Women of Cannabis: Lynnette Shaw, The Godmother of Cannabis Dispensaries


Lynnette Shaw opened the first medical cannabis dispensary after prop 215 passed in 1996. Her dispensary, Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana, was always in full compliance, but was also the first to be targeted by Federal Government.


She won her case in April 2016, and in a statement following the ruling, Lynnette said, “After over 100 hearings throughout the past 18 years, we won our case in the name of the truth, medical rights, civil rights, and the Constitution. Licensed dispensaries are all my godchildren and I am proud that we have protected every dispensary in the nation with this ruling.”


Lynnette is the Co-Founder of the Veterans Cannabis Group, based in San Rafael, CA. Lynnette was the voice of the cannabis movement for over 20 years, so let’s take a moment to hear her voice and acknowledge one of the most important pioneers of this industry.


What is the Veterans Cannabis Group (VCG) mission and how can people support the cause? 


“Veterans Cannabis Group was started by Sergeant Aaron Augustis who approached me after I was set free by the federal judge, and I said I really wanted to help vets medical marijuana saved my life. I’ve been working with vets behind the scenes my whole life actually, so this was a wonderful opportunity for me to return to the cannabis industry through something that I really love and have been devoted to secretly behind the scenes for many many years. 


The vets at one point had to choose between losing their benefits for using marijuana, which many used marijuana and didn’t and didn't even try to apply for benefits because they would have to give up their marijuana. The mission of VCG is to educate the vets [and their families], let them know that there is an alternative. There is enormous suicide rate daily: 22-50 vets a day we are losing in America to suicide. It’s a horrible statistic. Marijuana stops the suicidal ideation. It may be the only thing that stops it. You don’t have to be a vet to join the collective. We are going to start our delivery system pretty soon, and to qualified patients, 20% off for vets and 15% off for seniors. If someone wants to help us - refer vets to our website, call for deliveries, we are going to have events and we need volunteers of course, and we are starting a newsletter online.”


What’s one of your favorite parts about being in the cannabis movement?


“I’m so happy to just be around people like me, you know. That care about this issue, that know that marijuana is good for you that we are saving lives and I’m not crazy, I’m right. It was crazy what they (the federal government) did to me, but I was always able to stay stalwart and finally discovered I was right and I’m not crazy and everything else was whacky but marijuana is good for you and it saves lives. So that’s my favorite part.”


Do you have any tips for women wanting to get into the cannabis industry?


“Women Grow has been a boom for women in the industry. I love your organization I love being with Women Grow. I think women should all join their women grow chapter because we are organized, we have the right goals and we have the right attitude. And the war has devastated so many millions of families. What happened up in Humboldt is the guy would get busted and go to jail, and the woman would take over the crop. So the women have been keeping the seed alive and growing in the absence of the men because of the war. I think it’s very important that women realize how important they are to the cannabis industry. We are the ones that kept the stalk alive, we continued to fight when the men were taken away and we’re tough and we are survivors. We have to be. I didn’t have any kids unfortunately but I birthed a revolution instead. We are the ones that make sure there is another generation. We are the educators and we are the ones that will keep it together. I am encouraging all women learn how to grow.”


What’s one thing you like to do outside of cannabis?


“Play Blues music. Blues Champions, playing around. That’s one thing. Once I was freed, my mental health was returning and I am still very fatigued. I’ve started feeling like I can play music again. I was a professional musician that had a nervous breakdown. Terrible stuff happened to me 30 years ago and I’m still recovering from it. So this stuff piled up. I tried to kill myself, suicide, and it was a very very terrible thing that happened to me and it should never happen to a young woman. It took me a long time to recover from that, and as I was recovering I found that the medical marijuana movement expedited my recovery. I also was able to have a purpose again, because my purpose was to be a musician, but when I couldn’t do that, I found another purpose, which is really what I was supposed to do: to be in the middle of this revolution. I was one of the mechanics for [prop] 215. I got George Soros to throw in a million bucks and then trained petitioners like crazy all over the state, so I was definitely one of the mechanics of [prop] 215. And now we’ve got all these dispensaries across the nation based on my pioneer work. I am very pleased about that, so now I feel like playing music again, in fact, every Monday at 19 Broadway here in Fairfax, we have a beautiful little jam, great musicians coming in, I’ve been anchoring on keyboard and singing. Great crew, great band.”


Written by: Sugar Laytart





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