I’m Sorry Botham Jean Sham

If you haven’t heard this story I don’t know where you’ve been. It’s a gruesome tell of negligence, media steering and demonizing. I’ve been watching and praying for this family since the story broke.

The media tells the story like this; police woman Amber Gyuger gets off work late. She parks her car in her garage then proceeds to her apartment. She hears someone in her apartment, yelled for them to identify themselves, they don’t, she shoots and kills the person.

Facts begin to unfold, then the media tells the story like this; Hard working white police woman Amber Gyuger mistakenly parked on the wrong floor. Opens the door of what she thinks is her apartment. Asks a Black man that is in his own home to identify himself. He doesn’t do she kills him.

Later the media spins the story; Botham Jean Sham was an immigrant that had marijuana in his apartment.

The truth is;

Botham Jean Sham was a beloved citizen of St. Lucia. He worked a respectable job and was an active member of his church. Yet on September 6th 2018 Bothams family experienced this….

The phone call
Brandt Jean was at home in St. Lucia when his mother called and asked to speak to his father alone.
Brandt, 17, gave his father the phone and left the room. He said he waited outside and heard his mother’s cries through the closed door. “I never heard my mother cry like that,” he said.

She called to say his older brother, Botham, had been fatally shot in his Dallas apartment by a police officer who mistakenly thought it was her own.

Instead of the police or the media investigating the shooter, they set out to validate the shooting. He was an upstanding guy, living his life, making his momma proud, loved by many, life lost and the media and police tried to use MARIJUANA as a means to tarnish his legacy.

They couldn’t find ANYTHING!! …however

Because the stigma of marijuana exists. It was used as a tool to help make Botham seem “just another hood black”

Yes, I know that’s what people think about Blacks that medicate. I know because I used to think that way as well. I was the person that would have bought into that narrative the media tried to spin against Botham. I would have been one of the ones that would have said, “he had marijuana?” “Oh, he had to have been doing something illegal. ”

Today I know that ignorance is exactly what America is using to demonize my people to shame. I owe Botham my sincerest apologies for not knowing how to advocate for his reputation. When the story released I was angry but when they said you had marijuana I was furious! What does your medication have to do with you being shot in your own home!

I’m sorry Botham Jean Sham that America can STILL use marijuana to paint a derogatory storyline but I promise your death will not be in vain.

The Generation of The War on Drugs

It’s becoming easier to forget the victims of inequality and unjust caused by The War on Drugs. Those Brown and Black brothers, fathers, uncles and cousins that were targeted for incarceration. The people whos faces and names are easily ignored as important as Cannabis is legalized across the land. As if there wasn’t a real war that involved people’s lives being changed and men and women being separated from thier homes.

I can’t help but wonder will my sons, sons be the generation to say, “I’m 1 generation from The War on Drugs” the same way I declare I’m 3 generations from slavery? Will those lives, whom are now illegally incarcerated in some states, be forgotten the same way Texas forgot the Sugar Land’s slavery and convict-leasing graves? Will all of America finally “do the right thing” and follow California’s lead by releasing ALL convicted Cannabis offenders?

I’m sorry I’m full of questions and not many answers today. But that’s exactly it, I’m full of questions because there are no answers. I appreciate and participate in the politics of Legalization, never forgetting who I am and what I represent. However I can’t always see the end result clearly and I’m not always sure I’m fighting the RIGHT fight. I have to be honest with myself and my readers and say, “SOMETIMES even I just see the money”

As a consultant there are times when my personal ethics are challenged. I call it my “Minority Over Money” challenge. I have to remind myself that assisting a Minority Cannabis business owner has more value than just money. Although often they are unable to pay as much as thier counterparts the reward isn’t in the dollars but also in serving my community…. AND the struggle is REAL! What if I don’t make the right choice? Am I am adding to the offense America is making against my people? Its important to get paid but equally important that I don’t forget that we are STILL at war.

Canada’s country wide Legalization resulted in America denying Canadians that are in the Cannabis industry pass thier borders. Also, those Americans that celebrated Legalization in thier own state are still criminals in another. It’s true some states have revised thier Cannabis laws attempting to prevent over policing Cannabis users. There are those other states, like Oklahoma, where they encourage Hemp farms but police Cannabis consumption and possession. Those states are furthering the efforts of the war.

