Unhidden: No Fear, Just Joy – Kathryn Blume on WGDR
Recently, I was invited by host Ruth Wilder to be on her longtime show, Mother Cell Radio. Mother Cell is unique in broadcast circles in that it’s aired on both WGDR at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont as well as on KOCF, which is the station of that great and historic countercultural gathering, the Oregon Country Fair. OCF by the way is an event at which a Seattle roommate of mine once took mushrooms, spent the night in a tree, quit his job at Microsoft, cycled across country, and became a preschool teacher. But that is another story…
Anyway, Ruth told me it would be a 10 minute interview, but things went on for a bit longer than that. So brew yourself a nice warm beverage, fire up whatever you like to smoke, or take your phone out to the garden while you get in some much-needed weeding, and have fun with my appearance on Mother Cell Radio.
Ruth Wilder: I have the pleasure of having Kathryn Blume in— actually in the production studio with me and Kathryn Blume is employed at Heady Vermont. So, can you tell me a little bit about being employed, and also what Heady Vermont is?
Kathryn Blume: Let’s start with that, Heady Vermont is a cannabis media, events, and advocacy organization. So, we have a website, HeadyVermont.com with a lot of original content. We’ve got a huge social media presence on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. We do a lot of different kinds of events. We’re a membership organization. So, when we do events, our members generally get discounted or free tickets.
And we do advocacy in the statehouse, because legalization is an ongoing process in development. And so the state has legalized for medicinal use and personal use but we still don’t have a commercial market set up yet. We don’t have a tax and regulate system and they’re working on that pretty much right now as we speak. And so, we’ve got representatives and we have staff who go and lobby in the statehouse to try to improve whatever legislation is coming down the pike.
Ruth Wilder: So, listeners who may have something to say could reach out to you and–
Kathryn Blume: They absolutely could. They can e-mail me at [email protected]. We’ve got a Facebook page. They can make comments there, they can come to our events. We have things going on all the time, so we’re pretty easy to get in touch with.
I would call myself an enthusiastic but fairly erratic gardener. Or a god-be-with-you gardener. You know like stick in the ground, good luck.
Ruth Wilder: All right, so it’s just about time to start growing things outside.
Kathryn Blume: It is.
Ruth Wilder: And I– I love growing things outside and cannabis included. So, I was wondering if you might just share some of your tips, your mindset, and what you enjoy about growing, what you find – Or maybe I should just stop and give you a couple questions at once [laughing].
Kathryn Blume: You know, the funny thing is I would call myself an enthusiastic but fairly erratic gardener. Or a god-be-with-you gardener. You know like stick in the ground, good luck.
In recent years, I’ve gotten a little more detailed and meticulous about it but one of the funny parts is that I’ve probably been growing – I live in the woods growing outside for 10, 15 years. It started out with people just giving me clones, and I would stick them in the ground and treat them like everything else in my garden. I never gave it a lot of thought. And it wasn’t really until my last year plus at Heady Vermont that I started to tap into the extremely particular nature of a lot of the bud geeks out there, and you can get so down quite literally in the weeds with growing.
And they’re – particularly with the indoor growers but the outer growers too, they get really kind of controlling about the process because they’re trying to maximize the size and weight of their buds. They’re trying to maximize the amount of crystals on there, and of course the most potent intense high, and there’s a part of me that feels like all right, it’s like craft beer. I get it. Or any – people who raise flowers and take them to garden shows for competitions.
But the reality, I think, is that this is a plant that’s been around a long time and it knows what it’s doing, and you don’t have to work too hard to set up fairly optimal growing conditions. And then you can pretty much let it be, keep an eye on things and still come out with fine, fine, nurturing happy-making cannabis. You don’t need to micromanage the process.
And I think particularly for beginning growers, that’s really important. Because it can be intimidating and overwhelming to be on a steep learning curve about anything; whether it’s bread baking or learning how to fix your bike or growing cannabis.
I find that carrots are a really great thing to grow as a companion plant because they’re not competing for space.
And I think the nice part is that it’s really not that hard. Because I didn’t know what I was doing and my cannabis was just fine. I’ve had people accuse me of what they call having what they call “grass clippings” but I always wanted to say look (that’s a derogatory term for those of you don’t know) – Look, I smoke it all the time, my friends smoke it all the time and they like it which is the bottom line.
And there is a saying that the best bud is the stuff that you grew yourself and I think that is fundamentally true. So, you need to figure out how you’re going to get started. Are you going to get seeds and germinate them and grow them from seed or are you going to find someone who can get you some clones? And that’s kind of the first step.
Ruth Wilder: So, if you were to do seeds yourself how would you start your seeds?
