The Birth of CannaMama Clinic

Isn't she beautiful!

I always knew I wanted to help people, but I didn’t know how best to go about it professionally. I knew I wanted my opinion to be recognized and taken seriously on an international level. I imagined myself as a political analyst, interviewed by media about my opinion on important topics. The truth is, I was in a heck of a rut. I had no clue what I was doing with my life. I graduated college three years ago, and needed to find a big girl job.

I think I started this blog to prove I could do it. I had online friends and bloggers, the owner of Breast Feeding Mama Talk, Kristy Kemp, and owner of Balancing the Blys, Daphney Bly, pushing me to write for the longest time. I had big, keyboard-warrior fingers, perfect for online activism, and a decent Facebook following from it. Why not use my social media skills and following, and hope for the best?

I never expected my article, CannaMamas Need the Freedom to Breastfeed, to receive the attention it did. I knew it was controversial when I published it, but I didn’t expect so many people to actually read it. People read my article, and women related. I got an awesome response from the people in my circle, and surprisingly little negative feedback in general, so I contacted the online publication Ladybud. Diane Fornbacher (fyi, she’s a badass power chick and cannabis activist) agreed to post my article. I remember she felt the story of discrimination against pregnant and breastfeeding cannabis consuming mothers needed to be told. I owe endless gratitude to Ms. Fornbacher for publishing my article, everything she has done for the movement, and continues to do.

Women began to contact me primarily through Facebook to ask me questions about cannabis use during pregnancy and breastfeeding. I spent hours communicating with strangers about their fears. Not surprisingly, most were afraid of the government and child protective services, not the negative side effects their cannabis consumption could have on their unborn children and nurslings. Quite the opposite, the testimony to the healing properties of cannabis grew abundant.

My husband, his grandmother, and I created CannaMama Clinic in the living room of his childhood home after a couple of weeks of me getting nothing else done but helping strangers. I couldn’t go on at that pace. I still needed to find a job, but I finally found what I wanted to do with my life! I finally found the way to help people and which people to focus my efforts on. I wanted to help these women. These cannamamas! I wanted to end cannabis discrimination against mothers, pregnant and breastfeeding included.

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I have been an activist as long as I can remember, before I knew what activism was. I went to college, and chose a major I believed ripened my adolescent, idealistic desire to change the world. My passions included diversity, lactavism, and feminism. I never really considered myself a “cannavist” (cannabis activist) until CannaMamas Need the Freedom to Breastfeed went viral even though I had consumed cannabis regularly, and much of the time daily, for almost twenty-one years and had PLENTY of experiences to wear the label proudly.

I used cannabis medicinally in 2004 while pregnant with my son. I suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum, and I credited cannabis for the relief I didn’t receive from zofran or phenergan. I credited cannabis for my son’s life, but still did not consider myself a cannavist. I was ashamed. I quit cannabis consumption at about seven months pregnant because I believed cannabis would interrupt the final stages of development. Although my doctors knew I chose to consume cannabis during my pregnancy, neither my baby nor I was drug tested upon delivery.

Even after my medicinal cannabis consumption for hyperemesis gravidarum, I still failed to understand the medicinal properties of cannabis. Reefer madness propaganda is deep, y’all. Afraid for my son’s health and burdened by the opinions people have of mothers that “smoke pot”, I did not resume consumption until my son was about six months old even though I suffered without the medicinal benefit of the plant. I actually fed my on-demand, breastfed baby pumped milk because of the guilt I felt which I now know, from experience and outcome, was an absolutely pointless and unnecessary disruption of our breastfeeding relationship. I bought into the lies told about breastfeeding and cannabis consumption: hook, line, and sinker.

