As the heavens open above and the land is cultivated below, Mother Nature bestows plants for mankind to grow. This power held within Earth gives rise to life. It may be a myth but long-live the modern-day legend: the story of the legalization of medical cannabis in Greece.
A main character changing the narrative is Jackie Poitras, a Canadian woman who has been living in Greece for the last 30 years. Jackie has been at the forefront of Greece’s cannabis initiative and is also bringing together mothers reaping the benefits of one of nature’s wonders – medical cannabis.
For Jackie, cannabis was the one medicine that had been missing from her daughter’s treatment for Aicardi Syndrome, a non-curable, rare brain malformation that is characterized by refractory epilepsy.
It took 13 years after her daughter Maia was born for Jackie to learn about a medical cannabis treatment that could improve Maia’s quality of life.
“After watching a CNN report on CBD, I did some exploring. Through an off chance meeting on a Facebook group, I found a father who gave us a bottle of oil to try,” Jackie said. Perhaps it was some form of divine intervention.
Nothing legally prescribed had the same effect as cannabis – a plant that politicians decided to prohibit although Mother Earth provided it.
“Maia would be different today if we had known about, and been able to use, cannabis oil as a baby…The first day we gave her the oil, something happened that my son and I couldn’t believe,” Jackie shared.
That day, Jackie set the lunch table like she normally would with a glass of water placed in front of Maia. Normally, Jackie would hold the glass to Maia’s lip to assist her her in drinking water.
“Maia reached for the glass, took a sip and put it down without spilling a drop,” Jackie exclaimed. Seeing something they had never witnessed before, Jackie and her son looked at each other with both shock and joy in their eyes. In response to her son’s reaction, “Mama did you see that?,” she cheered, “Yes! I saw that.”
“The immediate results can sometimes be shocking – often bringing about better interaction with the child from the very first drop! Then there is also the long term results we have had with Maia’s seizures…People talk about miracles, but it is not a miracle. It’s a plant that we have ignored for the last 80 years,” Jackie acknowledged.
Some tales that are told promote cannabis as a one-size fits all miracle cure, but not all who medicate are bound for the same miraculous fate. Rather than debating the difference between curing and treating, perhaps “the argument is a moot point,” since improving is a form of saving and “for many, improvement is more than ever hoped for,” as Jackie noted.
She continued to explain, “I know that Maia’s condition cannot be cured. But when she goes from having ten seizures per day to one seizure every ten days, there is no question that the quality of her life is different.”
Jackie experienced how illegality interfered with her daughter’s quality of life, “it was so unfair and so unjust. I didn’t want any other family to feel that way when cannabis could help them.”
Beginning in 2016, Jackie started knocking on doors.
“Half of every road is just starting out. Go knock on a door, and another door and another…There is no other choice, just get up and keep going,” she advised other cannabis change makers.
After locking in more than 43,000 signatures in a petition to legalize medical cannabis, she presented patients’ stories to lawmakers who were politically literate but medicinally illiterate.
Patients’ experiences were supplemented by committee gathered evidence; societal beliefs were overturned by personal stories. The next chapter in the book was the evolution of cannabis legality: Greece legalized medical cannabis in June of 2017. Talk about a true legend!
The storyline would not be complete without recognizing other characters supporting the plot.
“In every country, someone comes to the forefront of legalization. It is usually someone that people can identify with because that’s how society works. In most cases, it’s been women and mothers. Families that bring about this super rapid change…this is fire by families,” Jackie added.
A maternal instinct is as natural as Mother Nature’s organic matter. It is no coincidence that one of her gifts to the world – cannabis – is becoming characteristic of many mothers’ personal missions.
Legalization was Jackie’s first mission accomplished, but it is certainly not her last.
“Even if cannabis is legal and I have a right to get a prescription, who will prescribe it?… The lack of education in medical practices is the number one issue. So the first thing on my agenda now is finding a way to educate doctors,” Jackie said.
Jackie also started an organization called Mamaka – Mothers for Cannabis (Mamaka is a sweet way of saying Mommy in Greek) as a source of information and support for patients and their families. Like mamas themselves, Mamaka is also a force of political change for cannabis legislation.
Jackie is tirelessly working to get medicine and information out to the people. She is building an international neighborhood to connect the roots of motherhood. Her passion fuels her to somehow find 25 hours in the day and 8 days in the week.
The truth of the matter is, “listen to your Mama, she always knows best.” Let’s all listen and learn from the woman who is helping to write the Greek cannabis legend: Jackie Poitras.