Podcast

Unhidden: The Life Of A Cannabis Revolutionary – Chatting With Larisa Bolivar

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Kathryn Blume 2 May 2019

Of the many people who have us excited about the Vermont Cannabis and Hemp Convention coming up May 18-19 at the Champlain Valley Expo, we’re particularly wound up about Saturday’s keynote speaker Larisa Bolivar.

Bolivar is the founder and CEO of Bolivar Hemp Company, a hemp-based line of topical and skincare products, Executive Director of the Cannabis Consumers Coalition, and co-founder and managing partner of the cannabis-related business consulting firm TCMS Global. She has over 18 years’ experience in the cannabis space, leading in multiple capacities, and is a recognized industry pioneer in Colorado by Sensi Magazine.

Heady Vermont’s Kathryn Blume caught up with Bolivar recently for a phone interview, where she talked about the challenges of building a just and inclusive legal cannabis industry, and what keeps her going when politics and greed threaten to overwhelm her sense of hope and possibility.

Full transcript below.

Kathryn: You have arrived at Unhidden. Produced by Heady Vermont, we’re about bringing cannabis and all its forms out of the Dark Ages of prohibition and into the light of a world which can definitely use some help from this awesome plant. I’m your host, Kathryn Blume.

One of the biggest events of the Heady Vermont year is the Vermont edition of the New England Cannabis Convention coming up this year on May 18th and 19th. Of the many speakers and panelists who’ve agreed to honor us with their presence, we are particularly grateful for Saturday’s keynote speaker Larisa Bolivar.

Larisa is one of those people you figure must never, ever sleep because she’s involved in so many aspects of the cannabis industry. She runs the eponymous Bolivar Hemp Company, which makes hemp-based topical and skincare products. She’s the Executive Director of the Cannabis Consumers Coalition, co-founder and managing partner of TCMS Global, which is a cannabis- related business consulting firm.

She’s on the board of Colorado NORML and is the Vice Chair of the National Diversity and Inclusion Alliance, which is a non-profit that works with groups most impacted by the war on drugs to create ownership, and empower workers to develop a more inclusive and diverse cannabis industry. And none of that even gets into her history as a grower, caregiver, and unofficial dispensary operator in the days before dispensaries.

When I got her on the phone, I had a formal list of questions, assuming call would go in an orderly and extremely professional arc. But it turns out Larisa is also a warm, kind, and incredibly accessible person.

We started off almost immediately talking about Bernie Sanders, and things just kind of took off from there. Now, I will say that this is a recorded phone call, so the sound is a little funky, but you know, we do the best we can. So light up, mellow out, and enjoy this conversation with the powerful cannabis revolutionary, Larisa Bolivar.

[Music]

Kathryn: Thank you so much – both for doing this and for coming out for NECANN and being our keynote speaker – as it’s always a challenge still to find strong women leadership who are also great public speakers, and you fit the bill on so many levels. So this was, this is going to be lovely.

Larisa: I’m super honored. I’ve never been to Vermont, but you know, I would say– I mean just on a personal political level, I’m a big Bernie Sanders fan. I wrote him on our ballot for President even though he wasn’t registered in Colorado.

Kathryn: Well, it was funny because I was at the big event where he announced his candidacy and…

Larisa: Oh, wow.

Kathryn: It was one of those community love-in experiences that just couldn’t be beat. And I think people didn’t– Of course, they wanted him to be president, but almost like it didn’t matter because we were sort of like, we were coming out en masse to support him, and it felt like the Bernie Family. And it was just, it was lovely.

Larisa: Yay, I love hearing that.

Kathryn: Yes.

Larisa: I have a friend here, he’s an army vet and he’s sat– When Bernie came to Denver the first time when we filled out of the school auditorium and into like, I mean it was just people everywhere… that I was just so shocked by how that whole election went down. I was like, man, did we miss out?

