In recognition of International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating the achievements of women in cannabis. One person who absolutely deserves some attention is the amazing Callie Blackwell, who gained global attention after saving her son’s life with cannabis after doctors had given up on treating his rare terminal illness. Since then, she has helped countless other people overcome their illnesses using cannabis, and has been instrumental in turning public opinion in favour of this incredible medicine.
Callie Blackwell – A Little Bit Of Background
After being told that her son Deryn had less than a week to live, Blackwell began secretly and illegally treating him with cannabis. As she explains in her book, The Boy In Seven Billion, Deryn came back from the brink and made a full recovery – much to the amazement of hospital staff.
Unsurprisingly, the case attracted huge media attention, catapulting Blackwell into the spotlight and giving her a platform to campaign for a change to the legal status of medical cannabis. Aside from driving policy reform, she has also dedicated her life to educating and assisting other people in need of healing.
What’s Blackwell Up To Now?
We recently caught up with Blackwell to find out what she’s got in her pipeline, only for her to drop some pretty major news on us.
“I’m a few weeks away from launching my own CBD brand,” she said. “I’ve called it The Activist, which is a bit of a play on words because being an activist is what I became most known for, but also cannabinoids activate certain things.”
Given the legal situation in the UK, supplying whole-plant extracts unfortunately isn’t option. For that reason, Blackwell has developed a range of products that maximise the healing power of cannabis despite not containing any THC. “I’m focusing quite a lot on terpene blends and giving more of a whole-plant feel, without the whole plant,” she explains.
“Terpenes have their own therapeutic effects, and that’s something that really hasn’t been looked at enough.”
Breaking The Old Paradigm
Most people see Blackwell as an expert on the medical and pharmacological properties of cannabis, yet she passionately believes that healing and wellness are only possible if one adopts a holistic approach.
“Of course cannabis is amazing, but actually it will not work on its own. Cannabis is not going to work if you’re still eating Macdonald’s,” she says. “Everyone negates everything else they’re doing in their life and they just think cannabis is this panacea. And when they don’t get better because they haven’t put the time in to change in their lifestyle, then they say cannabis doesn’t work.”
“So that’s something I’m spreading information and education about, that cannabis is just one tool in the whole spectrum of what we need to be doing in order to maintain health.”
According to Blackwell, this “pill for an ill” mindset not only encourages unhealthy lifestyles, but also allows clinics and pharmaceutical companies to rip patients off by charging extortionate prices for medications that don’t actually help. By providing education on how to incorporate cannabis into a more holistic approach, however, Blackwell empowers people to take back control of their own health.
The Role Of Mothers In Cannabis Reform
In recent years, many mothers have put their freedom on the line by treating their children with life-saving cannabis, in spite of its illegality. The bravery of these remarkable women has helped to mobilise public support for medical cannabis and force the hands of politicians, resulting in some major policy changes.
“I think it’s actually gone in my favour that I’m a woman and that I’m a mother,” says Blackwell. “Nobody wants to argue with a mother, and when they see a mum do that for their child, not many people are going to criticise.”
However, she acknowledges that this has not always been the case, and fear of a public backlash prevented her from sharing her story with the media for several years. “I got my inspiration [to try cannabis] from mothers in America, but I could see that these mums were getting so much grief for giving their kids cannabis. So I decided not to stick my head above the parapet while the public was being so vile towards these mothers.”
“I needed the public to be behind me before speaking out, so I kept quiet for a couple of years.”
It was only after a noticeable shift in public opinion that Blackwell felt safe enough to appear on television and share her story. The fact that Deryn was almost 18 at that time also made the situation easier by removing the threat of repercussions from social services.
Not that any of this reduced the risk she was taking by publicly admitting to breaking the law. “When I did appear on TV, I remember thinking that the police could be waiting for me outside the studio and that this could be my last day of freedom,” she says. “But I knew that I needed to get the story out there.”
Converting The Cynics
By taking the plunge and speaking out about her experience, Callie and Deryn became symbols of the amazing potential of medical cannabis. In doing so, they radically changed the course of the public discourse on the subject.
“I noticed that I changed a lot of people’s minds who had previously been against cannabis. When something like that goes on TV, people seem to listen to it,” says Blackwell.
“That’s my proudest achievement, that I’ve been able to reach a lot of non-believers and change their minds just with my story.”
Going forwards, she believes that mothers and children will continue to be the main drivers of change, although whatever happens in the future, the contribution of Callie Blackwell to the medical cannabis cause will never be overshadowed.