Editor’s Note: Welcome to one of our newest bi-weekly columns, High Folks: the cannabis-infused version of Humans of New York, in which we take an intimate look at people’s relationships with our most beloved plant. The connection between humans and cannabis is primal, dynamic, and profound. But it’s something that’s increasingly overlooked in the new age of weed. So in an effort to combat the superficiality of cannabis in the social media-age, High Times is proud to present to you a collection of work that highlights one of life’s most beautiful gifts: connection.
Beautiful Existence’s life is guided by the spiritual relationship she has with cannabis. Her connection with the plant exceeds mundane human understanding because when she was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer in 2015, cannabis nurtured her like a mother back to perfect health. As a way of saying thank you, Existence goes throughout the world to connect and guide others who have heard the call and felt the spirit of Mother Ganja.
“I never realized it but my first impression of cannabis was when I moved into a farmhouse the summer before first grade,” Existence tells High Times.
In 1978, seven years after Richard Nixon launched (the failed) War on Drugs, Existence moved with her family to Rochester, Washington, into a 100-year-old farmhouse located in the legendary Rainbow Valley. The room that the previous owners used to grow cannabis would eventually become her bedroom.
“I literally watched the adults dismantle track lighting and take huge bags of seeded marijuana out of the closet space and burn it in the field,” she says. “It wasn’t until I was in college that I recalled my memory of the farm and realized that the plant had always been there.”
Existence understood the spiritual component of her life and hardships, and she treated her 2015 cancer diagnoses no differently. “I had already suffered multiple experiences in my life prior to this where I had had the rug pulled out from underneath me and had to pick myself up.”
At the time of her diagnoses, she was working as a marketing and media director for the third largest spiritual center in the country and living between Boulder, Colorado, and Seattle, WA., so she had access to a multitude of spiritual resources. She immediately approached her illness from a very holistic and spiritual perspective and attacked it with everything she had.
When she began using cannabis to treat her cancer, medicinal strains and Rick Simpson Oil were being phased out because in the state of Washington recreational consumers were looking for strains that were high in THC and low in CBD, making it difficult for Existence to find the right strain.
“It wasn’t until I got a chance to be around the growers and the people that had been apart of the medicinal advocacy within the state that I really understood what I needed to get and that was the concentrates,” Existence says. “I had so many mineral deficiencies… I had to completely detox and change my entire life. And [cannabis] showed me this: in healing, you need to have the concentrates and you need to have the strains. So, I’ve been going across the country and advocating for that for three years.”
In February 2019, a report by Swiss researchers shows that dabbing cannabis concentrates allows users to inhale more THC and CBD into their lungs than smoking, which, in essence, allows for more of the healing benefits of the plant to impact the body.
While looking for her perfect strain–which happened to be Charlotte’s Webb–and connecting with the plant more, she began to dive deeper into advocacy work. “The plant spirit has shown me all these different levels of what she has known,” says Existence. “[She] has been evolving with us as a species for thousands of years.”
In her advocacy work, she’s also helped states like Massachusetts build sustainable equity programs that help communities at the state and local levels.
One of the programs Existence works with is Cannabis Community and Research Network (C3RN). C3RN’s focus is advancing science, research, and best practices in the cannabis industry. In December 2017, C3RN won the first Boston University Cannabis Startup Competition, in which Existence helped build their initial website. CEO Dr. Marion McNabb says Existence has been a huge help because of her wealth of knowledge regarding the cannabis industry.
“She’s been a consistent mentor, friend, and help in designing programs and making connections to help advance science, research, and education in the industry with us,” Dr. McNabb tells High Times. “She’s provided strategic alliances and insights for us on how we can collectively advance social justice and rigorous science and research together.”
But Existence doesn’t just work in advocacy. She’s also the mother of 2 sons, a co-owner of HER Cannabis Line, creator of the Flower of Life Cannabis Tarot Deck, and is a mentor to those seeking to connect with themselves and cannabis on a deeper level.
In September 2014, Kerri Jade was en route to Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida–a school in which she earned a full-ride softball scholarship–when she got into a car accident. The trauma from the experience ignited a fear of death within Jade. But that all changed after connecting Existence on Instagram for guidance.
“[Existence] has absolutely guided me in putting the puzzle pieces together of self-healing, self-awakening, and seeing a broader spectrum of what this life is about,” Jade says, who is now a student of Existence. “It’s so cliché that her name is Beautiful Existence because it fits her so perfectly.”
Existence believes the plant saved her for multiple reasons. “She knew that I would go out, and show, and help, and make a definitive difference with it rising up in the world.”
And Existence has done exactly that: spread the healing wisdom of Mother Ganja.