My best friend taught me a game many years ago. It’s called: “Rose, Bud, Thorn”.
It’s a writing prompt and ice breaker she learned while training for an internship in Senegal. I’m sure when she shared it with me she had no idea the affect it would have on my life. I’m sure I didn’t either.
The idea of the game is to say something out loud about your day that’s positive (that’s the rose), something negative (clearly, the thorn), and something that you’re looking forward to (the bud).
As humans, we are conditioned to emote in extremes—“it was the best date I’ve ever been on”, “I had the worst day of my life”, “this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done”. And extremes are fantastic. They’re a rush. They communicate our messages effectively and clearly. But often we forget to step back and contextualize the extreme within the bigger picture. Hence, the goal of game: to see your day as a complex, multifaceted experience with things to be happy about, hurt by, and hopeful for.
It’s a simple lesson, but one that has since woven itself so deeply into my soul it drove me to permanently ink a bunch of roses, thorns, and buds on my arm. It has become the lens through which I see the world. It’s how I stay calm in chaos, anchored in a maelstrom, hopeful when I hit dead ends, and above all it reminds me that being hurt or angry is the pulse of life—a sharp, thorny prick reminding you that you’re still alive.
So, what does this have to do with you? Well, here I sit, reflecting on the final day of one of the best adventures of my life thus far, profoundly at a loss for words. More so than I have ever experienced in my history of writer’s block. My well from which I normally draw low-hanging pot puns, crass quips, sarcastic jabs, and the occasional insightful commentary is as dry as irradiated weed being sold in eight layers of plain, plastic, child-resistant packaging (found one.)
Now seems as good a time as any to fall back on my rose-coloured lens, right?
So, to you, my dear cannabis community: you are the rose.
My god, how you love, how you accept, how you instil faith, hope, and prop one another up. I am in awe of how you fight for the underdog, how you use your voice to shout on behalf of those who have fallen silent, and how you never give up despite given countless reasons to do so.
There's no doubt about it, this community has heart.
We see it in the fight for medical patients and the unfairly incarcerated. We see it when female leadership is celebrated. We see it when someone gets a promotion or follows their dream. We see it when someone expresses pain and needs help.
I saw it firsthand when, in a world where I never quit fit in, you made a place in the sesh circle for me. This community opened its arms without pause or question and has caught me mid free fall many times since. It has thanked, and praised, and built me into a proud advocate and voice for this community. You can all take credit for that. It is my honour to write on your behalf. You strengthened my backbone, toughened my skin, and have armed me with the skills to dive headfirst fearlessly into the next chapter of my life—and I will continue to listen and do my best to tell your stories.
All of this should come as no shock, as love and compassion are inherent traits taught by cannabis. Keep allowing her to teach you those lessons. Keep teaching others like you’ve so patiently taught me.
You’ll need those qualities when the thorns of this industry stab.
The thorn, for me, is watching a beautiful, thriving network of activists, companies, pioneers, patients, and creators slough off in the exfoliation of capitalism. For you, my heart hurts. I feel it deeply and profoundly when I see you lash out in anger or despair at the state of things—not armed with the devices, tools, resources, or words to withstand the wave of fear you feel. Some cripple, some cave, and some writhe against the constraints.
And I don't blame you. It makes me froth at the mouth and clench my fists to see people who don’t love this plant the way you do bastardize the culture, willfully choose ignorance, settle for the simply passable, and scoff at your downfall. I know it hurts for you, because it hurts from where I am sitting—just a listener, just an observer.
To you, I ask you to stay strong. They will peter out. They will tire of this place, take their money, and move on. And if you can adapt, find a foothold, hang on—you will still be here when the viral thirst for more develops a taste for some other cure-all trend.
Just hang on.
Because the bud is tomorrow.
No, the bud is not “the bud”—the weed has always been good if you know where to look. The bud to which I refer is the future of this community. It’s big, and it’s scary, and it will come with thorns. But with it will come roses too. History shows a society breaching prohibition acts like a pendulum. From one extreme we swing to the next. But one day, with the persistent and diligent work of people who care, we stabilize to a point of equilibrium—and cannabis will find that too.
Freed from basements, back alleys, and canopy cover, we can finally see what happens when you when you let the light in. Combining cannabis with innovation from so many brilliant industries in our world—science, technology, design, health care—is already showing us that this system works. Daily, legalization connects more and more of the most uncommon and unlikely of consumers with a plant that changes lives, and isn't that the point?
We've already seen what magnificent results spring from small, grassroots rebellion. So, when cannabis combines with something that produces “adverse side effects”—like corporate greed, careless decisions, unjust laws—that’s our cue push back. Disruption is how this community got here. And, luckily, now we have the good guys fighting from both the inside and out.
Don’t fall silent, don’t stop fighting, don’t stop retweeting, and sharing, and bolstering, and pushing, and dusting yourself off when you get thrown to the grown. Pick your weapon up, spark a joint, and get back in the brawl. Remember, this community existed long before anyone gave permission. Don’t wait for permission to go change it.
Again, history tells us the shifts we wish to see will be incremental, at times painfully so. It took this world 95 years to see the vision you saw. It will take time for the world to actually manifest it. Be patient.
So, there you have it. Or don’t. It’s your choice. But we are constantly faced with opportunities to see the world in extremes—much like this industry—and I simply urge each of you to look at it through my kind of rose-coloured lens every now and then.
And, if all else fails, take the high road.
Your faithful scribe,