Seth Green is a Tennessee-based medical cannabis activist who began advocating for patients in 2011. He is a medical user himself, and cannabis helps him with a number of serious medical conditions including cerebral palsy and epilepsy.
Cannabis Life Network interviewed Seth about Tennessee’s recently killed medical cannabis bill, the rally he’s planning for Apr. 21 in response to that, battling the cannabis stigma in the Bible Belt, finding cannabis in the holy book, and so much more.
CLN: What is Greener Pastures Tennessee?
Seth Green: It’s where I tell my story on how medical cannabis helped me. I was not involved with NORML or ASA (Americans for Safer Access) at the time I first got into the medical cannabis movement, and I figured I can’t just make a webpage using my name, Seth Green, because there’s already a famous actor with that name, so I went with Greener Pastures.
It’s actually kind of funny how it all came together. I was sitting there, smoking a joint, and thinking of names I could use without copyright while I watched a few movies and relaxed, and in one of the movies, the actor said “Greener Pastures”, and that stuck in my head because my last name is Green and my favourite colour is green, and so what I want for the people of Tennessee is to have greener pastures to take them to a higher place in life.
But I’ve actually had people ask me if I was the ‘real’ Seth Green!
So what happened with this medical marijuana bill in Tennessee?
Well, the co-sponsor of the bill, Senator Dickerson, was all for it and after it passed the House and everything, and I was watching this online, he basically said this bill was useless and we can’t have it come in this year in Tennessee. Next year, we’ll make up a bill.
That just blew everybody’s mind. Just for the main facts that we had a bill that reached the senate because it passed the House with a 9-2 vote!
Polls were showing 85% support and we thought this was it, but then Senator Dickerson, who’s a medical doctor, threw out the bill without letting the committee members even look at it!
When that happened, everybody was calling their senators and house representatives and giving them a piece of their minds.
What was this bill going to legalize?
It was just CBD oil, but I was fine with that, because here in the south, you need to take baby steps. You would have to go out of state to get your medication and then drive it back to Tennessee and there was a lot of other things like that that really did not make sense, but other than that, I was ok with it because at least they were looking at cannabis and they actually got a bill into the legislature.
I talked to a state representative in Nashville, and she told me she introduced a part to the bill where we could actually grow cannabis in Tennessee, but of course as soon as the committee saw that, they amended the bill to throw it out- but that’s no surprise.
So the amended bill only allowed for CBD oil and tinctures, and you had to go out of state to get it, but the list of illnesses on the bill was actually a lot longer than I was expecting it to be.
But there’s also a lot of pill companies with a lot of power in Tennessee that back the elected officials, and they don’t want to lose money out of their pocket.
What made Senator Dickerson go from being cosponsoring the bill to killing it?
He was going along the lines of it would do more harm than good. Senator Dickerson said he worried that passing the amended bill would only forestall the legalization of medical marijuana in Tennessee. He thought passing this bill would prevent us from getting better medical marijuana laws down the road.
I do not agree with him because even if it was a watered down version of the bill, Senator Dickerson would have had the power to make improvements on the bill.
But there were lobbyists, especially from the pill companies, that were against it and the bill got killed.
I was shocked by Sen. Dickerson, and a lot of people agreed with me when I emailed him. He came out against his own bill and I was like “What?! But you were for it a week ago!!”
The email Seth sent the senator:
Yes Mr. Dickerson. I am just dumb-founded on how you would not let the members of the Committee vote on today’s bill. I feel like you did a Trump move…. One minute you are a Co-Sponsor then next you will not let no members vote. Sounds like a Donald trump move saying one thing and doing something else. People are dying everyday from Pill Companies that fund I say most of the Tennessee State Reps. It is very wrong what you did and the Pill Companies did to the Bill. It is true now that Pill Companies are running this State.
Tennessee is in the middle of an opioid crisis and lawmakers must act responsibly on medical cannabis, but they are not whatsoever!
If Senator Dickerson got his bill passed, he could have saved lives.
In high school, I lost 6 friends to opiates.
There was this video that went viral in our state, where police raided a bunch of CBD shops, and the sheriff made himself look like a dumb ass. They held a press conference to show off all the drugs they took and saying how bad marijuana is and all that, and then you hear a reporter in the audience that says “Don’t you know that CBD is legal? They’re selling it at Wal-Mart”
When I saw that I thought, “You’ve got to be kidding me!”
