MARENGO, Ind. –Indiana cannabis activists and volunteers joined together for a family-friendly community cleanup event that included education, a local food drive, a chili cookoff, and cannabis comradery, Oct. 5, 2019.
Members of Indiana NORML, Women Cannabis Warriors, and Southern Indiana Cannabis Activists came together to help clean trash from around the town of Marengo and spread positivity throughout the community.
Zach Bratcher, member of INORML and founder of the Southern Indiana Cannabis Activists’ group, helped plan and organize the event. He said the organizer’s intent was to show positive and direct community action, and help dispel the careless, negative, and sedentary stereotypes commonly placed on those in the cannabis community.
“We’re not just a bunch of lazy-ass potheads,” said Bratcher. “We care about our community, we care about the people in our community.”
Bratcher said he wants to do more community outreach events and said some people don’t know how to get involved, or they remain worried that if they speak out, they will become targets of law enforcement. “[It’s] the stigma, the scare, that they’re going to get in trouble, or they’re going to be followed,” said Bratcher.
Sherri Gonzalez, WCW cofounder, agreed with the fear mongering and Hoosier’s apprehension to support cannabis publicly, regardless of use.
“We need more people to stand up and to speak out,” said Gonzalez. “The only thing is, many people are too scared to stand out because of the stigma around cannabis. They are afraid they will lose their job, or maybe even their children, or even just be scared of what people may think of them. But regardless of your race, or sex, or background, we need everyone’s help.”
Renee Burkett, WCW cofounder, said the community must remain active and together on the overall issue to bring this education and awareness directly to the front.
“I was glad to see a variety of people from different groups and backgrounds step up to show support to each other,” said Burkett. “Coming together as a collective, from all areas of the fight, makes us stronger. We together bring strength to those who have yet to find their own. The more we step out the more we will bring out.”
Many volunteers are members and supporters of other organizations and dedicate their own time, money and resources to these events. Each volunteer and most activists and families in the cannabis community have unique stories of struggles and pain that fuels their passion for cannabis advocacy.
According to Rebecca Thorpe, INORML member and WCW cofounder, the event’s food drive for a local church food pantry opened a direct line of communication with the local fellowship on this subject near to her heart.
Thorpe said her mother was a preacher’s wife who was prescribed morphine for her chronic medical issues. She tried to convince her mother to use the pharmaceutical cannabinoids, but her mother continued to take the opioids after she realized what she was taking. “When she found out what it was a synthetic version of, she refused to take it,” said Thorpe.
Thorpe said her mother died due to complications of opioid medications and suffered intestinal blockages. “All because cannabis in her mind was more dangerous than the 10 morphine pills,” Thorpe said about the daily dosage of opioid medication her mother was being prescribed.
“I told the church my mother’s story in hopes they will share it and someone’s mom will try cannabis before pills.”
Bratcher said after he experienced the effects of real medical cannabis, he was able to break his cycle of addiction to prescription pills and methamphetamines. “I quit pills and an eight-ball of dope a day.”
He said he has since repaired his family unit, treated his medical symptoms, and works to promote the effectiveness of cannabis. Bratcher said cannabis did, what multiple rehabilitation centers and addiction treatments could not. “It was like a weight lifted off my shoulders.”
Because of his experiences he believes we need to change how we treat mental issues and prescribe medications. “It’s time to quit feeding our patients, our veterans, our kids, the pain killers, the Adderall’s, the Vyvanse,” said Bratcher.
Bratcher said he plans to continue promoting similar events in the future and hopes to grow more involvement in his area in Southern Indiana around Warrick County. His mission is to encourage people to get more educated, active, and bring awareness to the movement.
If you want to find out more regarding upcoming cannabis community events, or want to become a member or support the cannabis movement, visit www.inorml.org or search Indiana NORML on social media to explore the latest cannabis-related research and news.