My mom passes me her vape pen while we’re curled up on the couch watching Netflix. It’s around 10 p.m. and my dad is fast asleep, snoring violently upstairs. I hit it for a little too long and cough. “This is the indica, right?” I ask her. She nods and takes the vape pen, eyeing me. She hates when I cough, still mothering me even when we’re smoking weed together. But it wasn’t always like this.
This time last year, I got my mom a vape pen and two cartridges, one indica and one sativa, for Mother’s Day. “Try the indica at night and the sativa during the day,” I wrote in the card. It was the biggest step I had taken in our “weed relationship,” and it paid off. Since I was a teenager, my mom and I hid our cannabis use from each other, but finally being open about it has made us closer than ever.
Although, it’s been a slow journey. Cannabis becoming more mainstream helped, as did me just getting older. I didn’t even fully realize my mom still smoked weed until I was finishing college. As a teen, I heard stories she used to indulge in the “good old days” from chatty uncles and cousins, but could never imagine my mom hitting a joint.
As I got older, I realized my mom not only liked pot, but she used it for the same reasons I did, for anxiety and trouble sleeping. I also realized she had difficulty accessing the Schedule I substance but didn’t feel comfortable asking me to help her “score.” Eventually, I caught on and started leaving her a few grams when I would come home to visit. We wouldn’t smoke together, but I’d tell her to check her nightstand. “Don’t tell your father or brother,” she’d respond.
After a couple of years working in the cannabis industry, moving thousands of miles away, and nearing the end of my twenties, my mom came out of her shell more. She joined my partner and I for a joint on the back deck when we were visiting a couple of years ago, which was a big step. She admitted to us she wasn’t super keen on the act of smoking, even though she enjoyed cannabis’ effect.
She had just been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and was paranoid about getting sick; afraid smoking, especially sharing, a joint could make her ill. “I was paranoid about everything, at first,” she tells me on the phone. “I didn’t even drink for two months.”
At the time, I made a mental note of my mom’s anxiety and came up with the perfect solution: she needs her own vape pen, I thought. Now, after living with the disease for a few years, she’s less paranoid. She admits to me, at this point, her least favorite thing about smoking is more the smell than anything else. My parents live in an East Coast state that still has pretty strict cannabis laws.
But my mom loves her vape pen, which she endearingly calls her “vaper.”
“I’m a one-hit wonder,” she jokes to me. She loves her ‘vaper’ because she doesn’t need more than one hit to feel relaxed and there’s hardly any smell. Plus, it’s easier than smoking weed. Grinding up weed and rolling a joint is a chore that she, and many other Boomers, avoid.
“It’s user-friendly!” she says of her vape pen—and she’s not alone. Data coming out of California shows more consumers are opting for prepared smoking options, like vape pens and prerolls, than ever before.
Despite the fact that the national opinion on cannabis is evolving, it’s still hard for Baby Boomers to “come out green,” even though more people over 60 are using cannabis than ever before. In fact, Americans over 50 are 20 times more likely to partake than 30 years ago. But are they open about it? Are they discussing cannabis with their doctors and sharing “vapers” with their adult kids?
More than ever before, I think they are. But I also believe it’s harder for Boomers to be open about weed because the stigma against the herb has been strong for their entire lives. Plus, “I’ll always be a parent first,” my mom explains. She doesn’t want to influence my behavior with her cannabis use. At this point, however, the tide has definitely changed, and I’m the one doing the influencing.
We’re on the phone, discussing the package I gave her recently. I explain she should let the Kin Slips melt under her tongue, not on top, and why. Then I ask her if she likes the new cartridge I got her, a full gram of God’s Gift to help her sleep. She admits she hasn’t tried it yet because she still has a little left in her old cartridge.
“Have you ever exercised high?” she asks me. But before I can answer to tell her, of course, and I’ve written about it (doesn’t she remember?), she tells me she’s already tried one of those tongue slips and it made stretching feel amazing. “It was after a day I did a ton of housework that could have put me out for a week. But with the Kin Slip, plus my routine of stretching and exercise, icing and heating my back, I was fine!” We’re both ecstatic, my mom’s back pain can be so bad, she can be basically crippled for days, unable to even help with the dishes.
“Good!” I tell her, relishing these moments we are completely open about our cannabis use and discovering new ways it can help us, together. I tell her I’m going to write an essay about this called, “Why you should get your mom a vape pen for Mother’s Day.” She laughs. “You have to warn them that it’ll open up a whole new door of requests!”