Feb 7, 2024
Cannabis in Tennessee Needs Your Voice!
I rarely share my full hemp story, but to do so now is important, because hemp products may soon become illegal in Tennessee. I started experiencing the symptoms of Crohn’s Disease in college, and being a soccer player, I assumed my abdominal pain was some sort of injury. I would take some pain meds and prednisone and get back on the field as soon as possible. I graduated from Tennessee Wesleyan, married, got my first real job, and I exercised daily. Soon, though, everything changed- I couldn’t manage walking on a treadmill and was having difficulty eating any food at all.
I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 22 years old; and to say it was devastating to me and my family is an understatement. I had lost a family member a few years earlier- he had taken his own life rather than continue to live in pain from Crohn’s Disease. Within 2 weeks of my diagnosis my weight loss exceeded 20 pounds, and I was septic. I needed someone with me full-time. In October of 2000 my Mom begged on hands and knees for me to let her take me to the hospital, and within a few days I had my first surgery, removing a significant portion of my intestines. Life went on and I took a lot of medications. Medications that needed medications, medications that were carcinogenic- and did ultimately cause cancer. I have spent a lot of time in the hospital over the years. In 2009 I was hospitalized 3 times, but I clung to work because my healthcare costs were 3 times the amount of my salary, and I was terrified to lose my insurance. Eventually in December of 2009 I was 88lbs, on 14 medications, and I was having another surgery. My dear doctor, now a trusted family friend, told me it was time to stop working.
I’m so thankful for the support systems in my life. My family helped me continue to send Isabel to her elementary school, with teachers and administrators who cared about us both. My church brought us meals, my friends brought joy and laughter- and chauffeured me about as I recovered. Sometimes I was too ill to even sit through Isabel’s recitals, and would rest in the car until it was her turn to play, and then back to the car I was helped. My period of disability was related to my pain level and my refusal to become opiate dependent.
In 2016 my Mom brought me CBD capsules. I had no idea these even existed. I had only ever heard of smoking marijuana, and I was never cool enough for that. Still am not, to be honest! I didn’t know what to expect, but knew Crohn’s Disease was one of the top medical conditions helped by cannabis. I gave the capsules a try, and for the first time in years I experienced pain relief. In 2016 there was not a lot of access in our area. My parents were both small business owners, and they helped me start Grass Roots, and I continued to recover. We opened on June 12, 2017 with two products on the shelf. We made the news in early September 2017, and since then we have provided safe, effective local and national brand cannabis products to our community. The professional staff at Grass Roots have added as much to my life as my family. With their support after many years of small, positive steps in my health, I was able to begin full-time work again in August 2021.
With cannabis I’ve gone from struggling to watch Isabel play sports to zip-lining at Niagara Falls. I’ve gone from 14 medications to 4. I’ve gone from being on Social Security Disability to taking part in their Ticket to Work program as a recipient AND employer. I love being a part of people’s health journeys, and this industry is full of individuals like me, each with stories of how cannabis saved them… and how they were turned into advocates. If the proposed changes go through, farmers, shop owners, and industry workers alike will be out of work.
So why am I telling my story now? These products are at risk. Millions of Tennesseeans like me will no longer have access to safe, tested, traced, (and taxed!) cannabis products. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture has proposed rules that will remove access to raw cannabis, and also limit production to a few products. The proposed changes will decimate the cannabis industry in Tennessee. This means veterans won’t have access to PTSD treatments. For some it will be a return to opiates. One of the most important parts of cannabis is the variety of products available. Although I personally stick with CBD, so many persons with conditions from nausea to neuralgia need THC. Having cannabis products available to help means we need the full spectrum of cannabis products. Heck, even pet treats might get outlawed!
Tennessee Grower’s Coalition and Cultivate Tennessee are among the groups fighting to save our state’s hemp market. Grass Roots supports these organizations, and we need your help! What can you do? You can tell your personal hemp story to the folks behind the proposed changes. Tell them how hemp helps you or your loved ones in daily life. Show them that these products are for health- not for getting high.
Learn more and join us in flooding the Tennessee Department of Agriculture during the public comment period via these links. The public comment period ends Friday, February 9th at 4pm Central.
We kindly ask that you also email your state representatives and senators, to let them know you disagree with measures to limit THCa or any cannabis products.
It’s important your email includes your address, as we have recently learned that correspondence without an associated address might be discarded.
Finally, if you haven’t yet tried cannabis, but are interested, please reach out to me. We offer private consultations, appointments, personal shopping, and custom orders. You can certainly also just show up and shop. Grass Roots will meet you where you are in your cannabis journey- don’t want to be high? We got you covered. Want a topical, but hate menthol? We got you covered. Already have products from elsewhere that you don’t know how to use? We will help you!
I can be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Grass Roots by phone is 423-713-9229.