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Sean Major

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Sean

Occupation: I am an active duty Wounded Warrior at the Wounded Warrior Battalion, on Camp Pendleton, California. It is my responsibility to attend various medical appointments associated with my 33 medical conditions. It is also my responsibility to enroll in adaptive sports and focus on my future.

When and how did you become an advocate for cannabis?

A part of the requirements here at the Wounded Warrior Battalion is to complete an internship, but I want to work in the cannabis industry, so that creates a huge grey area. I attended THC University and gained a number of certificates for the cannabis industry. After a detailed assessment of my character, I became the first and only active duty service member given permission to work in the cannabis industry.

How has cannabis benefited your life?

My father is an Army vet and I unknowingly witnessed a huge change in him as he medicated with cannabis in the ‘90s. I lived with my grandparents in 2005 and found out they both medicated as well. While living with my grandparents in the country, I utilized horticulture as a form of therapy before I even knew what horticulture was. I created a garden for myself and I absolutely fell in love with the art of gardening.

Being at the Wounded Warrior Battalion, I see other Wounded Warriors completely zombified on some of these drugs. It really digs deep to see all these pills being consumed by those I wish to deploy with. Walking up every morning with a routine to down 12-plus pills is disgusting. You can’t even eat a full breakfast because you drank so much water just to get the pills down. Cannabis saved my life by giving me hope in a time where there are 23 veteran suicides daily. Cannabis gives me a sense of purpose. I’m blessed with the knowledge and passion that I can create medicine for those who need it most. I can be a liberator for those who liberate our beautiful country. My guys often remind me to take care of myself. I know I’m a recovering service member, but doing things for others makes me feel more capable. I may have a hard time with a lot of daily activities, but I can grow some amazing relief and teach those in need how to do it for themselves. I’m giving a man a fish to eat for a day while also teaching him how to be self sustainable for life.

What’s your greatest achievement for the cannabis cause?

Simply put, I’m the first and only active duty service member given permission to work in the cannabis industry and I’ve submitted my state physician’s recommendation for medical marijuana into the navy medical files.

Who do you look up to or admire?

I admire a lot of people. I would feel disrespectful to just name a few and leave someone out. I have this philosophy to take things I like about people and introduce those qualities into personality. If we are talking about cannabis, there are so many marijuana idols I have, it will blow your mind. I have items that influenced my actions today that had nothing to do with cannabis. My grandmother is an amazing woman and she has been supportive this entire time with everything I’ve done. She supported me in my choice to defend the constitution and she supports my choice to provide herb for heroes.

If you could change one thing about the way cannabis is viewed and/or treated right now, what would it be?

I’m going to make a few people upset but I really want our image with cannabis to change. And when I say our, I’m talking about the cannabis community itself. We advocate for change and fight for the right to be true Americans and enjoy our lives yet we sometimes create a negative image that makes it longer to progress. Cannabis is a beneficial herb with life-saving and life-changing medicinal properties . . . but if we name a stain “Alaskan Donkey Poop,” we aren’t making things any easier on the cause. Cannabis saves lives. Cannabis is a safe alternative to alcohol. These two statements are completely different conversations. Separate the two for the benefit of the patient.

 

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Influence on the Road: The Traveling Stoner

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Lindsay Heighes, also known as The Traveling Stoner, doesn’t come from a place where cannabis is outright legal. So it’s no wonder that the Florida native would want to espouse the wonders of cannabis on the road, instead of staying bound to a state where the plant is stigmatized—and  until recently—outright criminalized. The Traveling Stoner is a bloggerphotographer, and influencer, whose audience is constantly growing. She agreed to chat with CULTURE about her presence on social media.

How did you get started as a cannabis influencer?

In 2015 I was living in Florida going to college to get my English degree from Florida Gulf Coast University. I was hanging out with my now-boyfriend Chris, and we were discussing cannabis and the entire culture around it. He showed me that there were tons of people online who were advocating for cannabis and explaining about the medicinal benefits. We joked around about me starting my own page and educating people on this taboo subject. At first I was against the idea, but the more we chatted about unique ways for me to get involved in the industry I was hooked. That day TheTravelingStoner was born and I’d forever be a cannabis consumer in the public eye.

 

How did you go about cultivating your social media following?

At first I had no idea what I was doing. I had barely understood social media myself on a personal level. I spent months on end reading every article and journal on social media and analytics that I could find. When I began TheTravelingStoner, Instagram was a whole different applications; we had chronological order and the algorithm was so much simpler. I’ve used apps and websites over the years to help evolve my knowledge on the ever changing ways of the algorithm. I will tell you that I have put way more hours than I’d like to admit into this, however I am so proud of all that I have been able to accomplish because I’m self-taught.

How has your work as a cannabis influencer affected your professional life?

After starting the Instagram account I decided that after I finished college I would move to a legal state and try to get a more hands on experience in the industry. I moved to Colorado in December of 2015 and have been involved in the cannabis industry for almost three years now! Through TheTravelingStoner my professional life has become all about cannabis.

 

What do you hope to accomplish with your work as a cannabis advocate and influencer?

Honestly I really hope that people start to see the benefits that this plant can bring instead of focusing on the propaganda and outdated information about it. I was guilty of believing that weed was bad and shouldn’t be consumed. But after trying it and consuming it over a long period of time I can truly say that my life and health are better for it. I believe that everybody should have that same opportunity, to experience the medicinal benefits of this amazing plant.

