Love and Cannabis 0010: Stigma & Black Family

It is going to take a lot of effort for the world to overcome 70 years of negative cannabis propaganda. Despite the mountains of evidence and supporting research, a large portion of the population is still reluctant to accept cannabis as a legitimate medicine. As a black family raising a special needs child, Osiris and Nina have witnessed the stigma first-hand. They talk about some of their unsettling experiences and how they've persevered.

*Produced By MJBulls Media | Cannabis Podcast Network*

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Dan Humiston:
For too many years, families of children with devastating illnesses felt helpless as they watched their child suffer. Today, they're taking matters into their own hands and finally, finding relief. Treating No Child with Cannabis. This is one family's story.

Osiris Stephen & Nina Simmons:
Welcome to another episode. Cannabis. I am Nina Simone and I am Osiris Stephen and we are the proud parents Aiden Stephen.

Osiris Stephen:
Hey, guys, welcome to another episode. I hope everyone's doing well.

Nina Simmons:
Today we're gonna talk about stigma and stereotypes.

Osiris Stephen:
This is so huge. Yes, just unbelievably huge.

Nina Simmons:
I mean, yeah. As it relates to the black family and Cannabis.

Osiris Stephen:
Well, I mean, Cannabis itself is still trying to overcome its stigma. I mean, with the media marketing, you can't really market on television with Cannabis to really try to remove that stigma. But yet some people are. I mean, it's becoming almost mainstream in a way, because now people are hearing more about a CBD that been like the trailblazer. So it's changed. So we went from underground now to people wearing suits and ties and getting involved in the industry. So it's it's interesting how it's changed, but the stigma is still there as well as the stereotypes. Exactly. And that's one of things that we're going to talk about today. Well, I wanted to ask is one of many things we won't talk about today. But first off, let's. Like, how do we define stigma? You know, like when you hear stigma, like, do you have a definition already in your mind? So when we did some research looking it up, stigma is an association of disgrace or public disapproval with something such as an action or condition. So is so that. So the stigma of Cannabis is already stained. So that's like, you know, already negative. Yeah, definitely.

Nina Simmons:
So as the stigma around Cannabis is that you are stoned on function, no criminal criminal drug dealer lazy or a stoner one that's the stoner types on.

Nina Simmons:
Yeah. You do not have any impact on society.

Osiris Stephen:
Oh yeah. You're the worst. At a bottom you're bringing a community down or you're a hippie one. The other ones with this hippie hit you get a hippie. Yes.

Osiris Stephen:
It was so interesting is that it almost affected all races to a certain extent because, you know, people in jazz, people of color, were you smoking marijuana back in the 30s, 40s? And then you had whites in the 60s, hippies that were, as you said, that were using Cannabis. And then, you know, you look in Jamaica, they grow it everywhere. So they were using it. I mean, it's interesting. And then now with the Hispanic community in Mexico, they were using but it was not used in the way that we thought at this time, you know, and it's changed. It's just evolved to where it is now, like ours. Medicine. Yeah, it is literally medicine. Our first taste. For some people, the stigma still stays. It's still that they hold on to it. Outdated information and incorrect information. Exactly. But, you know, that was more I don't even think it was a politicamovement. It was more of an economic. It was. It was all based on economics. I mean, it was a verse, even in the Bible that talks about they were using cameras for medical reasons. Yeah, even spiritual. Yeah, mostly spiritual. They were using back then.

Nina Simmons:
So we are going to define stereotype.

Osiris Stephen:
Yes, stereotypes is another part of that goes into stigma. They just almost, almost they can't overlap. Yes, they overlap interrelated.

Osiris Stephen:
So the finest in overall isn't overgeneralize belief about a particular category of people. Stereotypes are generalized because one assumes that the stereotype is true for each individual person in the category which does us. Generalizations may be useful when making quick decisions. Maybe be erroneous when applied to particular individuals.

