A Southern California cannabis activist has written a book, titled What’s Growing in Grandma’s Garden, that she hopes will help parents talk with their kids about cannabis and is currently raising the funds necessary to publish the book and offer it to the public. Susan Soares, in an interview with High Times, said she has dedicated her life to educating people about cannabis.

“First and foremost, I’m an advocate for the cannabis plant,” says Soares. “It saved my life and completely turned my life around.”

Soares explained that in 1993 she was a young mom with three children. She was an active leader in the Mormon Church and an Orange County conservative Republican. She was so anti-cannabis, she had once called the police on some neighborhood teenagers simply for smoking pot.

But then during a church broom hockey game, Soares was tripped by an opponent and crashed headfirst into a cinderblock wall. She was knocked unconscious, suffering a ruptured eardrum and a concussion.

“As a result, I had a migraine headache that lasted two years,” she says.

When coupled with the stress of a divorce from an abusive and unstable husband, the constant pain Soares suffered left her desperate. When she was at her lowest, her young children were the only thing that kept her going.

“I would have killed myself if I didn’t have those kids,” Soares remembers.

But then a friend who she gardened with, who was growing a few cannabis plants in her back yard, suggested that the herb might offer Soares some relief from her constant pain. She says she was tempted and intrigued, but afraid as well.

“It scared me because I knew that if it worked, that my family would turn their backs on me and the Church would turn their backs on me, and when you’re a Mormon that’s your entire community. That’s your life. You’re not supposed to hang out with anybody that’s not a Mormon unless you’re trying to bring them into the Church. But I didn’t have any choice. I was at the end of my rope.”

Despite her reservations about cannabis, Soares had to do something to find relief.

“So I tried it. And I kept using it for about six weeks and my migraine went away—never, never to return.”

After her amazing success with cannabis, Soares says she decided that once her children were grown, she would dedicate herself to cannabis education, eventually founding the nonprofit CARE (Cannabis Awareness Rallies and Events). As she had feared, she was rejected by her family and church over her medicinal use of marijuana. She moved to Long Beach and is now a self-proclaimed liberal Democrat.

Advocate Becomes Author

Soares says she was first inspired to write a book about cannabis for children after she appeared as a guest on a radio program. When she asked how she talked about cannabis to her kids, she confessed she had kept it from them. The exchange got her thinking, and she began asking parents who currently had young kids how they approached the subject. She couldn’t find anyone who talked about cannabis with their children.

“It’s crazy, even people in the industry, I think especially people in the industry, they don’t really want to talk their kids about it because they still want it to be a secret.”

Soares found the strong taboo against cannabis interesting since so many of the same parents had no problem drinking around their kids.

“Alcohol has enjoyed many decades of marketing to the point where it’s almost obligatory to have alcohol at holidays and celebrations. But cannabis doesn’t have that luxury.”

She decided that a children’s book could help overcome that stigma.

“Cannabis is mainstream now, we need to have a conversation about it,” Soares says.

So she wrote What’s Growing in Grandma’s Garden. The story, she says, is told from the point of view of a young boy.

“He comes over and he loves Grandma’s garden. They plant together, he loves pulling out carrots and eating them while they’re so fresh. And they talk about good bugs and bad bugs and they go roly-poly hunting.”

Grandma also has a greenhouse with cannabis plants. Grandma explains that “you can look but not touch.”

Of course, the lad wants to know why, so Grandma explains that just like the plants in the garden, his brain is still growing. So, he has to wait until he is grown up to try cannabis. Like most books for kids, Soares story has a happy ending.

“Then they have a family barbecue, and they’re in the backyard, in the garden, and they’re eating the fresh veggies. And someone’s drinking a beer and somebody else has some wine. And Grandma is sitting downwind with the wind blowing in her hair and she’s smoking a joint.”

Soares has found an artist, Gustav Davies of Switzerland, to illustrate the book. She’s currently raising the money via Facebook to hire Davies to complete the art, with a goal of $10,000. With another $20,000, she’ll be able to have the first 1,000 “beautiful, hardbound” books self-published. She’s hoping the cannabis community will help her and is offering a free copy of the book when it is published to those who donate $50 or more. Once the first run is produced, she plans to have the book carried at licensed cannabis dispensaries to encourage dialogue about cannabis.

“It’s time for this conversation,” Soares says. “Nobody’s talking to their kids. And the kids are aware of what’s going on and you hide it, you’re giving them such a bad message.”

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