In 6 months, Cheri Sicard went from closeted smoker to full-blown activist. Today, she is the author of Mary Jane: The Complete Marijuana Handbook for Women, editor of Senior Stoner and marijuana recipe columnist at Freedom Leaf Magazine. Cheri has dedicated her life’s work to cannabis. When she isn’t writing or whipping up delicious cannabis cuisines, she is fighting to end the drug war. In fact, Cheri’s grassroots activism evolved into what is known today as Marijuana Lifer Project – a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing financial and moral support to prisoners with life sentences for marijuana.
In the beginning, what inspired you to first get involved with cannabis?
I always say in about 6 months I went from the typical closeted smoker to an outspoken activist and haven’t looked back since. Along the way, I was learning so much and I just had sold a business. All of a sudden I had a ton of time so I immersed myself and learned as much as I could. Cannabis changed my life so much; I started working with it and writing about it. I did The Cannabis Gourmet Cookbook and started to become very outspoken about it. Later, Mary Jane: The Complete Marijuana Handbook for Women came along. (which the publisher came to me for, so that was kind of exciting!) Over time, I got more involved.
Now I am involved with a new website Senior Stoner which deals with the over 50 demographic. And of course, along the way in this journey I also discovered the prisoners who were serving life sentences for marijuana. It haunted me; I knew I had to do something about it. So, that really became out of all of my activism the one thing I’ve tried to focus on and why I started a nonprofit org, Marijuana Lifer Project.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
Well, I mean I am doing what I love. I’m doing something I feel is very important in the world no matter what aspect. Even if it is something fun like writing an article on pot culture, it is still mainstreaming this message. This information has been out there and so much stigma has been attached that the more we can talk about this in any way, shape, or form, the better.
Whether it’s just about a marijuana song or whether it’s about the Department of Justice Report, it pushes this message forward. When it comes to the most rewarding, of course, it’s working with the prisoners. It’s rewarding but also very heavy at times. As an activist so often we feel like we’re banging our heads against the walls and it makes no difference because the government just does what it wants. But when you’re working with a prisoner like this, it does make a difference; it makes a huge difference to them. You are having an impact at least on that person’s life, their family’s life.
We see that you attended Oaksterdam University, what was that experience like?
I did early on because when I first got involved there wasn’t nearly as much information as there is now. But I still recommend Oaksterdam, it was a great overview and way to learn a lot in a short amount of time. I remember when I was at Oaksterdam and I was very much in the cannabis closet watching Dale Sky Jones going – I could never be that brave, I could never be that open about my cannabis use! And then there was never really a moment where that changed but really evolved and before I knew it I was that person. Speaking in public, going in front of the city council, and then later in front of audiences. Yeah, you know, cannabis quickly took over my life and my life has never been better.
Looking back, what is one thing you wish you understood about cannabis or the cannabis industry?
When I was younger, I wish I understood that cannabis is not harmful. That cannabis is actually a healthy thing; that it’s not a dangerous drug but something everyone has in their bodies naturally. So, there are just so many facts that the public is unaware of that you once you get into cannabis, it’s easy to forget that most people are not aware. They do not know they are born with a form of cannabis in their bodies; they do not understand it’s natural to supplement this. They’ve been raised on decades of government-sponsored brainwashing so they don’t understand the truth. And sometimes, I think it is easy to lose sight of that fact when we deal with it every day.
What does a day in the life of Cheri consist of today?
It changes, it really does depend on what’s happening. Today, for example, we’re testing recipes because I do a monthly recipe column for Freedom Leaf Magazine. We’re also developing new content for Senior Stoner right now. So, today is largely writing and cooking. Other days it might be going to visit a marijuana prisoner or it might be speaking to a group of women either in the cannabis industry or outside of the industry. It could be any number of things because I am involved in so many different aspects. I might be at a cannabis expo like the High Times Cannabis Cup for the weekend with Marijuana Lifer Project, it really varies because there is always something new – cannabis is a vibrant industry.
What do you think is one of the biggest misconceptions people have when it comes to women and cannabis?
One of the biggest stigmas or things that worry women is that using cannabis will make them a bad parent or they will be perceived to be a bad parent. (even though there is no evidence of this and many women claim cannabis makes them a better parent.) But depending on where you live, it can be more than a stigma; you can also have your children taken away. So it’s more than a stigma, it’s a legitimate fear depending on where you live.
Do you have any advice for women looking to enter the cannabis industry or get involved?
Cannabis is anybody’s game. Unlike other industries, the marijuana industry does not have a glass ceiling. We’re making it up as we go along; this is a brand new exciting industry. My advice would be to educate yourself as much as possible, though. As long as it is still federally illegal and even quasi-legal in the states, cannabis is still being prosecuted. You need to know what you’re getting into, what your risks are, and what you are willing to tolerate.
any habits or mindsets that have helped you be successful?
That’s just who I am. I have kind of always been self-employed; I have never had a “real job.” Before this, I was a writer and internet entrepreneur, entertainer when I was younger. So I’ve always kind of pursued what was important to me. I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up; a lot of people fit that category. So if you don’t what you want to do yet, follow where life takes you – it can take you to some very interesting places.