Lady Business: Maggie Kinsella of Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition and NORML

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Maggie Kinsella is a member of the Board of Directors at the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition (MassCann) and the state affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of the Marijuana Laws (MassCann/NORML) and also serves as the Press Secretary, Spokesperson, Organizer, and a prolifically productive volunteer. She’s a “Jacqueline” of all trades, so-to-speak and most recently was working her ass off at Boston Freedom Rally, which just saw its 29th year on the historic Boston Common. We are honored to have a few moments with her to talk about the legalization process in Massachusetts and groups with which involves herself to further develop freer and more inclusive policies. –Diane Fornbacher, Ladybud.com Publisher

LADYBUD: With what civic-minded and women-led groups are you associated and what are a few upcoming events that happen on a regular to semi-regular basis?

Maggie Kinsella: I’m currently focused on Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition (MassCann) and the state affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of the Marijuana Laws (MassCann/NORML) but one of the women-lead groups we support is Elevate Northeast. They have events every month and a five week educational program for entrepreneurs. They work to empower underrepresented populations, empower communities and all consumers.

Maggie Kinsella with United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)
Photo Credit: Maggie Kinsella

I have to thank Massachusetts Patients Advocacy Alliance (MPAA) and Massachusetts Recreational Consumer Council (MRCC) for the work they continually do for patients and consumers making sure that marginalized areas are not only included in the industry but also benefit from the plant in life and business. They make education and empowerment look easy and anyone who is involved knows it is not. The Joint Efforts page at Masscann.org has links to different organizations as well.

LADYBUD: As legalization develops in Massachusetts, we have seen many towns and counties reject the notion that citizens ought to be able to choose cannabis. At many town halls and hearings, there has been vociferous opposition replete with prohibition era/doomsday scenario jargon. What are a few of the most absurd yet easily countered falsehoods that you’ve heard at some of these public events?

Maggie Kinsella: Addiction and children’s’ brain development are the biggest bunk statements people use against cannabis. The concerns are valid but I am curious if they care about the current medical application of drugs prescribed to children and how those affect their brains. Cannabis is a neuroprotectant (Patent #6630507), so I am dumbfounded how marijuana gets pointed at when (pharmaceutical) drugs that millions of children are taking have known side effects such as neurotoxicity and death. Also, anyone who eats sugar cannot say cannabis is addictive as an argument, and we are still discovering the endocannabinoid system, so we do not fully understand body and brain functions. This system is barely touched upon in western medicine.  

LADYBUD: As a leader who has volunteered with non-profit organizations, cannabis industry education (like Northeastern Institute of Cannabis) as well as the industry itself, what developments have you seen take place with which you are satisfied and where are areas in dire need of development?

Maggie Kinsella: I love that co-ops and small businesses were included in the regulatory framework. Seeing the number of people who have some sort of craft or innovation to have a business operation shows how many different flavors are in the pie.  

With regard to testing, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) has done a “great” job undermining the quality of testing. The loopholes of passing test results to the recent crackdown of pesticides previously allowed are broad. I am looking forward to what the Cannabis Control Commission of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (CCC) does with the transition and assuming responsibility. They are taking public comment on the medical regulations until the end of October.

One major setback was the purpose of the Economic Empowerment process written in by the legislature. The CCC decided to postpone regulations on delivery only, mixed use, and event licenses that are low barriers of entry. They decided to disregard the law the legislature wrote in clarifying experienced operators who qualified for priority review from Question 4 were to be “operational and dispensing to qualified patients”. By allowing everyone to get priority review as it was previously written in Question 4, it diluted priority review for Economic Empowerment Applicants. They have also been giving priority review instead of expedited review to those Registered Marijuana Dispensaries (RMD) in locations not currently registered with the DPH. The final decision was the CCC voted not to review the Community Host Agreements (CHAs) included in the law for them to do so. These decisions effectively placed Economic Empowerment Applicants at the back of the line. They cannot compete with big money who can put 3% and then some in CHAs (anything over 3% is illegal) and now not being reviewed in the final stop to big marijuana taking over Massachusetts. This is not equity.

LADYBUD: In an ideal world, what would be your top requirements for any cannabis business with regard to inclusion, philanthropy and fairness?

Maggie Kinsella: Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA), EPA and Unions. These organizations are under federal oversight and claim they cannot enforce, only recommend. Health and safety violations, workplace injuries, sexual harassment, discrimination, hostile work environment, etc are reported with minimal consequence. Rehabilitation programs for those convicted of cannabis-related offenses through providing jobs and help with expungement before and during employment. Incubator programs for smaller businesses that become their own companies without the “incubator company” needing to make money off of the small business forever.

LADYBUD: What do you do on the rare occasion that you allow yourself to relax and reflect? What are some quotes, artists, activists and music that inspires you to endure at this chaotic time in legalization history?

Sunset Sherbert grown by Maggie Kinsella
Photo credit: Maggie Kinsella

Maggie Kinsella: “Rare” is the keyword. Cannabis all day, every day keeps me sane. I try to take time each day to reflect on my experiences. As I do this longer, I realize I don’t want to be the loudest voice, I want to be the most effective voice. I am usually loud so this is quite difficult and a daily practice. Binaural beats are great for winding down but I love most music genres. I am inspired by so many different people I have met along my cannabis journey.

If I had to pick one quote to say is my favorite, it would have to be: “Do no harm, take no shit.”

LADYBUD: What are your favorite ways to consume cannabis?

Maggie Kinsella: Tiny dabs, otherwise I smoke joints all day. Edibles are a lifesaver for the heavy times, though. I make peanut butter balls no more than 20 mg so I can eat them throughout the day. They go pretty great with chocolate plus they are all organic and have healthier ingredients.

Check out:

Social Equity Programs (at Cannabis Control Commission site)

Cannabis Control Commission Commissioner Shaleen Title

Massachusetts Recreational Consumer Council (MRCC) Top 5 Cannabis Events: October 2018