An Open Letter to Those Who Oppose Cannabis Clothes

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Cannabis activists Lindsay Rinehart and Brandon Krenzler
Photo credit: B. Krenzler/Parents4Pot

When a friend posted this piece about cannabis clothes on Facebook that originally appeared at the blog for Pick & Mix Seeds, I began formulating a response by the time I reached the end of the first paragraph. The story in question is actually an open letter “to those who wear cannabis clothes” and it really hit home with me, since as well as being a cannabis activist and journalist, I’m an artist with a cannabis jewelry line who’s about to launch a cannabis clothing line as well.

To paraphrase the letter in a nutshell, the writer’s view is that shirts featuring pot leaves are harmful to the medical cannabis movement. It’s actually not signed by the writer at the bottom; rather, he has taken the liberty of signing it on behalf of “Everyone else fighting for legalization.” My initial response was “WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK????”

I’ll admit, while the photo at the top of the piece gave me a good chuckle, it’s certainly not something I’d wear to, say, a congressional hearing or a medical marijuana debate. I agree with the author on certain points: yes, if we want to be taken seriously as a movement by the folks who make the laws, we should wear suit-and-tie attire when we come to play in their roundhouses. We should appear in televised interviews as people that viewers can relate to, because viewers are voters.

However – and this is a big however – I take great offense at the author’s contention that we should leave the pot shirts and even the admission of smoking weed to people like Snoop Dog. I love me some Snoop, but holy perpetuating the stoner stereotype, batman. A successful rapper from California smokes weed – now there’s a shocker for you. So all of us professionals, parents, and patients who are friends of Mary Jane should just leave it to Snoop and Cheech and Chong and Eric Foreman – all men, mind you – to bring weed into the spotlight because we’re not “successful” in Hollywood? Bitch, please.

Honey Oil Earrings - 10% donation to Medical Cannabis Patient Jaqie Angel - Cannabis Amber Pot Leaf Earrings

Honey Oil Earrings made of amber and fine silver – 10% donation to Medical Cannabis Patient Jaqie Angel
Photo: Silverkind Fine Jewelry for Freedom

When I started Silverkind Fine Jewelry for Freedom, it was exactly because of this kind of thinking. When I first became an activist and started testifying before legislators and made some news appearances, I wore a conservative business suit because I wanted to be taken seriously. However, I also wanted to show that I – as a professional woman who could be anyone’s neighbor, sister, mother, teacher, whatever – also believed in the legalization of marijuana. And not just with my words, with my appearance. When I saw that there was a shortage of tasteful, professional looking cannabis jewelry available on the market, I decided to make my own. I wore some of my early pieces to all the hearings and the press conferences I attended as a patient, usually a petite marijuana leaf on a gold or silver chain.

Let me tell you, pot jewelry is a great conversation starter. I’ve met a number of people – as well as initiated discussions with people I already know – because they notice I’m wearing a little pot leaf around my neck (or sometimes, a big pot leaf). When they comment on it, or simply when I notice them staring at it, I generally mention that I couldn’t have survived chemotherapy without cannabis, and I tell them that my experiences inspired me to become an activist, and to fully step out of the cannabis closet. What a great ice breaker!

Frankly, I’m excited about launching my new clothing line, because sometimes people don’t notice the little pot leaf around my neck. I am looking forward to wearing clothes that are high quality, feminine, stylish, and include depictions of my favorite plant.

I can’t wait to experience the conversations my clothing is going to start. Yes, it’s just clothing, but it’s also something visual that’s going to make people think. And no, they’re not going to be thinking I’m living in my parents’ basement – they’re going to be thinking about legalization and progress and culture and how people like me are unafraid to show what we believe in.

Yes, we can show what we believe in with our testimony or our writing. But as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so when I appear in a press photo or in an interview, I will always make sure to wear something that reflects my belief in reform.

Vanessa Waltz at a medical marijuana protest & press conference with Coalition for Medical Marijuana NJ.
Photo: Diane Fornbacher/Ladybud Magazine

The point I am trying to make with my “tiny acts of anarchy” is this: I am a professional woman. I have a college degree, a good job, I shower daily, I speak eloquently, and I SMOKE MARIJUANA. We all know that the men mentioned in the article smoke weed. But what people also need to know is that *we* – the teachers, the doctors, the journalists, the mothers – sometimes smoke weed too. And that’s okay.