Kathryn Blume: It’s the classic technique of basically sandwiching them in wet paper towel between a couple of plates, and leaving them in a reasonably warm location for a couple of days. You keep checking, and once they germinate, and you see a little tendril of plants sticking out, you then put them in a germ– Like a medium, like potting soil. And, often what I will do is … and this is such kindergarten gardening, but I think it’s good because again, I want people to know that this is accessible.
I get potting soil and egg cartons, and I fill up the little cups with potting soil and I stick one germinating seed in each little cup and I put some toothpicks in there and to because I’m going to cover it with a paper, a plastic bag or – usually a plastic bag from the co-op, whatever. And then the toothpicks keep it raised, so that as the plants come up, they’ve got some space. And I stick it in a sunny location and I make sure that it’s moist and fortunately, the plastic bag keeps the moisture in there.
And you wait until your little babies have come up and they’re an inch or two high. And then, I pull the plastic bag off and I let them grow some more and I make sure they’re moist, and when they get to about, I would say three or four inches high, and are kind of root bound in that egg carton, then I’ll transfer them to a smaller pot and let them grow some more.
Cannabis has been an enormous friend to me for my menstrual cycle.
And usually by that point, because we start about now in the year and you want to start hardening your plants outside when things are a little bit more temperate and kind. And I stick them outside, let them hang in the sun for a while right in front of the house where it’s nice and warm. And then when they get to garden size, I would say probably 8, 10 inches tall, stick them out in the garden, make sure they’re well mulched and composted and watered and then the process begins.
Ruth Wilder: I’m wondering if you found any plant – you said just stick them out in the garden. Have you found anything they don’t like to grow near?
Kathryn Blume: Not that I’ve noticed. They really just don’t want to compete for space with anything, and they get pretty big. And so, I find that carrots are a really great thing to grow as a companion plant because they’re not competing for space. Carrots, the root is very consolidated and so they seem to do pretty well together, and the carrots don’t mind a little bit of shade. And I also will grow lettuce on the shady side of cannabis when it gets a little bit bigger because lettuce doesn’t want to be in too much direct sunlight either, so they can provide shade for the more sort of tender salad plants. But really, they seem to be everybody’s friend, as far as I can tell. You just want to make sure that they’ve got enough space.
Ruth Wilder: So, I have heard– Okay, that cannabis has many many uses and I’m wondering if you’d like to share some that you may have for the plant with.
Kathryn Blume: Cannabis has been an enormous friend to me for my menstrual cycle. It’s great for PMS and the emotional intensity of that. As I’ve gotten older– I’m 51 now. I’m not menopausal yet although things are starting to get a little bit unpredictable. But any hormonal fluctuations and just kind of feeling crappy. Cannabis is great for when I get my period and I’ve got really bad cramps. It’s fabulous for that and I have really tried to honor that experience because I know some women, their flow’s not that big a deal.
For me, I’ve always had bad cramps. I’ve always felt awful beforehand and I usually feel awful for a couple of days afterwards. And so, I try to take what I’ll call a “red tent” time and hang out on the couch and smoke weed and drink tea and listen to music and eat chocolate and really let it be a time of rest. And I think cyclically, we all need rest. And if our bodies are demanding that because we have an inescapable cycle, if we choose not to be on hormones, we might as well roll with that as best we can.
Now, certainly, people have families and jobs and responsibilities. But I think if it’s possible to at least tweak things in the direction of giving yourself a little bit more space when you’re contending with systemic disruption – whether it’s on a regular basis or you’ve got some problem that’s arisen. It’s worth honoring it.
So, I’ve use it for that. I’ve used it for mood. I’ve used it when– So few years ago, my appendix exploded and I ended up in the hospital with sepsis. And so rather than being a 45-minute laparoscopic procedure to remove my appendix, I got split wide open to get cleaned out from the sepsis, and I was on a wound back for a couple of days, and then closed up. And it was a huge disruption. Because when you got sepsis, you’ve basically got an infection that goes everywhere blood goes. Which is everywhere. Which means that you have to heal and replace every cell in your body. Takes a long time to do that.
You have to figure out a way to achieve a kind of patience while your body is taking the time that it needs to achieve homeostasis. Cannabis is great for that. It’s great for giving you the patience that you need, giving you the space that you need, setting up a healing mindset.
So, cannabis was great for pain management. It was great for mood management, because I had to spend months and months and months recuperating from all of this, and it could have been awful. And for as physically arduous as it was, I was able to, many days smoke a bowl, watch a couple movies on Netflix and get through my day in a reasonable state of contentment. And I think when you’re healing, there’s something about the word healing that you think sounds very onomatopoeic, that healing is going to be sweet and relaxing and you think about– I don’t know. I always imagine almost like back when a lot of people to deal with tuberculosis, they would stick tubercular patients on a lawn chair in the sun somewhere beautiful and just let them wait out their healing process.