Larisa: [Laughs]

Kathryn: Yes, I did not see that coming. Well, you know, what was fascinating too was that in February of 2016, my appendix exploded and I ended up– I had got sepsis and it was in the hospital for a couple of weeks and it was crazy. But one of the weirdest pieces of that puzzle is that after I got sort of fully conscious towards the end of the first week, I just had this weird feeling that the world had changed, and it was about the same time that Trump was making his ascendancy through the Republican ranks. And even from the hospital, I could tell something weird is going on. But I still had no expectation that things were going to take the turn that they did. Though, if he’s given us any gifts, I think he’s, you know, he pulled back the lid on the truth of a lot of what wasn’t working in our society.

Larisa: Oh, absolutely. I think that, and then I think, what makes this an exciting time, even in cannabis, is that we see it in our industry happening from, where, in this industry we don’t have to pierce the veil like we do other industries to see how corporations are manipulating policy. And just how that all began. And then when you see with Trump, with the president– I mean it’s just as above, so below I guess, you know.

Kathryn: Yes.

Larisa: And so crazy because it’s just that level of crazy. It really is…

[Crosstalk]

[Laughing]

Kathryn: You’ve got to be kidding me. Well, you know, those sort of things is where I– that was sort of the last couple of questions that I had for you, but I think let’s start right there. You know, when I did a little internet stalking of you before we talked and you had a great quote about this being a really– a transitional time in our collective history, people questioning the value of capitalism, how it benefits society, this winner-take-all mentality, which the Republicans have taken to a real extreme. And that it’s not enough to have great ideas and when it’s just you just want to win.

But we’re calling that out in the way we haven’t before. But there’s this conflict between the folks who are still operating in that paradigm, and the people who are trying to create a fundamentally more just society. And we see this in the cannabis industry, too, where there are all these small growers and people who’ve been in the hills for years, and people working on medical, and people working on social justice. And then you get Mitch McConnell joining the board of a big organization, and there’s a battle going on within the cannabis industry. And how do we navigate that?

Larisa: Exactly and it’s, you know, a lot of that boils down to consumer education. That’s why, you know, I founded the Consumer Coalition, and why work with Colorado NORML. And I’m actually now getting ready to head to the capitol to do some citizen lobbying on some issues. But it’s just being vigilant, I guess.

And, you know, I studied all of this for school, for my bachelor’s. I went back to get my bachelors in 2008. After I was separated from my ex-husband. We were already in the middle of our divorce, and I figured the next best thing in my early thirties to do was to go back to school so I wouldn’t have, like, a mediocre life. Especially this was the earlier cannabis still. And so I went back to the DC area. I started school here at Regis University and then went back to the DC area where I’m from in northern Virginia, but you know, like the Arlington area and that borders DC.

I was born in DC and was back with my network of friends that I grew up with, and a lot of them are Washingtonians. And this was when Obama had first gotten elected and my degree path was psychology. But then I started really focusing on communications, and because I’d always been involved in cannabis from the activism side, I started looking at the evolution of policy and then political behavior and how it pertains to psychology. And then looking at Obama’s rise after being elected and all the hate that rose with it.

And then, coincidentally – and I was getting my degree on mine. I started at Regis, but I finished at University of Phoenix because Regis took forever to get their online program up to a decent, you know, where you still didn’t have to physically go to school. I didn’t want to miss a beat in my education. And so, it gave me a lot of flexibility, though, that I started really researching the rise of hate. And I really thought that during Romney’s run.

And I have a friend of mine who works for the Holocaust Museum in DC who gave me a tour of the Nazi propaganda exhibit. And the purpose of the exhibit is really in honor. Like, I think Dr. Madeleine Albright had her hand in it, and then other folks had their hands in it. And I actually ended up in a leadership circle with Dr. Albright and discussing the rise of hate. But in the beginning of the exhibit it talks about how it just happens and it’s the so imperceptible and the next thing you know, people are supporting it because they just didn’t understand that.

And then at the same time I started seeing signals that then our democracy is that we’re starting to swing really right. And so I’m walking down the exhibit with my friend Mark and we get halfway through and I just look at him and I was like, “Oh my God, this is happening now here now.”

