By Johnny Hash
Upon entering the Worlds Famous Cannabis Farmers Markets I am asked for my Cannabis recommendation and my Washington state identification card.
They look over my documentation to make sure I am qualified to enter and I am cheerfully sent through the door. I see pictures of Eddy Lepp, Roger Christie, Marc Emery, Chris Williams and more.
There are Western Union Receipts pinned to their bulletin board showing contributions to inmates books that have been incarcerated for cannabis. I see a Doctor there answering questions for patients and talking to them about healthy choices and ways to treat themselves better.
Everybody is cheerful and helpful. I see signature and voter petitions on the counters and a bevy of literature and information every person and patient should read. I am then met by a group of volunteers talking about changing cannabis law and freeing some local people that have been arrested. One of the volunteers sitting at the table is trying to collect signatures to help a loved one recently locked up for cannabis and threatened with a sentence of 10 or more years.
I visit with them and learn that there are many peo-ple that have been locally let alone nationally affected by cannabis arrests and am saddened yet determined to join the battle in legalization and reform a little more informed than I was prior to my visit here.
Then I hit the lounge and WOW! I
smell the most beauti-ful aroma I think I have ever encountered. If that is the
Aroma of Tacoma they talk about when you mention a trip to Tacoma then all I
can say is that must be one fine place to live and I am adding Tacoma to my
list of favorite places! In the lounge they have a non medicated hang out
for care givers with magazines, refreshments, a lounge staff to help with refreshments and questions and a comfortable place to hang out with fresh popcorn popping and the aroma of brownies, cookies, fruits, cannabis and heaven wafting through mixed with laughter and music. I decide to get the true experience and decide not to just rush into the market but to hang in the lounge with some of the peo-ple and get their impressions of the market.
In the lounge there are about 40 people sitting, talking, laughing and enjoying each others company. There are two patients in wheel chairs that have volunteers from the market with them assisting them in making it around easily and making sure they are comfortable. There is a volunteer giving out magazines and making sure there are refreshments available. I talk to a young man who is sitting in the lounge who tells me he is waiting for his mom. He is 24 years old. He tells me his mother is a cancer survivor and that she almost died a year ago, at which time the doctors told him and his dad that his mother would not make it through the year and they needed to start making arrangements and preparing for her care. He said his mom was ghostly pale and down to 80 lbs, she had no appetite and she was in and out of consciousness. The doctors told the family there would be less then 3 months and that she was in the final stages. At this point we are both in tears and the others in the lounge are shaking their heads and aptly listening as well. He talks about all that they are going through and how his mom screams and writhes in pain. Then his cousin visits and she says that her aunt needs cannabis. Their father refuses and says it is against their moral beliefs and it is illegal. The cousin/niece tells them it is legal in the state of Washington and that her oncologist can recommend or pre-scribe it for her. The son is sold however dad is not and they continued to battle over the issue for almost 2 weeks when the mom had to be rushed via ambulance back to the hospital. When the doctor talks to the son he speaks with him about cannabis and the doctor tells him that his mother may have benefited from cannabis however now she is probably to far gone and they need to prepare for her death. She is sent home again with hospice in 3 days and told it will be less than a week.
He said at that time he called his cousin and she came rushing over with some Full Extract Cannabis Oil also known as FECO or Rick Simpson’s Oil. Unknown to the father they begin to give her small doses in a teaspoon of baby food. Within weeks she is more coherent, she is eating and drinking and gaining color and weight the doctors can not explain the change. He says his dad moved out as he was so against the cannabis and he was left to care for his mother alone. He smiles and says that was 4 years ago. And then says my mom is coming right now. Look!
I see this vibrant beautiful woman with a huge smile on her face with a big bag of goodies and three other people with her. I am introduced to Lynda and am enchanted by her. She is so full of life. She shows me a bag of teas, lotions, pain sprays, candies, cookies and so much more. I am amazed that some of these things are available and see I am going to learn a lot more than I bargained for today.
