Susan Soares, a cannabis activist in Southern California, recently wrote a book entitled ‘What’s Growing in Grandma’s Garden’ that she hopes will help parents talk to their kids about cannabis, with illustrations by Gustav Davis. She’s currently raising funds to hire the illustrator to complete the book and self publish it through Facebook. Soares spoke to High Times about how she has dedicated her life to educating people about cannabis, including this book.
Previously an active leader in the Mormon church, and such a staunch opponent of cannabis that she called the police on some neighborhood teenagers simply for smoking it, Soares explains that she had her conversion when, after a concussion, she had a consistent migraine headache for the next two years. When a friend offered her some marijuana, she was more than a little trepidatious.
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“It scared me because I knew that if it worked, that my family would turn their backs on me and the Church would turn their backs on me, and when you’re a Mormon that’s your entire community. That’s your life. You’re not supposed to hang out with anybody that’s not a Mormon unless you’re trying to bring them into the Church. But I didn’t have any choice. I was at the end of my rope.”
“So I tried it. And I kept using it for about six weeks and my migraine went away—never, never to return.” Although her family rejected her, as expected, Soares founded a nonprofit, CARE (Cannabis Awareness Rallies and Events), moved to Southern California, and changed political affiliations from staunch Republican to liberal Democrat.
Soares had waited until her children grew up to become the cannabis activist that she was, although she first tried it when they were younger. She started wondering if this was the right thing to do. Soares found that almost everyone who used cannabis, including people within the cannabis community, hid it from their children. “It’s crazy, even people in the industry, I think especially people in the industry, they don’t really want to talk their kids about it because they still want it to be a secret.”
The taboo was more interesting considering how comfortable people are drinking in front of their kids. “Alcohol has enjoyed many decades of marketing to the point where it’s almost obligatory to have alcohol at holidays and celebrations. But cannabis doesn’t have that luxury.”
The solution? Soares set about writing a children’s book. The result, ‘What’s Growing in Grandma’s Garden.’ is told from the perspective of a young boy.
“He comes over and he loves Grandma’s garden. They plant together, he loves pulling out carrots and eating them while they’re so fresh. And they talk about good bugs and bad bugs and they go roly-poly hunting,” says Soares. She has cannabis plants in a greenhouse. Grandma says “You can look but not touch.”
Why he asks? Because his brain is still developing, so he’ll have to wait until he grows up to try cannabis.
The book ends, like many children’s stories, has a happy and comforting ending. “Then they have a family barbecue, and they’re in the backyard, in the garden, and they’re eating the fresh veggies. And someone’s drinking a beer and somebody else has some wine. And Grandma is sitting downwind with the wind blowing in her hair and she’s smoking a joint.”
Credit: Darrin Harris Frisby/Drug Policy Alliance