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Out of the green closet and into an industrial revolution

I admit it – I was a little ashamed and even nervous to attend the New England Cannabis Convention in September last year. I knew the tide had turned to legalization out West, and that there was a medical marijuana (MMJ) program here in Massachusetts, but it wasn’t until I attended the 2015 NECANN convention in Boston that my eyes were opened to the possibility of a new career and maybe even being a part of something that would change the world for the better.

My mind was blown by the speakers, attendees and vendors at the convention. And boy, was I humbled. I learned more in those two days than I could have imagined about a plant, and the experience lit a fire in me to learn more about what was clearly an injustice to patients who unquestionably benefited from the use of medical-grade cannabis. It wasn’t just about smoking anymore. There were panels that explained various edible products, tinctures, suppositories, oils and topical salves. This was a totally different world from my earliest cannabis education in the woods behind my high school.

And hemp. Hemp! Did you know that just about anything made from plastic can be made from hemp? I didn't either. So why is hemp illegal?

Inspired and exceptionally curious to understand everything I could about these “miracle” plants, I registered for the Women’s Cultivation & Natural Caregiving Seminar at the New England Grass Roots Institute, and spent three hours in their classroom in Quincy each Sunday through the fall fully engaged in the coursework. We learned about the history of marijuana prohibition and the outrageous effects that the War on Drugs had and continues to have on our communities. We learned how hemp is planted at Chernobyl because of its purification properties. The instructors and fellow students inspired me to continue to seek a career in the cannabis industry and to fight to end discrimination against medical marijuana and hemp.

There are opportunities for people in all professions to explore in the world of cannabis. Lawyers, doctors, nurses, scientists, chefs, writers, farmers, artists, engineers and other professionals are coming together across the country and at events like NECANN to bring the true science and facts about cannabis and hemp to light, and to legitimize an industry that will indeed change the world once more people understand it. Knowledge is power and possibility!

Sadly, inaccurate information about cannabis and its benefits has been hammered into our brains for 80 years. But everything I’ve learned from the patients and their caregivers, from my personal experience, from the brave risk-takers leading the cannabis industrial revolution and the medical professionals working to make cannabinoid therapy a part of modern healthcare has also made me feel like knowledge is a burden. Opportunity is being missed, sick people suffer needlessly, jails are overpopulated with minor cannabis offenders, and money that could be generated from a legitimatized cannabis and hemp industry that would provide countless jobs and fund our schools and infrastructure instead goes to illegal drug cartels.

With access to primary sources, patient testimonials and scientific data that invalidates marijuana prohibition, its time to look ahead at the possibilities that this new industry --

-- has to offer. And it’s just about the coolest thing in life knowing that you are a part of something that is changing the world.

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