A Peek Inside the Inspirational Life of Marijuana Mommy and Cannabis Nurse Jessie Gill
If you were driving down the New Jersey Turnpike a few months ago, you may have seen Jessie Gill on a billboard supporting medical cannabis.
A nurse with a background in holistic health and hospice, Jessie reluctantly became a medical marijuana patient then quickly transitioned into an advocate after suffering a spinal injury.
These days, she spends her time educating the world about cannabis while challenging the stigma against marijuana use on her information rich site The Marijuana Mommy.
Whether she’s speaking to legislators at City Hall about how to make medicinal marijuana affordable for patients, participating on panels alongside other inspirational mothers in the cannabis industry at Women Grow, or cooking up a cannabis infused meal with the MagicalButter team at the Marijuana Business Conference in Vegas (on the menu: dijon pistachio crusted lamb, sautéed asparagus, gruyere and rosemary smashed potatoes, fresh herb salad with blistered tomatoes and cabernet balsamic cherry reduction), Gill’s always up to something powerful that helps paint the cannabis plant in a new light.
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Viride caught up with Nurse Gill one of our favorite East Coast cannabis industry advocates, to learn more about her journey.
VIRIDE: A spinal injury spurred you to try cannabis to mitigate pain. Were you reluctant at first? What was it that finally convinced you to try cannabis?
Jessie Gill: Initially, I wanted nothing to do with cannabis. I had used marijuana earlier in life and associated very negative experiences to it. So when medical marijuana was first presented to me, I was completely resistant and a nonbeliever. I was taking so many opiates and other pharmaceuticals without full relief and the idea that a plant could work better than morphine seemed ridiculous. My mom finally convinced me to try it, pointing out that I had already desperately tried everything else.
V: How does cannabis help you?
JG: One of the most important ways cannabis helps me is by relieving skeletal muscle spasms. Because of my injury, I get extreme muscle spasms radiating from my neck. They cause severe pain and dysfunction. Cannabis works better than Valium or any other muscle relaxer I’ve tried—and I’ve had prescriptions for them all.
Medical marijuana is also incredible for nerve pain. I have a lot of nerve damage—some from the accident and some from the surgery. Not only is neuropathic pain life-limiting, but the nerve damage in my throat makes eating difficult and sometimes excruciating. Cannabis lets me eat without suffering.
V: What’s your favorite way to consume cannabis?
JG: I microdose by vaping or eating small amounts of cannabis regularly throughout the day. I love starting my day with edibles. Sometimes I’ll dribble a little canna-oil into my oatmeal or top my toast with a pad of canna-butter. They don’t sell edibles in NJ yet, so thank goodness for my Magical Butter Machine. This thing makes my life soooo much easier and is the reason I always have magical ingredients on hand.
V: Your advocacy work is admirable! Do you receive much pushback from your community for standing up for the medicinal benefits of cannabis? If so, what do you tell the naysayers?
JG: I’m blessed with a ton of support, but of course I still encounter opposition. I tell the naysayers that I understand their reticence, because I was a nonbeliever once too. And I ask them to come back when they need me, because statistics say, there’s a good chance they or their loved ones might need medical marijuana one day. I expect some resistance. For 80 plus years people have been brainwashed with propaganda at home, school, and in society. Of course people are going to be resistant, but slowly as more people start seeing the benefits first-hand, naysayers are falling away.
V: Are you currently practicing nursing? If so, describe the challenge of working in a clinical environment that doesn’t support medical cannabis.
JG: Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to work in a clinical setting since my accident four years ago, but through my advocacy I still interact with patients regularly. One of the biggest challenges for health professionals right now is the obligation to “do no harm.” Doctors and nurses take an oath to look out for the best interest of patients, yet current laws force providers to recommend and provide deadly addictive pharmaceuticals over natural safer alternatives. It’s extremely challenging and heart-wrenching to be approached by patients and families who would absolutely benefit from medical cannabis, but are not legally able to access it because of unjust restrictions.
V: What advice can you share with other moms who want to discuss their medical cannabis use with their families?
JG: Be honest. Be upfront. Find camaraderie. Parents need to discuss cannabis with their kids—even parents who don’t use cannabis need to have this discussion. What schools are teaching about cannabis is poppycock and nonsense. Not only do these lessons perpetuate the stigma, but they also have dangerous implications. At least once a year my son comes home from school after being told that cannabis is the equivalent of heroin. Not only is this unfair to patients, but it’s also dangerous to children. Heroin is waaaaaay more dangerous than most other illicit drugs. Kids need to know that. I don’t want my child seeing people using cannabis and thinking that maybe heroin is no big deal either. What we teach our kids is the future of cannabis—teach them about the real risks and the real benefits. Fight propaganda with facts.
V: In what ways can other advocates get involved in their communities to help legal cannabis? Are there orgs that you recommend, etc?
JG: NORML is an excellent place to start because they have a strong presence in every state. One of the best ways to create change is by getting involved in local government. Reach out to your legislatures, become a thorn in their side if you have to. Facebook groups are excellent resources. It’s quite likely your state already has several cannabis-friendly Facebook groups. If not, start one. Connect with other like-minded individuals, because our voices are more powerful together.
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