Cannabis has been subject to criticism and controversy for decades. Despite there being documented benefits to its use, these benefits are constantly overshadowed by its potentially negative aspects, such as the intoxicating effects of THC. There are many, however, that see the positive applications of the plant and a few who have fought to legalize it, unlocking its benefits.
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Legends In Cannabis Activism
Three key activists, on the international stage, instantly come to mind as individuals who have worked tirelessly for decades towards the legalization of marijuana. All native to separate continents, Raphael Mechoulam, Jack Herer, and Nevil Schoenmakers are three names to never forget in the preservation, adoption, and evolution of Cannabis.
Raphael Mechoulam – The Chemist
Raphael Mechoulam is a natural products chemist, focused on the chemistry of natural products such as plants. His inspiration for his research came from the realization that cannabis has not been isolated at its purest form which was not known at all. He has been able to isolate numerous cannabinoids, including delta-THC. He then found that the human brain produces its own cannabis. They named this chemical “bliss.”
Through multiple tests, he was able to find that CBD is an anti-anxiety compound and it works well for pain. Without Raphael Mechoulam’s medical insight, Cannabis as medicine would be 50 years behind or possibly more.
Jack Herer – The Activist
Jack Herer was revolutionary in the movement of legalization. He educated himself and began to write and co-write material on the subject such as “The Emperor Wears No Clothes” in 1985. This did lead him into being called the “Emperor of Hemp”, as an American cannabis rights activist.
Jack was an inventor of smoking accessories and opened the first modern “head shop” on Venice Beach. From there he launched his campaign of legalization with his co-owner Ed Adair, where they pledged to get Cannabis legal no matter the consequences. In a period of rigorous prohibition, Herer became the catalyst of legalization on the west coast and the rest of the United States.
Now that you have an idea of the leader that is Jack Herer the next question that many people ask themselves is “what is Jack Herer?” Although this may sound confusing it is important that because of his contribution in the cannabis world when a Sativa-dominant hybrid was developed by Sensi Seeds in the 1980s he thought there may not be a better name. The high produced by this strain provides an excellent balance between cerebral and physical effects, which leaves the user deeply relaxed. After its creation, it was distributed as a medical-grade strain recognized by Dutch pharmacies and eventually circulated to cultivators worldwide.
Nevil Schoenmaker – The Conservationist
Recognizing the need to identify and preserve cannabis strains of unique genetics, capable of thriving in various parts of the world, Nevil Schoenmaker was the first person to ever start and publicly operate a seed bank for cannabis. “The Seed Bank of Holland” was founded in the early 1980s and by 1986 it had supplied over 15,000 growers in the United States with seeds. He also created the hybrid variety of Haze with help from California Haze-enthusiast and world-renowned cannabis breeder Sam the Skunkman which they together became celebrated for.
Without these men consolidating some of the world’s finest strains and creating legendary hybrids, cannabis wouldn’t be where it is today. The progress of cataloging cannabis and documenting its unique properties and effects by strain has been instrumental in getting cannabis legalized and has led to new business ventures being created.
Karen Seeb Goldstein – Beyond NORML
As we sit here and write this, as a cannabis testing facility based in Florida, we’d be absolutely remiss if we did not mention Karen Seeb Goldstein. Karen is the Executive Director of Florida NORML, which fights for pro-marijuana policies across the Sunshine State of Florida. In coordination with Regulate Florida, her organization’s goal for Florida is to “Regulate Marijuana in a Manner Similar to Alcohol”. Karen has also recently been appointed to the newly formed Florida Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee formed by Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture, Nikki Fried. She continues her fight for the legalization of cannabis, daily, by serving on the Committee Board and being the activist that’s always on the forefront, inspiring and supporting others to be the most powerful versions of themselves as they can be.
Cannabis Has a Bright Future
Through the work of many bright leaders, cannabis has continued to flourish. What was once something that was not welcomed because it wasn’t understood is now legally used in 33 states for medical purposes. Some of these medical reasons include but are not limited to pain, Parkinson’s disease, PTSD, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis.
The next step will be full legalization. Currently, there are 11 states that allow the purchase of cannabis for those over the age of 21. These progressive changes also contain a sweeping criminal justice component, expunging the records of potentially thousands of residents previously convicted for possessing cannabis. The real loser in all of these legislative transformation has been drug cartels. Now being held to industry standards with accountable and taxable product distribution.
With the changes in the legalities come changes and growth in business. With creating more than 200,000 jobs the cannabis industry has officially outpaced the tech industry. We can expect more growth from the cannabis industry and look forward to meeting more leaders ready to make a change.