Lynda proceeds to tell me about a time when she could not afford medicine and her and her son were alone. Then she smiles and says that was until we found our REAL family!. All of these people here at the Cannabis Farmers Markets. Most of them will not take my money. Others make sure the medicine is affordable for patients like me. They care! They help us and we help others!
I am just dumbfounded and overjoyed and I haven’t even made it out of the lounge and into the market yet. I am told many more stories none as touching but many more Cannabis success stories and stories of community involve-ment, compassion and strength all made possible because of this amazing market and the people involved.
I walk into the market and am immediately handed a free gift from the first vendor, he lets me choose a gift out of a box. I tell him it is OK I am just looking I am not planning on donating any money. He is smiling and tells me that it is a gift and that gifts come without strings attached. I chose a really cool wooden peace bracelet for my aunt.
I look over his table and see a few big jars of cannabis flow-ers. He tells me about them and I am amazed at the knowl-edge and care that he shows and it is evident that he cares about the patients and likes what he is doing. Across form him is the Raffle and I decide to go take a look. For $2 a ticket or 3 for $5 you can get a chance at winning one of three raffle baskets with the largest basket being with over $420. How befitting right?
I am told all of the proceeds go to
local causes, legalization efforts, patient in need and more for the community
There are 53 Vendors set up, music is playing and people are talking, laughing, sharing and having what looks like a good no what looks like a great time. The variety is unheard of. I see things I did not truly know existed.
Some of my favorite products were the Full Extract Cannabis Oil (FECO aka the Cure, Rick Simpson Oil and other names), medicated teas, infused bath products and medicated lotions and creams with non psycho active effects, the chemotherapy cure shampoo and conditioner to help with hair growth and pain, Tinctures, Medicated snow cones, Cannabis Capsules, Suppositories, Soup Bases, Tooth ache drops and dental floss and too many more to list here. Lets just suffice to say the variety and choices are the largest resource on the west coat. There is more to choose from here under one roof then any one col-lective would have to offer. I witnessed several collectives filling their orders for their collectives at the Cannabis Farmers Markets.
It is the largest and most organized resource of informa-tion, intelligent advocates, caring individuals, and medicine and resources available to patients, physicians, new comers to the community, the terminally ill, and everybody con-cerned I have encountered since starting my Cannabis research 17 years ago.
I have never seen so many strains of Cannabis, Starts, Seeds, Glass, Clothing, Foods, Capsules, Creams, Containers, Jewelry, Nutrients and other items. Most things you were able to try and discuss and even barter.
I asked a couple of vendors I encountered what they think of the market and how has the market affected their lives. The array of answers I got were different, yet the same. They were poignant and profound, they were funny and comical, they were sad and touching and they were down-right amazing. I will share a few with you.
One of the vendors I met told me they had been with the
market since the very beginning. that they were one of the original 7 vendors at the first ever Cannabis Farmers Market in the world. Making history right beside Jeremy and Kitty Miller.
They told me that they were not able to pay their mortgage when they first started and were about to lose their home. They not only saved their home but were able to crawl out of debt and to take their lives back into their own control and were able to afford their own medication and bills. That they had met some of the most supportive and caring people of their lives there people that supported them and their life choices.
Another one of the vendors told me that they went from being on public assistance and losing their car to being able to not only pay their mortgage on time but being able to send both of their children to college and to donate money to local charities.
Another vendor told me they had been robbed at gun point when they were out delivering their excess medication to another patient and that they were hospitalized for 2 days and did not know if they were going to be able to contin-ue to help the few people they cared for in addition to themselves. They told me this market provided them with a safe and comfortable place for them to do what Washington law specifically outlines they can do in regards to medical cannabis and patient exchange.