The War on Drugs wasn’t to fight Marijuana exclusively and “maybe” wasnt to target Black and Brown men. But (hate to start my sentence with a but) I do wanna point out that according to the DEA in 2014 over 74,000 people were arrested for marijuana and only 33,000 for Cocaine and 44,000 for Hallucinogens. To add salt to the wound, The ACLU reports that Black men are 3 times more likely to be arrested for drugs. Although Blacks, Hispanics and white Americans reportedly use drugs EQUALLY. Black and Hispanics make up 29% of the over all nations population yet 75% of the prisons population. Meanwhile we are crying real tears for the separation of families at the borders. (Shade)

I’d like to believe there is some justice served by the War on Drugs. I’m not all the way jaded against the American Legal system. I STILL believe there could be “Liberty and Justice for All!” I want to believe that somehow targeting Black and Brown men for drugs was the cure to illegality. I’d even like to go as far as to say, I believe; all of God’s children, Black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!” (DOCTOR King “I have a Dream) but this is 2018 and it’s more probable to believe that Cannabis will not be rescheduled until 2020. 47 states will legalize marijuana in some form by 2019 and there will be no laws passed to ensure reasonable standards of release for those effected by the War on drugs.

A’Esha “The GREAT ” Goins

Greatest Love Story EVER Told

I’ve been trying to write the greatest love story ever told since I was divorced. I am sure I’ve written this story at least 20 times. Each time showing the heroine saving the damsel and loving her for the rest of their lives. The problem with that story is, it’s too unrealistic for me to imagine, let alone write. It wasn’t until this month that I realized the Greatest love story ever told shouldn’t be about romantic love but just Love in general.

 

Let me tell you a story about a young foster child that had to learn what love is. I was taken out of the home a few times through out my adolescence for Child abuse. My father had been raised in a corporal punishment household and mimicked what he had been taught. The punishment for indiscretions in our household was a whipping. The unfortunate part is, my daddy wasn’t aware of his strength and many times, went too far. At 43 I still have battle scars from those whippings on my body and in my mind. That abuse made me Leary of fatherly love. I didn’t trust that men could love me unless I was being obedient and submissive.

I didn’t have an engaged grandfather, just a Godfather, Uncles and Cousins. These are the men that decided that who I was and who I was intended to be, was important enough to be available to “save me.”

My Godfather the Late Willie J. Wynn was the First man to be my Hero. We were in Reno, NV and it was the first time I was taken out of the home for an excessive whipping. I was already in the Washoe County Department of Family Services system. My Godfather was a Reverend and sat on the Governors cabinet. He was what the kids would now call “The Real Deal!”  The story goes, my mom called my Godfather and told him I was in the system and would he PLEASE go get me.

I was 6 at the time but I remember my God daddy showing up and telling me, “get your stuff!” “You’re coming home with me!” The ride to his house was quiet. I was worried because I knew he had 9 children and I would make 10. How on EARTH was he going to be able to care for ONE MORE CHILD? I was concerned I wouldn’t be a good girl enough and they would have to send me back to the group home. On that ride to his house, I remember making a pact with myself. I would be a SUPER GOOD GIRL and they would let me stay.

I wasn’t a super good girl. I wasn’t disobedient just a little more “rambunctious” than my God mother was used to from a girl. I stayed with them for over 18 months. During that time, I managed to put a hole in the wall by running in the house and skinned my knee open bad enough that I needed 13 stitches.  Nevertheless, my God daddy NEVER yelled at me. When it came time to go back home my Godfather prayed over me and told me, “you will be greater because of your resilience” I did not know what that meant but I held on to that. He showed me a different type of love from a father to a child.

My Uncle Hodge (His last Name) was more my Grandfather than My Uncle. As a child I spent most of my Summers with him, his wife Aunt Lois and my cousin. He was Militant but a loving man. Like My God daddy, Uncle Hodge was also a Pastor and highly regarded in his Community. Uncle Hodge passed away when I was 27 but he will always be one of the wisest men I EVER KNEW.

