Xen Sams is very much like any other Millennial mom: constantly balancing work, play and parenting, somehow finding enough hours in the day to manage it all. One major difference? Most moms don’t have a weekly, Saturday night radio show, with 10,000 to 12,000 hourly listeners.
Sams’ iHeartRadio show
Sams also lives in New York, which is in the midst of developing its own regulated, adult-use cannabis industry, and she doesn’t shy away from addressing the ever-evolving industry.
As a medicinal cannabis user herself, the topic is personal. How else can one person juggle all that an intense, face-paced career entails, alongside the constant trials and triumphs of being a mom?
“Cannabis self-regulates me,” Sams said. “It brings me down to a very controlled level where I’m not 60 miles an hour, but I’m a bit more regulated. If I had to resort to a Klonopin or an Ativan or any of the prescription medications that doctors advocate for, I probably would not be a highly functioning individual.”
The Journey Toward Cannabis Advocacy
Born in Montreal, Canada, Sams first moved to New York City at age 17 as a model, freshly signed to Elite New York. By 2012, Sams was in her mid-20s, working to expand her resume through acting. As she walked down a New York City street with her husband, she tripped and fell over a wire cover.
A lawsuit ensured and Sams won, but the residual effects of her fall persist even to this day. She was diagnosed with a facial fracture and underwent treatment, which involved surgically placing a metal plate under her orbital enforcers and ultimately led to significant swelling.
Sams was sent home with a pack of Percocet and, like many others, it had the opposite of a healing effect.
“I took my first dose, and I broke out in hives,” Sams said. “It was just a very bad experience; I vomited so bad, and I just had an intolerance to painkillers.”
Well before legalization, Sams’ neurologist referred her to an herbalist who told her the damaged nerves in her face would never reconnect if she continued to numb the pain with Percocet and Vicodin.
Among a number of “oils and concoctions, plants growing in every manner,” the herbalist also had a number of cannabis-infused products. Sams gave it a go. Within three months, her facial swelling had vanished and she “never once” had to turn to painkillers.
“I became a huge advocate for cannabis-infused products, THC/CBD combined,” she said.
Life as a CannaMom
As she began managing her health on her own terms, Sams later found out she was pregnant in 2014, and she stopped using cannabis through the pregnancy and while she breastfed her daughter. By 2016, she was able to revisit the plant medicine and reflect on what life was like without it.
“I had somewhat of a facial spasm—a pull and a twitch—when I spoke, and as an entertainer, as an actor, as a model, as a broadcaster, it’s a big thing for me to see that facial pull happen. It makes me very insecure; it’s like people kind of don’t listen to what you’re saying anymore.”
By 2016, she was able to secure her medical card and began microdosing high-level THC oil cartridges in the morning, afternoon and evening in a “very specific format” to control the facial twitches and spasms associated with her accident. Aside from a number of 45-day, CBD-only cleanses, Sams has been a daily THC user since 2017.
In addition to her six-year-old daughter, Sams also has a 19-year-old stepdaughter and 16-year-old stepson.
“Here we are, in a mixed, kind of blended family ecosystem, where I’m also a high-level cannabis user, where it’s part of my everyday life,” Sams said.
She said the internal regulation of being able to manage all these hats, both on and off the clock, comes down to cannabis.
“A lot of people say to me, ‘Ya know, it’s such a high-paced show. How do you keep up? You seem like you don’t ever stop.’ The truth of the matter is that I do have my own self-regulation issues in the sense that I’m a hyper person.”
Sams said her cannabis use is intellectually stimulating, enhancing her photographic memory and accentuating the elements of her brain that enable her to balance such a wide array of tasks each day.
Connecting the Dots
While continuing to balance her career, public persona and family life, Sams saw her experience with cannabis as an opportunity to candidly explore how her role as a mother plays into her cannabis use—the importance of “demystifying” the sigma of the cannabis-using, Millennial mom.
“I have it as a huge segment on my show, to where I advocate for [cannabis] as a mom,” Sams said, referencing two interviews she conducted with Weed Mom author
Though, this also connects back to the need for regulation, Sams said, in that her own regimen consists of 100 percent dispensary-regulated oil; she knows exactly what is going into her body every day.
“You have to make sure that the access to the populace is mainstreamed in a way where it’s safe and it’s trusted. Otherwise, this will never be regulated,” Sams said.
One way Sams helps to shift the narrative is by educating the public and embracing cannabis advocacy in a widespread capacity, normalizing conversations around everyday cannabis use for folks who need it, not necessarily just those falling into a tired and narrow stoner trope of the past.
Sams referenced conversations she’s had with her youngest daughter: She calls her vape her inhaler, and her daughter knows it’s just part of her mom’s everyday routine.
“Whether it’s an asthma inhaler, whether it’s an inhaler where you’re inhaling cannabis because that’s also your medicine, an inhaler is an inhaler.”
Her daughter doesn’t know what Sams inhales, and Sams said that’s the whole point: She doesn’t need to know. What her daughter knows for certain is her mother’s inhaler helps her to regulate and feel better, like any other medication.
“I’m not ashamed that I’m inhaling something that helps me regulate, and in her mind, it helps.”
A Shift in Cannabis Consumers
Cannabis trends have also shifted drastically just over the last five years, as an unprecedented amount of women across all generations turn to cannabis products.
A June 2021
Data from a January
Mirroring Sams’ sentiments, industry professionals have taken notice of these trends, finding that women want safer, easier to consume and more regulated cannabis products.
Sams is already well aware of the shifting market. Given that she’s working as a radio personality, video broadcaster and micro influencer on social media, Sams has to consistently take a variety of demographics into account with her work.
Using her family as an example, spanning four generations between her youngest daughter, stepchildren, herself and her husband, Sams calls Millennial moms the “pampered children of the internet,” because, “Millennial moms drive the market—as crypto investors, as educators, homeschoolers, as all of the above. We rose to the occasion, and a lot of it had to do with the pandemic.”
She added that the Millennial generation had to take matters into their own hands, doing the hard work for themselves and diving into the knowledge available on the internet before there were more accessible options.
Being part of the iHeart family and their “primary position in the market” places Sam in a unique role to reach and educate a number of audiences on a number of important topics, including cannabis.
Continuing the Conversation
Looking ahead, Sams said she wants to continue lending her hat to cannabis advocacy in medicine and mental health. She also hopes to give those younger folks a chance to have a better foundation than Millennials, and other older generations, had in regard to the plant.
“I think we need to start educating the masses, especially this new generation, whether it’s Gen Alpha and Gen Z, to understand the proper uses of the plant and not bastardize it as a ‘high.’”
Under the Xen Brand, Sams is also looking forward to launching a cannabis-infused skincare line of products, along with a sustainable clothing line with mass appeal and a social activism component. In the meantime, she plans to continue forging ahead with A MoMent of Xen to shape a new narrative and bust down the old, outdated one that continually gives cannabis a bad rap.
“All this misinformation has come to an end by educating the public, but you can’t educate the public unless you adopt this in a widespread capacity. That’s why I advocate for cannabis.”
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Feature Image Photo Credit: Jason Konrad