Leading Together – Introducing Elevate New England

It’s not uncommon to find educated, talented people doing their thing in the cannabis space. Indeed, it’s a new industry with a lot of impassioned people coming together to develop the various components that comprise what is, and what will be the local cannabis industry. Leading the charge are three women who not only represent the movers, the shakers, the game-changers in this budding new industry, they are invested in helping others lead shoulder to shoulder with them, especially populations of people who have experienced less than equitable opportunity in New England communities previously.

Who are these trailblazers that you’ll need to know about? They are the founders of ELEVATE New England, an organization created to support the New England cannabis industry’s need for workforce and community education, advocacy, and networking in a professional, inviting atmosphere. Ready to be impressed? Meet the women who have developed this incredible platform designed to be inclusive, educational, and above all, empowering for anyone who wants to get involved.

Leading ladies of ELEVATE New England

Beth Waterfall, the Executive Director of Elevate New England, is a creative marketing and communications mogul with an extensive background in highly regulated industries. She is a Managing Director for the New England Cannabis Conventions – the largest gatherings of cannabis and hemp professionals in the northeast. She is also the former chairwoman for Women Grow Boston. This is important to know because Women Grow Boston acted as the springboard these women needed to develop and launch Elevate New England. Women Grow Boston was a wonderful success, but as a national platform, it proved to be restrictive for developing the local cannabis community network. A more open and inclusive platform that gave back to the local community was needed. As a result, Elevate New England was born. And the local cannabis community is fortunate!

TaShonda Vincent-Lee is Elevate New England’s Treasurer. She is a leader with a diverse background ranging from the behavioral health field to community outreach, political initiative/grass roots campaign development. Most recently, Tashonda was the political campaign manager for Tito Jackson’s Boston mayoral campaign. Beth will be the first to tell you that Tashonda was the first volunteer for Women Grow Boston and she continues to be an empowering force in her current venture with Elevate New England. Tashonda lends her leadership skills as well as her passion for political education, advocacy, and activism to the Elevate New England platform.


Cara Crabb-Burnham is Elevate New England’s Secretary with a broad background in cannabis education. To say she is a cannabis educator is an understatement. Indeed, Cara is a pioneer in her profession and field. She has developed cannabis education programs for local and online organizations. She has served as the elected President and Director of MassCANN/Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition. With her oversight, Elevate New England will serve the community on the educational front by making sure cannabis consumers are well-informed and cannabis business owners, operators, and employees are trained properly to ensure that this industry sets, meets, and exceeds standards of quality and integrity.

Elevate New England opportunities are abundant and boundless

Elevate New England launched early in 2018, but the opportunities flowing out of this networking platform are already quite extensive. Look for educational programs and networking events to pop up all over New England for starters. Some of the markets that will enjoy an Elevate New England affiliation include Connecticut, Providence, RI and Portland, ME.

If you are interested in participating in the local cannabis industry – marketing partnerships, sponsorship opportunities, focus groups opportunities, and opportunities to have products reviewed by Elevate New England’s leadership and advisory boards are just a few offerings on the table to help you connect your product or service with your targeted audience.

Ready to sign up and become a member? Individual memberships are being offered for just $99 until May 2018. And business membership offerings are reasonable which is a testament to the inclusive nature of this soon to be nonprofit organization.

Not ready to sign up but want to get involved? Volunteer opportunities exist too.

Don’t miss this chance to be empowered and encouraged to lead in this exciting new industry. Elevate New England exists for the good of the cannabis industry. Indeed, Elevate New England’s mission is to empower underrepresented populations to work and lead in the cannabis industry, and to empower our communities to be educated customers and responsible consumers.

To learn more about Elevate New England, visit ElevateNewEngland.com

Special thanks to Beth, Cara, and Tashonda for taking the time to speak with me about this wonderful organization. Stay ELEVATED ladies!

Guardian Angel

I am sitting in the waiting room of one of the best hospitals in the world, waiting for a dearly loved one to get out of a needed surgery. A surgery that will provide a diagnosis and answers for what we may be facing as a family. Whatever it is, we will face it as a family. Whatever it is, you bet your ass we will give it hell. Whatever it is, we’ll face it together every step of the way.