By 2009, I was a partner at a dispensary, Medicinal Alternatives, and owner of an edibles brand, Mile High Medi-Munchies, in the state of Colorado during what is now known as the “Wild West” pre-regulation days. By 2011, regulations pushed me out along with many others. I never imagined another cannabis company in my future, and although I was an intern at the State Capitol, I was again too afraid to speak there about cannabis, my medical experiences, or my involvement in the budding Colorado cannabis industry. My cannabis activism peeked out through the occasional Facebook post to my friends. 

In 2013, I conceived my daughter. This pregnancy differed from my last pregnancy dramatically. Although still very ill and miserable (I am not the jolly pregnant woman) I knew better than to stop cannabis when I viewed the double pink line that indicated my new pregnancy. I finally had a much better understanding of the plant and its ability to heal. I consumed my entire pregnancy with my daughter until I went into labor. In hindsight, I wish I had brought edibles, tincture, or transdermal cannabis to the hospital for my recovery, but again, fear prevented me. I resumed cannabis consumption as soon as I returned home 2 days later.

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That same month, recreational cannabis became legal in my home state of Colorado. I have since learned regulated cannabis led to an increase of the testing of new mothers and their babies upon delivery. This time, my chart was flagged when I answered honestly about my medical choice. I tested positive for cannabis, and the hospital forced me to speak with one of their social workers before they would discharge us. I gave birth twice that week: to a child and a new passion for cannabis activism. I didn’t realize it yet, but no longer would I be afraid to speak about my choice to consume cannabis while pregnant and breastfeeding.

In June of 2014, I created a secret Facebook support group for moms like me because of my experiences in life and in online mommy, TTC (trying to conceive), and pregnancy groups. The cannamama shaming is REAL! I called my group Cannabis Consumption and Peaceful Parenting.

Although confident and with family support, I did not share my personal story outside of my Facebook group until I wrote my article, CannaMamas Need the Freedom to Breastfeed. After a couple months of reading posts by women with their rights violated in the moments that followed childbirth, their babies tested for cannabis without their consent, their families threatened by government agencies because of their medical choice, I could not remain silent. I felt compelled to share my story so common to cannamamas with the world.

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People often ask me what a cannamama is and how I came up with the name for my company. I chose to refer to the women that choose cannabis while pregnant and breastfeeding and throughout the duration of motherhood as “cannamamas” because my former favorite Facebook peaceful parent community called its members “opinionated mamas” and I continued to see myself as one of them only a proud cannabis consumer now. I had no idea at the time I was not the first to use the term. Silly me.

When my family and I decided to open the business, one of the first things we came up with was the name. We chose “CannaMama Clinic” because of my initial goal to educate the women that sought my help. People regularly mistake my business for a brick and mortar dispensary. I understand the confusion, but I don’t sell cannabis or products that contain THC. Cleverly, I recognized there is more than one meaning of the word and the marketing usefulness of the play on the word.

Merriam Webster, Full Definition of CLINIC
1
: a class of medical instruction in which patients are examined and discussed
2
: a group meeting devoted to the analysis and solution of concrete problems or to the acquiring of specific skills or knowledge <writing clinics> <golf clinics>

**(CANNABIS CLINICS)**
3
a : a facility (as of a hospital) for diagnosis and treatment of outpatients
b : a group practice in which several physicians work cooperatively
4
: a facility that offers professional services or consultation usually at discounted rates <a legal clinic>

**(Does online count as a facility? I think so!)**
5
: an exemplary display or performance <put on a clinic in the tournament>

I loved it the instant it popped into my brain and my husband and his Grandma did too. CannaMama Clinic was born.

I now have an online radio show called Coming Out With CannaMama Clinic on Tokeradio.com. My two co-hosts are Daphney Bly (imagine that!) and Lady A. We air live weekly on Tuesdays from 11-1 MST. Reruns of the show can be found Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays at 8AM MST.

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Last week, someone commented on the Facebook Live recording of Coming Out With CannaMama Clinic and asked how CannaMama Clinic has changed us so far. I would like to address her question here.