Are there any politicians that you support right now?
The Democrat running for Tennessee governor, her name is Beth Harwell, she’s for medical marijuana legalization.
I’m an independent, and I really don’t like the two-party system, but this time I’m going to have to vote for her because she understands what medical marijuana can do because her daughter, who lives in Colorado, is a medical patient.
Tell me about the rally that you’re planning.
I wasn’t planning on doing this, but after people got so upset that I thought this would be a good time to hold a rally, and people might think that it’s not a good time to do a rally right after the bill failed, but the reason I’m doing it is to show the people that come aren’t going to be brainwashed into taking unnecessary poisons to get better.
Do you have a day and location?
It’s for April 21 at University Parkway Intersection in Johnson City, Tennessee.
[Click here for the Facebook event page]
What do you use medical marijuana for?
I have cerebral palsy, but I’m fortunate and blessed enough not to have it as bad as other people have- I consider myself lucky that I’m not in a wheelchair right now, and so I’m taking that as a win because it could always be a lot worse, that’s for sure.
I also use it for epilepsy because I think I have come close to trying every seizure medication that’s available, and that’s a long list of seizure medications.
That’s one of the main reasons why I’d like cannabis to be medical so I won’t have to break the law to ease my pain. I’ve got pain constantly throughout the day, and I know it sounds kind of crazy, but there’s not a minute that goes by where I don’t feel some kind of pain, whether it’s from my foot where I’ve got a steel plate or if it’s from my back.
How did you get involved in medical cannabis advocacy?
I’ve held 10 rallies in my area for medical marijuana and I started to get on the local news, more and more as the years progressed, and now my name is, let’s just say, kind of big in my area, and now hospitals don’t really want anything to do with me anymore.
If I go to ER, they’ll see why I’m there and everything, but when they see who I really am, they come into the room and just stabilize me, and they’ve actually pushed my bed out into the hallway, and that’s where I stay until I’m stabilized.
Then they say sorry we can’t deal with you, I’m sorry.
Is that because of the stigma or the legal status of medical cannabis in Tennessee?
I think it’s both because I view cannabis in Tennessee way different than a lot of people do, and I see it as religious use as well.
What I mean by that is that cannabis is in the Bible, and when I was telling people my story when I first started talking about cannabis, I was telling everybody how I’d researched and talked to rabbis and priests, and how they told me there are verses in the Old and New Testament where cannabis is used in the Bible.
But Tennessee is a very religious state- I was raised in church and my family always viewed cannabis as a drug, but when I started to really find out what it was really all about, I went to my family and told them it’s not a drug, and we’d been lead to believe a lie by the government for so long.
I showed them the evidence and we talked to the priest, and they were shocked.
What happened when you testified at the state capital?
I testified at the state capital on the 2015 bill that was passed only for medical marijuana use for seizures, and I told them at the time that they’re taking away my religious freedom and my constitutional rights. I was on video telling them that they pretty much left me with no other option.
I was told I wouldn’t live past 30, and so what am I to do?
I basically told them if they’d like to come and raid my house and put me in prison, they’re more than welcome, but they better believe they will have a civil lawsuit filed against the state and federal governments for going against my constitutional rights.
How did the community react to you speaking out on medical cannabis like that?
The whole community around here doesn’t really see you as a normal person, and they thought it was my excuse for smoking it, but I kept on until experts and research started coming out saying that we’ve been using cannabis for thousands of years.
That’s one reason why they go after me, it’s because a lot of the elected officials still see it as a sin and that I’m promoting drugs and that I’m a sinner and blah blah blah.
I even had one woman call me Hitler!
So you’re not only fighting the cannabis laws on a political level, you’re fighting against the stigma in general.
Yes. When I was still under medication, I was up to 20 different kinds of medication at once at some points, and all of those medicines mixed together was making me irritable, my head was all out of wack and it made me feel impaired in a bad way.
I did some research into the medications I was on and it said the side effects of them were seizures, anxiety, panic attacks, and muscle aches and I just laughed because they’re giving me stuff that had the same side effects as what put me in the hospital in the first place!
What is your preferred method of consumption?
I was pretty much into smoking it and putting it into brownies- kinda like the old stoner movies.