Weed Woman USA Adela Falk: Cannabis Freedom Fighter
The backstory of the superhero is often one of humble beginnings. How did a girl from the midwest go from a backyard–pot-smoking 12-year-old to a prohibition-busting, freedom-fighting cannabis superhero of America?
It didn’t happen overnight. Adela has used cannabis increasingly throughout her life but once diagnosed at eighteen with hyperthyroid and Graves’ disease she realized, after legally smoking for the first time with a prescription, that it had long earlier become a daily medication. Amazed at the healing power of the plant while bewildered by archaic anti-cannabis laws, Adela started getting involved in the movement to help educate the public on the ill-effects of prohibition while also lobbying for safe access for medical patients.
During these years of activism, cannabis helped Adela lead a better quality of life. It also helped her adapt when she broke her foot and became disabled due to a freak bike accident in 2006. She lost her job of eight years, but instead of seeing the upheaval as a slap in the face she decided to see it as an opportunity to help change the system from within. She wanted to start with the medical industry, and did so by working as a patient advocate in a doctor’s office. Soon after that, she opened up a small collective — one of eight organizations to be issued a medical marijuana dispensary tax certificate in San Diego (she later sued the city for unjustly revoking it). Adela got involved on the political scene as a board member and volunteer with the San Diego Medical Marijuana Task Force, spent years lobbying for safe access, and was instrumental in getting San Diego’s first medical marijuana ordinance passed.
But Adela changed her path when she discovered one hell of a scary fact: there are people in the U.S. who are serving life sentences for pot. This prompted a shift in fighting against prohibition towards her current focus helping free prisoners of the War on Drugs and supporting them while they’re in prison through POW420.
‘After years of court support, and lobbying our governing body for my ability to safe access, I realized there was a lot of work to be done in this whole other area. I realized how much good I was bringing to the community,’ she explains. ‘Since then, the work has been continued on in San Diego, and while I continue to be an activist and advocate for medical cannabis, my focus has shifted more to people who are incarcerated for cannabis. The War on Cannabis is big. And bad cannabis laws will only continue to allow US to go to prison for pot.
‘Sadly, as long as cannabis remains on the Controlled Substance Act, Americans will still be breaking the law.’ But Adela has hope, ‘The change for judicial reform is gaining popularity and I believe that pressure from our community is the reason.’
POW420 — tagline ‘No-one belongs in jail for a plant’ produces the Prohibition Times newsletter for over 350 current pot-POWs. Volunteers with POW420 help with letter writing campaigns, gathering information, putting faces and stories behind the statistics, and supporting men and women in prison for the plant — including people who have been busted for marijuana without any seed or weed in ‘dry’ or ‘ghost’ cases.
After her grandfather passed away last year, Adela moved to his farm property out in Missouri. She found the shift in scenery healing, ‘At times pot prisoner work really takes a toll and some solitude goes a long way.’ She continues to sit in on court cases — to date over thirty medical marijuana trials and cases at both state-level and federal — speak at rallies, write cannabis columns for a variety of magazines, and is the first Weed Women USA.
Taking on the role of Weed Woman USA in 2015 provided a new outlet for Adela to spread her message in a lighter manner. ‘It means so much to me to be able to take the fun side once in awhile. I find I get too personally involved in ending cannabis prohibition, that Weed Woman allows me to be a canna-hero warrior and have some fun with it … all in the name of ending cannabis prohibition. And that is awesome.’
I caught up with Adela this past summer at Hempfest, where she was leading a charge of ladies and one gentleman through the crowded grounds to different stages to speak about all the people behind bars for cannabis. This was a small group representing all of the people across the U.S. involved in supporting pot-POWs.
I asked Adela what she thought about the role of women in the cannabis industry, and in the fight against prohibition. ‘Movement,’ she says. ‘We have always been around we are just starting to get the respect we deserve. We are women. We are providers, nurturers, gathers, lovers … it only makes sense we would be involved in the cannabis world. We enjoy healing each other and being able to provide love and support and that is what cannabis is about: first and foremost we are a canna-community. We take care of each other. I would love to see more woman featured in the movement — as leaders, role models, cultivators, and entrepreneurs … and of course in advertising.’
Fighting for freedom for pot-POWs has become Adela’s passion and her life’s work. She is a true cannabis super hero and her efforts for those whom we can so easily overlook in the push to end prohibition should be applauded. Adela is a voice for those people. Her dream right now is for the cannabis community to become active, for people to become personally involved in ending prohibition. She suggests making personal contact with those behind bars — through letter writing and sending birthday cards — as a way to stimulate action in the cannabis and larger community, to put an end to the pain and suffering caused to so many families with parents and siblings and children behind bars.
‘There are people doing life for cannabis. I’m just so driven by so many aspects of this war on drugs that I’m just compelled’ — Adela Falk.
By MaryBeth Lafferty