Kathryn: Some of those ice water in your veins moments where you’re like, “All right, now what? Now what?”

Larisa: And so, you know, eventually I found myself sitting next to – or at the Department of Peace in the leadership conference conversation. Because it was pretty intimate with Dr. Madeleine Albright and sitting next to someone who had worked with or for the Koch brothers.

Kathryn: Wow.

Larisa: I think you can’t make this stuff up.

Kathryn: [laughs]

Larisa: And it was often about University of Phoenix and when people dog the school as being a for-profit school, I’m like, “Yes. But they really, when you do go through the curriculum and you are a good student, they really do help look out for you, and provide you with opportunities that you would never get.”

But I also have a lot of connections there. So it just happened to be that. And I was working at a clean tech company, so I was really getting a good look at energy policy because it was really almost impossible to advance the company is the company’s interests and the interests of investors without advancing the interests of policy. And that’s almost impossible with the oil and gas industry.

And then I thought how that played in the hemp and how it all played back in the cannabis. And then, now I see all that same level of crazy entering the cannabis space and like, “Oh my God, it’s just too much. It’s too much.”

Kathryn: But it’s not like you really have – you’re not going to give up right?

Larisa: Never.

Kathryn: Clearly one is, it sounds like one of the things you’re saying is that it’s still the reality of old fashioned people power, and organizing, and people showing up and speaking their truth and sharing their experience ,and calling out leadership.

Larisa: Yes.

Kathryn: Now I come out of the climate activism community and Bill McKibben always says, “Well, we don’t have the money that they have, but we have the people power.”

Larisa: Yes.

Kathryn: Does the cannabis industry have the people power yet?

Larisa: Yes. It’s just a matter of organizing and mobilizing. But we’d been good, you know, and, and showing up at the capitol.

You know, I would disagree that maybe at this point in time it doesn’t have to do with money because, and this is why, again, why I’m a Bernie fan and why, again, it goes back to more populist movements. In 2013 Princeton came out with a study declaring the United States and official oligarchy and that individual citizens, not corporations, that breathing, human beings, flesh human beings who have zero influence on policy. And that corporations are writing policy now. And so one of the things I studied when I started my master’s is public policy.

And one of the things that I really was looking at what – my concentration was, cannabis policy reform. So everything I wrote about with cannabis related. But one of the things that really peaked my interest was that Princeton study. And also there was in 2001 – or was it 2003 – but there’s a political philosopher named Sheldon Wolin who passed away – and I think he even taught at Princeton – who came up with this new term called “Inverted Totalitarianism.” He said that the United States was heading into that. And that’s when corporations have complete control over the political dialogue. Everything, they’ve completely taken over our government. And like, Trump is that figurehead, and if you look at his office, his cabinet, it’s all corporations.

Kathryn: Right.

Larisa: So we’ve reached that and like citizens don’t even – the problem is, is that we’re not teaching people individuals, you know, like proper civics. We’re not making it sexy.

Kathryn: Right.

Larisa: You know, we are not telling people how much power they do have if they show up. But you know, right now in Colorado I have to fight the same lobbyists all the time because it’s like a clique and it’s all like these companies are hiring the same people, the same people have all these sordid relationships and you know it – you have to rally people.

And then a lot of lawmakers aren’t making decisions based on what consumers want. And you know, sometimes like, you know, we need to start pushing to get those people out. So then again, it does, it takes people like myself or people like, you know, the folks, you know, in other nonprofit organizations to just keep rallying up the individuals and it’s an ongoing battle.

Kathryn: Did you get any kind of in a sort of influx of hope from, say, the women – the people of color who joined Congress in this last round? Did you feel like…?

Larisa:  Oh, yes. Not only that, I can tell like at the capitol, even here in Colorado we have a lot of women of color, and a lot of these women were friends of mine, you know, in the activist ring doing our various things, going through our different each, you know, providing support for each other’s events.

