PTSD From The War on Drugs

According to Make the Connection website for veterans some of the signs of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) are;

Most of the Black and Brown men/women I know have displayed 3 or more of these signs when and or after an interaction with leadership and or law officials. I’m talking about law abiding men/women. Men/Women with families and respectable lifestyles. I’ve even watched Black and Brown men/Women with means and acces display 3 or more of these signs after being pulled over by police.

This information has value because THIS is why there aren’t more Black and Brown men and women in the industry. Its not JUST because of the finances or the lack of information, it is because WE ARE AFRAID OF THE SYSTEM!!

EVERYONE is dancing around the truth because no one wants to blame the USA. There’s enough going on and as a people we don’t like to ruffle feathers, which is another sign of PTSD, but I digress. The signs are real. The issue is real and the sooner we begin to have this discussion in our communities the more likely we are not to miss the green opportunity.

In June 1971, President Nixon declared a “war on drugs.” During the Regan era the number of people behind bars for nonviolent drug law offenses increased from 50,000 in 1980 to over 400,000 by 1997. Today the numbers are more like 700,000 people still arrested for marijuana offenses each year and almost 500,000 people still behind bars for nothing more than a drug law violation. (75% if these people are Black and Brown)

These numbers mean that many Black and Brown Americans probably know or is related to someone in jail for marijuana. Yep, it’s that real. Many of us are effected by the War on Drugs and we need to talk about it. We need to begin to gather to heal the deep rooted wounds caused by this war. This is what they mean when they use the big word “disenfranchised.” They are referring to our plight.

I’m so angry I really don’t have anything else to say.

Watch this video!

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

I’m Just Slanging Weed

In the industry I joke about the guy who is still slanging marijuana as a gig. How he must really have had to learn his profession to compete with big industry. How “slanging” trees probably has had to become a passion not just a hobby. How at this point, he should consider going legit or get a new gig!

Actually, that is “I joked” past tense. My awareness to my community struggling to understand the dynamics of an industry that capitalizes on them as consumers but doesn’t allow them entry as owners is diabolical. The truth of falsely criminalizing people of color to easily marginalize them later is criminal. It’s constant with the way America works but looked upon as a habit.

I remember shrugging off the idea that Big Business would take over the Cannabis industry. Why would Big Business want to take a risk like Cannabis. You can’t bank and you can’t duplicate the model. How would Big Business find this “risk” worth taking?

I was WRONG!! Big Business is here

Simply put, the money keeps flowing. I’m sure they believe, everything else will work itself out.

Meanwhile people of color are still in prison on crimes Big Business is making billions off of. Oh, and I haven’t forgotten the fucking war on drugs was really a war on people. War is Big Business! Of course! I’m shaking my damn head at that bullshit!

I digress.

As I, a woman of color, fight the war of marginalization in life, I mean business, my bad. I see far too clearly how difficult the road ahead is

1. I’m Black in an industry where I’m 6 times more likely to get arrested for possession over my white counterparts.

2. I’m a leading woman in an industry where I’m usually best served as the pretty glorified Cannabis waitress (budtender)

3. I’m a black woman that has been depicted in media as a haughty, aggressive, foul mouthed, emotionally ignorant person.

I may not be out here like the small Cannabis busines owner “slanging” my products. But I am out here! I’m fighting my own wars in this industry. Trying to manipulate the codes and maneuver through regulations to ensure justice for that small business owner that wants HIS chance at the free flowing money risk.

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.

 

 

Why Blacks in Cannabis Matter

Recently I had a discussion with an associate regarding Blackabis. He asked me why am I making being an African American in Cannabis a “thing?”

Let me start by saying, I am not the one that made being Black in Cannabis a “thing” our history did.

In 1971 President Richard Nixon proclaimed, “America’s public enemy number one in the United States is drug abuse. In order to fight and defeat this enemy, it is necessary to wage a new, all-out offensive.”

 It should be difficult to have a  conversation about legalizing marijuana without bringing up the War on Drugs. After Nixon declared the War on Drugs he also placed Marijuana on Schedule one. (Other drugs on Schedule one are Heroin, LSD, Ecstasy, and Meth.) John Ehrlichman, Nixon’s domestic-policy adviser is quoted in Dan Baum’s article Legalize It All saying, “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

Ronald Reagan took office in 1981 with his election the anti drug hysteria had reached an all time high. President Reagan and his wife’s “Just Say No to Drugs” campaign introduced a no tolerance anti-drug  environment. The incarceration rate of possession went from 50, 000 to over 400,000 by 1997. Many of the possession offenses were for an ounce or less of marijuana.  Showing a disparity of over 60% being African American and Latino.

Today we are watching history evolve into the decriminalization of marijuana, which I like to call the “Free the Weed” era. In the “Free the Weed” era selective states are voting for legalization of marijuana  and marijuana commerce. In 2014 Colorado reported to have created over 10,000 jobs and 3.5 million dollars in tax revenue.   However, to qualify for employment and/or  ownership you had to be drug felony free. Which is the requirement for every state that has legalized marijuana commerce. Every employee and owner in each state has to register with their respective states as a legal cannabis worker.

The background check is another weeding out process ( pun intended). The background check automatically deters the African American and or Latino candidate. It also disqualifies any candidate that has a drug related felony. Which seems ridiculous considering you could do time for possessing an amount that is as little as a joint. AND who is more qualified for a job in marijuana than someone that has experience with weed?

I didn’t make being black in cannabis an issue or a “thing.” but I am black and in the business of cannabis. I am one of the few African Americans and even fewer of the number of African American women in the business. My opportunity doesn’t make me privileged it makes me aware. In my awareness I recognize the responsibility to advocate the decriminalization of marijuana, educate on the legalization of cannabis and inform the patients of their options.

A’Esha Goins