Post originally written for okwhatever.org
“You can’t smoke this, “I say to my mom as she drops in my hand what looks to be a soggy, half-burnt french fry. Every now and then when I visit she’ll try to impress me with a poorly-rolled joint or one that she pocketed from a party. This one is no exception: it seems like it’s about to fall apart.
We’re on the back deck of her home in the Berkeley Hills overlooking the San Francisco Bay. It’s warm out. The air is warm and I chuckle as I toss the failed joint just beyond a patch of wild flowers and into a large potted plant. It’s Mother’s Day 2018 and I hand my mom a nicely-wrapped gift.
Like most boomers my mom came of age around dope. However she had long forgotten how it once made her feel—relaxed, more engaged with the world and more open to new ideas and new adventures. By her early 20s she’d moved on to more “acceptable” and accessible recreational vices like cigarettes and Chardonnay. Sure she’d smoke an occasional bowl or hit a joint with friends. But since first encountering the illicit herb as a teen during the 1960s she was never really comfortable scoring her own let alone rolling her own.
As a longtime proponent and user of cannabis, I couldn’t help but feel bad for my mom. She was missing out on all the wonderful benefits of weed and had no clue how much the industry had changed since her youth. I couldn’t help but wonder if a vape pen would perhaps be the perfect way to ease her back into the burgeoning world of modern marijuana?
“Yes, of course it is,” says Trixie Garcia who knows a thing or two about pot-smoking parents. Her mother, Carolyn ‘Mountain Girl’ Garcia—one of the famous Merry Pranksters from the 60s—literally wrote the book on growing weed. Seriously she penned the very first female-authored marijuana grow book ever called, The Primo Plant.
“After telling your mother that she’s appreciated this Mother’s Day. let her know that smoking weed has come a long ways,” Trixie says. Vaping is safer, easier and more socially acceptable than sparking up an old fashioned joint.”
It’s true. Even mom’s who haven’t penned seminal pot books or weren’t married to the famous frontman of the Grateful Dead are appreciating pot like never before. In fact it’s not just moms or even women who are turning to the herb in droves nowadays: it’s all old folks.
According to the New Yorker seniors are America’s fastest-growing population of new cannabis users. Ten thousand people turn sixty-five each day, according to the Pew Research Center, and more and more of them are turning to weed for their health and well-being. So a user-friendly vape pen for Mother’s Day makes perfect sense, right?
Matthew Ontano the Director of Marketing at PCKT Vapes thinks so. In fact he goes as far as to say that a portable vaporizer is quite possibly the best gift that you can get your mom for Mother’s Day. Moms want convenience, reliability and value, Ontano tells me. And a portable vaporizer is just that—a convenient and reliable method of getting high anywhere you want, anytime you want, he says.
“My mom likes using vape pens because they’re discreet and she’s able to utilize them around friends who are disapproving of her cannabis use,” says Luna Stower, Business Development for cannabis oil maker Jetty Extracts.
“Also using a vape pen is easier to dose than typical flower options. And for older women who may have mobility issues or arthritis rolling a joint or packing a bowl is not as easy as inhaling from an electronic vaporizer,” Stower says.
During a recent San Francisco launch party for the Hanu Stone—a fancy, new, ergonomically-shaped vaporizer that resembles a skipping stone—the company’s owner, Seibo Shen, tells me that moms are always expected to do so much whether it’s just raising the kids or taking care of their husbands.
“I think that if anyone deserves a special thank you this Mother’s Day it should be the person that is making sure the family is taken care of,” Shen explained.
It also helps that it looks like a rock, making it unlikely that someone’ll mistake it for drug paraphernalia.
“Something like the Hanu Stone would really appeal to mom on Mother’s Day because it doesn’t look like a smoking device, continues Shen. “I know for many moms that want to experiment or haven’t been utilizing cannabis over the last couple of decades that just having something that doesn’t automatically scream ‘I’m consuming cannabis right now’ is nice.
What’s also special about Shen’s device is that it solves compatibility issues by utilizing a proprietary cartridge. This approach makes vaping even easier for mom because she doesn’t have to worry about buying a cartridge that doesn’t work with her battery. Because vape pen batteries have varying power outputs and different cartridges require differing amounts of power, they don’t always work together. It can be confusing for anyone to figure out which are the correct makes and models to buy, and it can be especially difficult for someone new to cannabis — like a mom — to figure out.
With a vape pen like the Hanu Stone or something by PAX, the possibility of buying a cartridge that’s not compatible is a non-issue because the devices only work with cartridges manufactured by that specific company. In other words, when mom runs out, she won’t have to guess which cartridge to buy since she only has one option.
There are a few things to consider when it comes to scoring mom a safe Mother’s Day gift. The biggest issues with vape pens are two fold—both potential health issues and potential environmental issues, explains Mitchell Colbert, a researcher and cannabis sustainability expert.
In addition to the concerns about the thinning agents used in pens there are also concerns relating to the safety of the material components they are made from, explains Colbert. So if you’re thinking of buying your mom a vape pen for Mother’s Day just what safety features and design options should you consider?
“My advice is to look for devices like the Dosist which contain microprocessors that can control the heat settings and prevent the heat from spiking up into the combustion range,” says Colbert. “I would also advise avoiding pens that use MCT oil or PEG as thinning agents until we have better studies on their safety for vaporized inhalation.”
In fact, a lot of the health and safety concerns surrounding vape pens are still in their nascency. This doesn’t mean you should steer away from them, just smoke them with a grain of salt — and keep an eye out for future research that might shed more light on their benefits and downsides.
The sun is setting in the Berkeley hills. Back on the deck Mom and I enjoy a final moment together as Mother’s Day slips into night. While the rest of the family including my dad are in the house nestled around the television. I pull out a perfectly-rolled joint. I light it, take a few drags to get it going then hand it over to my mom. She hands it back after a long inhale and even longer exhale. Breathe in the good-shit—exhale the bullshit, I think to myself as I watch her begin to unwrap the present.
“A vape pen? You got me a vape pen for Mother’s Day,” my mom exclaims laughing loudly.
“I would’ve given you flowers again,” I quickly respond handing her back the greasy jay, “but you obviously really suck at rolling ‘em into joints.”
This article originally appeared on & was written for okwhatever.org
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