Healing I think frequently is much more rugged than that. There’s a lot that you’re contending with. You’ve been plucked out of the flow of your life. You have to deal with physical discomfort, you have to deal with loss. You may not be the same person that you were before. You have to deal with all kinds of shifting new normals, and management of whatever you’re experiencing in the moment. You have to figure out a way to achieve a kind of patience while your body is taking the time that it needs to achieve homeostasis. Cannabis is great for that. It’s great for giving you the patience that you need, giving you the space that you need, setting up a healing mindset where–
You know, for me, I felt like the whole experience of my appendix and the sepsis was a kind of a spiritual initiation, and I needed to embrace it as that in order to accept the rigor of what I was going through. And cannabis was a huge part of getting me through that. It also– When they let me out of the hospital, I was on opioids and by the time a few months had gone by, I knew I had to get off them because I was having so many bad side effects. I was still in a lot of physical pain but I couldn’t take the side effects from it. I spent two weeks in withdrawal.
Cannabis is great for helping you get off opioids and deal with all of those symptoms but you need a plan, which I didn’t have, and I got off way too fast.
Ruth Wilder: Oh, wow!
Kathryn Blume: It was horrible and part of it was that I didn’t have any guidance. Cannabis is great for helping you get off opioids and deal with all of those symptoms but you need a plan, which I didn’t have, and I got off way too fast. And so, it was the one time that cannabis didn’t really help all that much because I couldn’t keep enough THC in my system to mitigate the symptoms of what I was experiencing.
If I had had a guide and been able to get off more slowly, and had a better understanding of the different strains of cannabis, and the different ways that it could help offset what I was contending with from the withdrawal of the opioids, I think I would have done a lot better.
But we hear a lot of stories about people very successfully – in guided programs – getting off of opioids with the help of cannabis. And I think if anyone out there is struggling with pain management and wanting to find a way to a more holistic path of addressing those issues, cannabis can be incredibly helpful. But get the help of someone who knows what they’re doing. and I think that was my biggest challenge is that I didn’t have any guidance at the time.
And this is before I worked for Heady and so it was just me and my husband Googling things and sitting on the couch and hoping for the best. And there is more help out there than that. I would encourage anyone who feels like they’re stuck with opioids to seek out help because they can get off and they can get off without suffering the kind of withdrawal that makes you go back on because you just can’t deal with the discomfort.
Cannabis does much better with chronic pain and in particular, cannabis deals with systemic inflammation extremely well.
Ruth Wilder: Yeah, unfortunately, opioid addiction is touching too many of us. I know personally, I know three moms who have lost their children – who’ve passed – to opioids.
Kathryn Blume: They’re horrible. I mean they’re miraculous. But they’re for acute short-term pain management. They are not for chronic pain. Cannabis does much better with chronic pain and in particular, cannabis deals with systemic inflammation extremely well. And as we are trying to heal ourselves and achieve homeostasis, cannabis is an incredible tool and ally for that.
But when you’re in an acute situation, you need to get guidance for how to manage it, because the other thing about an acute situation is that you’re not thinking clearly, you’re not your best self and you frequently feel desperate about your circumstances.
When I got out of the hospital after two weeks, I was given a sheet of paper with a list of everything that I was taking and it was both opioids for pain management and it was antibiotics to deal with the fact that I still had an infection. And they basically said, “Here’s what you’re taking and here’s how often you take it and here’s how much you take it.” But they didn’t say, “Oh and these pain meds, these are addictive and so here’s how you know when it’s time to get off of them and here’s how you get off of them when it’s time.” None of that information at all.
And I thought a lot about the fact that I could afford to spend two weeks in agony because I didn’t have kids or a job, and I had a husband who is very supportive, and I had friends who were helping take care of me, so I could deal with that extreme situation. But I thought a lot about the fact that most people probably can’t, and most people don’t have access to cannabis to help them out with that sort of thing.
And I imagined, if I had a demanding life that I had to get back to, I could imagine somebody saying, “You know what? I’ll just deal with this later. I can’t afford the time that it takes to feel like such horrific crap. I’m going to get back on it. I’m going to deal with my life and then I’ll find a way it off later.” And then your prescription runs out and you’re screwed. And I can imagine that a lot of people get stuck in cycles of addiction for that exact reason.
It would be wonderful for us to even have a public speakers’ bureau and to go to the Rotary.
