Cannabis With Kid Gloves

You may have had a “cool” grandmother who smoked weed when you were growing up.

If that’s your benchmark for cool, Susan Soares is ultra-cool, as she not only smokes weed and is a grandma, but recently wrote a children’s book about the topic.

What’s Growing in Grandma’s Garden, which arrived in bookstores in August, is a great kids’ bedtime storybook on the topic of what many adults use to help them get to sleep.

Grandma’s Garden is indeed a children’s book — or rather, a self-described “book to help grownups have a conversation with children about cannabis.” Soares spoke to SF Weekly about why she wrote a children’s book about cannabis, and what pot-smoking parents can say to kids when having “the talk.”

“My advice to grownups in regards to talking to children about cannabis is to be honest,” she says. “If you are consuming cannabis and you think your child doesn’t know, you are kidding yourself.

“What message are you sending them? If you want them to trust you, you’ll have a frank discussion with them about what we know so far about cannabis.”

With colorful and age-appropriate illustrations by Gustav Davies, Grandma’s Garden is told through the eyes of a little boy whose “Grandma has some plants that are extra special to her.” The recurring theme is to tell kids that cannabis is “just for grownups,” like alcohol or cigarettes, a solution for even very conservative families like the one in which Soares was raised.

“My family are very staunch Mormons,” Soares says. “I was an Orange County Republican, soccer mom, and leader in the church until I was 33.”

At that point she sustained a concussion and suffered migraines for two years. She experimented with a certain alternative medicine, a move that would prove none too popular with the Mormon Church.

“I knew that if [cannabis] worked, I would be rejected from my family and community,” Soares tells us. “Both things came true.”

Booted from the church and shunned by her family, Soares founded the nonprofit Cannabis Awareness Research and Economics (C.A.R.E.). The organization took on the task of preparing cannabis treat gift bags at an offsite Coachella festival green room for performers known as the Green Oasis, a gig which got Soares booked on the nationally-syndicated drive-time radio program The Woody Show and ultimately spawned the idea for this book.

“Woody [Fife] asked me how I talked to my children about cannabis,” she says. “The truth was that I didn’t. My answer really bothered me so I spent the next year interviewing people in and out of the industry about how they talked to their children about cannabis. I was shocked to learn that the majority of folks didn’t. No one had a problem discussing alcohol and consuming it in front of their children but most people hid their cannabis consumption from them. I thought to myself that this had to change. Cannabis is legal in so many states now. We fought so hard to make it acceptable but yet we were still keeping it in the closet. That’s when I knew I had to write this book.”

Soares acknowledges that it’s tough to talk to kids about cannabis, even for experienced parents and advocates.

“It’s not all magic and unicorns but it’s a pretty fabulous plant,” she says. “For most children, it would be better for them to wait until their brains are developed before they start consuming it. What’s Growing in Grandma’s Garden is a conversation starter, you can keep it light or get as deep into it as you want.”
There are already children’s books about puberty, same-sex marriage, and how everybody poops. A children’s book about cannabis might make a lot of sense; because kids are very perceptive, especially when they’re growing up like weeds.