‘It’s Just A Plant’ is the kid’s book about weed parents have been waiting for

Photo credit: Annie Spratt via Unsplash

This #WorldBookDay, there’s a new book for parents that might just make the conversation with their children around cannabis a little easier.

Ricardo Cortés is the New York Times bestselling author and illustrator who brought us such glorious titles as Go the F—k to Sleep and the more recent Stay the F—k at Home, featuring Samuel L. Jackson. While these books are considered “kids books for adults”, his latest work is a genuine children’s picture book called, It’s Just A Plant – A Children’s Story about Marijuana.

The book follows a young girl named Jackie as she learns about the cannabis plant from her parents, a farmer, a doctor, and a police officer. It is through these characters that Cortés is able to introduce the nuances of cannabis in a well-rounded, honest way, without being patronizing. And while it is certainly geared towards children and their parents, the way in which the book breaks down the various complex issues associated with cannabis makes it a book for anyone who might believe that the plant is nothing but the devil’s lettuce.

“If you’re 93 and still interested in making a change, by all means read this book and discuss it,” he says.

Cortés says his motivation to write the book was derived from his interest in justice issues around drug policy, which arose while he spent several years drawing portraits and running art workshops in jails at Rikers Island and the Manhattan Detention Complex in New York City. He has also written extensively on the topic for publications like Vanity Fair.

“I realized children were one population affected by the drug war without a voice in its progression,” says the author. “Their families were so often torn apart by incarceration for a parent’s recreational or medicinal use of marijuana. I also saw children were being targeted with anti-marijuana ‘facts’ that were both misleading and counterproductive.”

Cortés says that while he doesn’t think children should be experimenting with cannabis, “they should be equipped with responsible information about it.”

As you might expect, the author-illustrator has faced criticism from some parents for covering the subject of pot in a book geared towards children, particularly because they might be afraid it could encourage underage use. But Cortés says that telling the truth about the plant is necessary.

“I understand why many parents fear a book like this could encourage their children to experiment—if marijuana use is discussed in terms other than outright denouncement—but I think honest dialogue destroys that myth,” he says.

“I think we can deter abuse of drugs by opening channels of communication between kids and their parents. That said, I respect people who disagree with my perspective, especially when they do so kindly in an email.”