Why Cannabars & Weddings Go Together Like Love & Marriage

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wedding pictureAs I wrote in a recent blog for Marijuana Politics,  with the legalization of marijuana in several state, engaged couples have one more option to consider in the mix of wedding planning: “Should we have a Cannabar?”

You may have seen recent headlines circulating about a wedding in West Linn, Oregon offering an open Weed Bar(!) to guests. Because legalization just took effect in Oregon on July 1, the idea of providing marijuana to wedding guests is still very new, but I believe cannabis-friendly weddings will inevitably become the new norm for modern nuptials. I believe this for a lot of reasons, but the main reason is simply because many people enjoy using marijuana in social settings. We will only see cannabis bars at more and more weddings and other social events as marijuana becomes more mainstream in Oregon and across the country.

Portland’s KGW Channel 8 News interviewed the couple in West Linn and wrote an article detailing the positive experience they had with their open weed bar, reporting:

The legalization of pot in Oregon has couples considering weed bars at their weddings.

“We were shocked by how much people loved it,” said groom John Elledge of his recent reception. “I’m still getting a couple of texts a day from guests who enjoyed the weed tent.”

If you look at the facts, the reaction the couple received should be no surprise. Based on a National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2013 there were 19.8 million current marijuana users. Clearly, people are using marijuana, and many people enjoy it. If legal cannabis is offered to adult wedding guests, odds are many will enjoy the opportunity to consume it. KGW went on to write:

Elledge, who describes himself as a professional marijuana grower, seems pleased to be a pioneer.

“Even an 81-year-old woman who hadn’t smoked weed since the ’60s came into the tent at our wedding,” he said. “Though skeptical at first she ended up loving it.”

And right there is a perfect example of the power of exposure. The main reason I felt the need to come out of the cannabis closet was to expose people to the truth about cannabis and its positive effects. I was a local news anchor who was fired for using marijuana in my personal time, and my story really shook some people’s perception of me. Rather than changing their positive opinion of me, I thought sharing my story could help change people’s negative opinion of cannabis consumers. So far, I’ve been right.

The growing trend of “Cannabars” at wedding will expose more people to responsible adult cannabis use. This trend will hasten the acceptance of marijuana use.

Imagine showing up at your cousin Brenda’s wedding and lighting up a joint for the first time with Aunt Sally! Aunt Sally could change her mind about marijuana and then go back to her friends in rural Oregon and tell them about her positive experience with cannabis. Maybe those friends each tell a couple people, and soon Aunt Sally’s small town is a little more open-minded to legal marijuana.

Another major positive to having weed at weddings? Consuming cannabis is safer than consuming alcohol. Whether it’s a full-on open bar with hard liquor or just champagne for one toast – it’s almost expected to provide your wedding guests with some form of alcoholic beverage.

Knowing the dangers of alcohol, why not provide a safer alternative? They are your loved ones after all. Wouldn’t you rather them consume cannabis, something that causes less harm, is less addictive, and can’t kill them?

With the facts the way they are, I don’t think it will take very long for more people to see the benefits of providing guests with marijuana. If you’re within the law, consider having a weed tent at your next big event! You might be surprised who enjoys it, and more importantly, those who enjoy it might even surprise themselves.

Hemposium Panel at Seattle Hempfest: Cannabigotry & Why We’re Still Fighting

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Seattle Hempfest was my first-ever cannabis related event after getting fired as a local news anchor for using marijuana. I was the victim of cannabigotry and after coming out with my story, I was invited to speak about my experience on a panel among some pretty impressive people.  The panel took place on the Ric Smith Hemposium Stage and was titled: Cannabigotry: We Legalized, Why Are We Still Fighting?

Each speaker was asked to define cannabigotry as they understood it. I define cannabigotry as treating someone differently simply because they use cannabis. In my experience, I lost my job as a local news anchor for using marijuana in my free time, even though I would have kept my job had I chosen to use alcohol and pharmaceuticals. To me, that is a perfect example of cannabigotry: I was punished for using a safer substance than the socially accepted vices.

