- Jennifer Betz
How are Empowered Women of the Deep South Making a Difference in Cannabis?
Celebrating Women's History Month by Applauding Women of the Deep South Changing Lives Through Cannabis
March is Women’s History Month, and we here at Louisiana Marijuana Card want to take the opportunity to recognize and celebrate the women of the Deep South. Their contributions to the medical marijuana movement help pass legislation that keeps communities and families healthier and safer, and they deserve our many thanks.
Women in the South are tough. They’ve seen hard times, and they carry on. Through storms and barricades, they advocate for access to the healing and relief medical marijuana provides. A few Southern women have dedicated their lives to changing attitudes about cannabis, fighting for social justice, and putting the issue of medical marijuana front and center with our lawmakers.
Other women have made careers for themselves in cannabis, working in an industry that faces one legal hurdle after another. They battle stigma so that we can all have access to medical marijuana to treat our conditions and symptoms. And they do the research it takes to learn new ways of keeping our families healthier, naturally.
We at Louisiana Marijuana Card are saying “thank you” by recognizing the every day work that Southern women in cannabis do to improve our lives, our families, and our communities. Keep reading to learn more about a few of the women who are paving the way to a better future through plant medicine.
Dr. Chanda Macias - Louisiana’s 2020 Queen Zulu and Cannabis Boss
Dr. Chanda Macias kicked down stigma surrounding women in cannabis, stomped on it, and became its boss. Not only is she a world-renowned researcher in biosciences, but she is also the first black female owner of a multi-state cannabis company.
Her company, Ilera Holistic Healthcare, is one of only two medical marijuana companies with authorization to operate in the state of Louisiana. Ilera partners with Southern University to grow and manufacture products sold at dispensaries all over the Bayou State. Dr. Macias also led Southern in becoming the first Historically Black University to launch its own CBD line.
Her success, style, and influence in bringing the relief of medical marijuana to Louisiana is no doubt one of the many reasons she was crowned Queen Zulu 2020.
Thank you, Dr. Macias.
Female Cannabis Activists Want Better Health and Stronger Communities
Some believe that marijuana should be legalized in order to stop wasting resources on arrest and prosecution. Others think we should at least have medical marijuana access in order to treat a whole list of symptoms and conditions naturally and effectively.
Medical marijuana can be used to combat the opioid epidemic head-on, it is effective in helping cancer patients manage their symptoms, it eases some of the anxiety related to PTSD, and that’s just the beginning of ways cannabis can be used to make life better.
Women activists are fighting every day to level the legal playing field and protect our rights to quality healthcare options.
Kelli Lynn Grey - Writing Her Story of Cannabis Reform, Health Equity, and Living With Cancer
Kelli Lynn Grey started working with NORML in 2015, but her involvement in cannabis reform and the health equity movement intensified during her fight with cancer. Her firsthand experience with the complications that come with paying for unaffordable lifesaving treatments led her on a search for alternative ways of getting the care she needs.
In addition to creating a GoFundMe campaign to finance her healthcare expenses and promote Queen of Wands, the poetry book she is working on, Grey uses cannabis in multiple forms.
Right now, hemp-based CBD helps relieve the symptoms she experiences related to cancer, cancer treatments, and everyday stress. Until she gets her Georgia marijuana card—making it legal for her to use medical marijuana to treat pain and nausea—she maintains a mostly hemp-focused approach to her personal care and symptom management.
Intensely aware of her privilege even in her situation, she has been writing activist pieces supporting equal rights, cannabis reform, and increased access to natural, effective medical care.
Her work as editor of Canna Poet Mom on Medium addresses what it's like to navigate the current healthcare system, and where access needs to improve in order to help communities flourish.
Women Have the Right to Care for Themselves With Medical Marijuana
At Louisiana Marijuana Card, we had the opportunity to talk to Grey about the hesitance that accompanies medical marijuana use in the South. She says that acceptance and curiosity are definitely winning out, but people are still reluctant to talk about it—especially women.
