Across borders and cultures, mental health and cannabis use top the list of topics we just don’t talk about. At least historically, that is. Highly stigmatized for a variety of social and cultural reasons, the negativity attached to discussing one’s mental health struggles or cannabis consumption seems to finally be coming to an end. Thankfully and simultaneously.
Unless you grew up on the West Coast of the United States or with a social worker in the family, you probably grew up believing that feelings of anxiety, depression, or coping from abuse or trauma as a child or adolescent were normal; or worse: your fault. They weren’t. While having a mental health condition is not our fault, many say that finding ways to safely confront, manage, and heal the things that caused the condition is our responsibility.
No longer such a taboo topic, those with mental health conditions find themselves at the intersection of a newer, higher medicinal playing field when discussing cannabis as a treatment option. Some credit the cannabis conversation as the impetus for deeper conversations about plant-based living and the anti-pharmaceutical movement as a whole. We say it’s a good start to tackling two controversial topics: cannabis and mental health.
Organizations & Groups Facilitating the Cannabis and Mental Health Conversation
Providing a free, downloadable cannabis and mental health resource guide to visitors is The Calm, Cool, & Collected, a website seeking to address the two highly stigmatized subjects, cannabis and mental health. Founder Laura Geftman, LCSW, says she created CC&C to give an unbiased account of cannabis for mental health, one inclusive of both the benefits and the risks.
After a significant loss in her family and frustrated by the marketing ploys and clickbait she saw at conferences, trade shows, and online, Geftman sought to address the one-sided verbiage and marketing plaguing the newly emerging industry. Compelled to use her skill-set and expertise to do something about it, The Calm, Cool, & Collected was born.
“As a licensed clinical social worker, I used to work as an addiction professional. Then I lost my father to opioid addiction, cancer, and suicide. At that point, I began looking at mental health in a different way, and in that process, I relearned everything that I thought I knew about cannabis”, says Geftman.
After not being able to find space for sad, sick brown girls of color, the founder of CSGC created one! “Chronic Sad Girls Club was brought to life as a response to the continuous lack of representation and support for mentally and chronically ill femmes of color”, reads the website and cannabis accessory shop created by advocate and creative, Laura Ozuna.
“I’m an immigrant. I’m a mother, partner, daughter, career woman, and a boss. I have mental and chronic illness. Cannabis benefits and greatly impacts all those facets of my life. But I couldn’t talk about any of those things because of the stigma surrounding them” Laura shared with Cannabis for Breakfast, an online publication dedicated to community, justice, and healing in the cannabis space.
Photo Credit: Chronic Sad Girls Club
After being carjacked at gunpoint in 2016, Shannon DeGrooms reluctantly tried cannabis to aid in debilitating PTSD symptoms and insomnia that followed the encounter. Coined an “accidental advocate” because of internalized stigma and spending 10 years in an abstinence-based recovery program prior to the transition, Shannon saw a desperate need for more stories she could identify with.
“There just weren’t enough stories out there that I could identify with”, she said. “I needed to read about people using plant medicine to cope with the things that others could not or chose not to talk about. I couldn’t find them, so I started publishing them myself. The truth is that cannabis was monumental in my healing journey and I believe that storytelling is how you actually reach people– not fancy marketing or slogans.”
How You Can Get Involved
Have conversations with people in your life about cannabis and mental health. It’s far past time we discuss mental health and alternative plant medicine therapies. Ask your friends how they’re doing and listen to the response. Ask your physician or mental health practitioner what their thoughts are on the use of plant-assisted therapies. If they seem uninformed or biased, find another one. Mental health is not our fault, but healing is our responsibility.
Want more information? Check out our blog for additional resources.