It’s not because they love the high of the Dilaudid or the Tramadol, it sucks, it doesn’t feel good in your system but it feels even worse when it’s actually in your system. It’s like a cellular revolt. And so, people get stuck in those cycles because they can’t handle the withdrawal. Not because they love the high. And I think that’s something that the general public doesn’t understand.
Ruth Wilder: So, I am in studio with Kathryn Blume of Heady Vermont, and I wonder how a service like Heady Vermont can address these types of needs. Are they doing any sort of advocacy for talking to– It seems like it starts with doctors and pharmacists almost of–
Kathryn Blume: It would be great if we had– We’re a very small startup company. But I’ve been talking to the founders. It would be wonderful for us to even have a public speakers’ bureau and to go to the Rotary. Like to just go to every town’s Rotary and just give a little talk about here’s a brief history of cannabis, here’s the many millennia that it’s been part of human history, here’s the very short history of prohibition and why that happened (and it was politics and racism and power), and here’s what we’re starting to understand about how powerful this is as a medicine, and here is why legalization is a good thing.
There is a Cannabis Nurses’ Association nationally and Vermont has a chapter. There’s a woman named Jessilyn Dolan who’s a cannabis nurse among many many other things. She’s an extremely well-trained individual and she’s running the Vermont Cannabis Nurses Association and I think in a way the nurses are phenomenally powerful allies and educating the medical community at large.
UVM has a cannabis certificate program, Castleton’s starting up with something, so the institutions of higher learning are starting to have cannabis education courses. There’s a market– Champlain is going to be doing a marketing class this fall and the woman who’s teaching it doesn’t have a huge personal cannabis history but she recognizes – She sees the larger cultural trends and she sees what’s happening with legalization and she sees all these little businesses starting up.
And most people who start a business start a business because they got a good idea, not because they know how to run a business, and certainly not because they know how to market their stuff. And so, she feels like this is a great opportunity for her to teach marketing specifically as it’s related to cannabis to a whole new generation of people who can go out and help those businesses thrive.
There’s a lot of people who will say, almost off the cuff, that they think hemp can help save the world, that cannabis can help save the world.
Ruth Wilder: Oh, that’s wonderful. I love the fact that the Nurses’ Association is there. And I’m assuming that they have a website people can contact them for –
Kathryn Blume: They’ve got a Facebook page, Vermont Cannabis Nurses’ Association. The other thing that we do is we try to have networking events that hook people up. People have started businesses because they’ve come together and met at these organizations – at these events. We also do a Hemp Fest in the fall specifically around industrial hemp and CBD.
For people who don’t know, cannabis is basically one plant. Hemp and the fun plant are the same plant. It’s just that hemp has such a low concentration of THC, which is the molecule it gets you high, that it’s not considered as problematic by the powers that be as the fun part of cannabis. But that’s all changing.
But just so people understand, hemp and cannabis, it’s the same thing. And the exciting part about hemp is that it’s been used as an industrial – source of industry for many many years in the 17th and 18th century sales, rope, all made out of hemp. The Constitution, I believe a draft of that was written on hemp paper. It can be used as cloth, it can be used as a source of fuel, it can be used as a source of building material. Hempcrete, hemp concrete doesn’t have the carbon footprint that regular concrete has and it’s an incredibly strong fire retardant, pest resistant building material and there’s a whole movement out there right now to build with hempcrete.
It can be used in semiconductors, it’s phenomenal. And – and it’s incredibly nutritious. Lot of people as they’re growing cannabis, before they even bud out, will juice the leaves and it’s really great for you. There’s a lot of people who will say, almost off the cuff, that they think hemp can help save the world, that cannabis can help save the world.
And when you drill down with that though, it’s a multi layered thought process because there’s all of the things we can make out of hemp; you can make plastic out of it and God knows we have a major, major plastic problem on this planet. There’s all the materials that you can make. You can make clothes, you can make like I said semiconductors.
In my cannabis cosmology, I think we have Mother Earth, there’s the daughter – the plant – and the Holy Ghost is the experience that we have when we engage with it.
But then, there’s also the medicinal aspect of it, and then there’s the consciousness-shifting, spiritually engaged part of the plant as well. And so, talk about a broad spectrum of possibility with one remarkable plant. And we have kind of grown up as a species with cannabis. We have an endocannabinoid system. We make our own cannabinoids endogenously, but when we need more, we are primed to [making sucking noise] suck in and use and metabolize everything that we get from this plant. The fit is really kind of remarkable.
Ruth Wilder: It’s almost like it’s here for to serve, to help –
Kathryn Blume: Yeah, yeah, [crosstalk].
Ruth Wilder: -and serve a purpose.