When I think about the time I had with my Uncle I always smile. He supported EVERY idea my cousin and I would come up with. I honestly don’t remember a time when he told us no. One summer we decided we wanted to sell rocks (from the ground). My supportive Uncle went out and purchased “special rock wash” to ensure we had the “cleanest stones” to sale.

Uncle Hodge was supportive and aware of what I was going through. One time, he took me for a ride in his BIG Lincoln. Just Him and I. On this ride we stopped and picked oranges from a local Orchid. As we picked oranges he whistled and directed me how to pull the oranges from the tree. He finally broke the silence by saying, “you know your daddy is ill.” He continued, “He loves you and your mom.” “he will be better one day.” He explained something to me that changed the way I dealt with my daddy. He said, “Your daddy did a lot of drugs when he was young and because of them, he has residual behavior.” He said, “One day, he will be ok.” “I promise”

Then there was My Uncle Frank. I was 9 years old when I met Uncle Frank and Aunt Mae. He was a peculiar and loving man. He was funny and wise all at once. I can’t remember a time when mu Uncle didn’t make me smile.

MY Uncle and Aunt were the First entrepreneurs I had ever met. They had a Wedding/portrait studio on the African-American side of Las Vegas Nevada called New Dawn. I remember the first time my daddy took me to that studio. It was weird seeing all my family in different poses on the walls. Looking through my Aunt Mae wedding album, EVERY married person I knew was in that book. I remember thinking, “ They know EVERYBODY!”

At 13 I was taken out of the home again for Child abuse. My foster parents house was on my Uncles route. Monday through Saturday, My Uncle Frank would stop and see me on his route. Everyday for a year, he would take a few minutes to check on me. Make me laugh, encourage me, and just genuinely love me. I needed him during that time. I was lonely, lost, and afraid EVERYDAY up until I saw him. Every day mu Uncle would remind me that I was “K-Mart Special” and loved. He would remind me who and WHOM I was.

A couple of years ago I was struggling with coming out as a Cannabis patient and advocate. It truly was a tormenting scenario for me. I couldn’t sleep or think of anything else. HOW could I do this? What would my family think of me? Who would I be to my community? How could I come out as a patient? But I knew I needed to.

One day I went to visit my Aunt. She wasn’t home, so I sat outside and waited with my uncle. As we enjoyed the Vegas weather he asked me the same questions he always does; How’s my son, how’s church, how’s work?

When I answered the, “How’s work” question, I began to cry. He listened and just let me cry. I explained all that I was feeling and thinking. I probably cried for about 20 min before he said anything. What he said, changed my life. He said, “ Scoody Doo, you spend too much time worrying about making other people happy.” “You are not in Foster care anymore.” He continued, “be happy and stop waiting for other people’s approval to be great.”

His words woke me up and gave me permission to be great.

I lost my Uncle Frank this month.

As I sit here writing, smoking, and crying. I realize I am at peace.

I am honored and blessed to have been loved by the greatest black men in the world!

This is my tribute to the Patriarchs in my life. Their strength love and wisdom will ALWAYS be a part of me and I will change the world in honor of them!

Finding Your Way to The Other Side of Trauma With Cannabis

As posted in Elevate

I wasn’t sure how to start this piece. How do I have a conversation about what happened on October 1? Should I say where I was? Seems insignificant in comparison to where the victims were. Do I say how I felt? How I feel isn’t as important as how the victims and their families feel.

Honestly, I am unsure if anything I write matters in comparison.

Almost a month ago, Las Vegas was involved in a mass shooting. This city and I will never be the same.

Two days after the shooting I boarded a plane to California to see my son. The timing couldn’t have been any better. I was overwhelmed with emotions and I needed to hug my son. As I sat on the plane I began to write my son a letter. It’s a habit I began the first time I flew away after he was born. It helps relieve my anxiety.

You see, I am Bipolar type 2. As a result of my mental illness, I suffer from mania from time to time. As I get older it gets worst. I am not sure when or why I get anxiety and or panic attacks, they just happen. Here I was on a plane to California two days after the nation’s deadliest mass shooting and the pilot had just announced we were going to be delayed due to Air Force One landing.

