Parenting and Pot: Meet the Founders of Splimm


Name(s) and title(s): Kevin Cranford, Chad Dean, and Jenn Lauder - Founders, Splimm

Jenn & Chad - We’re from Baltimore, but we moved across the country last year to Portland, OR.
Kevin - Born and raised in CT, moved to Baltimore for college and stayed.

Day Job(s): 
Jenn - I was a progressive educator in elementary classrooms for over a decade before jumping into the cannabis industry. Now, in addition to producing Splimm, I direct marketing & advocacy efforts for an herbal products company, I write for Dope Magazine, and I create content for other cannabis companies.
Chad - I have a couple of English degrees, I've been a stay at home dad, helped grown ups in the midst of career transitions, and been the primary educator in our 9-year-old daughter’s home school program. Like Jenn, I write for Dope and work with people who need some assistance creating or running a cannabis business.
Kevin - I have my education in television production, and am currently a deposition videographer.

What is Splimm?
Jenn - Splimm is a newsletter, a community, and a resource for families whose lives have been enhanced by cannabis. It’s a space for respectful and inclusive dialogue, for progressive visioning, and for fruitful collaboration. Our mission is to enact today the future we hope to cultivate for all children. We believe cannabis can help us do that.

Who came up with the idea to launch a newsletter about pot and parenting? 
Chad -
Jenn and I had started a review site called Weekend Review Kit, dedicated to finding quality cannabis dispensaries and products, and we had a column there called High Need Parenting. We knew that cannabis was a safe alternative to alcohol, and since legalization has become a national conversation, more and more parents were coming to us with questions, not about their kids, but about themselves. I met Kevin not too long after we launched the site, and during our first conversation, over some fine cannabis, we talked a lot about how he wasn't a dad yet, but felt like his time was coming soon. It's been close to 2 years since that first talk, and this just felt like a natural extension of that friendship.
Kevin - I met Chad and Jenn through my work with Maryland NORML and we became fast friends. I met them before the birth of my son and they have been a resource for me when faced with the questions like, "how do parents use cannabis in this day and age?" Through our conversations we realized others have similar questions and could also share their input on the topic.
Jenn - I’ve worked with and for children my entire adult life, so it was a natural transition for me to produce something family-focused for the cannabis space. We know legalization and regulation are better choices for our children. I believe that’s the key to changing people’s hearts and minds around this issue.

It's hard enough being a parent - let alone being a parent coordinating a newsletter with other parents - how do you balance your multiple roles?
Chad -
We use Slack, and Jenn does the rest. Seriously though, some of our challenges, like being separated by three times zones, make us work a little harder but give us a broader perspective on what’s happening in cannabis right now. And being a parent prepares you for multiple roles. Newsletters are easy compared to nine-year-olds.
Jenn - Ha! Chad jokes that I try to solve everything with deep breaths and lots of water. But really, meditation, good food, and cannabis for self-care go a long way when you’re juggling multiple priorities. Aside from that, it’s a matter of putting the scaffolding into place, establishing the proper structures and organizational systems so that you can generate and capitalize on creative energy without having to reinvent the wheel at every turn. We made a lot of mistakes and learned a ton while creating Weekend Review Kit, and having that blueprint to work from has made this a smoother process for sure.
Kevin - Yes it’s challenging at times but both cases are labors of love. I love my son whether he’s pooping or smiling, the same is true for the newsletter.

What is your vision for Splimm in the next year?
Kevin -
My vision is that in the next year Splimm will be known outside tight-knit cannabis community and placed on par with other parenting newsletters.
Jenn - Absolutely. In the next year, we’ll be adding new members to the Splimm team, building a cohort of likeminded sponsors, and launching a product line. We’re also looking to partner with organizations to serve our broader communities. For me, it’s all about expanding these circles, bringing more people into the fold. How many people read Scary Mommy? That’s the size audience we want, that’s the kind of influence we know Splimm can have.

