- Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org
- On April 2, 2014
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- Board of Directors, kyndra miller, Madeline Martinez, Mieko Hester Perez
NORML Women’s Alliance board members Kyndra Miller of Cannabusiness Law, Inc., Madeline Martinez of The World Famous Cannabis Cafe, and Mieko Hester-Perez of Unconventional Foundation for Autism were heavily quoted in Mint Press News out of Minneapolis, Minnesota in their article ‘Why Women Fight for Marijuana Legalization’. Excerpts below:
Kyndra Miller is a founding member of the marijuana legalization advocacy group the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws’ subgroup the NORML Women’s Alliance, the first female-specific marijuana legalization group. Miller says that just like the women who banded together in the 1920s to end the prohibition of alcohol, efforts to legalize marijuana in the United States require the influence and support of women, who make up slightly more than 50 percent of the voting population.
Though Miller first got involved in the fight to legalize marijuana because she saw the drug’s illegal status as a civil rights issue, she found a need to create a safe place where women could come together and talk about the unique issues they faced as cannabis consumers and activists, as well as set the record straight about what the drug can do for people, particularly women.
Miller, also president and CEO of CannaBusiness Law, Inc., pointed to the negative stereotypes associated with marijuana and its users as part of the reason women are afraid or hesitant to admit they use marijuana. For example, while everyone knows “mommy juice” is often code for wine or some other type of alcoholic beverage, bringing out a joint is taboo and could lead to Child Protective Services intervening and taking away a user’s children.
Mieko Hester Perez
Mieko Hester Perez is a board member of the NORML Women’s Alliance, founder of the Unconventional Foundation 4 Autism and one of the first parents in the world, let alone the U.S., to come forward and say that she was giving her sick child marijuana — and not the THC-free variety.
About six years ago, Perez got involved in the marijuana movement when her son Joey, who was 9 years old at the time, was given six months to live. As a side effect of all of the medications Joey was taking to help his autism, Joey became malnourished and was suffering from anorexia. Weighing only 42 pounds, Perez says her son was on his way to his grave, and she was willing to try anything, including giving him marijuana brownies, in order to get him eating again.
Despite all of the risks she was facing such as prison time and custody loss, Perez gave Joey about a quarter-sized brownie infused with medical marijuana every two to three days. The result? Joey began to put on weight, and Perez noticed other benefits, too, such as improvements in his eye contact and general demeanor.
“He wasn’t on edge anymore,” Perez said.
Though Joey was improving, some individuals who heard about Perez’s unique treatment for her son were concerned and called Child Protective Services. Although Perez was investigated by the child welfare agency and the California Medical Board, she never lost custody of Joey. But not all mothers are so lucky.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the number of women who have been imprisoned in the U.S since 1977 has increased by about 800 percent, which the agency says is largely due to the war on drugs, since about 40 percent of criminal convictions are for drug-related crimes. Three-quarters of women incarcerated in federal prisons serve time for nonviolent drug offenses, such as possession, yet many lose their parental rights due to the amount of time they spend behind bars. When they are eventually released from prison, these women struggle to reintegrate into society because they no longer have access to nutrition assistance, public housing or student financial aid.
Madeline Martinez, a NORML board member, co-founder of the NORML Women’s Alliance and founder and owner of the Oregon-based World Famous Cannabis Cafe, knows the importance of ensuring that medical marijuana patients don’t feel isolated, which is why she opened her cafe — the first of its kind — on Nov. 13, 2009.
Martinez, the first Latina on the national NORML board, grew up smoking marijuana in Northern California, but realized when she was working for the Department of Corrections that if the maximum-security prison reeked of marijuana, there was no way the U.S. government was going to win the war on drugs.
Married with children, Martinez got involved in the fight to legalize marijuana, a substance she points out our body has receptors for, because she was tired of feeling like an outcast. Though she was concerned about going to prison and losing custody of her children, Martinez says she felt she had to do whatever she could as leader of Oregon’s chapter of NORML — the largest chapter in the country.
“We are isolated,” Martinez said, while talking about medical marijuana patients, who often turn to marijuana to get off of large doses of addictive pain medications. But now, thanks to Martinez, medical marijuana patients in Oregon no longer have to isolate themselves while they medicate, which Martinez says has saved some lives because “we’re all social creatures.”
Standing executive orders from the local police captain have shielded Martinez’s cafe from raids, adding to the sense of serenity of this 4,000 sq. ft. Shangri-La-esque sanctuary, which has live entertainment, a pool table, air hockey, a jukebox and other lively amenities.
Martinez says it has been difficult to speak out on marijuana legalization since the Mexican people have been largely vilified in the drug war and inherent prohibition of marijuana throughout history. While Martinez appreciates all of the work her male colleagues have done, she says “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world,” stressing that women are the future and have a direct role in the success of marijuana legalization efforts.
“Bringing women to the table is the difference that needs to happen,” she said. “How long do we have to wait to do this? I’m 63. I don’t have 40 more years to wait.”