Osiris Stephen:
Stereotypes encourage prejudice and may arise for a number of reasons. So this is it. This is a big one. That's more or less what you could look at as a it's subjective. Exactly. It becomes subjective. So I mean, if you're thinking about the stereotypes, basically just what we define stigma is in a sense of the stoners, the hippies, the criminals and you know, and people become. It's labor with such to the point where they're like, oh, well, a you know, is this right? For people to be labeled as such, and they're nowhere near that, I mean, my just looking at our family now, we're a black family. We have our son who's using Cannabis to treat his epilepsy. I mean, already he's he's gonna be labeled. He's already had the stereotype. Young black Vito live in an urban city here. So his life is being already stamped. But as parents, we had to change that. I mean, we're typically not Cannabis families to begin with.

Osiris Stephen:
I mean, I've had my experience when I was in my teens, when it was first introduced to me, you know, from some guys I used to hang out with, like, hey, you know, I try I'm like, OK, I did it just because everybody else was doing it. Didn't care for him, much of it. I've seen, you know, the negative sides in a positive substance says that it actually relaxed me, allowed me to think differently, have conversations that I would normally not have. But then the other side of it, depending on your strength. Now that I've learned in educating myself, there were certain strains that would make me sleepy, make me nuts, not want to do anything that has had the munchies. But at the same time, I was never feeling violent like how alcohol used to do. But I used to just more than just hang out and just, you know, relax. Have conversation and eat a lot. Basically those munchies.

Osiris Stephen:
But fast forwarding now, you know, 30 years somewhat 40 years later. Wow. Hold on a second. I'm using something that I really didn't think was I'll be a part of my future. I'm using now to help treat my son and his epilepsy. So my perception had to change. And I think that's what needs to happen.

Exactly. So for me, my personal experience was it was I cannot believe the stereotype and the stigma. I was one of those people, as they say, no to drugs.

Nina Simmons:
I believe that bad people smoked pot, that if you knew what you were a drug user and you were bad for the community, you were just a bad person. Because I really believed it. I didn't this. I did not smoke. I was the poster person for say no to drugs.

Osiris Stephen:
Finally, I grew up in a community that just turned to drugs. Ever doing a cracker.

Osiris Stephen:
It was bad.

Nina Simmons:
So, you know, I really didn't think that there was any I didn't even think that there was any medical use.

It was just you're just a person that just did drugs. If you did any weed, you just did drugs and you were a bad person in you doing some good things to your body. And you just wanted to get high. I just wanted to get high here and do this.

Osiris Stephen:
Younger and younger people using it. And I've known people to use it because they couldn't function without it. I literally could not get through the day unless they had some in the morning just to get through the day. And I never understood it until now. Only they were self medicating. They were self medicating.

Osiris Stephen:
Yeah. What's so interesting is you look at it, you compare using cannabis versus smoking cigarettes to do with stress. You have a positive effect using cannabis than you would with cigarettes, cigars. You just pretty much slowly killing yourself in a long, long term, basically. And with cannabis, you healing yourself. Yeah. So it's interesting. But depending how the media and how is being marketed, you got a twisted language you just like is the way we had those conversations is interesting.

Nina Simmons:
And the black community, especially you deal with a lot of stress and negativity is already getting ready. And I think and definitely stereotyped.

Nina Simmons:
So these people who are basically smoking, they probably use it as an outlet to relax as to how people use wine at night. Yeah. And judging those people who are having their glass of wine at night.

Nina Simmons:
But the people who were using their Cannabis to wind down, they went to jail.

Osiris Stephen:
Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Thank you for decriminalization. Yeah. They went to jail for it and longed for a very long time. Ruined people's lives. So like how do you as a person who's been arrested for something now that's legal? I'm in a jail. I'm looking at the world now and it's completely changed.

Osiris Stephen:
It's like, hold on. I only had a house and I'm doing three to five, 10 years maybe. And there's people out there making millions of dollars off of it.

Nina Simmons:
It's not fair.

Osiris Stephen:
It is absolutely absurd. And then if you're like you've already got a triple stamp on you, you're almost like, done. I was like, how do you rebuild? And you really literally have to be strong minded and have a strong will be like, OK. Once I get out and have a game plan, I'm going to change. But then they have to also expunge your records so you can feel free to state that, you know, you don't have a felony record because again. Something like this. A plant. You being arrested for and have your life ruined for.

Nina Simmons:
Exactly. So when just in the last two years is when I started doing some research, particularly when we started using it with Aiden, and then I found out like, wow, this they've been using this medically from their nearly 80 hundred and eighty hundreds in this country anyway, because they were using it in the other countries where as naturally come from there, I was like, what? Wait a minute.

