Higher Profile: Marelyn Shapiro, Founder of Granny Buds Farm, Chicken Rescue & Dog Hospice

This witch in the woods rescues wild animals with cannabis.
Higher Profile: Marelyn Shapiro, Founder Of Granny Buds Farm, Chicken Rescue & Dog Hospice
Courtesy of Marelyn Shapiro

Marelyn Shapiro, first used cannabis at 15 years-old, after being sent away to boarding school in Texas. A difficult child, with learning disabilities and a challenging home life in New York, Shapiro said she was soon kicked out of private school for sharing her weed with other students.

Known as a tomboy, Shapiro said she was a wild child, dealing with the remnants of sexual abuse from a grandfather. She came into her own in the 70s, as a lesbian.

“We didn’t have mentors in those days – no TV shows with women kissing,” she shared. “We had to hide.”

 She worked for FedEx for ten years, buying her own home in Berkeley, California. Then she earned a master’s degree, becoming a special education teacher – which she loved. 

A carpentry program at the local community college used the department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), as a classroom, where she learned a multitude of skills building homes.

She eventually set up a grow room at her home in Berkeley, California, but shut it down when she began fostering special needs kids.

“I ended up fostering seven kids, all with significant issues and needs,” she explained. “In Berkeley, at that time, there was a trend to have foster kids foster kittens. We fostered hundreds of kittens, and all the kids had their turns of being woken up in the wee hours of the night to bottle feed them.”

Her own first rescue was at the age of nine, when she locked a cat in the family garage. Caring for the kittens, she said, turned out to be the perfect antidote for her high maintenance kids, as they learned compassion and caring, as well as social skills in dealing with adopting them out.

“They were able to gain a better understanding of their own situation of being fostered,” she said. “It was also good for them to see the kittens moving on to their own forever homes after being damaged themselves.”

A move to Las Vegas to help her aging parents included six kids, one grandchild, three dogs, and six cats.

“That empty property with just a house, some grass and few trees was the start of Granny Buds’ Farm, Chicken Rescue & Dog Hospice,” she said. “In a few years we had fruit trees and were growing our own vegetables.”

As the children became older and able to understand, Shapiro said she returned to growing cannabis, with the grown children now involved in the process from the ground up.

“I’ve taught all the kids framing, drywalling, irrigation, and painting,” she added. “We build all our own chicken coops, and we also help build grow rooms and install irrigation for others in the community. Everything we do goes back into caring for the animals and rescues on the farm.”

Fostering seven kids all-told wasn’t easy, but, Shapiro said, the farm and care of the animals was an excellent way to rear them. The menagerie also proved to be a life-affirming situation for Shapiro.

“I had worked 20 years in unfulfilling jobs when I became a teacher,” she surmised. “Then, after 40 years of loving kids and always having them around, I felt that something was lacking, and I really wanted my own. Being a single lesbian, I didn’t have many options other than insemination – and that really wasn’t for me. Fostering turned out to be a perfect fit for me. Caring for the animals and becoming well-versed in using cannabis as a remedy for rescues was a bonus.”

Rescued With Weed

The farm has three rescue partners who call on them to treat a variety of animals, including wild birds, chickens, and dogs. They are also called on to provide sanctuary for some of the worst-case dogs who would otherwise be euthanized – blind, deaf, neurological conditions, arthritis, and old age.

“We’ve rescued chickens, ducks, and turkeys from feed stores,” she said. “They get a shipment in and many of these young creatures languish until they die in the cages. One tiny drop of cannabis oil and they typically pop-up in record time.”

One profound case was a neighbor’s dog, who was unable to walk and on many pharmaceuticals. Shapiro said after the first dose of cannabis oil given, the dog was up the next day and climbing stairs in a week.

Other success stories include a Clydesdale horse and an old donkey from a nearby ranch.

“The horse had an awful skin infection and would need a large amount of salve,” she explained. “The donkey had an open wound infested and infected with flies. So, we cleaned them up and I made a huge bath and we slathered it on. By the next week both were healing with no sign of infection.”

Another dog rescued was treated with cannabis for emotional issues.

“Prince came to us from Linda Gilliam from Connor and Millie’s Dog Rescue, who deals with the hardest to place dogs,” she said. “He was viciously biting us the first month he was here, so we dosed him into oblivion with high THC oil in an attempt have him reset.”

Shapiro said his oil-induced stupor allowed them to pet and show Prince affection, gradually lowering the dose.

“At sundown he’d get worse, and we’d just let him spin in circles in the living room filled with other dogs, rabbits and birds in cages, and the occasional goat or turkey on the scene,” she laughed. “That’s our living room, that’s our world. Prince eventually calmed down and became part of the family – but I have no doubt in my mind that the cannabis oil did, in fact, help him to be reborn.”

Meanwhile, Back On The Farm…

All told Shapiro said she’s been growing for more than 50 years and has gone through a historic lineage of cultivars from California, and now in Nevada.

She makes salve for topical use, tinctures, and the stronger cannabis oil – with both CBD and high THC cultivars, depending on the ailment at hand.

“We call the salve ‘Incredibly miraculous Salve,’ because it works like a miracle,” she said. “Some of the high THC cultivars I use include Big Banger, Blue Cheese, Pineapple Chunk, Gorilla Glue, Mango, and Black Dog. In my salve, I use Ringo’s Gift high CBD, Critical Mass, CBD Kush, and Critical Cure.  But I also started adding other beneficial plants, like lemon verbena, rosemary, lavender and ginger.”

Her topical salve, she said, has treated numerous animals and dogs both by topical use and ingesting. Several dogs have been particularly helped with collapsed tracheas by eating the mix.

“After many pharmaceuticals failed, we’d give the dogs this topical salve orally, and put them under a blanket with one drop of Doterra’s Breath on the blankey,” she said. “We discovered that the non-stop, all-night hacking stops immediately – and the treatment lasts up to five hours, minimum. One disabled dog, with four luxating patella’s and chronic pneumonia with allergies came to us for hospice and lived five more years!”

After a bout of Inflammatory breast cancer when the kids were small, Shapiro said she started taking every herb she could find with an indication they might help. 

“Back then, we didn’t know about the cannabis oil for cancer. Aside from the chemo and radiation, I did acupuncture, Beta6 Glucan, Selenium, CoQ10, mushroom extract, Astralagus, Coral Shell Calcium, and more. I became a vegetarian, and I healed – but, I also realized I had never had a baby of my own or owned a Harley Davidson. So, I bought myself a Harley and rode topless in the Gay Pride Parade in San Francisco,” she laughed.

Last year marked 19 years after her initial cancer diagnosis, and she finds it ironic that she now helps others with cannabis for cancer and other ailments.

“Before the kids, I had a secret grow room in my basement in Berkeley, with a hidden door, but today, my state is legal, and my grown kids are a big part of the healing happening now with the plant,” she concluded. “They’ve witness hard to heal animals from the wild thriving, and lots of people, too. I’m still amazed and surprised every time someone or an animal heals from this plant. ”

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