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Every time I travel from Missouri, it is inevitable that I will be asked a certain question at least twice, if not upwards of 10-15 times.
“When are you going to move?”
It’s a fair question. How can someone who wants to work so closely with cannabis be based in a prohibition state where not even medical marijuana is legal?
What I want to know is: Why should I have to leave my home to do what I love and believe in?
A few years back, I was determined to leave the Midwest. I had never lived anywhere outside Mid-Missouri and was determined to “get out.” I was done with the closed-minded and conservative, tired of our landscape, and exhausted from being bombarded by constant visual-design horror. I was ready to live somewhere exciting.
Then I did. After my junior year of college, I spent the summer living in Boulder, Colorado. I was so furious at my school and the conservative culture of my town that I swore I would never come back to Missouri. In Boulder, I happily dipped my toes into aura and chakra healings, floatation tanks, and all the cannabis I could have ever dreamed of.
But Colorado wasn’t the same. It wasn’t home. It wasn’t my people.
So I came back to middle-of-nowhere Kirksville, Missouri, to finish college. At first, I hated Missouri more. The people didn’t greet and chat me up as I wandered from store to store. I couldn’t find a chakra healing offered anywhere near me. And, of course, I couldn’t drive to the store at any time between 8:00 am and 6:45 pm to buy any kind of cannabis my heart desired. That was probably the toughest transition.
Then I graduated and began looking for a cannabis + design job. I was open to the idea of moving away for “the perfect opportunity,” but it never showed up. I ended up traveling to Colorado and became immersed in the cannabis culture through an internship with Women Grow, a phenomenal networking organization for female entrepreneurs entering the industry.
Whereas most would assume that spending so much time in the industry would make me want to set up camp in Colorado, it actually deterred me from doing so.
When I wasn’t living in Colorado and simply visiting instead, I started noticing how much the people take their freedom to use cannabis for granted (something I was 210% guilty of the summer I’d lived there). It’s become such an accepted part of their culture that they forget how lucky they are — and while it’s wonderful that it’s risen to that level of normalization in the state, we can’t just have everyone who wants to be involved with cannabis relocate to Colorado. It’s too easy once you’re there to get cozy in your wonderful, new, hot-boxed bubble and forget that the struggle is still very real for thousands of patients across the United States.
Let me be clear, I’m not saying that people living in Colorado have it wrong. Without Colorado leading the way and all the amazing people there who are enhancing cannabis’ reputation by using the plant responsibly, cannabis policy wouldn’t be where it is today. We need every single one of those people working to set up a legitimate and successful industry that the rest of the world can learn from. They are blazing the trail to help make our trail a little easier.
But as far as I’m concerned, Colorado doesn’t need another Midwest college graduate eager to help normalize cannabis across the nation; they have plenty. (Not to mention this makes the industry there quite saturated and difficult to break into as a fresh graduate with no money.) The places that need cannabis advocates are the places that still need change. I want to help facilitate that change, and I can think of no better place to start than in my home: Missouri.
Not a lot of people know much about Missouri beyond what they see in the media, which only picks up on the tragic stories like Ferguson, the race issues at Mizzou, or the fact that we’re one of the top meth states. But like any other place that’s developed a reputation, there are always wonderful and hard-working people who have made it their home — and Missouri is no exception. These are my people, and I love my people. I want the best for them, and I fully believe that cannabis could change thousands of lives for the better. Cannabis is medicine. Cannabis is a preventative wellness tool. Cannabis is safe recreation. I find that those who ridicule cannabis often do so out of fear because they don’t understand it. They need to be educated on how this plant interacts within our bodies to make us more balanced, healthier people.
I could move.
I could re-immerse myself in a new, cannabis-enhanced culture where everyone and their father practice yoga. But why should I have to? Why do I need to leave my home, the place I feel most comfortable and at ease with who I am as a person, to do what I feel is right? I fought it for a long time, always dreaming of being a mountain or Cali girl, spending her days lighting up on the beach or at the top of a mountain. But that’s not me. That’s not home.
Home is my cookie-cutter backyard, complete with fence, garden, and tiny pink plastic pool. Home is bass boat rides on the Lake of the Ozarks and being hilariously repulsed by ice cream flavors like cicada. Home is the signage made with the font Bleeding Cowboys and the humidity that dampens your clothes when you step outside and the slanted steps leading to our lake house dock. Home is where the people for my soul live.
Keeping my home base in Missouri while traveling to legalized states reminds me every single day that cannabis prohibition is very real and very silly, and I really need to do something about it. We really need to do something about it. It reminds me to give gratitude to the people who have worked to get cannabis policies to where they are today, and it reminds me that the ultimate goal in ending cannabis prohibition is to help people.
I’m not saying that I want to live in Missouri forever or that it’s the only place for me, but right now, it’s where I need to be. I won’t tell you it’s easy. I have to be conscious and cautious about who I open up to, and strong when I face judgment and ridicule. But right now, it’s home. Right now, it’s the place that needs me.
As of July 4, 2016, freedoms between states are not equal.
While one person legally smokes their dispensary-purchased joint, a very sick patient just hours away is suffering in a prohibition state. Where we live may technically be a choice, but where our home is isn’t — and no one should be forced to leave their home because they are not free to use the medicine they need, engage in the recreation they love, or participate in the booming and profitable cannabis industry.
Are you someone choosing prohibition? I'd love to hear your stories and the reasons behind your choice!
Copyright © 2016 Kristen Williams, All Rights Reserved