Another vendor told me that she used to sit in her home on anti depressants both of her children grown and gone and she found herself alone and in a fog since her husband died. At times even contemplating suicide. She was broke and felt alone. When a friend asked her to split a table at the market and paid for her half for her for the first time. She made organic baked goods with medicated butter and made enough to pay her friend back for her half and take $500 home in reimbursement for her excess medicine. But better than that she took home a new sense of worth, a
sense of belonging and a hope for the future. She has got-ten off of public assistance, and pays for her own Cobra medical insurance. No longer using any state or federal resources and so proud of it. She had something to look forward to and it changed her life forever. She said since them she has donated 350 hours to hospice, she has adopt-ed two shelter dogs and donated $1,000 to the Foster Grandparents program and volunteers as a foster grand parent for foster kids who need somebody to read to them or somebody to talk to, she has friends and purpose and a real zest for life.
I met a couple who are all laughs. They tell me before they started that they were both so obese and very ill. They were on a variety of medications all of them with their own side effects and problems. They were close to losing their home and both out of work. They decided to start a delivery service for their excess medicine and also were robbed at gun point making them wonder what to do. then they came to the market. They only deliver to other collectives pretty much now and have their other patients meet them at the market. They have collectively lost over 175lbs and looked great to me. They said they have found a family and a home in the market.
The stories are all different yet
they all have one thing in common. They all say the Cannabis Farmers Markets
was a changing point for them, a positive influence on their lives all the way
For some it is the only social event they have and they look forward to it with an eagerness every other week. It is a time when they can see family and friends. To give support and to get support. To laugh and make laugh to cry and be cried on. This is a Community that works! Farmers Markets have proven to be a source of community sup-port, outreach and success for generations for all of our other farmed goods, foods, fibers, herbs and like. Why would Cannabis be any different? It has not only been proven to be medically beneficial and even necessary, it has been proven to be non dangerous and non life threatening with fewer side effects than peanuts! It is also these patients legal right. I say this should be the model for all states to effectively and safely offer their citizen that voted medical marijuana or cannabis legal a safe and effective way to what we have been doing for years with the Farmers Markets and Alternative Health Care Centers. Laughter has been proven to be good medicine. And happiness and community support are always beneficial, instead of taking so many antidepressants and feeling isolated and alone people can gather together support and educate each other and benefit the communities they reside in.
When I finally got to meet Jeremy I was completely over-whelmed by the way the market had empowered the local medical cannabis community and was excited to ask him a few brief questions.
Here’s what he had to say
How did you come up with the idea for a Cannabis Farmers Market?
A: The idea for the Cannabis Farmers Market came about because I was feeling like the way most patients were getting their medical cannabis in Washington was not
working for them or the farmers. I got to see this problem 1st hand as director of Sacred Plant Medicine, we were con-stantly having to tell farmers that we were unable to accept their medicine for a variety of different reasons, and patients often couldn’t afford to visit a collective regularly to acquire medicine. So one weekend I visited the local farm-ers market and thought to myself wouldn’t this be a great distribution model for medical cannabis the next day I woke up and could not get the idea out my mind and the Cannabis Farmers market was born.
What was the reaction from the local police?
When my attorney contacted the local police they told him that all cannabis collectives were illegal according to state and federal laws. Which seemed to be the default answer from law enforcement across the state when asked about collectives, so I didn’t expect that we would have any real issues from them with about 25 collectives already operating locally. Thankfully I was right because we have connected our community in a way that has never been seen before and even if the market ever gets shut down they can never take away those connections.
What do you love the most about the market?
I love the way the market empowers the local cannabis community. For the patients it creates a social environment where they can interact with others in similar situations in a place other then a hospital or doctors waiting room and it gives them a free market environment to acquire medicine. For the farmer it connects them directly with the patients that will be consuming the medicine and it helps them financially when the mainstream economy is failing them. I constantly hear stories from farmers about how the market has saved them from being homeless or hungry and it alway makes me smile to know I was able to help them, help themselves all while giving patients safe access to med-ical cannabis.
Anything I forgot or you want to say to every-body?
I would just like to remind people that we would never be able to see an event like the Cannabis Farmers Market if someone hadn’t come before us and helped push the lim-its of freedom so that we could be where we are today, thats why it’s so important that we never forget to give thanks to those that have paved the way for us and contin-ue to push as far as we can so those that those that come after us can enjoy freedoms we only dreamed of!