By Keith Mansur
Oregon Cannabis Connection
Oregon has become a refuge of sorts for many people over the years. Most recently, it has become a refuge for those seeking the liberty to use cannabis as a medicine, a liberty not offered in over half the states in the nation. For S, like Anna Cann, were persecuted for using it in their previous state, and came here to avoid the unfair and unwarranted treatment. In her case, she has turned it into a livelihood, and done so in a state that is nearly overrun with cannabis business start-ups.
Anna’s story is one that begins in Idaho and ends in Oregon. Idaho seems to be a source of cannabis refugees, fleeing one after another. Oregon Cannabis Connection contributor “Radical” Russ Belville is an Idaho native, and proud of it, but he won’t live there since he would be a criminal in their myopic eyes. Anna is another who refused to be criminalized for using cannabis, and came to Oregon for that reason.
On August 3 , 1999 in Boise, Idaho, Anna’s 17-year-old babysitter violently shook her then six-month-old daughter, Savana, while Anna was at work. As a result, Savana was subjected to two brain surgeries in less than a month. The permanent damage she suffered, called shaken baby syndrome, resulted in debilitating brain damage and frequent, severe seizures. The doctors told Anna that Savana’s brain damage was similar to that from a fall from a ten-story building.
The incident changed Anna’s life forever, not only because her daughter was so terribly injured, but because she was left exposed to accusations of abuse due to the presence of cannabis in her home. Anna was portrayed in the local media as unfit and treated like a criminal by authorities.
“At first, because the [babysitter] was a juvenile, they tried to make it out like it was something that I did because I loved the Grateful Dead and I loved cannabis,” explained Anna Cann to Oregon Cannabis Connection (OCC) in a May 2016 interview with Keith Mansur. She explained that her apartment was decorated with typical 20-something décor, which included the ubiquitous marijuana themed gnome posters, tie-dyes, and some other cannabis images. Local Idaho media actually described her home as a “shrine to marijuana.”
Though the babysitter was eventually convicted, she served well under a year in prison for the assault on Savana and was released on probation. However, she ended up serving substantially more time due to parole violations. She now has at least three children of her own, all wards of the state.
Early in 2011, Anna decided to move to Oregon where she could safely use cannabis and be treated with more dignity. She relocated to Eugene where she continued selling tie-dye shirts, a skill she learned in Idaho that transferred well to Oregon. Her choice of colors are unique and her skills amazing!
She eventually got a booth at the 2011 Emerald Empire Hempfest in Eugene to sell her apparel, and while she was there met a vendor who strongly recommended that she have her daughter, Savana, try cannabis to help alleviate her frequent seizures. Since Savana’s medication at the time, valproic acid ( similar to Depakote), left her with dozens of side effects, Anna thought it was probably worth a try.
“There’s eight to 10 pages of horrible side effects that could make any parent or any person refuse to give that to their child, and all those side effects were affecting [Savana],” explained Anna. “She took the Depakote for 14 years; she’s 17 now.”
Savana’s seizures have been reduced dramatically over the past three years. They no longer occur while at school, since Anna determined the proper dosage to get her through the school day. She typically medicates her every four or five hours. The results have been dramatic, and again life was changing for Anna. The results made her more dedicated than ever to medical cannabis!
“She’s using the bathroom on her own, she walks to the fridge and gets a gallon of milk… she’s talking and saying words,” Anna explained to me. “From the kid you met at hempfest to now, it’s insane and mind-blowing.”
She now organically grows her daughter’s medicine herself, so she has ultimate control over the final product (Three parts THC to one or two part CBD). Anna’s experience also got her more involved in the cannabis movement.
Investors approached her recently about her products, due mainly to her social media activity and activism. She produces a medical topical lotion, which is sold in local Oregon dispensaries, and a medicated soap product, too. It has proven to be a fortuitous game-changer for her.
“Like most of the people in cannabis, she’s been brought to medical cannabis activism by necessity,” explained Alexander Nachman of First Harvest Financial, a hedge fund solely funding cannabis companies. “Out here we have an actual group, the ‘Canna-Moms,’, and she was a ‘Canna-Mom’ before that group ever existed.”
“From a Wall Street perspective, I understand that 90% of the country hasn’t adopted the business model full-blown,” said Nachman. “Potentially, there’s a lot of money to be made, but this really isn’t about the money, it’s about the patients.”
As a result of her relationship with Nachman, Anna has teamed up with a few new investors.
“We recently walked around some warehouses and talked about the future of Anna Cannabis, my product brand name, and we just secured one of the buildings. It’s around 22,000 square feet.”Anna Cann told me. “We have an organic line of flower from Oregon, and we also do the topicals. They feel the projected sales for recreational medical and topical here in Oregon are pretty unreal.”
Mark MacAuley, with Big Grow Oregon, was one of those referred to Anna Cann by Nachman. Big Grow is setting up a large processing facility and indoor grow in Eugene. The space will eventually use their grow containers, the Big Grow House. They intend to produce high-end medicine that will include flower and topicals, in partnership with Anna Cannabis.
“Our first goal is to extract oil and then make the lotions, soaps and topicals,” explained MacAuley. Their space will have the capability of housing up to 20 Big Grow House units, but that will not be immediately.
“We submitted for our processor license and we will apply for the producer a little later,” MacAuley told OCC. “We’re basically crossing the chasm from medicinal to recreational.”
So, after being inexcusably harangued in Idaho, and effectively blamed for her daughter’s abuse by another because of cannabis, Anna finds herself using cannabis to treat that daughter more effectively than the prescription medications did. After leaving Idaho for a safer place, Anna Cann now finds her cannabis involvement possibly being more than a side job, but the fulfillment of a dream.
“It’s been a 100% my divine plan to be a cannabis activist, but I just didn’t understand it all.”