Nina Simmons:
So there was this particular the nineteen in nineteen thirties when the Marijuana Tax Act was placed, there was this doctor Nane, Dr. William Will Woodward. He testified on behalf of the American Medical Association. The AMC, he told Congress that the American Medical Association knows of no evidence that marijuana is a dangerous drug. Even back then, and he warned that the prohibition loses sight of the fact that future investigation may show that there are substantial medical uses for Cannabis.

Nina Simmons:
But Congress ignored his statement. Yea, we know why. So I was like, wait a minute. I believed everything that they were telling me. And yet this happened and they knew that there was medical use for this. And they ignored a doctor.

Osiris Stephen:
Well, I mean, you had to understand what was going on back then. They were literally trying to control every aspect of our lives. I mean, you think about it. If you have this plant growing in your backyard, including the Hemp, you could literally separate yourself from needing to be dependent on the government to take care of you.

Nina Simmons:
You could feed yourself and you can treat yourself. And they didn't want that. Of course, that's the end picture. Because look, look at the endless possibilities. What you can do with this plan.

Nina Simmons:
You know, that's freedom. I was watching on that plantation. You know, it changed me because I was like, how many people lives could have been different?

Nina Simmons:
Yes. With introduction of this old and from the 1930s. And then they could have been conducting research since then and since then. But they haven't.

Osiris Stephen:
But they just and they wouldn't really step away have said it. Trust me, they have, because that's why the government has certain patents. In CERN, pharmaceutical companies, perhaps they know exactly what they're doing, so for them, it's all about control and that's why sometimes I'm kind of concerned about this industry. Will it end up back into their hands while all these companies are growing and growing, you know, expanding their CBD product line, their candidate candid Hemp product line. You know, all these things that they're growing and they becoming more valuable. You know, and everyone's talking about this industry that, you know, at some point one of the major players, pharmacy companies, will come in and just basically buy an out and then eventually it'll end up back in their hands. But this is the plan for the people.

Osiris Stephen:
That's my thought, is the plan for the people and it's in it's crazy in a way, it's like it's going to see like it's going to be playing itself out here.

Nina Simmons:
I mean, even some days I get nervous. So we're able to get her CBD in order. You can go through it. Even some drugstores. And I'm wondering if that's going to stop.

Osiris Stephen:
Well, I look at it this way, as long as this stigma is going to be a. I mean, it's moving quickly. But to get to where we need to be is still some time. There's still some time. But also, we still have to get over the stigma. That part is still there. It is still there.

Nina Simmons:
I give you an example. So, Aiden. Oh, and when he was in pre-K, he had a private nurse and the nurse came up to me and said, oh, I think it needs to be on more on at least three seizure meds.

Nina Simmons:
And I said, he is.

Nina Simmons:
And as I said, he's on this this and he's on a CBd. He goes, oh, the CBd doesn't count. I was.

Nina Simmons:
I said, excuse me.

Nina Simmons:
I said, there is research behind this. Oh, no, no, no. I don't know if that you know, we don't know about that. I said, oh, here we go. Like, it just it was this there's always this battle, even though there is research. Like I said, the stigma is still there. Yeah. And people and type. And people are not letting go. They're not.

Osiris Stephen:
And also, I wonder how much of that stereotype also goes into some of the prejudice. People have, especially when they interact with, OK, a black time, because sometimes you say all you black people are paranoid, like now there's a certain sign sometimes that you pick up the certain energies, like, for instance, arson is delayed.

Osiris Stephen:
So he gets services. So he was getting P. T the O T and speech.

Osiris Stephen:
And when we used to have the providers come into the home. I remember initially the first provider came over to the house. She wouldn't engage with me at the time I was a stay home dad. So I was always the one to be there. So I needed to know what's going on. I need to be involved. So I was involved. My wife and I, you know, Dena. and I were sitting there. She wouldn't have more conversations with Nina. Then she would put me in. I'm trying to figure out like hell I'm over here. Talk to me. And so in my mind, like thinking, is this something personal? And I couldn't understand it. So I would always try to redirect thought. It would always go back. She'd feel annoyed. This continued on with even the people that worked in her office and people that we met. It wasn't until to one of the providers who came over working with Aiden an axiom. I said, what's going on with somebody's service provides why they're not engaging conversations with me. If I'm going to be the one home says, look, I'm a be honest. Most of the homes that we go into, the father's not their. It's always the mothers that we deal with. So you have to understand that these are the things that they pick up and say, you know what? He's not going to be here anyway. I'll just deal with the mother.