So, I mean that’s why I’m holding right now is because we have a – oh my God, this is so bad that someone sent me last Wednesday an email with, he had done open record request. He’s an employee of a – or a former employee of a business that was instructing their employees to use a pesticide off-label and…

Kathryn: Wow.

Larisa: –We have to report the company and had some issues with regulators. So, then he did open records request to see what was going on. You know, if there’s anything going on with the pesticide issue here and found that there have been 26 violators and no movement, and no issuance of public safety alerts.

And that’s something I’ve, that’s what the, like my organization, Cannabis Consumer’s Coalition got on the map for was exposing the first pesticide issue. And you know, my- you know, I was just shocked when he sent me this email because you know that just even my blind faith and that the government does the right thing. It’s not always the case. There’s 26 possible companies, like different distribution points. Hopefully not hopefully just a few, but we don’t know how many consumers are being effective.

And its microbutanol, which releases hydrogen cyanide when heated. So weighing into that though. Those issues right there are powerful because that’s what, when consumers are like, “Wait, what?” [Laugh]

Kathryn: Yes. So –  Again, we’re kind of doing this interview in reverse a little bit. But for people who are engaged in the level of advocacy and activism that you are, that you’re talking about. How do you keep from feeling like you’re just chipping away at the surface? How do we make substantive change?

Or you know, we’re looking at the arc of legalization in this country, and the conversations that we’re trying to have around social justice and equity and expungements, maybe even going as far as reparations… How do we keep all of that from getting lost? As this whole segment is looking at this sort of Wild West, gold rush scenario and trying to make as much money as possible. There’s a real struggle, I think. Or, how do we keep the percentage of female leadership high in the face of human nature and greed and consolidation? I mean those can be very demoralizing.

Larisa: It can be. That’s why I advise people to take it every day, day by day and be vigilant and have tenacity. And you just have to spend one day on one issue, the next day on another issue, a couple of hours a day and make sure that that conversation is constantly being had.

I mean, it’s just that basic. And then if you have other people that are doing it, and you recruit other people to do that, then you have more and more people that do that in social media. You know, thank God for social media. I think that social media, just like the Arab Spring, you know, maybe not as intense here, but I definitely think that there’s a revolutionary air going on. A sense of revolution and you know, Trump definitely exposed that. I mean, we’re all, I think everybody’s like, “Wait, what?”

[Laughing]

Kathryn: This is not what we had in mind. This is not…

Larisa: Absolutely. And so I think that we do live in historic times and we have people like Alexandria AOC –

Kathryn: Ocasio-Cortez.

Larisa: Ocasio-Cortez. And you know, we have people like her that regardless of what, how you feel about her politics, she’s a voice and she’s a person to be reckoned with.

Kathryn: And she’s a ninja on social media.

Larisa: She’s a ninja on social media. Exactly. She’s a perfect example of that. And I have a lot of faith in the younger generations. People want to bash millennials so much. And I’m like, “Why? They’re pissed. They have every reason to be angry right now. They inherited a shit storm.”

People wonder why I don’t have children. That’s really one of the reasons why I never was like, “Oh hey, I want to go have, like, three children.” And because I’ve always been into these subjects and I started consuming cannabis when I was 15 and was around a bunch of hippies then and was like all these issues. And I was like, oh my God, we have a lot of fights. Like there’s a lot of stuff that we have to work on and it’s not fair. I chastized some Democrats this morning who were, you know, talking about supporting candidates who are receiving lobbyists’ money and corporate money because we have to outrage opponent. And I’m like, “if that’s the mentality and we’ve already lost.”

Kathryn: Yes.

Larisa: Like how dare you feed into that as opposed to stand for integrity? And you know, it shouldn’t be about how many billions we can raise and then leave that mess – without, especially without considering the propensity for human beings to not fall into greed and self-fulfilling ego frenzies.

Kathryn: Yes.

Larisa: Because, you know, self-serving ego frenzies and that’s unfortunately what happens to a lot of people. I see it all the time in cannabis. Somebody that I’ve been friends with for years gets a little bit of power and they just go off the rails. You know?

