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First Coast, Connected

Public radio makes not-so-strange bedfellows

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For the past couple of months, I’ve been co-hosting a radio segment about cannabis issues on the venerable WJCT 89.9 FM. It’s always fun being on the air, but the best part of the gig is engaging listeners who call in with questions and comments. Having basically grown up on the product (public radio, not cannabis), it’s a good feeling to contribute to keeping the form viable in the digital age, and the information I’ve dispensed to listeners has been returned in kind.

Case in point: one Brandon Strader, who called in while I was on the June 19 edition of First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross. (All episodes are archived at wjct.org—collect them all!) Strader told us about a really cool organization that he joined while living in Portland. The Sativa Science Club aims to bring together concerned citizens and provide access to the latest research available on the subject. My first thought, of course, was, “I must have that T-shirt!” But there’s a lot more to it. I had Strader leave his number in the control room, and I called him later that day. Our initial half-hour chat led to a formal meeting at Lola’s (Taco Tuesday!), where I learned even more about the organization and its first representative in Northeast Florida.

Founded in 2017, Sativa Science Club is based in Oregon, a state that helped initiate the wave of decriminalization that’s now sweeping the country. The club’s main initiative is “Elevated Advocacy,” a six-series program with 27 classes and 162 lectures. With unit titles like Cannabis Botany, Cannabis Compounds, the Endocannabinoid System, Consumption Methods, Compassionate Client Care, and Leadership & Advocacy, it’s basically a college-level course designed specifically to wise up the marks. Even rank noobs can glean institutional knowledge from veteran cannabisseurs quickly, easily and without all that pesky trial-and-error. This is of particular interest to people looking to enter the retail market—and, really, who isn’t at this point? Access can be had for six payments of $375—that’s $2,250 total—or one upfront lump sum of $1,999.

Of course, the cannabis issue in general has a near-infinite variety of specific applications. Strader’s specialty is equitable access, the idea that, as the cannabis market expands, priority should be given to those members of the community who suffered most under the previous prohibition regime. We all know how the drug war was initially floated to the public on a wave of racist propaganda, and then implemented just as unfairly, leading to millions of arrests and hundreds of thousands of possession convictions that ruined countless lives, particularly in minority communities. I share Strader’s belief that efforts should be made to address this injustice as a matter of policy now, while Florida’s cannabis industry is still essentially on the ground floor.

I can say from personal experience that keeping up with the latest developments on this issue requires more than just an aggressive, diligent effort; one must cultivate of a network of sources. Mr. Strader is only the newest among them. He is, to my knowledge, the first member of the Sativa Science Club to set up shop here in Northeast Florida, but he is surely not the last.

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