Osiris Stephen:
The mother is the one that makes all the decisions. And they basically opened my eyes. I said. OK, so that's somewhat of a stereotype. And that can be a stigma, especially if you're black male, black father. You know, this times I walk with aid in and I get this reception. People like me all. Yeah. Keep it up. Oh, I'm so proud of you. You know, you guys were great. And it's like we're just walking down the street. His father holding his son's hand. And for me, being a first time dad, never really having a male figure in my house as I can call dad. This is new. So I'm doing this as I go along. But I'm learning so much about myself. Do you know that dynamics and understanding, stigmas, stereotypes, especially being a black male with a son who's using Cannabis? So it's a totally different level. And also the fact that he has a disability currently has a disability. So for us, we have to think long term because there is an issue going on in the arts. Urban city, our town where we're noticing that the pattern that of kids who have disabilities, you know, who are in these APIs, in these programs, by the time they reach 18, their future seems on set. Some of them can't make it academically because they didn't learn anything. They were just being passed on to being retained.

Osiris Stephen:
So now they're 18, can't have a job. Kids don't really know how to fill out an application. And now they're looking at what is their future going to be whole. And so there's a pipeline that we're calling it a pipeline to prison. You know, depending on the family that they're growing up and it's a possibility it's a pipeline. And in fact, I recall personally that I have one of my former students. I've worked in a school for 15 years. There's a young man who was also in the same situation as Aiden, who was, you know, disabled, basically. He was in a special program. Once he turned 18, he's out there. He gets himself a rest because he was part of a gang that was involved in attempted murder. Now he's sitting in Rikers. So for us, we have as parents, black parents especially now we have to think about our son in a different way that many other parts may not have to think about. Like his interactions with society, his interactions with what you see on TV, with the media, with meeting with our police officers. Luckily for us, we have to we are best friends who are a police officer. So he gets to see that the site. So he has an interaction with him. So it could be a different outlook. So, you know, apparently this is a different level thinkings that we have now.

Nina Simmons:
Yeah, I do feel that way. So I feel like I'm when I'm at Mom's, I'm like I feel like I do think differently than them.

Nina Simmons:
Yeah. Yeah. I got to say, are issues that are like, yeah, I'm not thinking that.

Osiris Stephen:
Yeah, exactly. You know, I'm thinking, you know, you got to get him my get some exercise work his brain. We got to, you know, figure out his diet play. We got to make sure that he's going to CBD on. We had to worry about, oh, the future, too. Is he going to have the resources that he needs to survive? If we're not around? Yeah.

Nina Simmons:
You know, I do feel that we've been using Nick, a friend of mine, say you to beat your own. I said we have to. We have no choice. It's just us. Just us. And we definitely have to be cognizant of what we do every single day. And we're always thinking ahead.

Osiris Stephen:
Yeah. We've gotten to the point where now we split our roles where I'm teaching him survival skills, how to get dressed, how to brush his teeth, how to, you know, put his clothes on, you know, how to pick out. It's close for the day while Dena. works with him academically. And it's like, OK, in a structured it literally has a structure because we had to prepare him for things. And again, you know, for us, you know, some parents take it for granted, like, OK, I'll get them dressed like a hurry up and get my day, start up, feed him. So good. It's like we it has to be something like program with him. So it's innate. He is unique. So we're like our survival mode early. No matter where I'm at. It's scary.

Osiris Stephen:
And I think it sounds like we're almost living in fear because of these stigmas. I mean. OK, kids using Cannabis to treat himself. And then on top of that, he's black. Oh, is like, okay, so how does this work out? How is he gonna fit society unless the stigma is lifted?