Kathryn: And again, sort of looking back at the climate community there’s a big movement to get Democratic candidates to sign a pledge that they won’t take money from the fossil fuel industry. And Beto didn’t – refused to sign the pledge. So, I don’t care how progressive you say you are, if you aren’t willing to step away from that –

Larisa: No loyalty at all.

Kathryn: Yes. Absolutely.

Larisa: And we need to figure out is where the loyalties are. Because we have that same problem with Hickenlooper here. He was beholden to the oil and gas industry. And he did nothing like, he’s like, what –  He’s like the weakest politician I’ve ever met. Did nothing for cannabis – to advance cannabis. He was afraid of the oil and gas. I mean it was just like, “What the heck?” And now he wants to run for President. I’m like, “Oh man, we don’t need his. No way.”

Kathryn: Yeah. He came to Vermont and spoke recently and spent almost no time talking about cannabis. He – and I – I didn’t get to go, but the folks who were there were very unimpressed. It’s challenging, and I know that this is sort of getting a little bit off topic, but there’s a question of the media finding their bright, shiny new toy and you know like Mayor Pete, and people get all excited. It’s like, but can we look at a track record, please? Can we look at substantive issues? And it’s very hard to clear away the fluffiness of what the media is putting out, and dig down into the truth of who these candidates are, and what they’re truly willing to stand for.

Larisa: Well and that’s actually, you know, that’s actually what I was talking about when I was lecturing Democrats this morning because I was like he’s getting, you know, there’s a couple big time lobbyists from DCF throwing him a party, and I’m done. Like, I am so done with lobbyists like especially in – we can bring this right back to cannabis on that. I am so sick and tired of these lobbyists. They’re liars. A lot of them, they’re working for corporate interests. They’re not working for everybody’s interests. I sat in testimony where I’ve heard lobbyists who work with people who passed Amendment 64 and started this adult use legalization domino. You know, the first one to fall. And now they’re representing businesses and they’re writing regulations and representing businesses? Are you kidding me? That’s crazy to me. That’s like the oil and gas industry writing safety laws.

Kathryn: Exactly.

Larisa: Like that’s just crazy to me. And so now, consumers have very little voice and you have them lying in public testimony. We recently had a delivery bill passed and it passed with amendments and the amendments protective the industry by only allowing current licensees to get delivery permits. Even though we’re trying to fight for social equity in Colorado, and because the industry has already consolidated here, the money is really big, and these lobbyists are fighting hard, and these lawmakers already have relationships with these lobbyists. So we’re just, it’s a mess right now. And, I mean I got in a screaming match last year with a lobbyist I’m actually getting ready to go meet who’s helping this year for social equity because I brought him back from the other side.

Kathryn: Good for you.

Larisa: We were screaming at each other. I called him, he’s a black guy. I called him an Uncle Tom publicly. He was not happy and normally I don’t get that, but I don’t like calling names.

Kathryn: Right.

Larisa: But it was, it was that bad. Because he was, he left, he used to do lobbying for a lot of public related issues and he went to work for a private company, and the stuff that they were doing was so protectionist and it was cutting out more people of color. And so it was directly impacting our communities. And so I like, I don’t think anybody held back any punches because it was like, “Wait a minute, dude, you’re literally fighting for the devil right now.”

Kathryn: And so, what do you think reached him?

Larisa: That screaming match that we had. I think – because he and I have always been friends and I don’t think he was used to us not being friends. I really think that that had a lot to do with it. And I think he went home and thought really hard about not just that, but about the impact he was having on his community and his legacy.

So that’s something else that I’m always trying to remind people is that, you know, some people are so ego driven that they can only function on instant gratification. Versus you know, there are those of us who should remember that people have died for this movement and we’re creating a legacy and we need to realize how we’re going to look a hundred years from now.

