Twelve High Chicks would like to thank our first guest contributor, Tracy Curley.
In my regular day I am just like you. I binge-watch Netflix. There is always something that needs to be cleaned, paid or taken care of in some way. I struggle with my self-image. I worry about the state of the world. I love my friends and family, and my little Chihuahua, Sadie. I’m also a medical marijuana patient: diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 6, I have been using cannabis medicinally for over a decade. With the use of cannabis I’ve been fortunate to be healthy enough to advocate for medical marijuana and legalization, to fight for those still caught in the struggle caused by prohibition. I was no super hero — until I was.
High, My name is Tracy Curley and I am Canada’s first Weed Woman.
There are so many women who have fought before me and beside me that I feel are more deserving of this honoured title than I am. I carry each and every one of them in my heart as I write this. Recently featured beside many in Skunk Magazine’s ‘Women of Weed’, I am grateful for all for the strength, grace and power they give this movement.
When Mae Moon, the creator of Weed Woman and cannabis entrepreneur, contacted me about being Weed Woman at Canada’s largest pot rally, Vancouver 420, I was a little confused about what she was asking. I didn’t realize that this was an honour specifically being bestowed upon me; I thought I would be part of a larger group of women, not its focus. Eventually there will be many women donning the Weed Woman colours around the world but to be the first has been an incredible experience and privilege.
I always love trips to Canada’s beautiful west coast but this trip to Vancouver was unlike any before. I took a few days to enjoy the majestic beauty of the mountains of British Columbia, attended the first Northern Concentrate Cup, and then it was time.
I awoke early on April 20th and met with happy cat CannaCure for coffee and breakfast. The ‘Happy Cathouse’ was a bustle of activity as phones rang, texts were sent, and I transformed myself into a super hero.
I’d been given my Weed Woman warm-up suit when I’d first arrived and was eager to begin my mission. I donned the mask, the cap, and the utility belt. The first Canadian Weed Woman was born.
I can’t even begin to do the day justice with just simple words — what I can tell you is that Vancouver 420 is unlike anything else you have seen or experienced. I don’t care if you’re old enough to remember ‘smoking it legal’, Vancouver 420 truly is a magical place.
We arrived and the Three Happy Cats set up their booth near the stage. I was amazed at just how far this event seemed to stretch: hundreds if not thousands of people were everywhere, wandering about or setting up shop for the day. Beautiful glass, art, and lots of vaporizers were for sale but what made this event like no other I have ever experienced was what I can only describe as a ganja-farmers’ market.
Joints, bud, shatter, and wax were on offer along with cookies, candies, and drinks — there were even beef patties and hot dogs available. And all of it contained cannabis. I wish I’d had time to stop at every booth and discuss recipes and strains but there was just too much to see and I was, of course, on a mission.
I found Neil Magnuson and he guided me to the second stage where Weed Woman would make her first appearance. When I arrived, as can sometimes happen, there were technical issues so I sat with Neil to wait. He offered me a sandwich from the cooler at his feet and I munched while I watched in amazement as even more people arrived. Soon, the stage was ready.
I posed for photos and saw so many friendly faces, those I already love and new friends that I hope will be part of my life far past prohibition. Being an activist is sometimes a hard road — which is why so many of us burn out along the way — and it is hard to feel like you’ve made a difference on a larger scale. I can’t tell you how blessed I feel to have been appreciated and treated so kindly. It renewed my vigour to keep fighting, to fight hard and with compassion. Thank you for helping me renew my faith in my mission and in my power. I am forever grateful.
I returned home to Toronto and hit the ground running as most activists must do after being away even if only for a few days. I managed to unpack and collect my tiny dog from my folks, and then I was back at the grind. I returned unanswered emails, called doctors’ offices and baked a lot of cookies for patients…a lot of cookies.
Before I knew it, the week was up and the Global Marijuana March, held on the first Saturday in May in over 200 cities around the world, was upon us. Toronto’s was once the world’s largest, with more than 40,000 marching down the world’s longest street, until a few years ago when city officials stopped issuing a permit for the festival. But people still show up and we march both in celebration of the plant that has helped so many of us heal and also in protest of those still going to jail because our laws have not caught up to new social norms. Very often the people paying for prohibition are patients and the poor, and they pay with their freedom.
I went to the park to meet my friends and fellow activists. Just before the march was about to begin I donned my mask and my cape and Weed Woman headed towards the front of the march.
As I approached I realized something was amiss: the event organizer’s float was on its way to the parade route, and marchers as well, but another sound truck was being diverted away from the march — the wrong way down a one way street — followed by its own group of marchers, many of them seasoned activists in the Toronto legalization movement.
When I got closer I heard an officer threaten to arrest Chris Goodwin, who was driving the sound truck. My later understanding is that after being refused entry into the Global Marijuana March and being diverted, protesters were heading in the opposite direction of the parade to continue towards police headquarters in protest of marijuana laws. It was at this point when police mentioned arrests.
I need to hand it to the HashMob, this local group of activists were ready to unhook the sound system and generator from the truck and carry it the whole way if they had to, just to ensure protesters could both be seen and heard. The police who knew Chris from Toronto’s 420 event allowed him to turn the truck back and continue along the route.
The GMM Protest followed slowly behind the GMM Parade. The parade was lead by a float covered in business sponsorships and was grand-marshalled by Canadian cannabis royalty Marc and Jodie Emery. The protest was lead by patients’ groups and patients. Even after the incident involving the sound truck and threats of arrest, we protesters were called divisive.
But what was there to celebrate? That the city no longer sanctions the event and therefore our attendance was the smallest it’s been in ten years? That corporate grows have taken precedence over patients’ rights? That Canada’s Health Minister is denying the scientifically-proven medicinal properties of cannabis and is therefore disrespecting patients?
The “Vote” signs given out were covered in logos but with no info about pro-legalization candidates or how to vote strategically. Maybe I was supposed to celebrate the fact that the Evil One, another PBP (Profits Before Patients), was enjoying the parade.
Please hear me loud and fucking clear, just because someone smokes weed it does not make them a kind and good person They are not always on your side. They are not always your friend.
If someone sells their patients private information for profit,
If someone takes advantage of their sick and ill patients,
If someone values commerce over compassion,
If someone threatens others with violence and arrest for a difference of opinion,
then they are PBPs and I will never walk beside them. I will fight them every step of the way.
Many may think my pride misguided in the face of that GMM divide, but what I witnessed that day was an incredible group of protesters holding a line with respect and determination for their beliefs. Many of them were patients who truly deserved to ride on the float but instead chose to sit down in the dirt to protest prohibition.
To every protester that marched with us that day, in whichever formation, I thank you for your service.
To the members of Toronto HashMob, to see you band together under adversity with humour, grace and love, it has been an honour and a privilege.
I’m eagerly awaiting the stories of the adventures of Mae Moon, Weed Woman Australia, and the upcoming adventures of Adela Faulk-Wisdom, the first Weed Woman USA at this year’s Seattle Hempfest. I hope they are as empowered by this experience as I have been.
Vancouver, thank you for treating me like a super hero. Toronto, thank you for allowing me to stand behind my convictions and act like a super hero. And Canada…free the flower, eh!
The 1st Canadian Weed Woman