In the picture below you can see the rest of the panel included Charlo Greene, a fellow former news anchor whose story went viral when she quit live on the air to focus on legalizing marijuana in Alaska; Stephanie Viskovich, a medical marijuana activist in Washington State;  Allison Holcomb, the leader of Washington State’s I-502 marijuana legalization campaign; and Leland Berger, a longtime Oregon cannabis advocate and attorney. Needless to say, I was very honored to be at the same table as these experienced activists.

I really enjoyed the discussion because we all brought very different ideas into the conversation. Mine and Charlo’s stories have a lot of parallels, but one of the examples she brought up about cannabigotry had nothing to do with employee rights. Her example had to do with cities within Alaska trying to block marijuana legalization less than a week after the majority of Alaskans voted Measure 2 into law.

Oregon is experiencing the same thing right now, and it is very disheartening. I really appreciated that Charlo made this point because it is yet another example of why social change needs to come first. The only way laws and policies are going to continue to change for the better is if people are exposed to the truth about cannabis.

Stephanie Viskovich was clearly passionate about the rights of medical marijuana patients in the state of Washington. She spoke about the cannabigotry they’ve experienced before and after recreational legalization in Washington. Allison Holcomb spoke about the racial history of cannabigotry, saying that the system has been set in place to fundamentally hold back minorities. And Leland Berger was able to give a very experienced look at the matter from his work as a trial attorney. He’s seen cannabigotry play out in real life time and time again, and his opinion was powerful.

Everyone brought examples of cannabigotry to the table. While this made for great discussion, it also really shows that the initial question that the panel proposed, We Legalized, Why Are We Still Fighting? is still a necessary and continuing discussion. While marijuana is legal in Oregon and a handful of other states, it seems like the battle to true freedom is still being fought.

Throughout the panel, I continued to voice my opinion that the most important thing for change is to keep talking about it. Keep talking about marijuana, its effects, and its many uses. Every time I made this point, it seemed as though everyone on the panel agreed. Regardless of our different viewpoints, it is glaringly clear that the conversation must continue.

At the end of the panel, Leland Berger said: “I want to end on a very positive note. If you’re 35 or younger, 80% of you get it on social issues. If you’re a young person, you’re going to be okay.” Leland is right. The vast majority of young people, and many others, agree that responsible adults should be able to live their lives the way they want to. It’s time to stop being the silent majority. Once again, if you can speak up, you should.

Cannabigotry panel ast Seattle Hempfest

Seattle Hempfest: My First Event as News Anchor Turned Cannabis Activist

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Less than a month after coming out of the cannabis closet, I found myself a part of the world’s largest annual gathering centered around cannabis: Seattle Hempfest. After several years of working as a local news reporter and anchor and hiding my cannabis use at all costs, I was suddenly speaking to hundreds of people about exactly that.

Calling my Hempfest experience surreal would be an understatement. Being my first-ever cannabis-related event, it was pretty great being thrust into the mix.

Starting with the VIP Party Friday night, I quickly realized I was surrounded by history-makers in the legal marijuana movement.  I saw and met a number of noteworthy people, including fellow Eugene resident, Elvy Musikka.

Believe it or not, Elvy receives legal marijuana from the Federal Government, and has since 1988. (And she’s not alone, three other people are also still a part of the Compassionate Investigational New Drug program.) Elvy is living with glaucoma and fought for the right to use medical cannabis. In the end, she won, and has been smoking government-rolled marijuana cigarettes ever since.

I had never heard Elvy’s story before, and it was humbling. Being around her and all the other activists made me feel very grateful. It was the 24th Annual Seattle Hempfest, and I am 25 years old. To think that many of the people I met and talked with have been fighting for cannabis for my entire life, or longer, just encouraged me to continue to push for the changes that they’ve made possible.

When I spoke on the main stage, the message of my speech was if you can talk about cannabis… you should talk about cannabis, because exposing people to the truth about the plant is the only way to bring about social and political change.