“There’s this sensibility that women are taking care of children, whether we have them or not. That there is something that is supposed to spring forth at any moment and give care. But if we’re under the influence of medical marijuana we couldn’t,” Grey observed.
“There’s something wrong with that. That women are supposed to spring to care on a moment’s notice. And that using cannabis means you are incapable of giving care. That’s just not true,” she added.
You deserve to get relief for your conditions and symptoms regardless of your gender, and medical marijuana provides a natural way to get that relief.
Despite the judgement that women in the South sometimes face as a result of their medical marijuana use, you can arm yourself with information, research, and support to get started with confidence.
At Louisiana Marijuana Card, our compassionate staff is ready to answer all your questions and refer you to resources that can help.
Grey says that “Simply looking past it [medical marijuana] because you are worried about the stigma and your daily function, that’s just tragic to me. It’s just fear standing in the way of something that can be an effective treatment.”
She acknowledges that medical marijuana may cause side effects, but many other medications are even harsher. “When I look at all of them compared to each other, cannabis does the most good compared to the others. I don’t look at it as a replacement. It is an integrative part of healthcare.”
Thank you, Kelli Lynn Grey.
Sharon Ravert - Pushing for Decriminalization, Legalization, Medical Marijuana Access, and Justice Equality in the South
Sharon Ravert got involved in cannabis activism when her daughter got in trouble with the law more than a decade ago. The harrowing experience makes her angry to this day.
“When they arrested my daughter, they came in with the SWAT team and the sheriff, searching the house for several hours. One and a half grams is what they found. We were looking at a misdemeanor and two felonies—26 years in prison.”
After the scare with the police, Ravert founded Peachtree NORML, a local Georgia chapter of the activist organization advocating for fair marijuana laws. She served as the executive director, before she left to run for office in 2020.
Ravert didn’t win, but she is still on the front lines every day, helping people who get in trouble over cannabis and making her face familiar to all the politicians at the Capitol.
She said that in Georgia the more they talk about legalization, the more the police crack down on illegal possession.
“If you have a Weight Watchers scale or sandwich baggies, they like to charge you with distribution. It’s scary. People don’t know what to expect. Especially in these small towns, lawyers are gonna be involved in the system and not take care of you the way they should.”
Ravert noted that “The stigma that comes along with Southern cannabis keeps people from even getting a medical card. Last time I heard, we had 14 or 15 thousand medical patients in Georgia.”
Mothers Take the Moral High Ground for Cannabis
One of the most important ways to make medical marijuana progress in the South, is for women to get involved. “When women step up, and they start talking about this, it gives them [politicians] a different perspective on it. I was a mother of two girls. It gives me a sort of moral high ground. What about the children?”
That’s how Ravert got politicians in her home state to listen. She said business men came in talking about how much money there was to be made. But people sat up straight when women started addressing the harms of prohibition to their families and communities.
“People are suffering with disease and being arrested,” Ravert says that this is truly what’s at the heart of cannabis reform.
When we asked Ravert what advice she had for women who want to get involved in the marijuana movement, she had these words of wisdom: “Follow your heart, do the right thing, get involved. For anyone who becomes successful, you have to take risks. Find someone out there who’s already involved and connect with them to learn the ropes.”
As far as organizations to look for, NORML is the premier leader in getting folks involved. Drug Policy Alliance is another great organization. “If none of those fit, start your own group!” Ravert exclaimed.
Thank you, Sharon Ravert.
Take Action By Getting Your Medical Marijuana Card Today!
Having your medical marijuana card does give you a level of protection that you wouldn’t have without it. When you use medical marijuana legally and responsibly, it gets us one step closer to the healthier, safer communities we all want by reducing stigma and breaking down preconceived notions.
Talk to one of the compassionate doctors at Louisiana Marijuana Card and get your medical marijuana recommendation today, so you can start getting relief tomorrow.