When Gregg Brown saw a flyer about an event to raise awareness of cannabis and cannabis patients, he immediately made plans to go. Brown, of Bloomington, even brought a homemade sign to Sunday’s Central Illinois Cannabis Community Walk for Awareness at White Oak Park in Bloomington.
“I want people to educate themselves on the benefits of cannabis,” he said, while carrying a sign that read “Cannabis Cures Cancer.” “This plant has been part of human culture for thousands of years and I think people should take the time to learn and educate themselves on the value it has.”
The event looked to raise awareness about cannabis and patients who use it, specifically on Earth Day, said Tyler Hargis, primary organizer of the event on behalf of the Central Illinois Cannabis Community.
“Today is about community and our main goal is to get some information out about cannabis and the healthy lifestyle that comes with it,” he said.
Hargis said he previously suffered from seizures and he and the doctors were struggling to find an answer.
“I was trying to find out what the heck I could do,” he said. “But with cannabis, I have found a way to be healthier and I want to share that with people.”
About 50 people attended the event which included games, snacks, a yoga session and a scavenger hunt.
“We are trying to hit all avenues of a healthy lifestyle and try to promote the idea of developing a supportive community,” Hargis added.
It was the first public event, Hargis said, and could develop into an annual tradition.
Devin Doran, general manager at The Green Solution, a medical marijuana dispensary in Normal, said the word is getting out about the benefits of marijuana.
“I have been there about a year and we had about 80 patients then,” he said. “Now, we have around 450 patients and so people are getting through the system faster. The beautiful thing to me is seeing the benefits it provides and how people recognize it as a helpful solution. It’s a piece of the solution and when people can incorporate it into their life in the right way, it means something special.”
There’s also a stereotype out there about marijuana, he said.
“So many people just want to go and smoke a joint or whatever, but that is not the way and that is not what we educate people about,” he said. “We have oils and edibles and concentrates and things like that and when you do enough study, you can get those things working together to benefit you.”
Kelley Theisen of Bloomington said she started using medical cannabis after being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, in which the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells.
“Cannabis has been the most effective treatment I have found, hands down,” she said. “Doctors struggled to find something that worked well, and cannabis has by far had the most positive effect.”