CannaMama Clinic helps cannabis consumers step out of the “cannacloset” with pride, knowledge, and resources. However, CannaMama Clinic is more than a cannabis advocate organization. We have cultivated a unique cannabis community for peaceful parents and female empowerment. Daily, I receive messages of gratitude that make me cry. I know I change lives, and in turn, my life has changed.

I’m so happy I overcame my fears and pressed “publish” with trembling hands. Now I feel like everything I did and everything I went through prepared me to help cannamamas. I could not be more honored or delighted.

I’m still an activist, and there’s no doubt I am a cannavist now. My Grandma always said if I love the work I do, I will never work a day in my life. I love being a cannamamapreneur, and definitely do not consider managing CannaMama Clinic work. Life has a funny way of turning out.

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Stop Taking Our Children Away

First, I got permission to write this post from the woman in the story because she wants to help put an end to the removal of children from the homes of cannamamas.

I’m sitting at my desk in tears over the latest story told to me by a UK cannamama.  This morning (afternoon her time), she posted in my secret Facebook group:

“I just have had my breastfeeding journey forciably (sic) ended.  My family reported me to social work for smoking weed.  They said no more breastfeeding until I earn my kids back and pass a drugs test.  My kids are gone they took them my step mum saw me smoking in the bedroom.  I broke my arm the night before.  They say I am a risk to my children and unfit.  They asked me to voluntarily give them up.  Im dying. Im smoking my last bowl for 17 years.  And the pain of every second that goes by without them is harsher and heavier than the last.  Im dying.  Sitting here looking out my front window and praying for a car to show up and bring my girls back to me.  It never comes.  I just pray I can endure this pain and get them back.  I hope they will still love me.  This cannabis prosecution needs to end.  My girls and I don’t deserve this.  but I cant fight this fight anymore though its cost us too dearly.  good bye and good luck everyone.”

Her story  is horrifying.  We are told there is a “pretty harsh view” of cannabis in her country.  She has been charged for “smoking and nursing”.  She told us she is being treated like a “child molester”.  I believe her.  Child molesting rapists like Jared Subway Fogle end up with less time than non-violent drug offenders.  Why?  Because women and children are powerless classes of people.

I’ll ask the question, how does a good mother, in every sense of the word, deserve this treatment for using cannabis?  What good can the removal possibly do for her children?  Imagine what the baby is going through today!  The baby doesn’t understand why its mother is gone and cannot feed from her breast…why an artificial nipple is shoved into its mouth while gagging on this new liquid that does not smell or taste anything like Mommy’s milk.  This is the best interest of the child?

But that is what they say.  The government rips children from the arms of their mothers regularly over cannabis in the UK and the United States.  Don’t believe it?  Read about Kansas mom, Shonda Banda.  In the UK injustice described above, the children have been placed in “emergency 48 hour foster care”.  Children under the care of cannamamas are deemed an “emergency” situation by her government!  They say the children are in danger.  They tell cannamamas they are horrible people and threaten them with permanent action.  It’s the worst kind of bullying.  I am disgusted.

We are told there is nothing we can do for her, there is nothing she can do for herself or her children, that she must do everything ordered or lose her children for good.

I will reiterate a point I regularly make, mothers are the most discriminated against group of cannabis users with the most to lose.  The cannabis community should focus on helping these women gain back their natural right to mother their children despite their choice to use cannabis.  According to a late 2014 report by the Global Drug Policy Observatory, a European think tank, women aged 30-50 are the key demographic for legalization.  This demographic is also the most likely to be mothers.  The Stoner Cookbook and Elle have made similar statements in recent articles.  If the intent is to use these women to pass cannabis legislation and make money from the cannabis products they buy, shouldn’t the government’s separation of a cannamama and her child be of the utmost concern to the cannabis powers that be?

