I take cannabis normalization very seriously. My dad died of cancer the day before my 23rd birthday, followed by my mom five years later.
I had no idea how those devastating times in my twenties would plant a seed for how important cannabis normalization work would become later in my life, and now in my career.
At the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, my mom was a cancer experiment. Student doctors shuffled in and out of her room, typically forgetting her name and triple-checking charts to confirm who she was and what she was actually in for. Watching her struggle to eat solid food and being perpetually nauseous from her chemotherapy, it occured to me that perhaps I might be able to get her access to medicinal cannabis pills for nausea in some capacity. It was 2009, and medicinal cannabis was not yet legal, but after doing some research, I learned there might be some form of experimental “cannabis pills” that could be dispensed from the hospital pharmacy. When I inquired to multiple nurses and doctors about these “medicinal cannabis pills for nausea,” none of them took me seriously. No one listened and no one cared to help us or look into it further.
After persistent knocking with no outcome, I watched my mom’s life disintegrate rapidly into the void of a hospital bed. I sat by her side as she suffered and continued to wonder: Why would a plant that could assist a patient with nausea and end of life comfort be so hard to get? This moment forever rings in my mind and has become the main “why” behind almost everything I do now.
Lisa Snyder, Co-Founder & Chief Innovation Officer of Tokeativity
On Nov. 4, 2014, Measure 91 for adult use cannabis was voted in by the people of Oregon (where I now live with my wife), and the opportunity to step into the cannabis industry became accessible.
The idea for Tokeativity—(which started as a consumption friendly events series for women but became) a global community of active cannabis consumers and business owners who believe in cannabis normalization—emerged from getting stoned with friends and making vision boards that following January. I didn’t know what would come of it, but I snagged the domain name and social media accounts. The idea kept poking at me to show up at cannabis events, and that’s exactly how I met my business partner, Samantha Montanaro. She had a consumption-friendly space called Prism House (which was actually her own home that she hosted events in!), and the vision of women getting stoned, creating art, learning about cannabis, and each other began to take form from idea into the physical.
The idea incubated for a year before I finally met with Samantha. We sat down in her living room and I pitched her on Tokeativity. Her reply was the strongest “FUCK YES!” I have maybe ever heard. It was this moment in time that I knew if Tokeativity was going to be realized and have true, meaningful success, I would have to be out in public about my cannabis consumption and my advocacy for the plant. With my determination to achieve cannabis normalization, cross polinated with my feminist roots in hand, I stepped out of the green closet. It took me about 6 months after launching Tokeativity to put my own name or photo on the website. It wasn’t until we were featured in Stoner Mag did I say to fully accept being out publicly about my consumption and advocacy.
Many of us can identify with the stories of health issues which turned us into cannabis advocates. The bridge between these spaces is where the power lies in really being a true cannabis advocate in its strongest form. All of us can give people access to the tools and resources where we have the power to heal ourselves, our families and our communities. This is how change happens. Showing up, being yourself and, if you want to, using tools like social media to burn the stigma.
Many of us have a love/hate relationship with social media. The rush of scrolling and being entertained or catching up on the latest digital drama provides an intoxicating hit of dopamine. But what if you could turn that scrolling into changing minds, hearts or laws just by posting a video about your ideal consumption methods or your favorite strain of the moment? What if we just shared about what we are already doing with the people in our digital communities?
We have long been the people who hear the whispers at weddings from grandmothers and aunts about CBD, or DMs from moms and sisters asking about cannabis product recommendations for menstrual cramps or help sleeping. Why not stand up and step forward about responsible use? If everyday people knew that a person like yourself was a cannabis consumer, would they feel comfortable coming out to you as green? Maybe they would even go so far as feeling comfortable voting YES for adult-use cannabis bills in a not yet legal state or country or voting yes for cannabus consumption venues in your local jurisdiction. Ending the stigma around cannabis gives us endless possibilities for the potentials of plant medicine, including but not limited to healing diseases like cancer. This is something I hope we can achieve in our lifetime. I want to participate in finding a cure for cancer, and part of that is through my normalization work. With each new person we meet and each conversation that we have, we make space for inspiration that stretches way beyond the bounds of time. These conversations make it so more doctors, nurses and politicians get access to the people, information and education that allows them to see the value in cannabis legalization. I truly feel that the liberation of women through plant medicine is my calling in this life and my participation in these conversations is my contribution to finding a cure for cancer.
We have the power in our pockets! I am serious! I know us cannabis loving women are a coveted consumer group who vote with our dollars and all, but between our phones, tablets, and keyboards, we have incredible power at the tips of our fingers to share about our cannabis experiences. It doesn’t matter if you have 5 or 500 or 5,000 followers; with that power comes an incredible opportunity to change the conversation about cannabis and CBD from confusion to clarity; from the so-called “devil’s lettuce” to pain-free hips for your auntie or a restful night of sleep for Mom, finally. Maybe one day, hospitals will be able to more freely get cancer patients access to “cannabis pills” or even better, cannabis will be accessible to study on cancer cells, like Dr Christina Sanchez’s work at The University of Madrid (this video, by the way, is how I came out as a cannabis advocate to my family!).
No matter where you land in the cannabis normalization movement, when you find your why, breaking the stigma will always feed your soul, day in and day out.
Want to come out of the green closet but not sure how? Look to others who are doing it. We at Tokeativity, as well as, SWEET JANE, The Mommy Jane, High Society Mama, Mommies & Mary Jane, The Cannamom Show, Blunt Blowin Mama,and Danielle Simone Brand are just a few accounts you could follow (if you’re not already!) as you take the plunge into the world of cannabis and social media.
And if you’re interested in learning how to next level your social media as an individual or brand or make a living spreading the gospel of cannabis, check out The Mommy Jane’s Guide to Becoming a Cannabis Social Media Influencer, a 75 video and 85 page guide on the A to Zs, specifically focused on the cannabis space.
Photographs from top: Ashley Mack, Ladies of Paradise, Briana Cerezo
Lisa Snyder is the Co-Founder & Chief Innovation officer of Tokeativity, The Global Feminist Community for Active Cannabis Culture. She is a feminist and plant medicine advocate with over 25 years of digital strategy experience. She passionately supports the self-healing revolution through consumption and plant medicine advocacy. She has been recognized for her work in Forbes, Rolling Stone, Condé Nast Traveler, Yahoo! Finance, The Guardian, MJ Lifestyle, Travel Portland, and Dope Magazine, among others.
Snyder is a board member of Sweet Jane Magazine and The Oregon Cannabis Association. She is passionate about educating small business owners and plant medicine advocates on all things digital, crypto, NFT, and the web 3.0 movement. When she’s not on the computer, she’s spending time with her wife, Cat, and her dog, Ziggy, in Portland, Oregon.