When I invited my mom to come along to an "Afternoon Delight" dedicated to mothers — "an interactive journey through the Sowden House celebrating the beauty, properties and ecological importance of mother plants," like cannabis — little did I know the first session we'd end up in would be a seminar with "CannaSexual" Ashley Manta, using a vulva puppet to instruct a room full of women, millennials to boomers, how to find the clitoral legs. (If you didn't know already that the clitoris has legs, you're welcome.)
So there I was sitting next to my mom, two feet in front of the bubbly weed-sex educator, in awe over Manta's professional yet entertaining delivery as she discussed the benefits of using cannabis lube to enhance female pleasure.
Sex, like weed, is something that can resonate with anyone of any generation. Cannabis especially is age-indiscriminate, helping children quell epileptic seizures or the elderly tackle arthritis. Whether used medically or recreationally, weed at its core is a lifestyle and wellness product, a topical, an oil, a food or a smokable flower, psychoactive-optional, that nearly anyone can enjoy. Not to mention, passing around a jay is the ultimate, cross-generational communal socializer.
So when Katie Partlow, curator of the bimonthly cannabis art and educational event series Afternoon Delight, invited me to Sunday's event, I welcomed it as an opportunity for some mother-daughter bonding.
My mom and I are the kind of pair who can go from screaming at each other to joking around in a matter of minutes. She's a Fran Drescher–meets–Susie Green (Jeff's wife from Curb Your Enthusiasm), an overbearing Jewish mother from Queens, but with enviable stories of being a once-chill Grateful Dead head in the hazy-dazy paisley decades before I was born. A certified yoga teacher with an eye for fashion, my mom is at her best when she's learning. Genuinely earnest and curious, she has been the ultimate sidekick to my reporting ventures, including last Sunday's Afternoon Delight, followed later that day by a "high tea," hosted by Gary Rosen for cannabis tea company Kikoko.
As Partlow explained to me, she's creating a cannabis culture devoid of the "stoner bro" vibe. Instead, her Afternoon Delight series features activity sessions like "lit yoga" (another cross-generational favorite, and Margolin mother-daughter pastime) or crafting flower crowns, and the opportunity to learn about different cannabis brands, such as My Bud Vase — antique vases repurposed as bongs, which my mom absolutely adored. And during the "Mothers" event, guests learned how to clone cannabis plants from their mothers. After all, the marijuana we smoke always comes from a female plant. "I thought it was cute that we call the female plants 'mothers,' and I always wanted to teach about moms, clones and gardening basics at a 'Mothers' event," Partlow says.
Since moving to California from the East Coast, Partlow has bonded with her own mother over cannabis, teaching her to use pot to relieve pain from her arthritis. "I was also inspired by my friends who are now new moms, who came to me with their interests and needs," she adds, "such as how to incorporate cannabis into the bedroom [or] how to figure out edibles doses."
The mothers of previous generations, whose kids are grown, and the mothers raising children now have much both shared and divergent concerns when it comes to cannabis. While it's easier for the younger generation to talk openly about weed, since we've come of age in a legal climate, our parents' generation deserves credit for birthing the pot culture that propelled the legalization movement altogether, even if doing so meant "breaking the law."
"We're the generation that has to be brave enough to say this is what I've done my whole life," says Doreen Sullivan, founder of My Bud Vase. "That's why I made [this line], I was tired of people misconceiving my life and judging me as a cannabis consumer." The previous generation of cannabis consumers was subject to stereotype and stigma, borne by Nixon's war on drugs. Many became yuppies, grew up, and dropped out of the counterculture altogether, which meant quitting weed, my mom recalls. "You guys will make it pop culture," Sullivan told me at Afternoon Delight, "but we made pot culture."
And yet, as a pot culture O.G., my mother bemoaned to me in the car over to Afternoon Delight that she feels millennials dominate today's cannabis space. I hoped I would be able to prove her wrong; luckily we ended up later at the Kikoko "high tea," an upscale tea party in Rosen's home; he's an acclaimed writer-producer-director, who worked on Beverly Hills 90210, among other shows and movies.
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To my surprise, I was among the youngest in the room; the oldest was Rosen's 90-year-old mother-in-law, who recently began using cannabis for wellness. Kikoko's brilliant technique is to host events in the homes of influential people unaffiliated with cannabis, allowing them to invite their non-cannabis friends, in a grand scheme to educate a diverse generational sampling about weed and to let them try its refined cannabis tea products.
The tea party featured a presentation by Kikoko founders Amanda Jones and Jennifer Chapin, which began along the lines of "You probably expected us to be younger and hipper, so why did two middle-aged women get into the cannabis space?" My heart just melted for my mother; I knew those words would make her day.
"We're trying to show people there's another way to wellness," Jones says. Kikoko is a product made by Jones and Chapin for their own demographic: sophisticated women of any age who want to sleep better, reduce anxiety, increase their libido or simply replace a glass of wine with a cup of lightly infused cannabis tea. They created a product they wanted themselves, and interviewed hundreds of women — mostly their own peers — in the process.
All in all, I was happy to validate for my mother that there's a place in cannabis for women of her demographic, too. I mean, that's really the point of weed, right? To pass around a jay and bring people together ... except here it's passing the torch in the industry, bridging generational gaps, sparking opportunities in what could potentially be the most conscious, inclusive American industry yet.