I argue this is just one more instance of women used for a bigger purpose, but ignored on a class level.  Our help is wanted, but no help is given.  PAY ATTENTION TO US!!!  LISTEN TO THE CRIES OF OUR CHILDREN AS THEY ARE RIPPED FROM OUR ARMS!!!!  Or don’t expect shit from us.  We can do bad by ourselves.

Cannabis refugees are not all medical in nature.  Women are fleeing their homes with their children in the hopes they find a place that will not threaten to take their children because they live in cannamama homes.  Unfortunately, that place does not exist yet.  Some places are better than others, but this frightened and tortured mother is right.  We are in a fight for our freedom, our rights, and our children.

To the woman this happened to, to the women it has happened to, and the women it will happen to: you are not alone.  We are fighting this fight.  We will win.  Don’t let them brainwash you.  Do whatever you have to do to get your children back, but never believe you are a bad mother.  Cannabis use does not make us negligent parents.  We will get through cannabis persecution together.

 

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No Apologies for Passions, Part II of CannaMamas Need the Freedom to Breastfeed

I haven’t written anything since my last article, CannaMamas Need the Freedom to Breastfeed, because I didn’t want to go overboard on the topics of cannabis and breastfeeding and bore my readers.  I was apologizing before I even got started for the passion I have to speak on these issues.  How’s that for female socialization?!

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So fuck it, and fuck you if you are already sick of my articles on these two issues.  I don’t want to be that cutie pie.

I’m happy, and I want to tell the world what I have discovered but always knew deep inside!!  That there are women all over the United States (and world) ready to come out of the cannacloset.

I never expected the reaction I received from my last article.

I thought I would receive hate mail, and sure, there were plenty of people that disagreed, and some even made nasty remarks on Facbook (oooohhh!), but the overwhelming majority of messages I received from women were expressions of gratefulness.  Message after message I received were from women who thanked me for speaking up and taking a stand.  They called me brave, one after another.

I’m not brave!!  I was terrified to hit the publish button on that post, but I am fed up.  In a matter of days, hundreds of women reached out to me.  They wanted advice and help.  This made me angry to see so many women hurting and afraid.  I have now focused most of the fucks I have to give on cannamamas.  After seeing the help one single article could do to end the negative stigma of cannabis, I feel reaffirmed in my convictions.  I am more determined than ever to help end cannabis prohibition.

I want to share some of these women’s words that touched my heart and fuel my fire.

You’re amazing, and what you’re doing by posting about breastfeeding and your cannabis use is so important and brave! I’m 20weeks pregnant with my first here in Denver, and I hope can be as open and honest as you seem to be. More power to ya, keep doing what you’re doing!” Denver, Colorado, USA

Hi Jeanna! I read your article and as a cannamama who has a bachelors in poli sci and used to work in dispensaries and agrees with everything you wrote I just have to say you are my hero for writing it. You are doing everything I am dreaming of doing, only I live in NYC again (I lived in Colorado for five years) and our MMJ is just starting to happen… Anyway, I just wanted to tell you I loved your article a lot!” Vlada Vik, NYC, USA, 08/04/2015

I’ve been DYING to talk to you ever since you posted your article on Twitter. I just have a few questions. What situations would cause a pediatrician to test a baby? How often do you smoke/consume? And about how much? I haven’t smoked since my morning sickness went away with my youngest because I’m so afraid of losing my kids. I took a bite of an edible a few months ago and it didn’t affect my daughter at all. But that’s all I’ve had and I just want to know what I can do to be safe / a little more informed.” Hope Smith, Tuscon, Arizona, USA, 08/04/2015

