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Stoner Girls’ Guide 2014 Man of The Year: Al Graham

2013-08-10 12.54.23

written by Onya Ganja

Al Graham is a Canadian Writer, Activist and Talk Show Host; his show, The P.A.C.E. Radio Show  is on .com every Monday at 9 PM! Al has written for numerous Cannabis publications and is the Editor and news collector for Joint Conversations.

The day I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease I was working at a newspaper–which happened to print a Letter to the Editor (that very same day) written by Al, about how he uses Cannabis to treat his Crohn’s Disease. I took it as a sign from Jah and tried it … now here I am. I don’t know how I could have physically or mentally made it through living with Crohn’s Disease without the medication that Al alerted me to.

About a decade later and I still can’t quite put into words how grateful I am that Al Graham exists and speaks up about Cannabis. The passing of a decade has not slowed Al’s activism down–which is why I am so happy to name him our 2014 Man of The Year!

Al is one of the kindest, most down-to-earth and hard working Activists I have ever encountered in the world of Cannabis. He and his family are the reason I became involved in Activism. I worked alongside Al and his wonderful spouse, sitting in booths, answering the public’s questions about Cannabis, for many, many years.  Despite my chronic lateness, Al and his family were always the true definition of lovely and inspiring to me.

With his heart in the right place and his head as determined as it is–I am certain Al is an invaluable member of the Canadian Cannabis Community, not just because he changed my life but because I know he has changed many other lives, with his bravery and words.

 Make sure you follow Al Graham on Twitter and check out my interview with him below!


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OG: If a five-year-old asked you to describe how you spend your time, what would you say?

I would tell them that I spend my time talking to people about the truth about a plant, a plant that can clean our air to heal our bodies.

OG: So, what have you been up to lately?

I’ve been talking to people about the truth of the cannabis plant. Basically it’s what I do 24/7 unless I’m spending time with family and friends but even then the education doesn’t stop. People want to know answers to their many questions.

OG: Can you tell our readers a little bit about your weekly Radio show?

The PACE Radio Show is about Canadian cannabis advocates who are educating people about the wonders of the plant. We have guests from coast to coast of our country and occasionally we’ll have an international one as well. Our guests are people who are well-known to people who are grass roots advocates and are working the trenches to make an unjust law go away. We also highlight and promote Canadian cannabis musicians who don’t get coverage on regular radio with their terrific music.

OG: Can you talk about a few inspirations and/or motivations for how you live your life?

What motivates me is that I hate being lied to. For over ninety years Canadians have been lied to and mislead about the cannabis plant by people in authority positions. The people in these positions are supposed to be trusted people and ones that would not lie to those who look to them for guidance. Unfortunately this isn’t happening. It’s their lying and misleading statements plus the benefits that I have seen with the cannabis plant is what drives me to spread the word.

OG: How do you feel about Cannabis?

It’s helped give me my life back. It’s what helped me avoid using opiate based drugs when I got struck with Crohn’s Disease in early 2003. Without it I would have been forced to take opiates which would have lead into more troubles from addiction to constipation. For me cannabis wasn’t going to cause any of these issues and would be a much healthier way for me to combat my pain to eating issues.

OG: Favourite spots to smoke pot?

I don’t know if I have a favorite spot but I can tell you I enjoy it when I go for a walk with my dog Kalli, with friends or by myself. Some of the places I walk at would be along the river’s edge in our downtown, to the trails I walk on at the provincial park nearby.

OG: Favourite weed strains?

My favorite strains are the ones I use medicinally for my Crohn’s. These would be Grape Escape and Humber Valley Kush, which were past winners at the Treating Yourself Cup back in 2010 and 2011. Both strains lean into the indica category of the plants which is what I prefer as I have found sativa strains don’t help me much for muscle pain. Other than that I like strains with lots of flavor.

OG: Do you remember when we first met? I have no memory of it! But a perfect memory of the day I read an article you wrote in the newspaper years prior.

Yes the first day we met was at my house. A few days earlier you contacted me and asked if you could come over and have a talk which I agreed to. You came in and sat on the couch, shared some stories and I told you how cannabis was helping me with my condition.

OG: Women you think are amazing?

My wife is amazing because she puts up with all my crap. As they say many people need a great partner to support them in what they do. This is what I have, a wife that watches and assists me in my advocacy work. Without her moral support I’m not sure how things would be.

OG: Favourite thing to eat when you are high? (I’m hungry right now.)

I have a greatly reduced diet and eat a lot of the same food day in and day out. The “munchies” side effect has been helpful and bad for me. It’s been helpful because it gets me to eat when I’m not feeling like it or up to it. But there are times when the munchies won’t stop and I can’t stop eating which then can lead into eating the wrong foods. But if I was going to pick something it would be frozen yogurt.

OG: How do you know when you are in love?

You don’t mention what I’m in love with so I will keep it general….

When the butterflies in your stomach won’t settle down and you can’t go a minute without being near or without the thing you love.

OG: Do you feel that Cannabis subculture is male-dominated?