Kathryn Blume: I developed my own personal cosmology sitting out in the garden with my plants at one point and I thought you know traditional Christianity, Catholicism, they’ve got the Father Son and Holy Ghost and it’s very male, and it’s very removed and distant. And in my cannabis cosmology, I think we have Mother Earth, there’s the daughter – the plant – and the Holy Ghost is the experience that we have when we engage with it.
You can just be gently augmented by your experience with cannabis, and find that you come into much better relationship with yourself and with the world around you.
And whether it’s you just sitting out in the garden with it, vibing out with the plant. You know like enjoying the sun in the wind and the birds flying by and the bugs, or you consume cannabis one way or another, and it’s transformative.
I always feel when I’ve got some cannabis in my system – and doesn’t need to be much – that I’m happier and more content, I’m more grounded, I’m kind of the best version of myself. I’m the version of myself that I would like to be all the time. And if we– You know, it’s like you don’t have to get stoned, you don’t have to be, as they say, tripping balls. You can just be gently augmented by your experience with cannabis, and find that you come into much better relationship with yourself and with the world around you. And don’t we all need that?
Ruth Wilder: Yeah, definitely. That’s what Mother Cell Radio is all about.
Kathryn Blume: Yeah.
Ruth Wilder: Touching base with what is intrinsically a co-creative process, if you will.
Kathryn Blume: Yeah.
Ruth Wilder: You know, I believe that– I feel like we’re really here to serve purpose. And things that are around us are here to serve purpose, and we’ve really lost touch with those things that serve a purpose well.
Kathryn Blume: For sure. Yeah.
Ruth Wilder: We have so many trends and items and disposable items that mean nothing.
Kathryn Blume: And we’re suffering from that right now collectively. I think those of us who are here right now on this planet embodied regardless of how we’re bodied, we’re here because we chose to be here. We’re here in service of the well-being of the whole Gaian ecosystem.
Industrialization has distanced us from the natural world, so that the feedback mechanisms to help us understand the gravity of the situation are things that we’re very disconnected from.
And I think this is kind of a make-or-break moment for humanity. The planet’s been here for 4.5 billion years. We’ve been through six major episodes of extinction where almost all life was on the planet was wiped out and in time, it came back. But things are happening – that’s usually a much longer process – or it’s an asteroid and okay, everything goes away pretty quickly.
But, things are happening very fast right now and it’s a little bewildering for human beings to recognize, acknowledge, and truly accept the fact that our behavior could impact something as big as a whole planet.
Industrialization has distanced us from the natural world, so that the feedback mechanisms to help us understand the gravity of the situation are things that we’re very disconnected from. So, we have to have scientists go out and do a lot of measurements and then come back and tell us that something is wrong rather than us actually knowing, because of our direct experience, that something is wrong.
And it’s very hard to convince people of facts when the consequences of accepting that reality mean that we have to change everything. And, we’ve all been … those of us in the West, those of us in particular who are well off financially, have a lot of insulation from those realities.
Unfortunately, that insulation, all the material wealth that we have, is the very thing causing the problems. But it’s very comfortable and comforting. And to contemplate letting all of that go for the well-being of the world. I think is a very threatening and abstract idea to many people.
Ruth Wilder: The thing I like about cannabis is that when I’m partaking, I’m still in the here and now, but I’m seeing things that are very microscopic level and maybe it’s turns on a dime and goes into the macro but–
Kathryn Blume: I think it does.
Ruth Wilder: I am able to be with the issue. I have suffered numerous traumas that– You know, I’ve been told I probably should be doing some Prozac or something to get through it but that’s not been my path. I want to feel. I want to feel pain when I’m having it. That doesn’t mean that I don’t want the pain lessened.
We’re trying to grow enough to take care of ourselves and share with other people. And that if we don’t have enough hopefully, we can barter and we can share and we can support each other in our needs.
Kathryn Blume: Right.
Ruth Wilder: What I like about cannabis is that I still am aware of what’s going on.
Kathryn Blume: You just got some space.
Ruth Wilder: And it gives me a broader … Like a field of resonance or something. Like I’m more open to everything that’s going on. So, I feel like with this switch of people starting to partake and having a relationship with cannabis. Perhaps going out in their own gardens and growing some medicine for themselves, they can reconnect with Mother Earth. I’ve heard tell that– I know a friend who swears that the resurgence of the organic movement in Vermont and all the green thumbs and people playing in their gardens was because of a bunch of people who had to, by necessity go plant some cannabis and grow it, and they developed relationship to the plant. They developed relationship to Mother Earth and started to find themselves in the web.
