Opportunity and Adventures in Cannabis with Nikki Romero
With the unprecedented growth of the cannabis industry comes unparalleled potential. From gender equality to finance and health and wellness… nothing quite compares to the prosperity the industry offers. Yet, the plant remains highly stigmatized.
Nikki Romero is working to combat misconceptions, and deconstruct the polarity surrounding cannabis by helping to make medicine, and education, more available.
Though she is “new to the industry,” Romero isn’t new to the plant’s medicinal benefits. She has Fibromyalgia, a chronic disorder characterized by pain throughout the body, and uses cannabis to treat its symptoms.
The Deep Creek, Maryland native explained that while growing up, “you could get arrested for having a single seed.”
The industry sparked her interest; she found passion and empowerment in it. “I came out here to get […] art for my job. Now it seems cannabis has taken over life in a very good way,” she said. She even incorporates the plant into her artwork.
Now, Romero is helping to launch the nonprofit, Leave for Lives. The organization, which is still in its developing phases, aims to provide cannabis leaves for patients to juice, drink and treat such ailments as rheumatoid arthritis or cancer.
Romero is the creative director of the nonprofit, which is part of a Bay Area-based wholesale extraction company. The leaves, which will come fresh or frozen, will be free of charge to patients.
Leave for Lives will work as sort of a middleman, explains Romero. She hopes to build partnerships with regional cultivators to locally source unused, organic leaves. In turn, the organization will then provide these nutrient-packed leaves to patients. Patience can then ingest the leaves for medicinal purposes.
Romero compares these leaves to other leafy greens, such as kale or spinach. Patients can juice them (and take it like a wheatgrass shot), or include it in a smoothie.
Cannabis leaves are byproducts sometimes used for compost or otherwise thrown away. However, these leaves offer health benefits, such as anti-inflammatory properties, without psychoactive effects. As Romero explained, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure, “Let us have your garbage and we will help people with it,” she said.
While there are many proponents who believe in its healing properties, there is little scientific evidence or research on the benefits of cannabinoids or other chemical compounds found in cannabis. Romero said that this is part of the problem. “There’s not a lot of hard science or data to support [the medicinal effects of raw cannabis juice]. We want to get more people involved,” said Romero, such as doctors, researchers and cultivators.
Leaves for Lives plans to study these effects. The organization will do so by working alongside researchers to develop and document their findings in peer reviewed medical journals.
Separately from her work with the nonprofit, Romero is in the process of developing a web series. The show, which is tentatively titled “Adventures in Cannabis: Down the Rabbit Hole,” she explained, is an “educational, silly and entertaining” docu-series that focuses on different aspects of the cannabis industry, such as cannabis science, events and activities.
The first episode is currently in post-production and showcases ganja yoga. The series, she explains, “isn’t necessary geared toward women, it’s for everyone.”
The series is intended to make the industry more accessible. “This show is less for the people in the industry and more for the people who are interested in it,” she added, It’s for the soccer moms in Ohio or the lawyers in Texas.
As the host, she will explore the business, the scientific, and the entertainment side of the industry with a humorous twist in order to “really break the stigma,” and reach beyond audiences who are already familiar with cannabis. She plans to introduce, inform and expand the scope of the industry.
In order to keep things palatable, she keeps people in mind that have never tried cannabis. “[It’s intended for an] outsider looking in,” she described.
In addition to “Adventures in Cannabis,” she is also working on a segment titled “Dr. Lady Weed Science,” where she will discuss and explain such topics as “What is a cannabinoid?” and “Who discovered THC?”
Aside from her webseries, Romero is teaming up with Northbound Films on their Item 9 project called “Bud Break.” The show that will include product reviews for things such as vape pens.
As a leading lady in the industry, cannabis has provided Romero with opportunity. In terms of gender equality within the industry, however, she knows there’s work to be done. “I am familiar with the hill – it was a boy’s club. I don’t think it’s been super great for females,” but, she explained, “I think soon it will be the best industry for women. It’s better now than it was even a couple years ago. [That’s because] Women are calling the shots for themselves,” she said.
“I think this is a good space for women is because it is a new industry therefore, deeply ingrained hetero normative, patriarchal viewpoints and constructs haven’t been set in stone yet,” Romero added, “Because it’s emerging, we have the opportunity to write the rules as they are being written […].”
For more information about these projects, visit LeaveForLives.org, or Item9.co
To learn more about Nikki and her endeavours, visit her on Instagram @stellatrixbetty, or at nikkiromeroartist.com