It appears that way but more and more women are speaking up. The women in our lives ended alcohol prohibition and I believe that they will and are playing a big part in bringing an end to cannabis prohibition. I’d like to see it stay away from exploiting the women but unfortunately it appears the cannabis promoters are the same as all the others.

OG: What lessons in activism have you learned?

I’d have to say almost everything that I know about being an advocate. As others says I to became a cannabis advocate by accident as I never planned to become sick. Once I was struck by Crohn’s and I saw and felt the difference cannabis made in my life I had no other choice but to tell everyone who will listen.

OG: What do you do in a typical week?

Cannabis advocacy … the other things I do are … Cannabis advocacy and volunteer at Ferris Provincial Park.

OG: Favourite places or events in Canada?

I don’t really have a favorite place in Canada as I have yet to discover it all. From what I have seen I would say that it’s really a hard question to answer. Every region of our country is so different. We can explore the mountains in the west or the east while enjoying the openness of the mid-west. It really comes down to personal choice and for me right now my location has a bit of it all … rolling hills and open space. If I want urban it’s only a short drive away while the rural isn’t far either.

OG: How many cats are too many cats, for one woman?

When it becomes a problem, is when it’s too many to handle.

OG: Do you think it is weird when a single man has a cat?

No … dogs may be man’s best friend but cats make them purrrrrr. We’ve always had one or two cats in our house but then again I’m not single.

OG: Favourite stoner songs?

I have many non-main stream media cannabis songs that not many people hear or at least what the main stream won’t play. I don’t normally listen to any country music but I enjoy Chief Greenbud. When you’re singing about bud as the Chief does, instead of the dog or the truck it changes things. When it comes to the hip hop or as they call it hemp hop I’ve enjoyed Los Marijuanos and their main man Pony Boy. I had the opportunity of meeting both the Chief and Ponyboy as they performed during the 2010 Treating Yourself Expo. I also enjoy the cannabis songs by groups such as The Killin Time Band, The Tall Brothers and The Hicks. If I was to pick a song though I’d say, It Doesn’t Make Sense by The Killin Time Band. It’s a song that is about the fight that cannabis patients go through, the struggle of having money for rent, food and medicine, to how society can treat a patient in a mean and cruel way.

OG: How do you feel about capitalism?

I never really give it much thought. Do I agree that the world economy should be operated by a half dozen wealthy people, no. Do I agree that corporations should become the leader of society, no?  Should large companies be able to set government policies? No.

OG: What do you think the best and worst drugs in the world are?

Cannabis good … alcohol bad. Tobacco causes more deaths than alcohol but alcohol has a larger collateral damage foot print in society. I’m not aware of people getting beat up over a cigarette or been killed by a driver who consumed too many cigarettes.

OG: What do you want people to know about life as a Naturist?

The naturists and cannabis communities have some similar stigmas created by society. Both are looked upon as being a negative because there is something society doesn’t like about them. Then the whole community in either one is painted with the same brush. If a house is ruined by a careless profit driven cannabis grower then the whole community is looked upon as being like that. Naturists have the same problem. A few bad apples can ruin it for everyone.

Other than that I’d say that being a naturist is no different than being anyone else. They gather around a picnic table and talk, go swimming, participate in events, go camping and in the end they are no different than a person who is dressed other than naturists do it with no clothes on.

Some people would say why would you want to socialize naked? From what I recall many people I know would go skinny dipping which to many is a fun carefree time. Others will sit around in a dressing room in varies stages of undress or share a large shower stall with their friends after a sports game. I’m sure at times social conversations come up from time to time. So if its ok for people to do these things then what’s so much different from people wanting to sit around a table, play cards and have a few drinks while doing so with no clothes on. To some its weird to others it’s natural, as natural as the cannabis that many people consume for recreational to medical purposes.

OG: Any advice for someone feeling stigmatized for being or doing something that is considered a subculture?

Educate others … before I became a cannabis advocate I was involved in other things that society doesn’t like, fast cars and 4×4 truck off-roading. If you allow others to control the message in what you see is no harm to society, it will never change without people speaking up and educating those around you. Being silent is not the answer. As a car enthusiast who enjoyed a quarter mile race I would promote people to use a proper track or location and not the straight stretch around the corner. When it came to off-roading I brought the off-roaders to the public’s eye by holding public events. This included one of the largest off-road competitions in the province that got media coverage which eventually became an event at the local fair. As an off-roader we would get involved in trail cleaning to public education. Allowing people to see how it’s different than the way that they’ve been led to believe, can and will change people’s minds.

Cannabis has been the same thing for me. Get out in the public and give them a new face to picture when they are talking about what you are doing. If it’s a legal activity and society is down on it, give them a reason to look at it another way. Advocates of any kind, need to change the face that society believes its seeing to the one that they want it to be.

OG: Do you remember when you first smoked pot or when you first fell in love with it?

I was 12-13 years of age when I had my first toke which was of some hashish. I was with some friends and we smoked it in our backyard pool change room.

