POST CATEGORY: Profiles

Profile: Cannabis Activist and Journalist Sarah Jane Gallegos

May 06, 2017 | SimoneFischer

An interview with the brilliant, award-winning journalist and Cannabis advocate-activist.

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Gallegos’ story captivated me as she spoke of her transformation from an overzealous Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) instructor into a bonafide Cannabis patient advocate. Her story of moving from a position of extreme opposition to a Cannabis ally is becoming more and more common within the industry. 

Not all patients who use Cannabis were originally for it in the first place. Sometimes it takes a little more convincing.  

“Growing up I was always anti-drugs because my mother was a substance abuser, and I was left with neurological disorder because of it,” Gallegos said over a lavender latte. 

“It adds a layer of complexity to my story because both the pharmaceutical industry and an illicit drug trade has had an effect of me, so now I am seeking out an alternative remedy to treat myself.” 

sarah-jane-gallegos-quote1.jpgGallegos watched her single mother struggle with drug addiction and swore off everything including the Cannabis. In her eyes, Cannabis was as morally reprehensible as any other serious drug.

“Ever since I was young, I wanted to be a teacher and push for a moral standard. Once I graduated college and started teaching, I worked with republican candidates; I was a volunteer speechwriter for Steve Ford when he was running for president. I was completely on the other side of the fence that I am now,”  Gallegos said as she revisits her original vindictive stance on Cannabis.

“I was extremely conservative. When I looked at things like Cannabis, I lumped it into the same category as cocaine. I was a child of the 1980s and (then) I was a teacher, trying to push for morals when it comes to drugs,” Gallegos said.

“When it came time to teach the D.A.R.E. program at my campus, I immediately volunteered. I taught D.A.R.E. for nine years as a site instructor. Once a year, I would teach the D.A.R.E. curriculum to the kids,” Gallegos said. 

“I started looking into the scientific validity of what I was teaching, and when you look at the D.A.R.E. program and the data that relates to Cannabis, I started auditing the information on a scientific scale.” 

She wanted to prove why drugs like Cannabis were “bad” to justify Gallegos’ deep seeded moral stance on Cannabis. She started to realize that the evidence in relation to what the D.A.R.E. program was preaching was extremely lacking in truth – it was false propaganda at best. But she wasn’t convinced until her doctor recommended she try Cannabis after a spell of ill health.

“I didn’t want to use Cannabis (even for my health), so I started to do more research on the health benefits. At the time, I was 265 pounds and my diet was very poor and packed with processed foods. I developed a gastric disorder called gastroparesis, and I began to lose a ton of weight and dropped down to 94 pounds. I had a heart incident because of the weight loss.” 

She was desperate for options and pharmaceuticals didn’t help the nausea and vomit spells. 

“They couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. So it kind of forced my hand in order to try Cannabis. I mean, I was completely straight edge—I didn’t even drink alcohol—and now I had to put an illegal substance in my system. For me, it was really hard to do. So I bought a volcano vaporizer, because I didn’t want to combust it. My first strain I ever smoked was Blue Dream I purchased at a dispensary in California. After my first inhale I began crying because I felt like I had crossed the line. Then, fifteen minutes later I start crying again because I couldn’t believe how much better I felt. For the first time in so long, after throwing up all the time, and being in constant nausea and pain, I felt relief. I couldn’t believe this was a ‘thing’, and I couldn’t believe I villianized Cannabis so much. And I totally discovered I had an iron lung in the process,” Gallegos laughed.

After her Cannabis-induced epiphany, she was still teaching in California at the time. No one knew she was a cardholder and she couldn’t be open about her Cannabis use, out of fear of losing her teaching license. I listened as Gallegos explained how her former self wrestled with this internal issue of health and morality. 

Once she realized how much Cannabis helped improve her health, she understood that the war waged on Cannabis was a real social justice issue. It seemed completely unjust to withhold a plant that could potentially comfort the sick. 

While living in California, she began looking into growing her own Cannabis to cut back on the cost it took to keep her medicated.

“The cultivation style in California at the time was hydro. As a patient in California, I was paying $25 a gram. I couldn’t afford it so I started looking into different grow laws in different states,” Gallegos said. 

“I wanted organically grown weed, so I came to Oregon. Everything was better, and I felt the real pressure to undo all the garbage I was feeding these kids over the last past nine years.  I stopped teaching because of drug tests and I couldn’t be open about it.” 

Since then, she’s become a part of the Oregon Cannabis community and never looked back. Gallegos was one of the main patient advocates helping to get Post Traumatic Stress on the list of qualifying conditions in Oregon in 2014. 

Through it all she has learned first-hand how Cannabis can help health issues. Stories like hers give me hope because it shows that even the staunchest, anti-Cannabis personalities can understand truth in healing through Cannabis.

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