Some people think the nickname mum I use on my Instagram account comes from being a mother of plants, but I have a son and a daughter, and a cat too. And when I moved to France five years ago, it was the first time I was 100% of my time with my kids.
I’m 46 years old, I was born in Baixada Fluminense and lived in the North Zone, we moved because I was already seeing the degradation of Rio de Janeiro and Brazil. It was a little before Dilma’s impeachment and I could sense a weird atmosphere. Today, the neighborhood where I was born has a militia, my sister says that accesses were closed and there is a scheme to get in and out, something that didn’t exist before.
My teenagers went through stressful situations going to and from the school in the South Zone, or the school bus was held up by a flood or a firefight. So, as they are French-Brazilians, we took advantage of this possibility of coming to France.
In Brazil, I had a business with my sister, I went to the company every day and there was someone who took care of my children at home. When I arrived in France, I continued to do the administrative and social networking part remotely, I was at home all the time. It’s another kind of motherhood, for the first time I was alone without the network of emotional help, mother, sister, friends. It was the first time I felt like a mother in the heavy sense of the word.
When I told my kids that I was going to grow marijuana and do an Instagram profile, they just asked me to keep it a secret, I had never considered showing my face, so it was ok. My son is the oldest, he is 16 years old and is very legalistic, big-faced, he was worried. In fact, they didn’t take it seriously, they made a bet that I would have a maximum of forty followers. When I turned 100, I rubbed it in their faces. Now I’m close to making 100,000 followers.
I started smoking marijuana at 31 because I have pigmented villonodular synovitis, which affects my knee. The disease reached a stage in which the orthopedist referred me for radiotherapy — the next step would be to have a prosthesis. They are benign tumors that arise in various regions of the body, in my case, on the right knee. I had several surgeries and had a very poor quality of life, the two times I got pregnant it was super difficult because I gained weight and my knee was damaged even more. In my first birth, I left the maternity hospital for the orthopedic emergency. I came home with a baby and an immobilized knee.
Until one day, a doctor told me that in the US people treated cancer with marijuana, and then I thought, “Well, why not give it a try?” It was a very quick conversation, on the way out of the office.
My close friends were not pot smokers, I came from a family from Baixada Fluminense, part of it evangelical. My father was a military policeman, always very strict with the drug issue.
I really saw it as a thing for people that we wanted to stay away, my mother said: “Don’t go out with so-and-so, so-and-so is smoking marijuana”. This discourse of marijuana as a gateway to other drugs was introjected into me, and the issue of violence, because when my mother said: “Don’t go with them”, she considered the risks, we know what happens to these boys when the police arrive.
So for me marijuana was something these people, drug dealers, or the “people from the south zone”, who we know seem to have a legitimacy to smoke, they know it will never be a problem.
With marijuana, I got rid of 8 medications
Through a friend of friends in the south side, I got some marijuana. I didn’t have any expertise and I looked for a tutorial on the internet to press the joint. My first experience was very liberating: I was alone, my son was traveling with his father, and just discovering that I could be pain free, without taking any painkillers or steroids, was revolutionary.
My knee was always swollen, twice the size of the other one, and now they’re both the same. She was very complex, she didn’t wear short clothes, she limped, she used a crutch. I used antidepressants and all the medications that go with it. Because you use an antidepressant and a mood regulator, then it interferes with your sleep and you use something to sleep. I took eight medications, and with the use of marijuana I got rid of them all. For me it is a very important plant in my life.
When I arrived in France I had no supplier, I thought it was my opportunity to start farming. I joined Facebook groups, Growroom and others, and exchanged information. In one of these groups I met a guy who became my consultant. At the same time I learned from him, I did my experiments and shared the results on Instagram.
I really want to do something rich and beautiful, because what I see in this world of cannabis is very repetitive, very elite, they use terms in English, an exclusive language. My audience on Instagram is so mixed that you have no idea, there are people from the community who follow me who don’t understand anything about plants and ask me questions in an innocence… But they have the courage to ask me the questions.
People are surprised: “Wow, but it’s a black woman”, so I learned this political place of mine: a mother, a black woman who is growing marijuana in an illegal context, trying to show that this can be different.
I was the first person in my family to go to college. I studied sociology, had an academic career, started a doctorate and taught for a year in college. I resigned because it wasn’t what I wanted. My context of being a black academic was different, I’m not from the generation of kids who entered the Lula government, had access to scholarships, etc. When I joined, I was always the only black person, and that’s pretty tiring, especially when you’re young.
When I went to college, my father went to my mother’s house, in uniform, in the police car, which was not something he did. And he did a kind of course in his own way, like what they do for kids not to use drugs.
He believed that what attracted people to drugs was curiosity, “I’ve never seen marijuana so I’m going there” and then you end up getting hooked. He said, “You better see it at home than you see it on the street.”
I was going into social science, so imagine he got it right a little. Because within what my father called a whore and a pothead, it really was a bit like that.
When I smoked for the first time my son was already born, he was one year old, he always saw me smoke at night and such. I would say: “Mommy smokes plants”, period. Until when they were 6 and 9 years old, they started to go to the houses of schoolmates in the south zone, and I was prejudiced against the south zone because I grew up hearing that there were only pot smokers there.
That’s when I told my kids that I smoked marijuana, and that it’s something that had to stay with us, a matter of our family, because it was illegal. It was a very simple two-minute conversation.
It was only after many years of coming back to this subject with my son that he said that he already knew what marijuana was, that among his colleagues they made jokes against pot smokers, jokes with stereotypes of slow people and that, for him, it was a little disconcerting because he you never saw any of these behaviors in me.
From the plant derives many other problems
Some young people write to me to ask: “Do I want to plant at home how to tell my mother?” And I’m telling you the truth, it’s complicated because you share a space that is also the home of the other, and it’s difficult for a mother to answer: “Ok, you can grow marijuana”, especially in this context of violence and repression that is Brazil.
There are many mothers crying for their dead children, women crying for their husbands, like my mother who lost my father just like that, in a gun battle with drug dealers. It’s something I know, that of violence and repression on both sides, from the side of those who live in an area where there is incursion by the police and, on the other, of someone who, for n reasons, accepted to be a military police officer and do this work of repression , even being a black man. How does this happen?
That’s why on the internet I have a speech maybe a little provocative, even if I try to bring this botanical look, I don’t want people to forget that many other problematic plants derive from this plant. When you are a white male you can express your marijuana use in a way that other bodies cannot.
Nowadays I only smoke one joint a day, which makes me much better than when I took Rivotril. Sometimes I want to smoke more and I tell my kids, then they have fun and take the opportunity to make fun of me.
I trust my kids, and I know if they want to smoke pot, at some point, they’ll tell me first.
If my children have a demand, colic, migraine, that I can treat in an herbal way, I won’t be negligent. Now if by chance they say to me: “Oh, I’m going out with my friends and I want to smoke marijuana”, I will advise against it. It’s early, because there is scientific research that says it is not good to smoke at this age, we are based on science and we have to trust science. And as I started when I was 31, that gives me legitimacy.
Now, if you ask me, with the information I have today, if I would smoke at 31, I would say no, I wouldn’t smoke. I would use marijuana but I would not smoke, because I acquired an addiction to smoking that I didn’t have before, and smoking is bad for me. And even if I make oil, even if I make butter, I like to smoke, that unfortunately I would like to review. Unfortunately, I’ve already caught this bad habit.
*Name was changed at the request of the interviewee