Nina Simmons:
Exactly. So it's so funny that I was thinking as I went Aiden's older and he hears about him being one of the first kids at a medical marijuana car. And it's a stigma going to be lifted. Or is he going to get teased or he's gonna feel bad? Yes, that oh, he's a Cannabis kid. Yeah. Because I think he's the only one in the school. Yes. He's the only one in school. Yeah. So is he going to be happy that we did it? Oh, he's going to feel that resentment. Resentment that we should have done something else. Yeah. Now he's known as a Cannabis Cannabis kid. So I don't know. But, you know, the stigma is not truly lifted. He may feel a certain type of way.

Osiris Stephen:
Yeah. And but then again, you know, to your point, thinking about, you know, do we go out there, become socially involved with him, you know, where everybody gets to see him get to know some of the guys like we're parading him. We used to turn him into a poster child, but it's not. It's bringing awareness. It's like, what are you trying to say about this child? Because, I mean, if you go to academia, they have documents dating, you know, black children already, especially black males, are being already label, especially coming from the inner city are already labeled as such. There's only three ways out for them. Drugs. Prison. Death. Like, really? But I brought it for my belly, you know, having two other brothers, we broken that stereotype. And that stigma, we've already moved away from that. All have graduate, all have their degrees in college, but still sometimes it's still not enough to break that stigma. And the same thing is going to happen with Cannabis. Just because you have research, just because you have people healing from it or benefiting, they're still holding onto a stigma. It's like that generation that's holding onto that stigma are going to be the ones they're going to be benefiting from it. But they don't realize it yet.

Nina Simmons:
I have a friend still call it a chemical. And it's not a scam. It's a plant. People hate it, he says.

Nina Simmons:
Sometimes they just don't know what to say or do.

Nina Simmons:
Yeah, you want to worry, but sometimes I'm not in the mood to get into it. Yeah, depending on the person is like how do you simplify is like the pills. Your popping is a chemical. That's a chemical. It was made in a laboratory from from different things here.

Osiris Stephen:
You're using a plant and you're just processing a different you're putting it in a way that your body can absorb it.

Nina Simmons:
That's it. Yeah. At one time I shaved I was taking CBD at night and I told a co-worker I took CBD this morning and he said, oh, you did?

Nina Simmons:
You don't seem high. I'm like, because I'm not like, it doesn't make you high, whatever that means.

Osiris Stephen:
It was so crazy with the age of technology and information. People are still clueless. They're reclusive. What you're saying is that it's kind of take a very long time.

Osiris Stephen:
It's almost it has to become a movement on a large scale. It just it has to be a educational, social movement. And I think for you brands out there that are looking to you, you're just gonna have to go. Grass roots. Yet. And if you're if we're going to change this and it has to be done collectively, has to be because it's so deep rooted.

Osiris Stephen:
However, you gave a guy some CBD coffee and he said he was nervous. He was like, who am I going to feel a certain way?

Osiris Stephen:
Am I going to be like going to get drug tested?

Osiris Stephen:
There is I show up like it's stupid. Coffee star. Yeah, it's going to take awhile. is long time, but it's scary.

Osiris Stephen:
It's scary. And I'm just stating in our last part of our podcast, when I was at the town hall and I mentioned, you know, how's medical marijuana going to be dealt with in schools? I mean, it wasn't everybody's problem. Isn't that the issue? But the thing is they're not looking down the road, especially if you're a parent. Who has a child with an image? Because people don't realize there is a large number of young black boys. I have to go back. There have been identified as having autism or if I'm on the spectrum, not to take away from, you know, white children, too. But the numbers going for black males with autism spectrum. And I saw a number of them in that meeting. And for them, they don't see that this is something that could benefit them. And that's how I see them, like. I haven't worked in schools. I've seen so many children because I worked in the inner city that could have benefited from using CBT or Cannabis of some form. Yeah. It is absurd. And then now these kids are older, 18, 19 years old.

Nina Simmons:
And they use that. They use it when they were young kids. It could make a difference. It could have made a significant error track there. Yes. Their future.

