My Cannabis Journey

I was raised in a conservative Cuban household in Miami. We were taught that all drugs were bad, and that trying marijuana even once would lead to a terrible drug-filled life and early death. I believed what I was told. I never tried illegal drugs. I did, however, consume a ton of diet pills – but those were legal, and that made them okay.

In college I was diagnosed with ADHD, which led to a prescription for Adderall, which caused depression that led to additional prescriptions for Zoloft and Klonopin. This was all okay, though, because the drugs were legal.

About six months before I got pregnant with my son, I decided I needed to quit the meds cold turkey. I wasn’t sure what would happen, but after relying on prescription drugs for over 15 years, I knew it was time to stop the vicious cycle.

At first the days were long. I was dazed and using coffee to ween myself off. Then I found out I was pregnant, so I turned to sugary foods and sleep to cope. I wasn’t feeling my best, but I blamed most of my issues on the pregnancy. I got by. I survived. When my son was born, I changed my eating habits, learned to meditate, and started taking regular long walks. I had everything under control, or so I thought.

A few unexpected life events forced my husband and I to move our little family to a new city and start over. My anxiety skyrocketed and I started to emotional binge-eat. I had panic attacks. I went from being a glowing new mom to being anxious and depressed with suicidal thoughts.

My longtime friend had just started working for Surterra Wellness, and she encouraged me to apply. I’ll never forget her standing in my kitchen, telling me about the future of cannabis and the wellness industry. Everything she said made sense, but all I could hear was my parents and grandparents reminding me that marijuana is bad and if you do drugs you’ll die.

The more I learned about it, though, the more I wanted to get involved. Through my work with Surterra I met Dr. Michelle Weiner and opened up to her about my journey with anxiety, depression, eating disorders, everything. She told me I was a candidate for medical marijuana and helped me through the process. It changed my life.

I was afraid to tell anyone I was using cannabis, but over the next few months I opened up to some close friends and realized that my fears about the stigma surrounding cannabis were ridiculous. I started posting, sharing and – the bravest move of all — I told my grandmother that she should consider cannabis. She told me I was insane. Six months later, she told me she was willing to try it. She’s gone from spending her days in pain to running around the mall. Her friends now call me to ask for advice about medical cannabis.

As a Latina in the cannabis community, I feel drawn to break the stigma that exists in my culture. We all need to focus on spreading education and awareness. The ideas and stigma that exist are outdated, and the lack of better knowledge and understanding is hindering so many who could use this medicine. It’s time to make positive changes and #breakthestigma.

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