Washington Bud Company
I am certainly older and wiser (I hope) in my 55th year on this planet. I would never wish to relive my late teens and twenties, but I surely could have used some sage advice to set me up for a more enjoyable life in my thirties and forties. I came of age in the mid-1970s, right after President Richard Nixon put cannabis on the list of Schedule 1 drugs. Weed made me feel better, and I sought it constantly, despite — and often in the face of — authoritarians.
I discovered marijuana after a gymnastics injury to my right hip. These were the days before physical therapy and I was told not to move for two months. I was lonely and in excruciating pain when my girlfriends came to me with a promise of something that would make me feel better. They gingerly carried me to the car and we drove for miles into the prairie before pulling over and lighting up a joint. Before I realized it, I was happy, and a voice inside my head was telling me that I must move to heal. I pulled myself out of the back seat and began to do slight squats. I returned to school long before the eight weeks of mandatory bed rest.
By the mid-1980s, I was married with two young sons, and my husband and I decided it was safer to grow our own marijuana. There was huge paranoia with the launch of the Crime Stoppers program on July 24, 1987 specifically targeting marijuana. Unbeknownst to us, our babysitter had smelled our last harvest and told her mom, who promptly called the newly-established rat-on-your-neighbor number. I went home for lunch one day to find the sheriff talking with my husband, while deputies hauled plants out our backdoor.
We were never charged. The evidence got thrown out of court due to a bad search warrant, and prosecutors could not prove intent to distribute. Luckily, we escaped without serving any time.
After moving to Washington, we set up another closet grow so we didn’t have to seek a local dealer. In the early 1990s, the Just Say No program was in full swing. One day our fifth-grader came home and announced that the cop at school — “the one with the gun” — told him that he had to turn us in because we were criminals. We shut down that garden and left the whole cannabis scene. People were losing their children. It was frightening.
I then went into two stressed-out decades of seeking alternative forms of pain relief, going to Mexico or Canada for prescription drugs when I had to. I was often miserable with unexplained pain. Without fully understanding it, I had been using cannabis as pain and stress management all those years.
Hempfest of 2010 was eye opening to me. I rediscovered cannabis and dove into understanding why it was medically useful. It came full circle when I decided to enter the cannabis community again as growers and advocates for change in 2012.
If I had the opportunity to advise my younger self, I would say, “Understand why you feel better with cannabis. Do not allow fear to rule the day at the detriment to your health. Change will come faster with your help.”
Shawn DeNae is CEO of Washington Bud Company, an aspiring applicant for a producer/processor license. She is one of the founding members of the Marijuana Business Association Women’s Alliance.