I just read your article on BFMT.. I just wanted to say THANK YOU!!! I’m so tired of mothers and parents in general being threatened over cannabis! It took so much bravery for you to come out fighting and tell it how it is, and I’m so glad someone is finally calling out all the bullshit surrounding this PLANT. I hope eventually it will be completely legal in every state. I rarely smoke, but it absolutely has no influence on my parenting. My children are clean, fed, played with, and loved! I’m pretty sure some states have passed laws where they can drug test and jail women for failing I’m not sure if it includes cannabis, but that is scary to me!!! I’m not saying leave a child with a heroin addict, but there is no reason to put a child in the system and strip a woman of her rights because of a plant that grows out of the ground. It’s out of control! Don’t worry about the negative comments. Those people must have never smoked or they have just been duped by the governments “reefer madness”.”  B. R., Nashville, Tennessee, USA, 08/04/2015   *BFMT is Breastfeeding Mama Talk, an excellent resource for breastfeeding support.*

I wanted to thank you for your article that I just read via badass breast feeders. I was an avid marijuana user prior to my pregnancy. I also smoked everyday while losing 60lbs, obtaining my masters in educational leadership, and teaching high school. I was so scared about smoking with my pregnancy that I quit and have not started again. My daughter is 1 now and still nurses 2-4 times a day. I want to start smoking again as it helps with migraines, stress, and my anxiety. My mind isn’t made up yet but you definitely bring up a number of good and valid points.
Thank you for your honesty.” C. S., Baltimore, Maryland, USA, 08/04/2015  *shout out to the Badass Breastfeeder mentioned above. Thank you for sharing my article and doing what you do.*

I have no idea who you are or where you are from but I just read the article you had written and I can’t be anymore grateful to you for being so brave. I myself used “cannabis ” during my pregnancy with my son ( it was the only way I could eat or drink) – like you said it literally saved my pregnancy and from me going insane lol ! — I also used cannabis while breastfeeding my son for the first year of his life ! … He is now two And I shit you not EVERY mother that comes in contact with my little guy literally says to me ” wow he is speaking in full sentences already” his day care lady compliments all the time on how developed and smart he is. Thank you for speaking out ! Because through that whole time I remained silent and hidden incase of being called a drug addict ! Hats off to you girl ! Totally joining your secret group !!! Keep doing your thing !! And thanks again! S. M., Pennsylvania, USA, 08/04/2015

This IS a movement.

Excuse Me for Laughing

“This is a comedy club, not a laughing house. Please leave, Madam.”

Yes, this essentially happened to me.  The weirdest things always do as people often tell me.  Last Monday, my husband and I were on a double date with another couple.  Like most couples with children, we don’t get out much, and had been looking forward to the evening for a month.  We planned dinner and a comedy show.  I was so excited to see Martin Lawrence, a comedian I have loved since childhood.  I have heard, “Dammmmnnnnnn, Gina,” a million times because that’s my name too.  People think they are funny and original when they say it to me.

Anyway, the night started at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse where we arrived at approximately 7:45 pm.  The food and service were outstanding.  I enjoyed a very dirty classic vodka martini before dinner and a glass of wine with my meal.  We had a great time, catching up, and laughing…gasp!  I was never asked to keep it down.  In fact, I have never been asked to muffle my laughter in a public setting before by anyone besides my Grandmother, and I do love to laugh.

This time, I wasn’t asked to quiet my laughter by my Grandmother, and I wasn’t in just any public place.  I was asked to laugh quieter as a patron sitting in the back row of a comedy performance with a full crowd.

From Comedy Work's website.  Keep the women in the background and add "quietly" over their heads.

From Comedy Work’s website. Keep the women in the background and add “quietly” over their heads.

Only, I wasn’t asked at all initially.  I found out later my husband was told to keep his wife quiet or we would be asked to leave.

You read that right.  The waitress at the comedy club, under manager direction, asked a man to “keep his bitch in check”.  This is USA 2015, right??  As my husband told me, we came there to laugh and enjoy ourselves.  He knows sexism when he sees it, and he refused to stifle my good time. Eventually, the waitress told me herself to either keep my laughter down or I would be asked to leave.  I was mortified.

I won’t bore you with the details, if you are interested in my version of events, they can be viewed here and here on Facebook.    

