Artist Profile: Cannabis Photographer Christina Lillie
While cannabis has been part of photographer Christina Lillie’s life since she was a teen, she didn’t take up photography, and subsequently capturing images of cannabis, until 10 years ago, when she was 45.
“I’d done so many things in my life – lighting for bands, running a music festival, running a sound company. I even managed a geriatric internal medicine practice. I’m in Vermont,” she explains,” I have to do a lot.”
Cannabis came to the foreground of her awareness – and work – when she had a bad episode of depression, and she started experimenting on her own with cannabis as a treatment option. “I was on a billion different meds,” she says, “and none of them really worked. Cannabis helped me sleep, and it helped with my anxiety. I took CBD during the day, and THC at night.”
Lillie wanted to grow her own cannabis and make her own preparations, but she lived in New Hampshire, where growing was – and remains – illegal.
So, seven years ago, she sold her home and bought a 6-acre property in Stockbridge, where she’s been growing her own medicinal cannabis, and plans to put in a hemp crop next year. “I make CBD oil,” she says, “and I would love to grow for patients. I donate to cancer patients already.”
Favorite strains include Jack Herrer, Blue Dream (“but it makes me eat everything in the house”), and, this season, Super Skunk. Lillie is fond of Cherry Wine for CBD, but is searching for two more strains to grow, as she believes that people can develop “strain tolerance,” and would “like to switch up strains every couple batches.”
Lillie’s cannabis photography sprang from wanting “to see prettier things on the internet than everyone complaining. I put my photos out there for free for everyone. I think it’s a beautiful plant.” she continues, “with so many colors. It’s always changing. You take a photo in the spring, and it’s different from in the fall. There are all these purples and oranges, which I really enjoy.”
“I like to put the pictures out there and let people know it’s ok. It’s not evil.”
Lillie admits to a cultural agenda to her photography, saying “I like to put the pictures out there and let people know it’s ok. It’s not evil.”
When asked if she experienced a different kind of learning curve starting a whole new art form at 45, she says, “I was much more hesitant to share and charge for photos. At 22-23 you think you know it all. At my age you know you don’t.”
Still, Lillie is determined to share her work as widely as possible. “People call, I go around taking pictures, and I submit to wherever I can. I’d love to just do cannabis photos,” she says. “It’s a whole new industry.”
Also a passionate political advocate, Lillie grew concerned about the prospect of individual towns banning cannabis businesses, so she joined the Progressive Party in Stockbridge. ”My Representative said that’s the only way to get cannabis businesses approved. I became a member of the party,” she says, “so I have a vote.”
Lillie also has concerns about large sums of money from places like Colorado dominating the Vermont market. “If folks could get loans, they could start businesses here and keep them here. If licenses are affordable and reasonable,” she adds, “you get small scale growers.”
Lillie does appreciate Vermont’s home grow provision, but wishes she could grow for other patients. “I guess that’s a socialist way to look at things,” she says.
In that socialist spirit, Lillie has generously donated a host of her photographs to Heady Vermont, so look for her work springing up around our website and social media feeds.