SEPT 5TH, 2018 | BY: REBECCA WASHINGTON
So maybe I woke up a little pissed off that day.
Preface, I had an ultrasound on a tennis ball sized ovarian cyst to see if it was cancerous, so I was already in weird mood when I hopped on IG and read about the $10k blunt, or cannabis cigar, bought by a hedge-fund manager named Justin Costello.
My bad mood only got worse when I noticed how celebratory everyone else seemed to be about it, too. Just as I was having the thought, my son rolled out of bed and said, "Mom, when we get a lot of money, we're not going to waste it on things we don't need, right?" I asked him why he said that and he just said it was something he was thinking about. At least my son and I are on the same page.
Not everyone thought it was cool to blow $10k on a blunt, and certainly not I. One person even said they hoped it was for charity. That would have been awesome. Now I really don't want to seem like a hater. I don’t. I respect entrepreneurship. I admire Leira Cannagar's vision for luxury cannabis and I too am attracted to a high-class lifestyle.
That’s just not my story. Nor is it the story for millions of others.
I'm a single mom on disability. I suffer from chronic pain and fatigue 24-hours a day. I have multiple chronic, intractable, rare, and debilitating conditions after two near death experiences. I am a domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking survivor. I owned a successful healing center at one time. I poured my blood, sweat, and tears into that place, but lost everything when I had to go into hiding.
Before I fled my stalker, I was working with investors on a high-end facility in Mexico to help finance the non-profit portion of my company. I was also working on a grant in order to offer my services on a sliding fee scale for low-income people. I have always felt entrepreneurship and philanthropy go hand-in-hand, which is why losing everything is so especially difficult for me.
Cannabis has literally saved my life, numerous times.
Whether it's bringing me back to the present during a PTSD trigger when I couldn't see my way out of a dark tunnel, or stepping in when my pain meds fail—because they do and it’s unbearable.
My diagnoses will lead to autoimmune disorders, loss of bladder function, and paralysis. All due to the inflammation in my spinal cord. I need CBD to stop this progression, but am unable to afford it.
Imagine being at a similar crossroads and seeing such over-indulgence in the worlds of those who wield the power: money.
I keep seeing the privilege of people who appear to have a lot of money to burn (pun intended) in the cannabis industry, while the people who need this medicine are unable to access it due to accessibility and financial barriers. Greed and overindulgence are everywhere, and it's my belief that this greed, if not called out, will ruin our industry.
I get $750 per month from SSI and no child support. My income is less than half of the federal poverty level. I had finally been able to feed my kids without a lot stress when I got good at digital coupons and started saving on average $50 a week on groceries. But my food stamps were just cut this month, presumably because of the cuts voted on by Congress. Now I'm back to trying to figure out how to feed myself and my kids for $300/mo. I can't afford to live on my own, so my mother helps out, but her social security of under 1k per month doesn't take us too far either—especially with the rising prices of housing, gas, utilities.
Ultimately, it's my kids who pay the price. I do my best, but it hurts when they need things like a chiropractic adjustment because they're in pain and I don't have an extra 80 bucks to provide that for them. It hurts, honestly.
There are millions of others just like me, too.
I can't even afford a medical card. And yet, I recognize my white privilege and realize it's even harder for POC and the LBGTQ+ community. It's just frustrating to know that many of us would be able to return back to work as productive members of society if we had the necessary tools to heal. Period. Yet the war on the poor continues.
What good is legalization if those it's most intended for can't use it?
I’ll ask again:
What good is legalization if those it's most intended for can't access it affordably?
How can we, as an industry, assure that those who need it, but can't afford it, have access to life-saving medicines? Whether it's our vets, trauma survivors, cancer patients, or those riddled with depression or anxiety, we must start a conversation. Healing, no matter the form, should be accessible to all. That is my vision. That's what would impress me. Not a $10,000 smoke sesh. Different priorities, I guess.
I'm happy to report that the cyst unexpectedly and quickly shrunk and I no longer require an operation.
Did cannabis help? Perhaps.