OG: How to do you feel about Anarchy as a political solution of sorts?

Like your capitalist question I don’t think of this much either. I like government that’s there for the people as it is created by the people for the people. Once the government goes too far then yes they should be held accountable and not just once every four years in an election. A government that governs for its own life and not for those who it represents is no longer a government that represents the people.

OG: What is your favourite way to spend a day?

I have many. This would include from doing nothing, a walk with my dog to spending time educating people about cannabis.

OG: Tips for novice joint rollers?

As a person who struggled early on with rolling my advice would be … who cares what it looks like. The main thing is that it burns. Naturism is the same way; no one cares what you look like just as long as you are having a good time.

OG: Where do you think Stoner Heaven is?

Stoner Heaven will be places in the world that actually legalize cannabis. It’s where people will go and socialize and be with likeminded people. It’ll be a place where the cannabis consumer doesn’t have to live under a threat of persecution and a place where no one is looked down upon because of their use of cannabis, as a food, fiber or as their medication.

OG: How late do you think I am in general? How are you so on time?

LOLOL … from my experience I’d say you’re always a few hours late. Why am I always on time? Because people are waiting for me and I can’t let them down. We both also suffer from the same medical condition but one that affects each of us differently. While most of your lateness with me has been morning related I would have thought the nighttime ones you’d be fine. But then again I do recall you showing up hours late for the Treating Yourself dinner once or twice.

OG: Anyone you’d love to work on a project with?

To tell you the truth, I really don’t know. Throughout my time as a cannabis advocate I’ve had the opportunity to meet and be involved with so many people. As a patient advocate I’d work and have worked with almost anyone as long as they weren’t a negative to, or in, the cannabis community.

OG: I think an amazing part of being a medical marijuana patient is the community of great people I get to interact with. Can you talk a little bit about your cannabis community?

The cannabis community that I interact with involves a wide range of people. They can be in their early 20’s to into their 70’s. They are new advocates and they are well seasoned ones too. They are people who believe cannabis laws are unjust and need to be changed. Some of them are patients and some of them are recreational consumers. But no matter what, they are all friendly, would do anything to help each other and are not people as described by those in authority positions. Many of them will come and help during a non-cannabis or cannabis event and support what P.A.C.E is doing. In the end they all have one goal in common… that is to end cannabis prohibition.

OG: Do you think marijuana will be legalized and taxed someday and if so when?

Yes I do and it will happen in 2017-2018. The only reason it won’t is because Stephen Harper wins the 2015 election or the now partisan Conservative dominated Senate refuses to pass a cannabis legalization bill from a Liberal government.

OG: What upsets you most about the medical marijuana access regulation changes?

What upsets me the most is that they are taking away our right to growing our own medication. While some people say the MMAR was a bad program, which I agree with to a point, I really blame its problems on the administrators of the program. This would the federal government which includes both the Liberals and the Conservatives.

OG: Other than cannabis what is a key part of your stress and pain management regime?

For stress I have found that quiet peaceful times such as when I’m walking the dog around town or in the park helps. I’ve also found out that holding things in can be bad for your health so I’ve found that talking has also helped. Some people around me wish I spoke up more about my problems instead of just helping others with theirs. Most of my pain is muscle related so to reduce that I reduce what I do physically until the sore and stiffness goes away. No prescription pain meds are on my list of helpers.

OG: Is there anything you avoid thinking about when you are high because it trips you out too much? (e.g. teeth, outer space)

Stress …

OG: Is there something about yourself you think people would be shocked to know? If so, do share.

Although I’ve done a lot of writing, met a lot of people and do public speaking, I’m really a shy quiet guy unless I get my feathers ruffled. Otherwise not many know I’m a Naturist.

OG: How do you feel about feminism?

People only need a movement to fight for equal rights when their rights are being violated. The fact that there is a movement like this is a failure on society as a whole. I say that because it only makes common sense to me that woman should have equal rights to everything. We are all human and we are all supposed to be equal. While that may make sense in a first world country many women suffer in places where people are not as well off. These places need feminism to speak out and force the issue, so that we are all equal in life. As a cannabis advocate I know how important it is to speak out, in order to further what you believe in and what is right.

OG: Can you comment on a few women you look up to?

I’ve always looked up to my mom. Mothers are the glue in any relationship and throughout life. Other than that there are a lot of women that I come across on a daily basis that are fighting to end the war against the cannabis plant. To me they are to be looked up to by those who are inspiring to help end the war on a plant.

OG: What stoner stereotypes do you fully embrace? Are there any that you find offensive or untrue?

Embrace …  Advocate

Offensive … “pot head”, “lazy”, “bad for society”… oh I could go on ……

OG: What’s next for you?

That chapter isn’t written yet so we’ll all find out when it happens …

I’m sure you can all see why Al Graham is our 2014 Man of The Year!!

Thank you for all your time, kindness, wisdom and inspiring words Al!

Toke it easy,

OG

Article source Stoner Girls Guide
the Stoner Girls Guide
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