Kathryn Blume: Yeah, because you can pretend like you’re in control. And you can, as a grower, try to control for every factor, and stuff is going to come along that is completely outside of your control. And the best thing to do is to be flexible and adapt, and sometimes accept the reality that you’ve had a drought and everything dried up, and you weren’t prepared for that. Or the deer came through and ate all your beets or whatever it is.
For 10, 15 years, I grew, never had an issue and then all of a sudden, we had a super wet end of summer and I had powdery mildew. Didn’t even know what it was. And I knew that it looked kind of like the blight that hit my tomatoes and it was affecting the plants from the ground up in kind of the same way, and I was trying to stay ahead of it the way that I do with my tomatoes. But it was a new condition and situation that there’s not a lot you can do about.
And what’s interesting is that some folks will recommend using neem oil to spray on your plants to deal powdery mildew, and a number of other problematic insects. But, I’ve also heard that people are holding neem oil responsible for some of the negative impacts of cannabis that are cropping up lately. There’s a whole weird syndrome right now of people experiencing a lot of physical pain after smoking cannabis and the only thing that helps mitigate that is a hot shower and stopping smoking. And I’ve heard some folks say, “Well that’s because of the neem oil.” I’ve heard other people say, “Well it’s because of other pesticides or whatever, contaminants are in the cannabis.”
Nobody really knows what’s going on with all of that to my mind for now, at least, given that we don’t understand it. We do know that if you’re cannabis is organically grown, you’re not going to experience that kind of stuff. And so, sometimes, you just have to grow and accept the consequences of what nature throws at you. And you might not have as bountiful harvest as you did the year before, but that’s why we share cannabis with each other and I think –
There’s always going to be the community of people who know, understand, love, and respect, and honor this plant and have a deep and intimate relationship with it.
We’re not trying to maximize yields ideally, right? We’re trying to grow enough to take care of ourselves and share with other people. And that if we don’t have enough hopefully, we can barter and we can share and we can support each other in our needs.
And I grow a lot more than I personally need. But if I know someone in a medical crisis, I would never ask, because I know what it’s like to be in medical crisis. You just want to feel even a little bit better. And what an incredible gift to give someone to– Here, here’s some bud, some brownies that I made for you or tincture, whatever it’s going to be. And you will experience ease and less fear. And alleviating each other’s fear is such a big part of what we’re doing because we’re all going to die one way or another. But if we can get through our lives with a greater sense of peace and ease and community and support, I think that’s what helps us evolve.
Ruth Wilder: So, I wonder is – is that a bit of Heady Vermont’s mission? It seems like in a roundabout way they might be doing a bit of that.
Kathryn Blume: Yeah, absolutely. You know, we’ve had give away days for veterans, because a lot of veterans are experiencing PTSD and they get it go in the field, get injured, come back, stuck on opioids, the whole shebang, and because they’re attached to the federal government, getting a hold of cannabis is really difficult. The New England Veterans’ Alliance is primarily about helping veterans get a hold of cannabis so they can deal with their trauma and their pharmaceuticals in a healthier way. So awesome to be able to give way cannabis. We’re talking about doing giveaways now for cancer patients as well, or anybody who needs it. And I think there’s definitely a recognition.
Like Heady Vermont’s mission really – There’s a reason why Eli Harrington and Monica Donovan, who started Heady, started a media company rather than trying to open a dispensary. They want to support the cultural evolution of the acceptance of cannabis. And they’re both communicators. They both have journalism backgrounds. And so they felt like telling the story of now, of what we’re up to, and what everybody’s doing, and helping normalize cannabis use is really at the core of their mission.
Eli had been running a podcast which he let go of because he was too busy and they eventually handed it off to me. It had been called the Vermontijuana podcast which I thought was very clever but I rebranded it and the name of the podcast is Unhidden, and the logo for the podcast is an opening door and you can see a beam of light shooting out of the door. And that was very intentional because this is about this moment of moving from prohibition and misinformation into a collective understanding of the positive value of what we have on our hands here.
Yes, legalization is going to be imperfect. And yes, there’s going to be a lot of people out there who just want to make money. And yes, the federal government and Big Pharma and Big Tobacco and alcohol, they’re all getting involved. So, there’s going to be a side of this process which is inherently unsavory.
But there’s always going to be the community of people who know, understand, love, and respect, and honor this plant and have a deep and intimate relationship with it. And they’re going to be doing their best to educate as many people as they can. And I think all of us at Heady come from that perspective. Nobody’s making any great amount of money running Heady Vermont and we’re here because we believe in the plant and in what it can do and what we can do, when we’re in a positive relationship with it.
The consequences of prohibition have been horrific for communities of color and many people will couch their legalization conversation in that social justice framework.
Ruth Wilder: So, on the subject of the podcast, do you want to talk about that for a moment how you?
