International Women’s Day: Cannabis Activist Edition

International Women’s Day was yesterday, so shout out to all of the women out there making the world a better place. Women don’t get the recognition that they deserve in a lot of aspects of life, and, unfortunately, cannabis activism is one of them. In honor of the day, I wanted to use my little voice to help acknowledge a handful of activists that I have gotten to know during my two-decades of activism.

Kind Leaf’s  Erin Purchase, is one example of a great activist that utilizes her position as director of operations of Eastern Oregon’s preeminent craft cannabis boutique to do good work in her local community and promote sensible regulations that work well for other small business owners and the public at large.

I’m obviously biased, but my wife Sarah Duff has been an unsung hero of the movement. She has been doing great work without much fanfare, going back to helping found the longest continuous running Students for Sensible Drug Policy chapter west of the Mississippi (Mizzou!) to nearly gathering enough signatures single-handedly to place a decrim and medical measure on the Columbia, Missouri, ballot back in 2003 to helping gather the initial signatures that started the process to legalize cannabis in Oregon in 2014 to working with local growers to ensure that more than 100 patients receive free medicine every year for the past decade.  Props to our dear friend Amber Langston who helped lead the Columbia campaign to victory in 2004 and has been doing great work in activism across several states and even internationally ever since.

Back in 2007, I first met Debby Goldsberry, who has activist roots roots with the Godfather of the movement, Jack Herer. I was starstruck because she had accomplished so much in the movement. After getting to know her, I have come to understand her as someone who deeply cares about patients and the greater good. Debby helped educate the masses across the nation with great activists like Herer and others and co-founded Berkeley Patients Group in 1999, helping lead one of the nation’s pioneering and influential dispensaries for a decade. She has shared her knowledge in a book and now leads Magnolia Wellness and continues to advocate for sensible policies that can work for small businesses, patients, and the general public at large. There’s a reason High Times named her their 2011 “Activist of the Year.”

Elvy Musikka, a Eugene, Oregon, resident is one of the prophets of the movement. Elvy is one of the two remaining federal medical cannabis patients that receive medicine directly from the United States government. After her 1988 arrest, Elvy won the right to utilize cannabis due to her medicinal use treating her glaucoma. Elvy has traveled the world spreading the truth about cannabis. I’m honored to have gotten to know Elvy, even taking her to a Michael Franti and Spearhead concert in Eugene. She has a bubbly personality that is a joy to be around and she has done as much to educate people about medical cannabis as anyone. High Times named Musikka its activist of the year in 1992.

There are women doing amazing work in the cannabis activist community and industry without much fanfare. It is time that they get the recognition that they deserve. Debby Goldsberry and Elvy Musikka, both long-time pioneers, deserve to be recognized with activist legends Jack Herer and Dennis Person as two of the most important cannabis activists of all-time. Let’s lift up everyone doing good work in the cannabis community and in other important aspects of our lives, on International Women’s Day, and everyday.

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