A Tribute to Barbara Jackson 1936-2008
Ganja Granny sez…..
A few years ago, I decided to step out of my smoke filled closet and go public by standing up for what I believe in. Legalization of Marijuana! My life changed dramatically…. Many times, I have been touched by newspaper stories in some way, to the point of saying that I would write a letter or make a phone call. Like most of us, I was distracted by everyday living and did nothing…
The morning that it all changed… started out as it did every A.M. I had my coffee and read the daily papers…….
I had not anticipated this change but instinctively knew that when change reared its head, I had to welcome it. I had to do what I had to do…. I read about Barbara Jackson, a 70 some year old great grandmother, suffering from colon cancer. She happened to be an Afro-American, living in the Bronx, a borough of New York City, on a 179th St. She used marijuana to help her to eat and to relieve nausea and pain….Family members or friends would help her obtain whatever she needed. Unfortunately no one was around and Barbara, in her desperation decided to take matters into her own hands…She ventured out to purchase 2 ten dollar bags of marijuana . She was promptly arrested.
She was handcuffed, put in a cruiser, taken to the precinct where she was fingerprinted, had a mandatory mug shot and placed in a holding cell. Ron Kuby the civil rights attorney who had been a protégé of the late William Kunstler, a well known civil rights lawyer…..took her case.
I was outraged reading about this woman. I was infuriated enough that I was compelled to call Mr. Kuby’s office…. I stated that I was white, lived on the upper east side of Manhattan, was also a grandmother, a year younger than Ms. Jackson. I also suffered breast cancer and stated, “there but for the grace of God, go I”…. There was definitely an element of prejudice here. The chances of this happening to me was not impossible but highly improbable and I wanted to go to court for Barbara and stand with her…..this phone call was the beginning of public activism for me.
The case was finally dismissed! Barbara and I were different in many ways but there was much more that we had in common… Which made us one and the same…we teamed up and billed ourselves as “Ganja Grannies”….we became quite close in our short time together and joked about being like the black and white Scotties on a scotch bottle…. Barbara became a poster girl, a martyr for medical marijuana… She was a trooper in every sense of the word.. She would speak out wherever she could and thought nothing of standing on a corner handing out fliers promoting legalization…
Miss Joan Marie Moossy
with Ganja Grannies Barbara Jackson
& Arlene Williams
Barbara Jackson’s Singing
debut At the Yippie Museum
Ganja Grannies at
Marijuana/Rally NYC 2008
The last few months of her life became increasingly difficult…. the pain increased, she tired easily and had difficulty breathing. We were to speak at a rally in front of the U.N…. It was a cold, windy day and the rain drizzled off and on …Still… Barbara hung in there…She asked me to do the speech alone. We started out at 10 am and it was now after 4 pm. I insisted that she stand next to me and with me. …W e managed to attend a fund raiser later in the month for Marijuana Policy Project in New York City. At the end of May, early June, she traveled to Albany, the capital of New York, with several other patients to testify about the need for medical marijuana…
The next 2 months were downhill.. We continued to make plans, dreaming up ways to get the word out to “the everyday people” . I encouraged her to hang in there. We talked about plans we had to fly to Amsterdam for the “Cannabis Cup” in November… Finally she was hospitalized…. The cancer spread rapidly, a lung collapsed. She drifted in and out of consciousness…..Her last words for me were… ” it’s not the marijuana! The marijuana is fine!..” in other words…. She was testifying one last time. The marijuana did not cause her death. The marijuana is what kept her going . She died early evening, Saturday, August 16th, 2008…her fight was over. Mine was just beginning…
I promised her and her family, including my family… I would continue her fight and push for change. I continued stepping up my efforts to get the word out by taking it to the streets and to the people and wearing a green ribbon.. I am certain if you met Barbara you would not forget her…… We encourage our friends around the world to petition their heads of state in an effort to legalize marijuana everywhere. In Barbara’s memory, we will rally together and pledge to make a difference in this mission to legalize marijuana….God bless you Barbara! You are our hero in this war……. Every time I take a toke I will think of you….my faith tells me you are at peace and that wherever you are “its all legal!”….
Ganja granny sez ,wear your green ribbon proudly!
Arlene Williams., aka Ganja Granny.
THOUGHTS OF MY MOTHER by Doris
I thought my mother was awesome. She had been through so much, and was still pulling and pushing for everyone who needed her help. I didn’t understand how she’d survived but she did. I loved my mother so much that I started to hate her. I thought she did not understand me. I was just like her. Giving. I did not understand her when she would tell me that I could not always be right. But she was! She was an advocate for any one that needed her help. She took and gave to everyone. Never for herself! That is what took her from us too early in her life.
Mother worked for everyone and shorted herself. None of us realized she was as ill as she was. When I would say certain things to her, she would say “OH WELL! YOU WILL GET OVER IT!” I still hurt! I want people to know that there is help out there. Mother would say, you just have to plug into the right sauce! She struggled with cancer and it took her down. She did not eat or sleep. She lost so much weight. I started to question her. She did not like it! I was right! Something was wrong! Mother was very sick! I did not live with her but she had my children. When she needed something, I would go get it for her..Until one day having my own demons to fight I disappeared! Because I was not there, she went out for herself. Things went terribly wrong. Mother was arrested buying marijuana. If Mother could have had legally what she needed to keep her comfortable, maybe she would be here right now to see her beautiful new grandson Camren. He is now 3 months old with a beautiful girl cousin who is on her way any day now. Mother loved her children and their children. She fought a battle and she lost. She fought for medical marijuana. I pray that someone can make a way for those who struggle with illness and need an alternative medication.
Mother was afraid of the prescribed medicine given to her because of all the side effects she suffered. Mother tried them and the medication took her down faster than the colon cancer she suffered with. They did not work for her. I pray that all those who suffer will get the help they need. We don’t want to watch anyone suffer and die as my mother did. We need LEGALIZED marijuana now.
This statement was written in her own words and reflects her personal pain and that of her family.