The first Christmas after I turned 21, my grandfather offered me whiskey. This was a big deal—my grandma only let him have two bottles of Crown Royal a year for health reasons, so he guarded the stuff with his life. When I said I wanted it only with a couple rocks, my grandma couldn't contain her joy and hugged me with tears in her eyes.
"You're becoming a man!" she exclaimed.
You sit down with Dad or Granddad for that first beer, or Mom for a martini up with a twist, and it's like you've crossed through the looking glass. You've joined them in a new, adult world where everything is slower, funnier and a little more stupid. Finally, you're equals.
So they tell you all the dumb stories they wouldn't tell you when you were a kid—like how your dad met your mom only because his best friend bribed him with a pitcher of beer to play wingman on a double date.
It's an important rite of passage. If they're a little blitzed on Blitz, they don't have to play parent anymore. You see the person their friends see.
But since October of last year, there's a new tradition forming. When you turn 21, you get to have that first joint with Mom, or that first bong with Dad—and hear a whole new set of stories.
So we got high with our parents.
Like the new "beers with Dad," it's a coming-of-age bonding experience made more intimate by the haze of terpenes and THC. Since getting high is a lot like being born—disorientation, a kaleidoscopic sense of time, then suddenly, the light—who better than parents to share that experience with you?
Here's what happened to three of us, plus our tips for making the most of this 4/20. We've got some cannabis products we're into right now, our experiences with the extreme relaxation of CBD dabs, and interviews with an ex-Blazer now selling weed and a medical marijuana patient who found that cannabis salved her chronic pain in a way nothing else could. The sooner we do that, the sooner we can start fixing the disappointments of early legalization. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
Enid and Her Mom
My mother is also my best friend. We've never really talked about pot, though there aren't any secrets between us. Long before I tried my first joint, I knew she'd smoked back when she was a blond flower child in Joni Mitchell-era California.
My mom grew up in suburban Sacramento—no meat on Fridays, church on Sundays, camel hair coats when they went to the city. When she was 18, she moved to Tahoe with her two pet goats and best friend. Her parents didn't know that she lived in a two-room cabin without doors between rooms. They drank Cold Duck, ate mostly carrots with ranch dip, and hitchhiked to work at the Alpine Lodge motel, where she cleaned rooms. That was until the old couple, who fed her quiche for lunch, fired her for smoking weed on the job.
That last part, I just found out.
And I only learned that because we were high together for the first time last week—having shared a pre-roll of Red Haze, a few bongs hits of Earl Blumenauer and some puffs of Canna-Tsu.
Like I said, my mom is my best friend. But it wasn't until we'd smoked that this whole story came out. After two hours of shopping at the Jayne dispensary and smoking—and one uncontrollable giggle fit—I found myself on the floor in front of her, leaning on my mom's knee. She was wearing the embroidered kimono top she wore in this year's Christmas photos, massaging my arm like she does when we nap with our mini schnauzer on the back patio in Sacramento.
"What was I saying?" she says, midthought.
Her blouse is a little wet from where she tried to drink water and missed her mouth.
This heart-to-heart is an experience I've had a 1,000 times—when she saw me off to London, when I got detention for smashing Trevor Bergquam's lollipop in third grade, as we watched her younger brother die of cancer. But the haze of burnt flower makes this a little different. We're ditzier, even weepier and less coherent.
I'm hearing the same stories I've heard since I was 10 years old—but with extra scenes. There's a lot more weed in this extended director's cut of my mom's life.
My mother took a 42-year hiatus from smoking—she stopped when she was 22—and only started again last year, when her brother's cancer made him too weak to light his own joints.
"It was like we were right back in the '70s again," she says.
Back then, her weed came from anonymous dealers who met her in the woods, sometimes with guns, or from truckers who gave her a ride from Ashland back to the Bay Area.
I explain the concept of 4/20 and the difference between THC and CBD.
"Is that an Oregon thing?" she asks.
The right high might make every stranger around a bong feel as welcoming as a loving mother. But there's no replacement for the human who popped you into this world, taught you phonetics and probably saved your ass when you couldn't pay rent.
There's nothing like taking a joint from the same hand that spoon-fed me homemade tofu ice cream when I was lactose intolerant and 2 years old. ENID SPITZ.
Xel and His Mom
Getting stoned is not a new thing for me or my mother. I remember two giant terra cotta pots that my parents used to grow plants in outside the dining-room windows. When they budded, I recall dinnertime smelling a little skunky. I was obviously too young to realize what was going on.
But it had been some time since the two of us got high together. I decided if we were going to do this, we might as well make a night of it. A nice home-cooked meal, a bottle of wine, and two 1-gram pre-rolls from Belmont Collective.
This was my mom's first time going to a dispensary and ordering cannabis from a menu, so I took the lead. We wanted to start out slow, so I got some Earl Blumenauer, a high-CBD strain perfect for getting shit done and getting high. After all, we did have a big meal to prepare. I asked my mom what kind of high she would like to get after dinner. She wanted something that would make us laugh. I asked the budtender what we could get that would give us the giggles. He pointed out two strains, one of which had something like 28 percent THC, and the other, Blue City Diesel, with 17 percent THC. I didn't want to get too wasted, so we went with Blue City.
I started to prepare my chicken, and mom lit up. Earl B was a little rough on the lungs. Coughing over and over, we made it through half of the pre-roll before taking a wine break. Our eyes were bloodshot because of the coughing, but we didn't feel very high. Mom was relaxed. I thought it was perfect. A little stoney, we continued to cook and reflect back on how cool it was that we could legally walk into a store and order this. She never thought she'd see this in her lifetime.
Half a bottle of wine and a quarter-chicken later, we lit up the Blue City Diesel. Right away we both noticed how smooth this smoke was by comparison. We were so impressed that we didn't realize we had just smoked a full gram. We giggled. Both our eyes shrank to slits. I teetered between "pretty high" and "incredibly" wasted.
We sat back and listened to some music. For some reason, Harry Belafonte's "Day-O" song came on, like, three times. We sang it each time, all the way through. We were having fun and laughing. Mom laid down on the couch. I put on a movie and we fell asleep. XEL MOORE.
Matthew and His Parents
"I'm going to ask you something I didn't think I'd ever ask you," I tell my father.
He probably thinks I want money—although, of course, I've asked for that before. "Will you smoke weed with me?"
"No," he says.
This seems to be the end of his thinking on the matter.
The last time he smoked it was right after he got back from the Vietnam War to discover his hometown of Salem was full of the stuff. "It was mostly the land guys," he says—but he was Navy, and nobody he knew was dumb enough to try it on an aircraft carrier.
He wasn't a fan, he says. After that, he spent most of the next three decades as a grocery store manager catching his courtesy clerks trying to smoke cigarettes in the back parking lot. Neither one of us is quite sure about my mother; she grew up very, very Catholic.
He agrees to smoke his first legal bowl with me only as a favor, and only because it's for work. This is his weak point, and I know I should feel guilty: I have pressured my father into doing drugs.
"I'll let your mother know she may be required," he tells me before hanging up.
The next Sunday at their house in Happy Valley, my mother smells a nug of floral 27 percent THC Tangilope that I've brought, from Sofresh Farms, and declares it "very aromatic" and "well-named" as I break it apart to load it into a little pipe. Each takes a couple fairly demure tokes.
"Is that it?" my mother asks after about a minute.
"It's kind of like a halo around my head," my father says. "Like my hairs are vibrating. If you get close enough, it'd probably sound like crickets buzzing."
"I guess I'm glad I'm not close," my mother says.
My father says it's been 40 years since his last toke—"Back then it was a felony!"—so he figures he's now pretty much set for the next 40.
"It's just another buzz," he says.
My mother—in his absence—tells me she wouldn't mind getting a lot more high, but only with a bunch of people. This is her second time smoking cannabis, it turns out; the first was in her teens, and she just couldn't stop laughing.
Before dinner she says grace, but with a small improvisation.
"Thank you, Lord," she says, "for sons who bring home pot." MATTHEW KORFHAGE.