Kathryn Blume: Sure. Because we’re a tiny organization without a lot of resources – You know, I’m a big podcast listener and I love Radiolab and I love This American Life. But those folks have a lot more resources than we do. So, well I would love to do beautifully, fancily produced podcasts, mostly what we’re doing is having conversations. We went up to Canada for the first day of Canadian legalization and just interviewed people who were standing in line waiting to get into the dispensary.
We interviewed the Canadian border guards as we were crossing the border. We interviewed the guy who helped us park the car. He ran the parking lot. And just had conversations with people about what was going on. I have interviewed musicians and artists and makers, growers just about their relationship with the plant and why they’re doing what they’re doing.
There’s one woman I interviewed, I met her because I had posted something about veterans on our Facebook page – and that’s part of my job is I run the Facebook page. She had written in saying, “I was married to a vet and I believe that if he’d been a drinker rather than a pot smoker, I wouldn’t be alive right now.” And I thought I all right, I’ll talk to this woman.
Well, it turned out she – not only was that the case, but she had also lived in Colorado during Colorado’s process of legalization. So she had a lot of stories to tell about that. And she, without my prompting her at all pretty much hit every single talking point from medicine to social justice. Which is something that we haven’t even covered yet.
So, how do we work for reparations and justice, social, economic, gender parity as we are moving forward through all of this?
The consequences of prohibition have been horrific for communities of color and many people will couch their legalization conversation in that social justice framework. And you’ll hear a lot of people talking about how we – with legalization needs to come expungements of people’s criminal records. With legalization needs to come prioritizing of people of color and people who’ve been imprisoned unjustly for cannabis use. And recognizing that there are a lot of white men out there who could more easily use cannabis, even when it was completely illegal, and are now being able to make enormous amounts of money off it.
Mitch McConnell’s now, you know, on a board of a cannabis organization. And when he’s devalued– He used to be 100 percent against legalization. So, how do we work for reparations and justice, social, economic, gender parity as we are moving forward through all of this? And so, we at Heady Vermont try to keep that at the forefront of the conversation as well. And in a state like Vermont which is a very very white state. It’s harder because there aren’t as many representatives of those more oppressed populations. And yet they’re out there.
And in Vermont, just like everywhere else, there are more people of color in prison here, more people imprisoned and dinged for cannabis possession than any other demographic. So, even here, we need to figure out a way to bring justice to our legalization process.
I’ve noted though that when I post something about expungement clinics, there’s a huge wave of interest about that stuff. So clearly, I think a lot of people get it, and a lot of people care passionately about it.
Now, how you turn understanding and passion and emotional comprehension into legislation and policies that actually promote justice, that’s a long road. But we’re trying to talk about it as much as we possibly can and promote those policies in the State House.
We’re going to be announcing our second year of the Headies, our cannabis cup. We did the first one this winter and we had people who grew indoors, outdoors, CBD and THC plants. We had makers who made salves, we had tinctures, we had edibles, we had rosin, shatter, all kinds of stuff like that. So, the new category for round two of the Headies is going to be a master’s grow where we give everybody the same genetics. It’s going to be starting from seeds and everybody gets the same ones. I don’t know what it’s going to be yet. We’re going to get it. We’re getting a seed sponsor and everyone will grow the same plant.
We’re going to keep telling the medical stories because those are always incredibly compelling.
Ruth Wilder: Oh, that’s great.
Kathryn Blume: And we’ll see who does the best, and I think that’s going to be really fun.
Ruth Wilder: Yeah that’s very exciting. Yeah, it was different with whole different genetics.
Kathryn Blume: Yeah and different terroir as it were. We’re going to have events throughout the summer we’re going to be doing the Hemp Fest in the fall and we’re also starting The New England Cannabis Guide. That’s our first print publication and there’s going to be a launch party for that in July in southern Vermont and we– Big shout out to all the folks in southern Vermont who want us to do events down there. We’ve been trying and it’s harder because we’re based in Burlington but we’re very conscious of that fact.
And we’re going to keep telling the medical stories because those are always incredibly compelling. And we’re going to keep supporting our partner businesses and telling their stories, and we’re going to keep aggressively pushing for good legislation in the statehouse.
No fear, just joy.
Ruth Wilder: Thank you so much for your work. Is there anything that you’d like to leave the listeners with?
Kathryn Blume: No fear, just joy. I think– You know, like I said, we’re in – Humanity, I think, is in a pretty critical moment right now. We’ve got climate change. We’ve got plastic pollution. We’ve got overpopulation. We’ve got a rise of more authoritarian governments. One of the gifts of my illness was that it was happening at the same time as the presidential election was happening. And in fact, I was in the hospital for two weeks, and in the second week when I was a little more lucid, I could feel there was something different going on the world, and I couldn’t tell what it was. Well it turned out that was about the same time that Trump was making his giant rise through the Republican field of presidential contenders.