And speaking of family…I know that my loved ones who have left this physical world are always with me, but sometimes they make sure I know when they’re more present than usual. They typically make their presence known in mysterious and mischievous ways. Well, one of them made it clear that she is here with us today. Thank goodness.


2005ish? From left to right…Spirit Angel Auntie Melinda, Earth Angel Grampy, and me 

My dearly loved one needed to get admitted to the hospital ahead of surgery. We were greeted by a young woman named Melinda. She shares this name with one of our angels…Melinda is my Aunt who passed away a few years ago. She was my guardian angel here on Earth, and she continues her role from the spirit world. I took this coincidence to mean that she is here with us. She always took her guardian role seriously, so I’m not surprised she showed up today. Thank you Auntie. I appreciate it. I know Darby does too. Love you and miss you.

Dear readers…Please send prayers and healing energy. Because my dearly loved one needs it and deserves it. He really does.

As always – wishing you a bright and beautiful day dear readers. Much love, many hugs. Namaste ❤

When You Are A Calming Influence in the Storm…

Life has been a trial lately. There have been sharp right turns off of the map into uncharted territory. There have been urgent matters, a loss, and emergencies in the lives of my greatest loves, my people, my humans. Crisis has sort of splashed itself all over this very young year. And it’s all very personal in a way that I couldn’t anticipate.

With these events, I realize that there are no accidents in life. Everything is meant to be as it is. And for some of my greatest loves in life, I have been able to use my professional skills and training to assist them in their times of need. I am grateful that I am able to help. I realize that I am the calm in the storm at times, or I am at least well-equipped to steer the boat into calmer waters. It’s a role that I am committed to playing, but I have to help myself with the same level of commitment.


Admittedly, I have crumbled, I have fallen apart a few times. I have been anxious and fatigued for months. I have overreacted to challenging stimuli. I have been a bit lost. I have literally fallen on my ass with legs flying out from underneath me. (Thank goodness for yoga or I would have broken my ass!)  Life will keep throwing things at you until you face the music. At least, that’s how it goes for me. Life can get really noisy and loud. And I need to turn the volume down. And I need to face the music. For me, it’s answering this question…What actions do I need to take to feel better?

To this end, I realize that I need to be writing. I realize that I have been resistant to writing because I have been afraid to let all off this emotion out. I’ve been trying to keep it all under wraps, and those wraps are failing. So I will be writing about it.

photo-broken-cup-iv.pngSo dear readers, I look to you to keep me accountable once again. Because my self-care cup has a crack, it’s leaking, and it barely gets filled. Time to change this. Time to commit to taking care of me in the same way that I will always take care of my greatest loves, my people, my humans, my community. Because I deserve the same level of care. And I’m the best person for the job. I can do this. I know how to do this. I must do this.

Stay tuned for an action plan. And if you too have a cracked, leaking cup…Let’s join forces so we can fill our cups with nourishing, delicious self-care together. Reach out to me!

As always dear readers, I wish you a bright and beautiful day. Much love, many hugs. Namaste. ❤

Healing is a Constitutional Right

How Alexis Bortell Could Improve the Lives of Medical Cannabis Patients by Suing AG Jeff Sessions

Alexis Bortell — Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Alexis Bortell is a medical cannabis patient, an activist, an advocate, and an author. She also happens to be a 12 year old girl who will stand up to the unconstitutionality of current federal cannabis laws in a really big way on February 14, 2018. But first, some background on this remarkable young person.

According to her book, “Let’s Talk About Medical Cannabis” which is co-authored by Alexis, her sister Avery, and their parents — Dean and Analiza Bortell — Alexis started to experience seizures that were resistant to every treatment recommended and prescribed by her doctors. She was 7-years-old when the seizures began. For two years, she struggled with poorly controlled seizures, awful side effects from the litany of pharmaceutical medications she was prescribed, regular testing, and frequent emergency trips to the hospital. Traditional medical treatments failed to keep Alexis’s appropriately named “seizure monster” at bay. So her family turned to the last “safe” option on the table — medical cannabis. The other option was an experimental lobotomy. Her family opted to go with the cannabis therapy instead of the partial brain removal procedure.

