Weed People profiles personalities from America’s weed sector -- activists, entrepreneurs, academics and innovators that push legalization forward. This week, CannaDad Brandon Krenzler.
One of the best cases for medical marijuana is its ability to treat children with severe illnesses. When stories began to come out describing cannabis as an effective alternative without the crippling side effects of pharmaceuticals typically used to treat epilepsy in kids, even states that were a long way from medical marijuana made exceptions. Among the widely accepted cruelties of marijuana prohibition, denying sick children their medicine is one that few can abide. The sentiment has spread in the last year thanks to stories of children like Brave Mykayla, an Oregon child with Leukemia who undergoes regular cannabis treatment.
Mykayla’s dad is Brandon Krenzler, also known as CannaDad. He first became a legalization advocate when his daughter became ill and he chose to treat her with cannabis rather than traditional cancer treatments.
HIGH TIMES: Describe your involvement with cannabis in all aspects, personal, professional, etc.
Brandon Krenzler: I am best known for being public with my eight-year-old daughter, Brave Mykayla’s story. In mid-2012 she was diagnosed with T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a particularly rare and aggressive form of childhood cancer. After being told this news by oncologists, her mother Erin Purchase and I chose to treat her with full extract cannabis oil, effectively putting her cancer into remission. We then chose to become advocates for the children and helped to give life to the movement for acceptance of pediatric cannabis therapy. If you would like to know more about Mykayla’s journey visit her website or find her on Facebook.
Writing is a passion of mine, so I have chosen the path of a journalism career, my focus primarily being anything cannabis related, from politics to product reviews. I am a staff writer and contributing writer to three prominent cannabis industry and culture magazines. I also write my own blog. Besides writing, I am a public speaker, giving life to my writing with speech and speaking out against marijauna prohibition.
I am also a very knowledgeable and experienced MMJ patient consultant and personal Oregon Medical Marijuana Program caregiver for three Oregon pediatric patients as well as a few adults. Recently, I have been evolving and expanding my consultation to cover not only patient care but also cannabis industry business by helping people connect with those they need to be connected to in order to watch their startup blossom and thrive.
HT: How is state-level legalization affecting your cannabis-related activities?
BK: Currently in Oregon, cannabis is not legal for recreational use. There has been an ongoing medical marijuana program in Oregon for over a decade, the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMPP). Marijuana laws have decriminalized over the past decade as well, with personal possession of cannabis in certain amounts being only a violation or misdemeanor. The law is still hard on those who grow, sell, or distribute cannabis and/or its derivatives outside of the OMMP program. Many infractions are felonies with sometimes hefty punishments. Without being a registered OMMP member, one is at risk of indictment and prosecution on drug charges. Even those who are registered members are operating in a legal gray area and are at varied levels of risk dependent on what city they reside in. The west side of the state is very progressive and accepting, while the east side, where I currently reside, is very much against all things cannabis culturally or otherwise. We have much to fight for in Oregon, so cannabis activism is alive and well.
HT: What are some of the victories of state-level legalization in your area?
BK: PTSD was adopted as a qualifying condition under the current OMMP rules. This year, Oregon Governor Kitzhaber signed into law HB 3460, effectively legalizing dispensaries as business establishments to better serve the large number of medical cannabis patients in Oregon. There are currently two bills for the legalization of recreational marijuana gaining momentum in Oregon. Oregon residents expect that there will be legalization of recreational cannabis, voting for one of the two bills, either the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act (OCTA) or New Approach Oregon. There is also a constitutional amendment that has been proposed, titled the Oregon Cannabis Amendment, which is still working on the high number of required signatures before it can be considered.
HT: What are some of the failures of state-level legalization in your area?
BK: In 2012 OCTA Initiative, Measure 80, written by Paul Stanford, was narrowly defeated with a voting result of 53.42 percent to 48.58 percent. Currently, across the state of Oregon, cities and counties have enacted year-long moratoriums on dispensaries under SB 1531 which undermined the fresh progress of HB 3460. This has led to the shuttering of cannabusinesses and the subsequent termination of safe access points for patients across the state, as well as loss of employment for a large group of people.
HT: Do you believe the federal government is making progress towards decriminalization or legalization?
BK: I feel that the federal government is at an impasse on what to do about cannabis. On one hand, they have states legalizing recreational and medicinal marijuana against federal prohibition and there is a very large and foreboding grassroots movement for the ending of cannabis prohibition. On the other hand, the legalization of marijuana can potentially violate international laws and anti-drug treaties set forth by the UN and enforced by NATO, both of which we are a part. With the United States basically being a world superpower, if the legalization of cannabis were to occur nationwide, with the end of prohibition, there would be far reaching global effects. Many leaders are pessimistic in the consideration of the possible ramifications and automatically assume they would be negative as well as a danger to public health and wellbeing.
HT: How long, do you predict, before weed is completely legal in America?
BK: I think that it may take state after state stepping away from the federal stance and legalizing medicinal and recreational cannabis until a majority is gained before the federal government will be forced to reconsider their position. How long, do you predict, before weed is completely legal in the world?Aside from the difficulty in our country, it is difficult to believe that countries such as China and Russia would ever legalize judging by the stance and tactics of Russia’s iron-fist dictatorship and China’s communist state. However there will always be those who stand against and take up the fight as one of their own. As children learn the truth and become leaders, the old ways will die off and before long the oppression of the plant and people will end. Then again, economic necessity could initiate the process much faster. So, 20 years for countries with intelligent, logical and progressively thinking leaders and governing bodies.
HT: What is the biggest challenge facing legalization on a state level?
BK: I believe mainly the stigma surrounding cannabis and cannabis consumers. Basically, the long ingrained reefer madness borne war on drugs rhetoric and propaganda that we were all force fed in school as children since the 1930s. That and Oregon (as well as other states’) politicians and elected officials just haven’t been given enough lobbyist money nor been convinced away from their private interests and personal opinions yet.
HT: A national level?
BK: Money is the root of all that is wrong with this country. The war on drugs has been the biggest financial windfall that has happened for governments since the inception of taxation. Corporations, private prisons, federal agencies, and local governments would lose millions of dollars in arbitrary fines and conviction based revenue annually. If the prohibition of cannabis was ended, hemp and cannabis would be legalized. This would give life to a people’s economy favoring the individual rather than a corporate economy favoring the business, which would restore the balance of power and money in the nation.
HT: The global level?
BK: Everyone is looking to what our country’s leaders choose to do. We are the fiercest advocates of the drug war, and also its creator. The US stance against cannabis was adopted worldwide. The reverse would most likely also be adopted globally.