I felt myself panicking.

I took deep breaths and started talking myself down. Reminding myself that my anxiety was all in my mind. I was okay. Everything would be okay. My panic was increasing and I knew I had just a very few minutes left before I would be irrational. I jumped up and asked to use the restroom. The flight attended told me I had to be quick because they were sure we were going to be given the okay to take off soon.

I went into the restroom and looked at myself in the mirror. I told myself to calm down. Nothing was helping. Thankfully I carry my RELAX CBD vape pen around my neck at all times. I knew I was risking being thrown off the plane but I had to take the chance. I was overwhelmed and seconds away from a full-fledged panic attack. If you’ve never had a panic attack, for some, the symptoms mimic a heart attack.

I inhaled the vape three times and allowed myself to relax.

The flight attendant knocked on the door and said they had been given the okay to take off and I would need to take my seat. I sprayed my body spray before exiting and went to my seat. My anxiety had subsided before we had taken off. I relaxed and enjoyed my flight.

Many people are suffering from 1 October in a variety of ways. I have received an influx of questions regarding cannabis and its effects on PTSD, anxiety, and stress. Every time someone asks me about treating their ailments I ALWAYS recommend a CBD (cannabidiol) treatment. CBD is cannabis’ secret weapon and has significant medical benefits, but does not make people feel “stoned” and can actually counteract the psycho-activity of THC. The serum comes in many different forms — one less intrusive than the other. CBD has been known to send lifetime illnesses in remission and submission. The cannabinoid has been effective in dissolving blood clots, acts as a healing aid for skin issues and has anti-inflammatory properties.

For me, it takes the place of my anti-depressants and anxiety pills.

I am proud of how the Las Vegas community has come together and loved on each other. If I were able to, I would have offered EVERY SINGLE one of the victims and their families a week’s supply of CBD elixir. I know it would have aided in some relief as they dealt with what they had witnessed. We are #VegasStrong.

When Being the “ONLY” Isn’t a Win

As posted in elevatenv.com/blackabis

The weight of being THE ONLY is something I wake up to every day. The weight holds me accountable to being focused and intentional. It silently puts a responsibility on me to overachieve and to understand legislative issues and policy. To be the eyes and ears of my Blackness being included. To seek out opportunities for others in the future. To create conversation when necessary and write blogs that make people uncomfortable and think. This is the single most important time of my life and I know it.

It’s easy to dismiss someone who is writing about what they think is going on. It’s harder to dismiss someone who knows. I love what I do. I absolutely love taking care of patients and mentoring my staff. Even with all that gratification, I get my feelings hurt every day because of the color of my skin. My team has learned to brush it off but for me whenever it happens, it still stings.

In 2013 my mentor introduced me to the cannabis industry. It wasn’t long after that I became a cannabis patient. As a minister in an African American Holiness Church I struggled with coming out as a patient and industry leader. How could I tell my community that I was going to “sell drugs legally?” I was afraid I would let my pastor, peers and church down. I didn’t want to be labeled as a “ghetto hood rat” because I choose to use cannabis as treatment for my mental health issues. I didn’t want to let my community down by entering an industry known for incarcerating my people.

Every time I would show up to a City Council, County Commissioner or state meeting I would desperately scan the room hoping to catch a glimpse of others like me. Desiring to connect with someone who could empathize with what I was experiencing. While I haven’t found that community I am looking for, I am grateful to the women in my life who have supported and loved me while I cocooned.

I KNOW I am fortunate that I work in a black-owned establishment. It allows me the opportunity to be who I am freely. To practice and develop my #BLACKGIRLMAGIC openly. To challenge the system AND give voice when the platforms are made available. However, I am very much aware that I work in an industry where my African American owners are the ONLY African American-owned and funded dispensary in Nevada. This makes them part of the one percent of the industry’s African American ownership invested in the cannabis space – a space that is forecasted to have revenues in the $20-billion-dollar range by 2020.

