When Seibo Shen’s eldest daughter was four years old, she had an ill-fated play-date with one of her pre-school peers.
All had been going well until the other kid’s father came to pick her up and caught sight of Shen’s cannabis dabbing rig.
“At first I thought I was opening his eyes to this brand new cannabis world. Turns out he was just appalled,” recalls Shen, the San Francisco-based CEO of Vapexhale.
“Essentially, my daughter didn’t have any play-dates after that day.”
The way Shen saw it at the time, there were two ways he could move forward from the incident: he could hide his penchant for pot, or he could “come out of the green closet” and shed his cannabis shame once and for all.
Despite some of his wife’s misgivings, the father of two daughters under the age of seven chose the latter. Two years on, he's never looked back.
“I thought long and hard about it and ultimately realized that we’ve helped hundreds, if not thousands, of people directly or indirectly by being thought leaders in the cannabis space and by talking about responsible cannabis use.
“If all of the sudden I was hiding this, I thought, ‘there must be some part of me that has some shame about cannabis, and if that’s the case, what am I doing in this industry in the first place?’”
From that day forward, Shen committed himself to being something of an advocate for other cannabis-friendly parents. He says the response he got from other parents at his kids’ school was almost immediately overwhelming.
“Roughly half the parents of my daughter’s class are now Vapexhale customers... and I often get parents asking me to speak to their parents about cannabis,” says Shen, who was the head of the PTA at his daughter’s school last year.
While Shen is quick to point out that “being super duper stoned around your kid probably doesn’t make you the best parent”, he believes that responsible cannabis use can be truly beneficial to the hardworking parent.
“Having a bit of cannabinoids in your system [can help you] feel more relaxed, more engaged playing board games with your kids.”
Shen is far from alone in that belief. A poll conducted by Civilized in 2016 found that 51 percent of cannabis users surveyed had children under the age of 13, while 27 percent had children between 13 and 17. Another more recent study found that many new parents in the U.S. continue to consume cannabis after having kids.
Of course, no matter how many Americans choose to include cannabis in their parenting lifestyles, there will always be naysayers. Shen accepts this, and also knows that cannabis isn’t a “one size fits all” solution for parents.
“If someone doesn’t actively consume [cannabis] and they’re just extrapolating from those DARE commercials they’ve seen on TV, I understand that their logical response is to think that people who consume cannabis are slow and forgetful. I get it, because I used to be one of those people,” says Shen.
“But look at how alcohol affects your consciousness – lowering your inhibitions, making you more aggressive and not necessarily allowing for any introspection when you’re consuming it.
“Cannabis taps me into a higher level of consciousness where I’m able to become more empathetic, compassionate, self-analyzing. I believe cannabis makes me a much more objective person with myself and... a much more engaged and better parent.”
Read more in our 'Parents & Pot' series: