Seibo Shen, cannabis entrepreneur, talks about his personal journey with cannabis, and the importance of coming out of the cannabis closet.
In this 3-part series, we talk to three Asian American parents who are leading the cannabis revolution in medicine, art, and entrepreneurship.
Over the past 40 years, the movement to legalize cannabis (also known as marijuana) and the increasing availability of medical cannabis research have created growing acceptance for the psychedelic plant. However, the Asian American community still holds strong anti-drug sentiments. In a poll conducted by the Los Angeles Times in 2016, Asian Americans were the least likely to support cannabis legalization.
This is even more true for the older generations. However, despite the perception that most Asian American parents or elders don’t “get it,” there are a few who have stepped forward to voice their truth about cannabis.
Part III: The Entrepreneur, Age 40.
Before Seibo Shen tried cannabis, his goal in his life was to be number one. After graduating from UCLA with a degree in Asian American studies, he worked for five successful startups and was on the fast track to becoming the CEO of a Silicon Valley startup.
Today he is the CEO of VapeXhale, a company that produces cannabis vaporizers, a tool for consuming cannabis, and a co-founder of CannAthlete, an organization that advises athletes on the best practices for incorporating cannabis into their competitive lifestyles.
As a stuntman and professional athlete in college, he was prone to injuries and often had to take over the counter painkillers, from Tylenol to Vicodin, to ease the pain. But something about those medications didn’t sit right with him.
“Every time I took it, I felt guilty…I could tell the pain was being numbed. I don’t know how to describe it to people but I just had this innate sense it wasn’t good. Those were more like the implicit symptoms, and then later on, when I started having ulcers in my stomach, I was like, ‘Ok! All this ibuprofen is really putting a hole in my stomach.”
Then, he smoked some weed with his roommates. Not only did the pain go away, but he had an epiphany about life itself. “My whole goal in life was to be like the top entrepreneur, the top athlete, like, the top everything. After consuming cannabis, it was just like, ‘Why?! Why do you need to be number one? And ultimately, I realized, “Oh, ok, I was just super duper insecure, so that’s why I wanted to be number one. When you’re number one, you feel secure, or at least, you think you will feel secure.”
Cannabis as the catalyst into Seibo’s inner revolution is a common theme on the VapeXhale blog. In his blog post, “How Mary Jane Helped me Find My Wife,” he shares that cannabis helped him realize that in order to find love, you have to “be honest with yourself, understand who you truly are, and express yourself honestly,” rather than try to be someone that you think your significant other wants you to be.
Today, his focus is on being the best Seibo he can be — and he is fiercely honest about who that is, despite what people might think.
This is true even in his interactions with fellow parents at his daughter’s school. When recounting the first Parent Teacher Association meeting where parents were sharing what they did for a living, he says, “I just went in and was like ‘I run a cannabis company and this is what we do.’ And guess what?! One or two parents were like ‘I don’t want to hang out with that guy,’ and I’m like, ‘Perfect, I don’t want to hang out with them!’ And then the rest of the parents were like super open to it, you know? Every single parent, I’ve been able to bring from negative to at least neutral on cannabis, if not pro cannabis.” Today, he’s the president of the Parent Teacher Association at his daughter’s school.
His commitment to honesty means being open with his family, too. During the last two Thanksgivings, his vaporizer was out in the living room. “We take hits in front of the kids, in front of the grandkids. Everyone is normal around it, no one even looks at it twice — except they know that uncle Seibo blows the biggest clouds.”
His father has even dabbed a few times. Trained in traditional Chinese medicine, his father describes his cannabis consumption as “herbal acupuncture,” because of the way that different strains of the plant interact with different receptors in the body, producing different effects and experiences.
Despite his zealous advocacy, Seibo is far from the cannabis evangelist that you might see smoking up at a protest. Because he is an athlete with a commitment to health above all else, his mission is not just about being pro-cannabis use, but about being pro-responsible cannabis use. This is reflected in both fields of his involvement in cannabis, from building the healthiest tool for consuming cannabis that doesn’t involve inhaling smoke, or teaching athletes how to use cannabis for focus, recovery, and performance.
“We want to give you a framework of how to experiment with drugs…so you know if it’s being helpful, or if it’s taking away from your life.”
He wants to teach the Asian community to treat that cannabis as a tool to improve one’s health and lifestyle. With any tool, it’s important to know how to use these tools correctly. “Like a hammer, you can build a house or you can cave someone’s skull in, you know? What is a hammer? Is it a bad thing or a good thing? It’s just a thing, and if we can teach people how to use these things better and they can benefit greatly from it, then yeah, of course I want to do that.”
He urges the Asian community to be more vocal about cannabis and visible in the movement and industry. “This is shit that people need to know about – shit I can back with scientific studies, quantitative data, and anyone who wants to challenge me, is going. to get. crushed.”
To young people, he adds, “Don’t hide it from your parents, come out of the green closet! If you can’t educate them, who can?”