I don’t want to work for THE ONLY African American dispensary in Nevada. I want to be part of a network of African American dispensary owners in Nevada. I don’t feel like I am winning as the “only.” I feel like an evangelist constantly looking for tent service where others like me are gathered on one accord. I started Blackabis because I hoped it would attract other African American men and women in the cannabis Industry. It is my beacon of light in a dark sea. Today we are few but I believe sooner than later we will be plenty.

The Dawn of Legalization in Nevada

In less than 24 hours Nevada will sell marijuana to adults over 21. In a business full of people of means there is an anxiousness to stop the bleeding of cash. An estimated 46 Dispensaries in Nevada, all medical facilities have been operating in hope for this day.

Many of the Industry leaders in Nevada have spent most of their lives believing marijuana was a gateway drug and everyone that smokes it was a thug. Some of them still do. However, on tomorrow night, they will ALL make their mark as the FIRST to sell marijuana legally in Nevada.

Las Vegas is estimated to have over 40 million visitors this 4th of July. Many of them will absolutely try pot for the first time while they are here. I wonder how many of those people will walk into a minority owned establishment and purchase minority products?

While I will admit this is a time to celebrate I also can not help but mourn a little. I know that someone in my community is STILL incarcerated for the same amount of marijuana someone else this weekend is going to be able to purchase “legally.”

In 2016 I advocated for Question #2 because I knew legalization was what was best for my community. Not because of the dollar but because if there is a possibility ONE of my brothers didn’t go to jail for pot, my community wins. Also because I have a minority son and it is my responsibility to make a better future for him.

So although legalization is a victory for those who will profit, I am very much aware of the places where my community is losing. There is 1 Black owned Dispensary, 3 Black owned cultivation and not one black owned lab. That means the odds of someone walking into a minority by ethnicity owned dispensary is 45 to 1 and the odds of someone buying a minority by ethntecity product is 75 to 3. I know these numbers sound unreal but I can only write what I know. This is the place where I mourn our loss.

My mentor once told me, “everyone is ok with Minorities being employees, NO ONE wants us to own.”

I have seen the future of this industry and I am few and far between. The future is White male doctors, scientist, lawyers and politicians. They ALL believe this plant can help treat many ailments but their true consumers are minorities. Marijuana is legal, they are getting paid and they STILL just see us as thugs.

 

 

Ministry & Marijuana “Part 1”

September 2013 I was introduced to the business of marijuana by my mentor. He just walked in one day and said, “we are going to go into the marijuana business and you need to study everything there is to know about marijuana.”
I’ve already told the story on how I thought that was crazy. The story I haven’t told is the story that includes me as a Minister of the Gospel.

 

In 2002 I rededicated my life to God. I instantly fell in love with My God. I mean head over heels. I was a wife and a mother at the time and the ONLY thing I wanted and desired was to be a Godly mother and Wife. Falling in love with God is an overwhelming feeling. I felt I had to tell everyone all about His love. I would stop people in the store hug them and tell them, “My God loves you and so do I!” I was what they would call a Radical Christian. Praying as a habit, study to show myself approved. At church whenever the doors were opened, followed my Pastor wherever he went and beat my Pastor giving. I associated Christ like behavior with being a faithful member. The Church was my responsibility as were their souls.

 
I was proud of all the titles I held in church; Youth pastor, Deaconess, Missionary, Chief Armor Bearer and Minister. I had earned each title with sacrifice, commitment and studying. See, when I fell in love with My God I was already a student of His word. I had been raised 4th generation COGIC (Church of God In Christ) and Mommy and Daddy didn’t play when it came to ensuring we were raised with the Wisdom of God. I quote scriptures by the Chapters not the verse. I was raised to “know His Word for Myself” and to not be dependent on others to interpret His word. When I committed to My God I came with a knowledge of what was Bible and what was Religion, but at the time of my life I needed the religion because I needed the discipline. I allowed myself to submit and to learn humility because I wanted to be loved by My God.

