Give Mom a Vape Pen This Mother’s Day

Vapes are discreet, easy to use, and classier than a regular joint.

By Erik Sinclair

Give her a Mother’s Day gift she’ll always forget. (Art:  Kati Kirsch )

Give her a Mother’s Day gift she’ll always forget. (Art: Kati Kirsch)

“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: The joint looks 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. 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’ve got something much better for my mom to inhale.  

Like most Boomers, my mom came of age when free love reigned and cannabis flowed freely. By her early twenties she’d moved on to more “acceptable” and accessible recreational vices like cigarettes and Chardonnay.

Sure, she’d smoke an occasional bowl or joint with friends. But she had long forgotten how it once made her feel: relaxed, more engaged with the world, open to new ideas and adventures. Since her first encounter with the illegal herb as a teen, she was never really comfortable with scoring her own stash, and certainly had no clue how to roll her own joints, let alone make an apple bong.

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 smoking and had no clue how much the industry had changed since her youth. I couldn’t help but wonder if giving her a vape pen for Mother’s Day would perhaps be the perfect way to ease her back into the burgeoning world of modern marijuana?

“Yes, of course it is,” Trixie Garcia, who knows a thing or two about pot-smoking parents, told OK Whatever. Her mother, Carolyn “Mountain Girl” Garcia — one of the famous Merry Pranksters from the 1960s that lived with author Ken Kesey — literally wrote the book on growing weed. Seriously, she penned the very first female-authored marijuana grow book in 1977: 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 said. “Vaping is safer, easier, and more socially acceptable than sparking up an old fashioned joint.”

It’s true. Even moms who haven’t penned seminal pot books or weren’t married to the famous frontman for the Grateful Dead are appreciating weed 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 65 each day, according to the Pew Research Center, and more and more of them are opting for weed to improve their health and well-being. So, when you put it that way, doesn’t a user-friendly vape pen for Mother’s Day make perfect sense?

Matthew Ontano the Director of Marketing at PCKT Vapes thinks so. He’s convinced 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 said, and a vape pen is just that. Instead of having to roll a joint or pack a glass pipe, vapes offer a more simple and low-key method of getting high anywhere you want, anytime.

“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," Luna Stower, who works for the cannabis oil maker Jetty Extracts, said. “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.”

The Hanu Stone. (Credit:  Facebook/Hanu Labs )

The Hanu Stone. (Credit: Facebook/Hanu Labs)

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, spoke about how moms are always expected to do so much, whether it’s 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 said.

It helps that the Hanu Stone looks like a rock, making it unlikely that someone will mistake it for drug paraphernalia.

“It doesn’t look like a smoking device. 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,” Shen said.

What’s also special about Shen’s device is that it solves compatibility issues by using a proprietary cartridge so that mom will never accidentally buy the wrong kind. Because vape pen batteries have varying power outputs and cartridges require differing amounts of power, they don’t always work together. It can be confusing 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 because she’ll only have one brand to choose from.

There are a few other things to consider when it comes to scoring mom a safe vape pen as a Mother’s Day gift. The biggest issues with vape pens are twofold: they have potential health and environmental issues, explained Mitchell Colbert, a researcher and cannabis sustainability expert in the San Francisco Bay Area.

In addition to concerns about the thinning agents used in them, there are also worries about the safety of the material components the pens are made from. 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?

The dosist vape pen. (Credit:  Facebook/dosist )

The dosist vape pen. (Credit: Facebook/dosist)

“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,” Colbert explained. “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, and my mom and I are back on the deck, enjoying a final moment together as Mother’s Day fades into night. While the rest of the family, including my dad, are in the house nestled around the television, I hand my mom her wrapped gift. Breathe in the good shit, exhale the bullshit, I think to myself as I watch her unwrap the present.

“A vape pen? You got me a vape pen for Mother’s Day?” my mom exclaims, laughing.

“I would have given you flowers again,” I respond, “but you obviously really suck at rolling joints.”