Asa’s Medicine is going to improve the way we talk about medical cannabis.
For years now, not only has the perception of cannabis been ruled by the war on drugs in the US, but so has the public school system. In a school setting accustomed to the rules and misinformation imposed by D.A.R.E. and other anti-drug organizations, students who use medical cannabis in schools are set up to have a hard time. That’s where Nurse Ashley Wynn-Grimes and Asa’s Medicine come in.
As a practicing nurse for more than a decade, Wynn-Grimes decided to dedicate herself to cannabis when she looked around and saw that people of color and medical professionals were underrepresented in the world of medical cannabis. A native to Baltimore, Maryland, she helped develop policies like HB-0617, which helped regulate medical cannabis in schools, and founded Cannabis Nursing Solutions, a holistic health group in Maryland.
But, despite all that good work, she still wanted to put something out into the world that would help kids who use cannabis medically gain acceptance.
“While working on the guidelines, I was concerned about the social impact of allowing children to consume on campus,” she explained. “As a mother and a nurse, I thought about all the questions kids would have, and this scenario played out in my head as a way to help guide them through it. I’m excited to have contributed based on the years of knowledge and evidence we’ve accumulated at Cannabis Nursing Solutions in such a creative, approachable way. It’s important for kids and parents to understand just how similar medical cannabis is to other medicine.”
“I had so many questions, like, okay, what about the kid who sits next to the kid who may be taking medical cannabis?” she elaborated. “What was the nurse interaction going to be like for that child; what role do they take, and how do parents talk to kids about medical cannabis when they didn’t make the choice to have that be a part of their child’s life? This story literally was formed from all the questions I had myself, even thinking about my own children.”
Envisioning the questions and comments kids would get for needing to take medical cannabis, Wynn-Grimes wanted to come up with a solution that would help explain cannabis as a medical aid to kids in a simple, accessible way. Asa’s Medicine also makes sure to prioritize racially diverse children. But not everyone is a fan.
“You either love it or you hate it,” she explained. “It ranges anywhere from, ‘Oh no, this book has the words ‘cannabis’ and ‘children’ in it—this is terrible. And then some people are interested, and they’re like, ‘Wow, these are the types of conversations that need to be had.’ There are a lot of parents out there who are fighting for their children to get access to this medicine, and typically, it is a last-resort medicine so their children can just have a semi-normal life.”
In addition to her book, Wynn-Grimes offers a course to nurses so they can learn about working with cannabis and how the truths need to win out over the myths.
“I feel like the messaging behind cannabis in general is only associated with a certain type of person, so, like, everyone’s familiar with the stoner stereotype, and there’s a specific image that comes to mind,” she said. “So the images I put in my books, I wanted them to be different from what we’re familiar with and help change that.”
As the East Coast finally comes to terms with cannabis, and the end to the war on drugs (soon, we hope) and how it has disproportionately impacted people of color, books like Asa’s Medicine are going to make a difference to future generations.