When it comes to the cannabis industry, activists are sometimes are overlooked with the community being saturated with new legal and ‘grey market’ businesses. One activist, Annie MacEachern, is making waves in her local community on Prince Edward Island, and the industry is noticing.
We first heard about Annie MacEachern when Lift covered her work engaging her community last fall. Since, she’s been asked to moderate several political panels, to speak at the Senate on the Cannabis Act, and become engaged in several events on the Island and elsewhere, using her social media expertise to help de-stigmatize and normalize cannabis use.
Changing Public Perceptions
Most recently, as a representative of Canadians For Medical Marijuana (CFAMM), Annie put together a “Don’t Tax Medicine” panel discussion of doctors and patients sharing their voices and experiences around affording medicine. The proposed Excise Tax would add a tax of $1 per gram or 10% of the final retail price of a cannabis purchase, whichever is higher. This, Annie tells us, puts patients at risk, especially in communities where cannabis is still stigmatized.
On the Island especially, it’s much harder to get communities together and share information about cannabis. “There’s still a lot of stigma around medical cannabis. People aren’t really open about it.” This gap of information was an opportunity for education.
According to Annie, a lot of medical marijuana patients, despite legally using cannabis as medicine, stay in the ‘cannabis closet.’ When trying to activate and mobilize her community, the same comment seems to echo: “I’m just not ready to share my story.” Although disappointing, Annie understands. “I have to respect that—even though I know how empowering that story might be for another woman in a similar situation.”
This is why Annie shares her own story—many patients don’t even know about the Excise Tax and how it might affect them. Annie works towards alleviating stigma by educating, communicating about and openly discussing the potentials of cannabis.
When it comes to consumption, Annie says that vape lounges are an integral part of the community. “We’d be doing a disservice without allowing shared spaces for consumption. I’d love to see a shift from an alcohol-use social norm to cannabis.” Especially in her small, more rural community where there aren’t many cultural activities, drinking is simply something to do. Alcohol consumption is how many in her community choose to socialize. Should alcohol be the main catalyst for being social? Annie doesn’t think so. She gave up drinking two years ago.
“I hope the cannabis industry can be inline with how we see alcohol. Nobody has a problem consuming alcohol around their kids—having a glass of wine with dinner, or beer while watching television. No, not smoking joints in front of kids, but it shouldn’t be a secret that is demonized anymore. Most people don’t over-consume cannabis and not everyone uses it at all. It’s just a thing some people do.”
Cannabis Products and Education
When it comes to using cannabis, Annie stresses that knowing how cannabis affects your own body is essential to a good experience. One of the most common effects that patients find is that cannabis can make them anxious or paranoid. Annie herself stays away from high-THC or high-limonene cannabis strains because she finds it too stimulating, but she now knows how cannabinoids and terpenes affect her. “One of the things I like about cannabis is that I feel centered when I consume cannabis, but that has a lot to do with how cannabis affects my body in particular.”
Inspired by other community activists like Bethany Rae from Flower & Freedom, who runs events teaching people about cannabis, Annie is bringing that same level of education to her own community with both public events and small gatherings of women. She finds that edibles and topicals are two of the most shocking uses of cannabis that patients simply don’t know about because they usually simply buy two grams at a time. She’s introducing new products and ideas to her community—infused baths, topicals, vape pens, edibles, and so much more.
When it comes to the future of cannabis in Canada, Annie leaves us with this: “Women and cannabis are a powerful duo. Together, we’re really unstoppable.” We can’t help but agree. How about you?
A revised version of this article first appeared on Canndora.com.