Signed with unity by Sensible Minnesota’s Board of Directors and Volunteers.
Sensible Minnesota was invited to attend and speak at yesterday’s rally at the State Capitol. When we arrived, we set up as requested by organizers. Shortly after setting up, an different event organizer approached our group of volunteers and yelled that Sensible Minnesota needed to leave and that we were not welcome there, apparently because we did not assist in the planning or execution of the event. Not only was this unexpected, it was unprofessional and divisive for the cannabis movement in Minnesota. Sensible Minnesota offered its resources early in the planning stages of the event, but we were not given any clear direction as to what was needed from us and as such, were not in any official capacity as organizers. After this incident, our team decided to leave, and instead spent the afternoon discussing how to effectively advocate for policy change while enjoying the company of our volunteers and friends.
We want to sincerely thank Michael Ford for speaking with us and encouraging us to stay. Michael and his team put a significant amount of work into the event, and under different circumstances, we would have enjoyed the fellowship with our fellow activists.
However, after our organization, leaders, and volunteers were publicly humiliated, we determined that there was too much hostility toward us, individually and as an organization to remain involved with the event. The organizer in question owes Sensible Minnesota an apology for the inappropriate behavior, and we are hopeful that this becomes an opportunity for coalition building and better communication. Although we understand there was miscommunication happening, the inappropriate public chastising was completely uncalled for.
Sensible Minnesota’s board president, Maren Schroeder, was invited to speak at the rally. Although she chose not to deliver her speech after the incident, we would like to share the text of it below. It’s unfortunate that such a divisive incident would occur at a time where we could have spoken about valuing one another and honoring the women leading Minnesota’s movement.
Thank you to Minnesota Marijuana, Minnesota NORML, and Legal Marijuana Now for having me today. My name is Maren Schroeder and I’m the president of Sensible Minnesota. We are an organization dedicated to education and advocacy surrounding medical cannabis patients and ending cannabis prohibition. I’m happy to announce that we are hosting a Minnesota Cannabis Summit on June 2nd in St. Paul. We have a great line-up of speakers on various topics, and an exciting day planned for the cannabis community. If you’re interested in attending or getting more information, please track down one of us outside on the lawn; registration opened today and we have a special early bird rate available for you.
I recently had the opportunity to attend the Women Grow Leadership Summit in Denver, where I met women from the cannabis industry from all over the country. What struck me during my time at the Summit were the stories of strength and perseverance put forward by these women in telling their stories and coming out of the cannabis closet. Lawyers, scientists, CEOs, and other professionals exemplifying themselves as cannabis consumers to break the stereotypes put forth by Hollywood and the mainstream media.
Did you know women make up 36% of executives in the legal cannabis industry compared to 22% of US companies generally? This is truly an industry led and run by strong, successful, resilient women. I want to give a shout out to some of the women leading Minnesota’s movement: Joan Barron, who spoke so eloquently today, Heather, Bonnie, Sarah, Erin, Amber, and Angela who I have the pleasure of working with nearly every day, mothers like Kari Olavson, Kim Kelsey, Jessica Hauser, and Kathy Engstrom who fought tirelessly for their children to have the opportunity to try medical cannabis; Vera Allen the board chair at Minnesota NORML; Sue Sindt who has the guts to run for office on a platform of ending senseless prohibition; and of course the Minnesota Mary Jane’s – Bridgette, Melinda, Patti, Leyla, Allecia, and others who I haven’t had the chance to meet yet. Finally, these amazing legislators – Tina Liebling, Rena Moran, Peggy Flannagan, and Alice Hausman – thank you for being here today.
These women are powering the movement right here in Minnesota with their intelligence, dedication, and hard work, and I think its important that we stand together, here today, and give them a round of applause. [pause]
As activists, we work tirelessly for our cause and we must support each other regardless of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, age, or socioeconomic status. There is no reason anyone in this movement should feel less than valued.
For the men in the house – stop staking claim to traditional gender roles and empower the women around you to have a voice in the movement. If you find yourself offended by this statement, its time to take a look at how you treat your female colleagues.
Women, be assertive. Be strong. Be resilient. Tell your story. Speak the truth. Step into leadership, and don’t ever lose your voice to the antiquated misogyny that plagues activists communities.
Its about damn time Minnesota stops dragging its feet, so we can join the eight states that have already decided that cannabis is safer than prohibition, and create a vibrant multi-million dollar cannabis industry in Minnesota. To do that, I need each and every one of you to “out yourselves” and start having conversations with your friends, neighbors, and relatives. This is our chance to lead a brand new billion-dollar industry right here in Minnesota.