The links between personal experiences and larger social and political systems are important because we matter. Our health and happiness matters. How we feel and what we believe determines where we live, how we vote, and what policies are created. The personal is political.
It means I’m willing to relocate across the country to live in a progressive state. I choose a home with legal cannabis. Growing up in the South, many social and political practices didn’t match my ethics: My church didn’t allow women deacons, my government didn’t sanction gay marriage, and my peers didn’t approve of interracial relationships. It’s a miracle Georgia has a medical marijuana program today. It’s limiting and strict, but it’s a start, thanks to Janea Cox and her 6-year-old daughter, Haleigh. The Haleigh’s Hope Act legalizes low-THC strains for severe medical conditions.
When traditional treatments did little to help Haleigh’s seizure disorder, mother and daughter were forced to move to Colorado to try a high-CBD strain of cannabis created for pediatric use by Jason Cranford, founder of Flowering Hope Foundation. He named the strain after little Haleigh and it’s not only enhancing her quality of life, it’s also helping improve the lives of other children in need. Families are flocking from all over the world to cannabis-friendly states for alternative healthcare treatments. Now that 25 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana recreationally, medicinally or both, you’ll be hearing more stories about migrations to these safe havens.
You’ve probably heard the term “Green Rush” being thrown around to describe how entrepreneurs are getting their hustle on, launching businesses in the lucrative legal cannabis market. Chris Gromek, founder of Marijuanomics, was an active-duty United States Army artillery officer, commissioned from Tulane University in New Orleans. During his last year of service, he created the cannabis stock website Pot Stocks and sold it to Marijuana Investment Company (MJIC). After working with MJIC for a year, he moved to Oregon to become more involved in the budding industry. “Oregon has some of the best brands and top talent in the market right now, and I couldn't be happier working with them,” says Gromek, who’s excited to be doing business with one of the more successful grows in the region, Hifi Farms.
“I'm super passionate about cannabis and have been able to approach the whole experience with eyes wide open,” Gromek says. “I sleep better, drink less, exercise more, and eat healthier than I did in the military, and that's due in no small part to using cannabis to help with sleep and anxiety.” It’s his hope that the federal government comes around sooner than later, allowing our military and veterans to medicate with cannabis instead of addictive prescription medications.
The Democratic Party hears our cries and is aggressively backing the nationwide campaign to legalize it. We have Bernie Sanders to thank, for one. He’s been quite vocal on the topic and continues to call for reform. In a recent platform committee meeting to address these issues, support is being shown to allow more research on the cannabis plant. With nearly 100 years of pot prohibition in this country, we’ve missed out on learning a great deal about marijuana.
In fact, research is why Emma Chasen became a weed refugee. With a degree in Medical Plant Research and a passion for the medicinal properties of cannabis, she took a job at the Brown University Oncology Research Group, where she coordinated oncology research trials nationwide with the hopes of getting her hands on tangible cannabis studies. She soon learned the program was ruled by money and Big Pharma. “A brilliant professor proposed a cannabis trial and my department head laughed him out of the office,” says Chasen. Disturbed by what went down, she quit. “I knew I had to make a change and find a place where I could actually study this plant and interact with it in a legal arena; so, I packed up my car and spent two weeks driving across the country to Portland, Oregon.”
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Three weeks later, recreational sales began. Recently named Best Budtender by Willamette Week, Chasen is grateful to be working at Farma, one of the top science-driven dispensaries in the world, where she’s able to help people take charge of their health while continuing to study the plant with her mentor, Jeremy Plumb. Even though she’s learned a great deal in the past year, Chasen acknowledges there’s so much more to discover.
However, Donald Trump’s choice for VP, Gov. Mike Pence, threatens to put the kibosh on our progress. His home state of Indiana has one of the most severe legal regimes for cannabis in this country. Law enforcement devotes a considerable amount of time and resources arresting or citing individuals for cannabis-related offenses. And, sadly, African Americans often suffer the brunt of prohibition policies.
The last thing we need is to fan the flames of this demented agenda. That’s why, now more than ever, it’s important to get involved and allow your personal stories to be heard. Don’t just post a status update on your Facebook page. Talk to your representatives. Join coalitions. Attend public meetings. Engage the media. Peacefully protest. At the very least, vote.