What are the top ten tips for parents who work/advocate/enjoy cannabis?
  1. Keep your stash and supplies secure, locked up, and out of reach. Just don’t take the chance. Ever.

  2. Clean up after yourself. Please don’t give your toddler a chance to grab the ashtray you left on the coffee table.

  3. Have the conversation with your child when they’re ready, and make sure you are too. Be honest and responsive, and pull in outside resources if needed.

  4. Model responsible consumption. Your children are watching you, and your choices form the basis of their concept of what it means to be a grown-up.

  5. Don’t drive under the influence. Let’s not give the prohibitionists more fuel for their anti-cannabis fire.

  6. Be extra attentive to your parenting duties. Our kids always come first. Splimm parents set a good example and defy stereotypes.

  7. Embrace your mistakes and forgive yourself. There is no such thing as a perfect parent, so the best you can hope for is to learn whatever you can whenever you can and apply that to the journey ahead.

  8. Be ready to talk to other parents about your cannabis use. We need to share our stories so others feel safe sharing theirs. This is how we normalize.

  9. Make your activism part of your family’s experience. Children learn so much about active citizenship by watching our political engagement.

  10. Find some likeminded people in the industry and make friends. This is such a complicated, ever-changing sphere that it can be overwhelming. It helps to be able to get on the phone, or computer, or go out for coffee and hear how other people are going through the same things, are having the same problems, but that we all keep going because we know how beneficial this plant can be.

The parenting and pot topic is viewed as taboo by some people. Why is that? What can we do to counter misconceptions?
Kevin - The taboo around pot and parenting is attached to the bigger stigma around cannabis itself. Because marijuana is illegal those who consume are seen as bad, mix that with parenting, and society can easily look down on our group. The best thing we can do is come out and tell our stories to put a face to those parents who use cannabis.
Jenn - Agreed. I think the taboo or stigma is magnified for parents because parents are constantly scrutinized for everything we do. We can’t win: ‘Are you a helicopter parent? Give that child some space! Are you a free-range parent? Give that child some supervision!’ So parents who consume cannabis are an easy target for scorn and snark, especially from those who hold onto outdated ideas about the plant. And look, we live in an age where The Three Martini Playdate and Daddy Needs a Drink are perfectly acceptable titles for parenting books, an age where moms and dads talk openly about their “happy pills,” and other chemical enhancements. If that’s all fair game, so is pot and parenting. One of my greatest hopes is that, by advocating for a safer form of recreation and medicine, Splimm can help us reflect on our society’s relationship to alcohol and prescription drugs and encourage people to opt for a more benign substance.

If you could share one piece of advice with an aspiring cannabis blogger/journalist, what would it be?
Kevin -
Get over whatever fear you have and just do it. There’s someone out there who is waiting to read what you write.
Jenn - Write every damn day. Develop your craft and hone your voice. Strong writing is a skill that’s desperately needed in this industry; sophisticated, high quality cannabis content is still lacking. This will be a difference maker for our movement because it has the power to transcend the self-identified cannabis community and engage more people in the conversation. There are amazing stories to tell, and we need writers with the chops to do it well.
Chad - I agree with Jenn and Kevin, and I think cannabis writing in the end is no different from any other kind of writing. If you’re passionate about a subject, and you put in time that reflects that commitment, people will be more inclined to read your work.

What are you expecting at the 2017 National Cannabis Festival?
Jenn -
We moved from Baltimore literally the week before the NCF last year, so we were disappointed to miss it. We’re definitely planning to make it back this year. We love Oregon, but our roots our in the East Coast movement. Plus, I’m super excited to see Talib Kweli. Rawkus Records provided the soundtrack for our college experience!
Kevin - I did. I thoroughly enjoy the first NCF, it was like a cannabis industry and activist family reunion. I’m looking forward to the 2017 NCF and seeing all the NORML sister chapters together from all over the east coast. Also I’m looking forward to the panels featuring industry professionals and national politicians.  

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