I spoke to the “manager”, but he was rude and condescending.  He treated me like a child and belligerent drunk all in one (by this point in the night, I had 2.5 drinks over the same span of time if not longer.  I felt good, but was by no means drunk.  My loud laughter was not a result of the number of alcoholic beverages I consumed.  It’s just me. I laugh loudly.  I speak loudly.).  I wrote this review just after midnight on the way home.  Looks like the words of someone that deserved to be treated like a belligerent drunk, right?!Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 9.57.47 AMThe second manager was slightly better, but I got no where with either of them.  I never got an explanation of why I was told to laugh quieter or else be removed.  The show was over.  I missed the second half of Martin Lawrence’s performance.

I was furious.  My husband went to get the manager’s card.  We forgot to grab it, and I wanted to contact someone about what happened to me.  It was then that he received an apology and a refund.  Wait…what??  I argued for thirty minutes, and was treated like trash, to no avail, but my husband made progress in mere moments.  Tell me again that sexism isn’t rampant.

We still don’t know who was managing what that night because three different men represented themselves as such, none of whom ended up being the GM.  Mr. Jeffrey B. Fisher, the actual General Manager of Comedy Works Landmark Place, was too busy drinking at the bar to deal with customers that night.  I realized this when I met him in person.  My husband recognized him as the man laughing loudly over drinks at the bar with another man.  Imagine that.  Laughing loudly…I guess it’s ok when a man does it…

Is there a certain way women are allowed to laugh in public in the United States in 2015?  According to Mr. Fisher, yes, there is.  Although, I still don’t know what that way is.  When, later on in the week I came back, and I asked for clarification of the Comedy Works “laughter decibel” policy, Mr. Fisher became irate, threatened to rescind my refund, walked towards me aggressively with his 6’3″+, 300+ pound body, and told me to get off the premises.  This was after he yelled at me, waved his finger through the air and in my face, and interrupted me repeatedly.

I didn’t budge.  I told him I had a right to be on the property and inquire about my refund.  He walked off in a huff.  At this point, I didn’t know what to do, so I called the LoneTree police department for assistance.  Dispatch notified me that Mr. Fisher had already contacted the police and they were en route.

What?  Did I hear this right?  The General Manager of a well known establishment called the police on a patron because she wanted to give a formal complaint, and requested the company policy on laughter while waiting for the printout of her refund?  Sounds absurd, right?  This is no laughing matter.  The police arrived within minutes.

What is wrong with the sound of a woman laughing?  It offends men.  There is a long and brutal history of women punished and chastised for their laughter.   Mr. Fisher, you scoffed and laughed in my face when I noted the multiple instances of sexism I encountered at your establishment.  You told me, a woman, that I don’t know what sexist behavior is.  Do better.  Listen to women.

Ms. Wende Curtis, I implore you, to stand behind your reputation as a strong business woman, and as owner of the Comedy Works South, to fix this problem of sexism within your company.

The laughter of women sets fire
to the Halls of Injustice
and the false evidence burns
to a beautiful white lightness

It rattles the Chambers of Congress
and forces the windows wide open
so the fatuous speeches can fly out

The laughter of women wipes the mist
from the spectacles of the old;
it infects them with a happy flu
and they laugh as if they were young again

Prisoners held in underground cells
imagine that they see daylight
when they remember the laughter of women

It runs across water that divides,
and reconciles two unfriendly shores
like flares that signal the news to each other

What a language it is, the laughter of women,
high-flying and subversive.

Long before law and scripture
we heard the laughter, we understood freedom.

by Liesel Mueller

*UPDATE*

The moderator for the Landmark Facebook page deleted my posts to their page and also a post by a friend.  Rather than respond publicly to my criticism on their own page, “Susan” left this lovely comment on my profile denying their actions and calling me a liar. Like seriously, if this doesn’t illustrate my account, I don’t know what will. Their lack of customer service is seething.

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https://www.facebook.com/poliscimommy/posts/10205309749755599?pnref=story