Osiris Stephen:
Yeah, definitely. You know, and so it goes back to what we're doing is about for our son. And, you know, it's no longer about us enjoying life, taking things easy, just, you know, planning for our future hope and everything. It's like we are on defense mode all the time. Know. But I can be never. So we got to be honest. Cannabis statistic, take us off the edge because every day is like, go, go, go, go. And like at some point your body's on break down your mind, your motions. I mean, just talking about putting this podcast together, we got emotional. So I think I'd like, you know, what's going to happen with Nate and like, how is that going to look? Not always doing the right thing. Are we doing enough? You know, tomorrow, as I promised anyone. You know, because I had no friends pass away recently and it's like I was on that path at one point. So it's like what would happen if I had passed away? What would Aiden be at this point? With you, because now you're alone. So it's these are scary thoughts and it's like, where do we turn? What do we do? And how do we do it? And the stigmas don't help because not a lot of people are going to open their door, especially if you go into mainstream, that you need help and support from them. They're not gonna be able to do so.

Osiris Stephen:
We have to create our own support system. And I think that's one of the things that we do with this podcast is like reaching out to parents and say, hey, you're not alone. We understand because we're going through it. People are not talking about it enough now. And that's that's disheartening because people have a lot to share and they're afraid to share it or do so caught up in their world not knowing what to do. They don't know who to turn to, to share it. And for us, it's like we had to overcome some fears and anxieties about being stereotyped, about the stigma. You know, we had to be strong and that's and that's what's so beautiful about this plant. It had empowered us to do what we're doing. It's amazing. It is amazing. It's like we had this mini movement within our family. And now we have our family members work basically on board now and supporting us and reaching out and reaching out like we were when we first started using Cannabis to help our son and just our family in general, our extended family members later sending us messages, emails. Hey, did you see this article on Cannabis? Hey, did you see this? Hey, did you know about this? Is I really. It took a little bit. But they people are on board now. They're coming around. It's starting to be somewhat mainstream.

Osiris Stephen:
I mean, there's still some movement. Everybody talking to somebody. You know, one of my family members was sitting in the car and almost look like a drug dealer recently. OK. About the CBD thing. I'm like, we're in a car loans. Why are we whispering? We could talk about CBD. We could talk about Cannabis openly. Yeah, I know. I know. He's still whispering. Oh, my God. But he said that fear is still there and it's crazy.

Osiris Stephen:
And it'll take us and what we do with just our family alone to change it. And we don't hide behind as we've been open with all our doctors when we first started using it with aid. And then we've been very open and we've put it out there and saying, hey, look, you either with us or you're not with us. There's hundreds and hundreds doctors out there who will find the right one that fits our needs and we're willing to work and help us heal our child. That's it. That's really what we're looking for right here.

Nina Simmons:
So basically the summary of this is.

Nina Simmons:
Release the stigma. Release the stereotypes.

Osiris Stephen:
Yeah. Let it go. Yeah. Otherwise it just becomes you. But until you're in a situation where you need it, are you going to let go of that signal? I think so. Oh.

Nina Simmons:
If you're in pain and it's helping you. Yeah. You wouldn't really be advocating exactly this time. Yeah, exactly. No ill side effects.

Osiris Stephen:
I still don't understand how people could watch these commercials and still walk away. Say I'm the CEO. This is right for me. All right, folks. It's been it's been an interesting topic and it's really hits home when you think about it with your child.

Osiris Stephen:
And for us, again, there's been a black family in thinking about our son.

Osiris Stephen:
All the many stigmas and fears that we have to address and overcome as we help him on his journey. You know, it's it's scary. It's really scary. But also, we feel empowered because we believe we're we're on the right track and we're doing the right thing. Yeah. So that is it. I think I believe it is. But there's so much more. And I think the next one is by decriminalization, because, again, just going into the thought process of, you know, our child. Could be set up to be going on his trajectory to the. You know, from the suspensions to the prison system. You know, this decriminalization. How much is it helping? Is it hurting? Is it is it doing anything really to remove to help remove the stigma one? And secondly, is it allowing those people who've been hurt by it to recoup whatever they've lost?

Nina Simmons:
Ok. So I think you have a good topic. The decriminalization path that the state is going to be going through right now.

Nina Simmons:
Many states, mainly states in New York. It's interesting.

Osiris Stephen:
All right, guys, thank you for spending another day with us.

Osiris Stephen:
And we look forward to, you know in the next hour. Yes. All right, guys. Have a great day.

Osiris Stephen & Nina Simmons:
Thanks for tuning in. Another episode of Cannabis. I'm osiris stephen and I'm nina simmons be strong and stay empowered.

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