What are we going to look like? Are we going to look like these people that are coming in and taking ideas from business – or from people who are still, you know, can’t get a license because they have a felony? And then, you know, that’s like taking candy from a kid or from a baby and that yes, that’s what we have. And then we have these people working on policy to shut out those people.

It’s not very ethical, and that’s not why I got into this fight. That’s not why my mentors brought me into the fight. And for me cannabis is a great business opportunity, yes, but it’s also social justice. That’s the whole root of the movement, and that was the argument that won the fight.

Kathryn: We just need to keep coming back around to those truths.

Larisa: Yes, exactly. We have to keep coming back to those truths and having that conversation is constantly going. That’s why I love that this event is doing that, because it’s a conversation that needs to be had, and it’s not that it needs to be a lecture where we lecture the industry and say, “You guys are bad.” It has to be a reminder that hey, we have, you know, we have to choose integrity with things that we’re responsible for.

Kathryn: Absolutely. So, there’s all the messiness of the growing industry and policy and all the things that we’ve been talking about. But there’s also the kind of cultural psycho-spiritual side –

Larisa: Yes.

Kathryn: Of cannabis coming out of the closet, as it were, and more into the public sphere and people starting to recognize its power as a medicine, as something that can help us heal on both a physical and a psychospiritual level. Do you think that – we’re seeing a tipping point from legalization from a policy perspective, but is there a cultural, spiritual tipping point that happens when some critical mass of the population has access to cannabis? Does that help change society at all?

Larisa: I absolutely think so. I think this was the intention of the counterculture movement to begin with. And that’s why Richard Nixon freaked out. People didn’t want free thinkers, and this is a conscious plant, and she’s a sacred plant, and she’s used as a sacred medicine just for that reason. And that’s why people have that fear response sometimes. Because it’s fear programming that you have to overcome. Yeah. It’s not necessarily that the plant is bad and giving you a bad effect. And there are people right – one of my best friends, actually is a sacred plant worker and she teaches workshops on this and we talk about this all the time. And she laughs at all of the trials and tribulations that I go through. Because she was like, “Well it’s a plant that works on the ego says bringing up everybody’s egos issues, ego issues. Duh.”

Kathryn: [Laughs]

Larisa: And I do think that, yes, I do. I think that, you know, it’s a plant that forces introspection, introspective thinking, more than other substances. You know, alcoholic. That’s just dull you out. Cannabis is not. Cannabis is – and that’s why I loved your interview. When you were talking about the, how it affects everybody differently. And how it stays in your fat cells and you can’t necessarily say one person’s more intoxicated than another. I mean, I have PTSD. if I’m triggered, I can smoke a whole joint for the head to get myself back level. And if I smoked the same joint when I’m not triggered, I can only take like two hits.

Kathryn: Absolutely.

Larisa: You know, that’s the craziest thing to me. How my body knows what I need.

Kathryn: And it forces us to take a much more mindful level of responsibility for our own wellbeing.

Larisa: Yes, exactly. I mean, it’s not like your dabbers – that community – where they like consume massive amounts. and you’re always going to have that. But I think – I think those of us that are looking to be better at, you know, just to heal, and be, seek better balance. We’re looking for some – for more mindful consumption.

Kathryn: Yes. Because the world needs us to be our best selves. You know, we’re in a critical point collectively on this planet. And the only way, I think at least, the only way that we have a chance of surviving in any kind of healthy long term way is if we evolve. And it seems to me that cannabis coming forward at this moment is a big part of how that happens.

Larisa: Yes. I think so too. I hold out that. That keeps me going in this actually. It’s like it’s– that’s what keeps me motivated. It’s that–

Kathryn: Yes.

Larisa: It’s there.

Kathryn: I’ve heard people about cannabis can help save the world, that it can heal us in a lot of different ways. And you can talk about it from the hempcrete perspective or the medical perspective or the healing our souls perspective. But recognizing that it’s even possible. I think a lot of folks, it’s very easy to get into an apocalyptic mindset and give up a little bit because things seem so dire. And it takes a leap of faith that I think potentially cannabis can help us with.