Normally, I would get very actively involved in a presidential election but I couldn’t. I was completely incapable of doing that, so I had to watch from a distance. And watch the whole arc of what happened from a distance. And while the election was as shocking to me as it was to everyone else, I think I got over it quicker because I was a lot more distant, but then, I was very conscious of the immediate response.
I have a greater sense of hope from all of the positive things that I see happening than I do despair from the great big negative things that I see happening.
We had UltraViolet, we had Small Victories, we had the Pantsuit Nation, we had all of these women and scientists and people of color who said, “You know what? Enough of that. I’m running for public office. I am taking up a leadership role. We had the Me Too movement that got launched and saw the fall of some of the most powerful men in pretty much any industry that you could imagine.
And I think this is this incredible moment of upheaval and transformation. And I have a greater sense of hope from all of the positive things that I see happening than I do despair from the great big negative things that I see happening. And that we are talking cannabis legalization which seems to be– It reminds me a lot of the arc of marriage equality.
You know, for years, same sex marriage was going to be impossible. And then a few states did it including Vermont, and then all of a sudden, 30 states and then the next thing you know there’s a Supreme Court decision and same sex marriage is legal across the land.
Arc of cannabis legalization. We’re talking universal basic income. We’re talking universal health care. We’re talking a green new deal. We’re talking about Black Lives Matter and we have honored not nearly enough, the water protectors and– the Native American populations who have been facing oppression from the federal government for hundreds of years. We are talking about doing things in a fundamentally different way.
We’re healing ourselves collectively. It’s a rugged process.
We’re seeing female leadership in places like defense companies. We’re seeing a massive influx of women and women of color into Congress. And it’s changing things.
And it’s much like healing. We’re healing ourselves collectively. It’s a rugged process. It’s not linear. We don’t even always get to choose what’s going to get healed next or whether what setbacks we’re going to have. And when you’re healing from something big, there’s always going to be setbacks. Not just one but a whole lot of them. My acupuncturist told me that. I didn’t believe him. I was like, “I’m not going to have setbacks. I’m so self-aware. I’m going to be just fine.”
But to look from the 30,000-foot level of the arc of where we’re headed. It’s not that there are any guarantees, but there’s far more hope and inspiration out there than the voices of despair and destruction would want you to believe.
And so— there’s a very long answer to a short question. But I would encourage everybody to seek out the narratives of hope and positivity and possibility, and to actively engage with them in the real world. Not just online, not just on social media. Get out in the sun, get connected with other people and get involved in doing things. And it is remarkable how fast the world can change when enough people are committed. And they don’t have to sacrifice themselves on the altar of their cause.
Everyone has what they can do, everyone has how much they can do, everyone has their own inherent geniuses and gifts and skill sets, and everyone has their limits. And if we’re honest about all of those things, and we’re generous with each other, and we elevate each other and we support each other when we need rest and rejuvenation, and we amplify the great work that we see being done, I think we have the possibility of creating a remarkable, thriving, interconnected society on this tiny blue miracle in space.
We haven’t found any other place to live yet. And I think if we can back up – not just to the 30,000-foot level – but back up all the way to the moon, back up to the edge of the solar system, back up into space, we recognize how profoundly precious this planet is and how truly miraculous it is.
Scientists will tell us are such a Goldilocks planet. We’re just everything— There’s so many things that fate had to get right in order for life to get this far on this planet, and we—There’s a lot of people who think humanity is a scourge, some kind of metastasizing carbuncle, some kind of cosmic mistake on this planet. I refuse to believe that. We’re complex, we’re difficult, we’re weird, we’re mysterious. We’re highly problematic. But we have the capacity for so much creativity and innovation and positivity if we can just get out of our own way. And so, I guess I would just want to encourage any of your listeners and anyone they come into contact with, be that force of good in the world. And let cannabis help you because it will.
Ruth Wilder: Kathryn Blume of Heady Vermont, thank you so much for your time.
Kathryn Blume: And that my friends is it for this episode of Unhidden. I’m your host Kathryn Blume. Thanks to the whole team at Heady Vermont, Monica Donovan, our awesome intern Caitlyn Lucadermo, and Luna the Wonder Dog. Thanks also to Ruth Wilder for having me on her show and to West End land for our super cool theme song. You can find Heady Vermont on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and at headyvermont.com. Look for the Unhidden Podcast at SoundCloud, iTunes and wherever fine podcasts are sold. We’ll see you next time.