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Featured Advocate – Rachel Gillette

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Rachel Gillette

Occupation: Attorney with Greenspoon Marder LLP

 

When and how did you become an advocate for cannabis?

I have been an advocate for cannabis legalization since the ’80s when I first heard Peter Tosh’s voice telling us to “Legalize it.” I went to law school so I could have the education, degree and the power to influence the reform of laws, but at the time, I had no idea that I could actually make a career in “marijuana law;” it didn’t exist then. It’s such an exciting and dynamic area of the law, and it keeps me active in policy and advocacy. When I was the executive director of Colorado NORML during the passage of Amendment 64 in Colorado, and we were the first state to legalize, people would ask me “what do you do now that cannabis is legalized?”  It was clear to me then as it is now; our work has just begun!

 

How has cannabis benefited your life?

I came to understand the importance of cannabis throughout my life. I have seen it heal people in a number of ways, physically, mentally and spiritually. It is a wonderful, natural plant that has a variety of applications, including industrial ones. It benefits the lives of so many others that its illegality makes little sense. I am glad in the last few years the public has come to understand that cannabis prohibition causes more harm than good. I would like to see our politicians represent better the will of their constituents.

 

What is your greatest achievement for the cannabis cause?

Cannabis legalization is primarily a social justice issue, but also a state’s rights issue and a privacy issue. Federal legalization, access to banking and the repeal or amendment of I.R.C Section 280E are my principle causes. I feel that generally, my advocacy for cannabis businesses with regard to these issues in light of federal adversity is my greatest achievement.

“We need to regulate less like plutonium and more like alcohol, while understanding cannabis is very different from alcohol, and does not carry with it the same social costs or health risks.”

How did that manifest?                                                                                                   

I was a passionate advocate for legalization throughout my 20s and 30s, and in law school. My legal background was in tax matters before I started representing cannabis businesses in 2010, and audit issues surrounding Section 280E are prevalent in the industry.

 

Who do you look up to or admire?

Many people, but I am inspired and influenced most by my family, including my mother, my sons and my grandparents. I come from a long line of self-starters and people with entrepreneurial spirit. I admire many people who are not afraid to be the voice of reason and change.

 

If you could change one thing about the way cannabis is viewed and/or treated right now, what would it be?

I would like to see states stop adopting competitive or so called “merit-based” licensing schemes and trend more toward free market models. While I understand the desire to take slow and measured regulatory approaches, these licensing models don’t favor patients, consumers and competition, as they tend to create monopolies. We need to regulate less like plutonium and more like alcohol, while understanding cannabis is very different from alcohol, and does not carry with it the same social costs or health risks.

 

I would also like people to view cannabis more like the natural plant that it is and to understand its relative “harms” compared to other more dangerous substances. Along with that, I would like to see our federal government more amenable to the legitimate study of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

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Dorothy “Dot” Colagiovanni

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Name:  Dorothy “Dot” Colagiovanni

Occupation: Senior Director of Pharmaceutical Development, Next Frontier Biosciences

Tell us about your professional background.

I am a scientist with a PhD in toxicology. I have over two decades of experience working in the biotech industry developing drugs for cystic fibrosis, oncology, infections and inflammation. In 2016, I joined Next Frontier Biosciences as the Senior Director of Pharmaceutical Development.

When and how did you become an advocate for cannabis?

My advocacy began when my son was placed on the organ transplant list. He was born with a rare liver disease that required extensive medical care and maintenance. After a decade of living with his native liver, it began to fail, and in 2010 my son was placed on the pediatric transplant list in Colorado. There is no way to describe the despair I felt watching my son slowly dying in front of my eyes while waiting for someone else’s child to die so mine could live. Every day was a struggle to get out of bed and try to be a mom to our son and older daughter.

Trying to manage a normal family life was challenging as our son could not attend school due to risks of infection. He also required at-home nursing care and nightly IV food supplementation. In order to manage the depression and anxiety I was experiencing during this waiting period, I relied on cannabis. Every evening after the kids went to bed, I would take a bath and smoke a bowl. It was the only way I could cope with the overwhelming situation. It made me realize that consuming cannabis was perfect for situational depression and stress without any long-term consequences associated with many pharmaceutical medications.

How has cannabis benefited your life?

Cannabis helped me get through the most difficult time of my life. Cannabis is a stress-reducing medication for me. I am normally a very Type A, high intensity person. Cannabis helps me relax and unwind.

What’s your greatest achievement for the cannabis cause?

I hope my greatest achievement is yet to come, but, when I left biotech to join Next Frontier Biosciences, I made a commitment to help people by developing new products for the cannabis industry.

How did that manifest?

After years of research and development, Next Frontier Biosciences [launched] its first line of medical and recreational cannabis products in Colorado. These products are transmucosally and topically delivered and include a nasal mist, sublingual spray and topical salve.

Who do you look up to or admire?

I admire the 14th Dalai Lama, a man who escaped his homeland of Tibet in 1959 to spiritually lead his people and can never return. He shows humility, compassion and humor in all he does and says. He is a beacon of hope to me in the current unhinged political environment.

If you could change one thing about the way cannabis is viewed and/or treated right now, what would it be?

I would remove cannabis from DEA Scheduling. Cannabis is medicine that can heal many afflictions more safely than pharmaceutical drugs. It should be viewed as a benefit to society, rather than the scourge some politicians present it as.

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