Fortunately, the medical cannabis worked. Cannabis immediately relieved the symptoms of Alexis’s intractable epilepsy. Unfortunately, the CBD-only products that were available in her home state of Texas were ineffective in preventing the “seizure monster” from rearing its ugly head. While taking the CBD-only products, Alexis would not experience a seizure for a few days, but then her seizure monster would show up. Turns out, Alexis required whole- plant medical cannabis to eliminate her seizures completely. She required a full spectrum of cannabinoids, including THC — the well-known psychoactive cannabinoid, to adequately treat her condition. She has not suffered a seizure in over three years as a result of using whole-plant medical cannabis.

Unfortunately, whole-plant medical cannabis is illegal in the Bortell’s home state of Texas. The state makes no distinctions between patients who need this medicine like Alexis, and drug-offender criminals. The aptly named war on patients is very real in Texas. Because Alexis is a minor, her parents risked being arrested and prosecuted for drug possession of an illegal substance. They also risked losing their parental rights. But without whole-plant medical cannabis, Alexis would have a seriously compromised and limited life. Her seizure monster would always be threatening its return. She would not be able to thrive in the way that medical cannabis allows her to do. The Bortell family had no choice but to uproot and move to the state of Colorado where Alexis could access the whole-plant medicine that she needs to live a full and functional life. And so, the Bortell family became medical marijuana refugees.

Medical marijuana refugees endure great sacrifices to access medical cannabis

Medical marijuana refugees comprise a growing community of people who move to states that have legalized or decriminalized cannabis programs. Not because they really want to leave everything they know, but because they, or their loved ones require cannabis to treat chronic conditions that are resistant to traditional treatments. The sacrifices they endure are extensive. Many families in the Bortell’s situation have to agree to not only start over in a new location — new jobs, new schools, new communities — they also have to agree to protect their family by abiding by federal law that greatly prohibits them from living a completely free life. In fact, many families are broken up in separate locations just so a struggling family member can access the medical cannabis that they need to function.

Due to the federally illegal status of cannabis, medical marijuana refugees are often unable to move about the country without breaking the law. For one thing, medical cannabis patients may not be able to access the whole-plant medical cannabis they need to control their symptoms in other states, even if the states have medical or adult use programs intact. The other issue, traveling across state lines with cannabis is illegal. So medical marijuana refugees and their families are forced to stay in the state they’ve sought refuge in, essentially imprisoning them.

Nixon-era laws that don’t make sense

According to the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, cannabis is a federally illegal substance. The CSA specifies that cannabis is a Schedule 1 substance with no medical benefit that is also highly addictive. Cannabis shares this schedule with heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine. It is federally illegal to use, sell, or possess cannabis for any purpose. However, there are over 2 million state-legal cannabis patients in the United States according to the Marijuana Policy Project. A significant figure for a substance that supposedly carries no medical benefit.

Marvin Washington et. al. versus Jeff Sessions et. al.

Here’s where Alexis Bortell will really impress you. Because of her limitations — not being able to travel out of Colorado, potentially not being able to access free college tuition offered through her home state of Texas’s Department of Education, and not being able to take advantage of her veteran father’s military health benefits due to the medicine that sustains her being federally illegal, Alexis is one of several plaintiffs who have filed a lawsuit against Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Department of Justice, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and the United States of America. She is joined by former NFL player Marvin Washington, a 6-year-old boy with Leigh’s disease, a disabled combat veteran who cannot use his federal medical benefits to access medical cannabis to treat PTSD, and the Cannabis Cultural Association — an organization that represents people of color who have been negatively impacted by marijuana policies as a direct result of the Nixon-era CSA being steeped in racism. Their main claim? The Controlled Substances Act and the Schedule 1 status of cannabis is unconstitutional, citing the no person can be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process. But according to the CSA, using whole-plant medical cannabis is against the law which effectively deprives people like Alexis and her plaintiff cohorts of this constitutional right.

Her day in court

Alexis Bortell will not be in the New York courtroom on February 14, 2018 because of the aforementioned travel restrictions. Her father Dean Bortell will represent his incredible daughter in her day in court. A day that could improve Alexis’s life, as well as the lives of millions of people who require cannabis to live a quality life freely. If anyone can make the United States of America rethink and amend the antiquated cannabis laws, it’s Alexis Bortell.

Learn more about Alexis and the rest of the Bortell family — https://www.alexisbortell.com/

Read about Marvin Washington et. al. v. Jeff Sessions et. al. –https://www.scribd.com/document/355368626/Marvin-Washington-et-al-v-Jeff-Sessions-et-al