That has been my message from the beginning, but I’ve only been able to share it because of what people before me have accomplished. People like Keith Stroup, the founder of NORML, were instrumental in getting us this far, and at Hempfest, suddenly he was shaking my hand. He walked up to me after I spoke, introduced himself and complimented me on my message. What an incredible moment.

Without the sacrifices of many people like Elvy and organizations like NORML, I would not have been able to speak out. Being around them reinforced my drive to fight for the acceptance of cannabis use and I was honored to be on a panel with other advocates, speaking out against the unfair discrimination that the cannabis community faces today. I hope that I will be part of the generation of activists that puts an end to marijuana prohibition on a global level. Seattle Hempfest was my first cannabis-related event, but it certainly won’t be my last.

Cyd Maurer at 2015 Seattle Hempfest

Why Coming Out of the Cannabis Closet Was Totally Worth It

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About two weeks ago I explained to the world “How I Went from being a Local News Anchor to a Marijuana Activist.” After years of hiding, I came out of the cannabis closet, and I couldn’t be happier with my decision.

Before telling my story, my mind was filled with every possible hypothetical. I spent hours wondering and worrying about what would happen after clicking “post” – but the incredible reaction I received was beyond what I could have ever imagined.I’m not saying it’s been easy, but it’s already been very freeing and extremely rewarding.

I believe more driven, ambitious, and responsible cannabis users should draw attention to themselves, if at all possible. It’s the only way to shift social views away from the senseless stereotypes currently associated with recreational cannabis use. If you’re considering it, here are:

3 Things I’ve Learned from Coming Out of the Cannabis Closet:

1) The Response is Overwhelmingly Positive…

I have been truly amazed by how many people have contacted me and thanked me for coming out of the cannabis closet. Thanked me. Thousands have seen my video, thousands have visited my website, and hundreds have written to me personally. Of those personal, private messages – almost all have been positive. Some of the notes have moved me to tears and every single one has just reinforced my mission to end the stigma surrounding cannabis use. There is no reason why millions of responsible adults should feel like second-class citizens for enjoying cannabis, a plant safer than alcohol, tobacco, and most pharmaceuticals.

The positive response shows that many people support cannabis use, yet it remains illegal in most of the country, and even where it’s legal, there is still a negative stigma. Every message I read just encourages me more to continue this fight for acceptance.

2) …but Haters Gonna Hate

Of course, as with anything that is seen by thousands of people, some will find reasons to be negative. Personal messages have been almost entirely supportive, but comments on various websites have certainly been mixed. I wanted to start a conversation, so I’m up for a reasonable debate on why cannabis use should be socially acceptable, but I try not to waste my time on people who aren’t willing to listen to facts and research. I did not appreciate the blatant sexism and personal attacks I received on my character, but when people resorted to cruelty, I tried not to take it to heart. It’s not easy to grin and bear it, but it helps that the haters have been outnumbered by a ratio of about 15 to 1.

If you’re nervous about people judging you, just realize that every time a responsible adult comes out of the cannabis closet, it gets a little easier for the next person who wants to take the leap. Don’t let the haters hold you back!

3) It was Totally Worth it

Comments that clearly misinterpret my message have been disheartening, but they have also resulted in something incredible: a dialogue. That’s exactly what I wanted to happen and I’ve been so impressed by countless strangers who have kept the conversation going. I’ve appreciated all the compassion, willingness to stand up for me, and well-developed arguments, complete with citations and research. My story is getting people to talk about the facts, and I know the facts are in my favor.

Because of the facts, the social acceptance of cannabis use is inevitable, but it is only possible if people take a stand. The more we educate and expose people to the truth about cannabis, the faster social change will come. If you can talk about your cannabis use, think about the difference you can make.  Education and exposure are key. So far, coming out of the cannabis closet has been totally worth it.

You can follow my journey out of the cannabis closet here, at www.AskMeAboutMarijuana.com, and stayed tuned for future articles on Marijuana Politics.