition – Being a single dad with a medical grow-op

Raising kids is hard. Growing the quality of cannabis required to deliver a medical benefit is also difficult. Doing both at the same time is even more difficult, especially with the ever changing legal market. Today, anyone can legally grow up to four plants in Canada and with an ACMPR, your plant count depends on your doctor. However, many medical cannabis users today still find that the stigma surrounding the use of this plant remains prevalent. Today, if a police officer walked into your home, saw some weed growing and knew you had children, they wouldn’t necessarily give you a hard time. Twenty years ago, that was not the case.

This topic came up with my friend Red Beard; he was a single dad that earned his living as a Glass Blower for the last 21 years. Having suffered from chronic IBS and arthritis, Red Beard relies on his medicine to be able to use his hands and ultimately put food on the table. He has a prescription for the plants that he has grown and he has raised two awesome kids. I was extremely curious about his experience, so, I seized the opportunity to phone up Red Beard and ask him what growing plants with kids was like. 

How long have you been growing and how many kids do you have? What ages are they?

I’ve been growing for 24 years and I have two kids, eighteen and twenty.


Why do you grow cannabis?

The same reason I prefer to grow my own tomatoes. I know exactly how its produced and I end up having the best therapeutic result. Plus, I grew up in a greenhouse; my dad is a horticulturalist. It felt very natural to grow my own medicine.

What do your kids know about your plants?

Now they know everything. As soon as they were old enough, I was open with them. I was a single dad so they had to know where to find me. I mean the room in the basement was always locked but they needed to know where I was if they got up in the middle of the night. 


What did you tell them?

It was my medicine. 


If a teacher asked them what their dad did for a living, what did you tell your kids to say?

That I am a glass blower but I grow my own medicine. There were a few instances that the school called to complain about backpacks and hair, said my kids smelled like a grow op. I never thought to wash their backpacks, I didn’t think about those smelling like weed.



Where was this? Was this a big city? The interior?

Two different schools actually. One was a small town, the other wasn’t. 


So, the school boards never gave you a problem? On more than one occasion?

No, Schools have real people in them. They don’t want to tear apart families and ruin lives. The stigma with cannabis brought all kinds of problems when it came to other parents and kids. I’d say that was the biggest impact; other kids weren’t allowed over, no sleepovers, birthday parties, stuff like that. 


How do your kids feel about cannabis today? Do they use it?

One kid hates it, the other is indifferent. 


What about alcohol or other recreational drugs?

They have never really been into any of that. 


It seems like your kids aren’t really into substance use.

I made sure they knew that cannabis was my medicine. I tried to make it so that they understood that using cannabis was as normal as taking an aspirin. They ended up growing up to be really good people.

Julia Veintrop
From an early age, Julia displayed a passion for writing and languages, a fascination with journalism and an amazing memory. Her career focus had been gaining skills and experience in many different fields of counselling. Her ambition to have a career as medical general practitioner was interrupted when she became very ill from cervical cancer and the procedures necessary to remove it, beginning almost seven years of severe medical issues. Using the written word as an avenue of release and feeling the miraculous benefits of cannabis first-hand, she developed her skills throughout her illness and shifted her focus to cannabis from the patient perspective. Today, she devotes her life to a cause she truly enjoys, cannabis activism, so that no one need suffer unnecessarily due to lack of education or access.

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