Parents 4 Pot was founded just over three years ago with the mission of helping families harmed by cannabis prohibition. Immediately after its inception, the organization (affectionately dubbed P4P for short) began its initial holiday drive to support families of individuals who are incarcerated for cannabis crimes. The group served 10 families that first year, fulfilling Amazon wishlists and providing Christmas cheer and a sense of community for families that often feel abandoned by the more mainstream marijuana movement.
Last year around the holidays, Parents 4 Pot more than doubled the number of people served, adding cannabis refugee families that have had to abandon their homes, pack or sell their belongings, and in certain cases even move in order to adequately treat their medically fragile loved ones—often children—in states with legal and accessible cannabis legislation. We also added some activist families that had fallen on hard times. Last year’s campaign was a roaring success, fulfilling every list in its entirety and proving yet again that there is widespread generosity within the cannabis community.
This year, we have more than 30 families, including some from previous years and many new ones as well. Fundraising is difficult in December, as many organizations compete for a limited amount of money. Still, we have families from across the country to help, from New England, to Pennsylvania, to Colorado, to the Pacific Northwest. Some have left behind their homes, jobs, and families in Connecticut, Florida, Texas, Milwaukee, and Tennessee. What they all have in common is that they have had their families torn apart over a plant.
These are the casualties. Take the families of Luke Scarmazzo and Ricardo Montes, who are each serving in excess of two decades for operating a dispensary in California. Their children can use our help, as can the daughters of Crystal Munoz, who was sentenced to more than 19 years for offenses related to a map of drug trafficking checkpoints. Parents 4 Pot received handwritten holiday lists from Crystal’s daughters, one of whom, an 8-year-old, simply asked for, “My Mom home.” Her letter puts into perspective why we work so hard to bring these stories to light. Though we can’t bring Crystal home, we can bring her some holiday cheer.
We can also bring cheer to the Meehan family, which has been divided for two years. Mother Susan and her daughter CyndiMae left behind the rest of their family and their home in Connecticut in order to legally treat CyndiMae’s devastating seizure disorder. While living in Maine, Susan advocated for pediatric access in her home state. When that didn’t pass, she made the difficult decision to relocate her entire family. Parents 4 Pot is committed to bringing them some holiday cheer as they struggle to make ends meet in their new home, which did not come equipped with a central heating system.
And then there is Lindsey Beck. Lindsey is an adult cannabis patient who is also with the Connecticut chapter of Parents 4 Pot. With cannabis treatment, Lindsey has been able to decrease her use of pharmaceuticals that were limiting her quality of life. In her struggle, she has faced the Department of Children and Families, and also advocated at the State House for patient rights. Lindsey’s medical conditions make consistent employment difficult, and Parents 4 Pot wants to help make a small miracle come true for this activist and her son.
At Parents 4 Pot, we connect every day with people who are in desperate situations, and who are making difficult decisions. This is the time of year when we can turn that despair into hope—hope that comes in a tangible package with a bow. The reward comes in the smile of a little girl who forgets for a fleeting moment that the one thing she really wanted was her mom home. We strive to bring education, awareness, advocacy, and support year-round. But right now we aim for something even larger. A Christmas miracle.
To help out, visit Parents 4 Pot at parents4pot.org and read more about the families and their wishlists. You can purchase items there for as little as $2, or you can make a direct donation to Parents 4 Pot, who will ensure that it is distributed among families. Want to sponsor a family? They can arrange for that too!
Jill Osborn is an activist but more importantly a mom. She began advocating for cannabis in 2012 with the medical use ballot initiative in Massachusetts, advocating for reasonable pediatric regulations and for her daughter, who has a severe seizure disorder and can greatly benefit from cannabis medicine. Jill documents her journey as a mom and activist on her blog Seizing Hope, and serves as the family outreach director and Massachusetts chapter leader for Parents 4 Pot. She likes to remind legislators and the public alike that kids are patients too.