Eight years ago, Kelley Bruce, was working in Colorado. She was a ski instructor for children at the Breckenridge Ski area. On New Year's Eve 2010, Kelley's life drastically changed when she was hit by a drunk driver. The accident left Kelley with two herniated discs in her lower back and another in her neck. The pain was so severe she was no longer able to perform her job duties as a ski instructor. Kelley's doctor prescribed her painkillers, muscle relaxers, and sleeping pills. But it wasn't long before she started experiencing horrible side effects. Kelley knew there had to be a better way. Living in Colorado, she applied for her medical cannabis card. She soon began educating herself about cannabis and how it could help her body. Before long, Kelley was soon able to replace every pain drug with cannabis. For the first time in a long time, she felt empowered about her health. Fast forward three years, Kelley's life was turned upside down once again when someone reported her cannabis use to CPS. After an investigation and her open admittance to using cannabis, Kelley was charged with being an incompetent parent and using a controlled substance in the presence of a minor. Thankfully, Kelley was able to get the charges dropped. However, this was only after an appeal process and a two-year prohibition period. Kelley felt violated and judged by simply making a better decision for her body and her child. This experience sparked Kelley's desire to not only change the way the world viewed cannabis but to really stand up for safe access.
Can you tell us more about launching CannaMommy.org?
I founded CannaMommy.org in January of 2017, but have been doing the ground work for years on the concept, waiting for the right time to launch. The idea for this organization stems from a personal experience, not unlike most nonprofits. In 2009 I was blessed with a daughter. At the time I was single and working for Vail Resorts at Breckenridge Ski area teaching kids the art of skiing. I was hit on NYE 2010 by a drunk driver, thankfully I was not badly injured and no one else was hurt; however, the accident left me with two herniated discs in my lower back and one in my neck. The pain from these injuries and the recovery ultimately lead to me being unable to perform my job duties as a ski instructor. My doctor gave me painkillers, muscle relaxers and sleeping pills. The "triple threat" as I call it. This story is not new, I woke up one night had a horrible out of body like experience from the sleeping pills and decided there needs to be a better way, that these three pills were seriously impacting my ability to parent in a positive way.
Living in Colorado I applied and received my medical cannabis card and started to educate myself on cannabis and how it could help my recovery. I was able to use cannabis to replace EVERY pain drug, even Advil during my cycle. I felt so empowered by my choice and decision to choose a plant over chemicals. Fast forward three years later, I had someone report my cannabis use to CPS. After an investigation and my open admittance to using cannabis, I was charged with being an incompetent parent and using a controlled substance in the presence of a minor. It took an appeal process and a two-year prohibition period before the entire thing was finally dropped. As you can imagine I was a plethora of emotions. I felt so violated, so judged, and all I was doing was making a better choice for my body, and my child. This is what sparked me to find a way to not only change the way the world viewed cannabis but to really stand up and say STOP. Stop telling me this is wrong and I am bad for making this choice.
The idea to create the organization as a functioning cannabis collective on top of being a true nonprofit came to light over the last year. My husband owns and runs a 240 acre permitted cannabis cultivation center in Humboldt County CA and last year we had another little baby girl. During this pregnancy I was SICK, and I mean SICK every single day. I would wake up and puke, every single day...for 8 entire months...and cannabis was the only thing that would give me any relief. I wasn't super sold on the idea of smoking cannabis while pregnant, such a personal choice, and I was really struggling with options to use cannabis for my pain without smoking it.
My husband gave me some of the food grade BHO oil that their certified lab makes and I started to make bath bombs. It was awesome! I looked everywhere for information on cannabis and pregnancy, and birth and cannabis, and nursing and cannabis, and what I found was there was not much information. I started to realize there were moms everywhere who were using cannabis and so scared because of the threat of CPS. Moms were literally suffering everywhere because they had to cold turkey style stop mental health drugs while pregnant or nursing and couldn’t afford or find safe access to the cannabis plant. Even in states like California or Colorado where you can medically use and find cannabis, there still were no options for moms, this is what drove me to start CannaMommy.org.
What is the number one misconception regarding mothers who choose cannabis?
That we are bad for making this choice, that our choice is wrong just because in 1970 a bunch of congressmen decided it was. That we are criminals and hurting our children.
How has cannabis influenced your life?
Cannabis has influenced me to challenge what people tell me. To really connect with my body and have the ability to speak from a personal perspective. It's allowed my family a way to provide for ourselves in that my husband farms the land. It's influenced the way my children see the earth and how important the cannabis plant literally is to our survival of a species. Cannabis has influenced me to push boundaries and to stand strong for those who can't.
Name 3 ways cannabis can support a healthy lifestyle
1.) More control on pain management.
2.) Support mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, borderline personality disorder, ADD, ADHD.
3.) Kills cancer cells.
Why is education so important for the cannabis movement?
Education is the key to anything. In order to be able to utilize this plant to its full potential, we need to understand it better. There are civilizations that for centuries have been using the hemp plant and cannabis in industrial manners, medical manners, and ceremonial religious manners. Then came prohibition. Cannabis was stigmatized and demonized. Moms were instrumental in creating this negative stigma that cannabis is a gateway drug. Who remembers DARE? Now we are calling moms back again to say hey, we didn’t get it right, here is the real truth, lets help re-educate everyone.
What is the biggest challenge you've faced working in the cannabis industry?
The biggest challenge for me personally has been finding people willing to speak out publicly about their choice. People are scared of CPS, and rightly so. Just last week I had CPS at my house again, because someone called and said we had a BHO Lab at my home, obviously, we don’t and CPS is aware of who I am and what I do, and by law, they have to come investigate every report. So, they come over we have tea and chat, they look through my home and speak to my kids and it's all good...or is it? This has been the biggest challenge, the laws are very confusing. In regards to the actual industry and the organization's biggest challenge, I would say the production side is the most difficult. We haven't even hit stores yet and we are pre-sold out of our first round of 20k bath bombs. Production and scaling, and of course, the fact that everything is still federally a crime. That is always a concern at some level.
Name the top 3 skills every cannabis entrepreneur needs
1.) You need to be able to roll a sick joint, something I am still perfecting. I have come to realize in the cannabis industry being able to roll a sick joint is like showing up in a Ferrari – everyone knows you are serious.
2.) You need to be able to calculate risks and take them.
3.) Compassion. Without it, you will never go anywhere. This is a plant. It should never have been commercialized, it has medical properties and people suffering shouldn't have to go broke to be out of pain, this can be true for health care in general, but it is that much more important in the cannabis industry. Our products help, and if you don't have compassion for the people you are trying to help, then I don’t see you lasting long.
Any tips for maintaining a work/life balance?
Ah, the holy grail of life. I wish I knew this answer! I can tell you that I am on the quest and that so far I have found that for me at least having routine and schedules helps. We have strict rules surrounding our family dinner time, and we hold that time as almost sacred. We make it a point to set a 2 hour period once a week for each of us to have one on one time with the kids with no disruptions. It's not always perfect, but we do the best we can. The single most successful thing our family has done was to turn off the electronics and get outside.
If you could offer an aspiring cannabis entrepreneur one piece of advice, what would it be?
Hurry up! Seriously, if you are even considering doing business in the cannabis field NOW is your time to get on it. The longer you wait the more laws will be in place, the more restrictions, the more permits, just more of everything....if you want to do it, do it and do it now.