 
Yes, you read that right. I thought I had to earn His love. I hadn’t matured and or evolved to understand that My God loved me just the way I was. I hadn’t embraced His love, I was “found” yet I was still lost. I was preaching His word in Hopelessness. Losing my marriage which was my dream and remaining diligent in church. Struggling in my spirit. I was losing my dream and I was seeking after God’s love. I didn’t realize I already had it.
I was a foolish grown up child with gifts I hadn’t yet embraced. Full of information and no real wisdom. During all this I found out I was Bipolar Type 2 and as result of that I was suffering from depression and increasing Social Anxieties. By 2010 I was divorced and fully engaged In Ministry. Self-employed medicated and in Therapy. My medication was making me numb and my therapy was helping me heal my hurts but I would forever be ill, and medicated. I hated it!

 
It was in 2011 I fell in love with Ministry. I was worshipping under my God Brother and he is a BEAST when it comes to Ministry. He believes in being fully engaged in the people. If we had service 3 days a week, 2 of those services was prayer and outreach. Sunday was the staffs work day. We were there to serve the people. If we weren’t equipped that was too bad, you had all week to get it together. Serving under him made me develop a heart for service. I learned that Ministry was really about the people and my “issues” weren’t a hindrance to my service they were a value. I served “through” my issues. I was in love with Ministry and the gym, I didn’t need medication anymore… I was feeling powerful and in control. I was cured I thought.

 
In 2013, I joined a new church with a new Pastor. This Pastor wasn’t like any other Pastor I had ever met. He expounded on the Bible in a way I had never heard. It was like hearing the word of God for the first time. February 2013 I wasn’t lost anymore. That doesn’t mean I was sound, just means I was found.

 
I hadn’t taken my medication in 2 years and I was managing my issues with prayer, fasting and worship until I heard Pastor Ron Thomas preach. He reminded me that God isn’t a Genie and he doesn’t work in magic and IF I had an issue, I should seek help. I should take care of my mind and my health. He teaches that “YES” God can heal but what does that have to do with taking care of us. We should be good stewards of our temples and THEN God would honor his word. Message after message, service after service, I sat in the front seat of Pastor Thomas church and cried. He wasn’t just teaching God’s word, he was teaching LIFE. I had been lead to believe I couldn’t achieve fullness in Christ unless I submitted to the church. Pastor Thomas was teaching, “Am I the reason you’re coming to church?” “Who am I?” “I am NOT your God!?” “Serve your God the way HE has called you to serve” “Be free in Ministry” “He called me the same way he called you!” I was no longer being held a accountable to Religion but Ministry.

 
In 2014 I woke up!

 
I had been working on Marijuana as a project. Studying and developing plans but not fully engaged. I thought I had to choose between Ministry and my new project. How could I work in Ministry and believe in Marijuana? Religion had taught me that Marijuana is a sin but my research was proving that Marijuana was medicine.
I was intrigued and decided to become fully engaged. In 2014 I became a Medical Marijuana patient. I hadn’t taken western medicine in 3 years and no one knew it. I was silently battling depression and I was ready for relief. I stepped down from the Minister’s staff. I wasn’t sure how to explain to my open-minded, people loving Pastor that I was self-medicating. Not because he wouldn’t be caring but because I didn’t really know what to tell him. Was I self-medicating or just “getting high.”

 

 

One thing I knew for sure is I was hiding and ashamed. My history with religion was hurting me. I thought Religion was behind me and I had embraced “service”. How can I serve God’s people “high?” How could I medicate AND Minister? I was finding out that it wasn’t just Religion for me, it was a culture and medicating had its own culture. Which would I choose?

 

 

In 2015 we opened the Dispensary. October 10th 2015 I waited on my first patient. She had been suffering from Cancer and had been purchasing her marijuana on the streets. As I discussed the attributes of the 5 strains we had, I realized I wasn’t a pusher. She was ill and I was helping her choose her treatment. I listened to her story and met her need. I prayed with her, hugged her and she left. I could relate to her because I too was a patient and had been experiencing relief. Like her, I was no longer depressed and or felt hopeless. I had found a medication that I could choose AND didn’t have to take every day. I had chosen. I wanted BOTH! Ministry AND Marijuanabible-marijuana

PART 2…. Next Week. How I transitioned from Hiding to becoming an advocate of Marijuana