Happy Tokes: From MMJ Patient to Activist & Ambassador Superstar

Photo by Andrew Potter

Twenty-four year old Madison Ortiz is a cannabis brand ambassador, photographer, writer and sterling advocate for medical marijuana.

Professionally known as Happy Tokes, her story has inspired thousands worldwide to speak openly and honestly about the plant. With an audience of over 63K followers on Instagram, Ortiz uses her platform to promote, explore and liberate the truth about natural medicine.

From CannaSmack to the #HappyTokesTribe, she is a leader among her generation helping to end prohibition. High Times caught up with Ortiz to discuss her participation at this year’s Ann Arbor Hash Bash, what it’s like to share her inspirational story and how to get involved in cannabis activism.

High Times: There’s a rising tide of cannabis activism in Michigan. What is Hash Bash all about?
Madison Ortiz: Hash Bash is an annual event that has taken place in Ann Arbor, Michigan, since April 1, 1972. It’s held at high noon on the University of Michigan Diag, a large open space in the middle of campus. Cannabis enthusiasts come from all over the world to gather for a collection of cannabis centered speeches and, of course, to medicate in the company of friends. My plan is to be wandering amongst the crowd, decked out in CannaSmack apparel ,so I can be easily spotted by the tribe! If service allows, I hope to live stream segments of my day via Instagram and Facebook showing off interactions as people experience these hemp-infused skin care products for the first time.

Photo by Taryn E Scalise
Photo by Taryn E Scalise

HT: What is the Happy Tokes Tribe?
MO: The Happy Tokes Tribe is comprised of people who interact in my community in whatever way they see fit. It’s not uncommon for people to create new online accounts, especially Instagram, to be present within the community. Katelyn is one of these individuals. Since starting her account, she’s blossomed into a natural leader among us. I’ve since asked her to collaborate with me on a blog post, explaining ways to get involved.

HT: How has medical marijuana changed your life?
MO: Medical marijuana has made such a major impact on so many aspects of my life. In regards to health, I’m humbled to tears, regularly, at the miraculous relief a singular inhalation of extracted cannabis provides. My struggles with chronic nausea and appetite stimulation are much more manageable. It also helps me manage anxiety and depression, as well as contributing to my overall wellness. Medical marijuana has inspired me to better understand my personal health and my endocannabinoid system. I wasn’t overly interested in botany or biology in school. Now, I’m fascinated. I wish I paid closer attention at the time. I have an unquenchable thirst to better understand this plant and its benefits.

Photo by Amy Cooper
Photo by Amy Cooper

HT: You’re known for normalizing your medicine routine on Instagram. In what ways do you see your efforts making an impact?
MO: Thank you for asking me this question. I’m so proud to hear feedback from tribe members around the world who are now having more productive conversations about cannabis with their loved ones—it fills my heart with joy to hear that my content is used as a reference and encouragement for navigating these understandably difficult discussions. And, the support of the tribe seems to be resulting in much more positive outcomes. Since I’ve given advice on the same topic so many times, I finally put together a guide for how to talk to your loved ones about cannabis. It’s suitable for patients and their parents.

HT: What’s it like to share your story with strangers, parents?
MO: Moms will often confess to having a child, typically around my age who “smokes pot,” and I notice the light in their eyes change when they hear my perspective. I share that my family has overcome the negative stigma of this plant together and that even though my family doctor prescribed this natural medication, he wasn’t necessarily an expert. I explain that I’ve had to educate both myself and my family, and it wasn’t always easy. I let them know that it took me years to understand the advantages of varying consumption methods and correlate them to my specific symptoms. And, I walk away from these conversations confident, knowing that I delivered a message to someone with the power to change how their family and children perceive cannabis.

HT: You’re working with some cool brands, any fun surprises in store for 2017?
MO: CannaSmack ended 2016 with a bang, launching HappyTokes Peach Hydrating Hemp Body Lotion. This grand gesture was actually a soft nod to very exciting news: this once limited-edition flavor just became a permanent part of the line for 2017. In addition, Budder Blocks just incorporated my creation HappyLeaf & Friends in their #TorchArt series, featuring a limited run of 200 signed and numbered torches. Only a few remain. MoodMats and I recently launched our first collaboration using HappyLeaf, which will be followed with the addition of HappyLeaf’s friends. And, I’m launching the first-ever HappyTokes Hemp T-Shirts with Strain Game Apparel!

Photo by Taryn E Scalise
Photo by Taryn E Scalise

HT: And I hear you’re starting a new business, too. What’s that all about?
MO: CannaSmack Creative Director Kenia Taylor and I have put together a service called CloutCrate, which features limited collections of goods and focuses on the real people behind the featured products and brands. We’re launching on 4/20.

HT: What’s your advice for those who want to help the cannabis movement?
MO: The first step is to put ego aside and open up to learning new things from everyone, everyday. Next, it’s important to develop and nurture an unquenchable thirst for cannabis-related information. Get excited about it and share your excitement and knowledge with your peers. Then, get involved. Volunteer. Interact. Reach out to your local NORML chapter. For example, CannaSmack not only donates two percent of their profits to NORML, they also encourage their customers to share educational content pertaining to hemp and cannabis with their #FreeTheLeaf initiative. I’m really proud to work with them. Initiatives like these need your help and provide a foundation for growth in the industry.

Hero Photo Credit: Andrew Potter

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