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How STL Cannamoms is fighting back against the stigma of legal cannabis use

Jessica Carroll (left) and Kimberlee Kesterson are the founders of STL Cannamoms.
Miya Norfleet
St. Louis Public Radio
Jessica Carroll, left, and Kimberlee Kesterson are the founders of STL Cannamoms.

Despite recreational cannabis sales starting in Missouri in 2022, stigma surrounding its use can make conversations around smoking weed awkward at best or harmful at worst.

For parents who use cannabis recreationally or medicinally, potential for discomfort and jeopardy is even greater.

150 “cannamoms” from the St. Louis Cannamoms Facebook group gathered at the Skatium in the Patch neighborhood March 16, 2024
Rich Kling / Provided
150 “cannamoms” from the St. Louis Cannamoms Facebook group gather at the Skatium in the Patch neighborhood on March 16.

STL Cannamoms is the brainchild of Jessica Carroll and Kimberlee Kesterson. The two longtime friends reconnected after they both started families and careers in the cannabis industry at Feel State Dispensary. The duo bonded over becoming mothers and marijuana, and in time, they created a Facebook group to connect with like-minded women in the region.

“As a mom, it's really hard to find your place to fit in. We don't have much free time, and the little free time we do have, we've got to use it wisely,” Carroll told St. Louis on the Air.

Carroll and Kesterson centered their group around cannabis and motherhood to get the hardest question out of the way when making new friends: “Do you smoke?” But Kesterson shared that much of the conversation in their online community involves activities that have nothing to do with cannabis — a key component to dispelling stereotypes and stigmas that isolate parents who use cannabis.

“We've created meal trains to make sure that moms can get a break, or if they need clothes because they want to get a professional job but they just don't have the money to buy a nice business suit,” Kesterson said. “[The cannamoms] give away free things like diapers and wipes. It just amazes me how all of these women have come together to help one another. And we work really hard on keeping it exclusive and just a mom-only group just because we want them to know that we see [them] and we as moms have gone through the same struggles.”

While cannabis serves as an entry point into creating friendships, there are often conversations in the cannamom community that focus on how cannabis has helped them become better parents.

Carroll said intentional use of marijuana has helped her break “generational curses.”

“Everybody knows that as a parent, you lose your cool sometimes. [It’s] being aware [enough] to say, ‘I'm triggered right now, I'm overstimulated, I need to take a step back so I can come back to being the best version of myself for [my children].’”

For more on STL Cannamoms and parenting as a cannabis user, including navigating misconceptions with older generations and personal stories from “dabbin’ dads,” listen to St. Louis on the Air on Apple Podcast, Spotify or by clicking the play button below.

How STL Cannamoms is fighting back against the stigma of legal cannabis use

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Ulaa Kuziez, Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski, Elaine Cha and Alex Heuer. Roshae Hemmings is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Miya is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air."