Larisa: Yeah. Oh man, I feel so much better talking to you.

[Laughing]

Larisa: Oh, I am fired up now. Because some days it is kind of like, “Oh my God, it is a leap of faith.” But you know, I have a lot of faith. I mean, you know, it’s again, what keeps me going.

Kathryn: Yes.

Larisa: I really think that. I mean, I’ve seen it, I’ve seen it come around. I’ve seen people in my own family come around. Even non-consumers or you know, now they are interested in hemp. But when I got started in this is because I read The Emperor Wears No Clothes by Jack Herrer. And I, like, closed the book and I was actually on the fence and already started meeting patients and I’m not going to lie. It scared me. I was 25 years old. Do you want me to grow pot? And these people have very scary illnesses I never even knew existed. What kind of – and they’re all poor because our system failed them. What kind of world that we live in? It’s like challenged for years challenged a lot of beliefs and I even grew because of that. But when I read that book, it like solidified my conviction. I was like, “Oh yes. there’s no doubt that this plant can do all of that.” And I feel like when you consume her regularly, and it’s an intentional consumption, I feel like – and a mindful consumption, I feel like she reveals that to you. Some people might call you a hippie for it, but you know, it’s not even like…

Kathryn: It’s not the worst thing to be called.

Larisa: That’s not worst thing to be called.

Kathryn: So I don’t want to, I could keep you on the phone forever, but I won’t. I know you have to go off to fight the good fight. But before I let you go, if you want to just share one story of hope and inspiration, something that you’ve seen that – the story that you share, that you carry with you, that people can take as their narrative medicine for today?

Larisa: Wow. You know, there’s a lot that I can think of. You know, I can think of right now about how, you know, the other day I was thinking about – on a personal level, I was thinking about what I’m thankful for. Because in this space you take a lot of hits, a lot of losses, and there’s a lot of challenges, and then it’s still not federally legal. And so, you know, it’s just a lot more of a struggle.

And I was talking to a friend who I hadn’t spoken with in a long time who’s going through a lot of hardship right now. And he asked me what I was thankful for in cannabis and without any hesitation that I said the friendships I have. Without even hesitation, that’s more valuable than anything because it’s, you know, it is true. And yes, it would be that. And then the multitude, you know, there’s just other stories, patient stories that keep with me, near and dear, that have just kept me motivated, that I think about to keep me motivated.

You know, I used to have meetings when I had my, when I like, I have like a dispensary type of cultivation collective club if you will, like a square – We were working with patients and growing for them and dispensing cannabis out of the church, at one point. before we had our brick and mortar storefront. And I had a patient come up to me who was battling a form of lymphoma. I don’t remember what kind, but he was, it was a losing battle at one point, and he started using cannabis again, hadn’t used it since the 60s and she was probably in his late sixties at the time, early seventies. And he walked into the church one day and grabbed a Bible off the shelf and said to me that yes. not only did he get his health back because he had gone into remission, but that we had helped him get his faith back. I can’t even tell that without crying. It’s like really difficult because I was like, wow, if that doesn’t shed light on the profundity of cannabis as like healing both health and spiritual, wellness, like spirituality I don’t know it is.

Kathryn: Yes. Oh yes. Absolutely. Well, thank you. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk today and we welcome you to Vermont with open arms. We’re so excited you’re coming. And…

Larisa: That has been on my – yes Vermont. It’s been on my list for a long time. I just, I’ve had friends that – from there when I lived in DC and they’re just sweet people just because this seems like a good, good state. So, I can’t wait…

Kathryn: We try. Why can’t we try. And the best part is you’re coming in May, not now, because now, the air that bright and chilly and the leaves are not out yet. And, and it’s a little cold, but by May, things will be blossoming and it will be, you’ll get to see Vermont – natures porn in all its glory.

Larisa: Oh yes.

Kathryn: Alright. So, best of luck to you today and all of your battles and we’ve got your back. We’re with you and we will see you in person very very soon, so thank you,

Larisa: Thank you, Kathryn.

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