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Politics, Pot and Pride: Heather Mizeur Speaks at Women Grow Baltimore for LGBT Pride Month

Heather Mizeur (second from left) with the Women Grow Baltimore Leadership. Image Courtesy of Chloe Sommers

It was an evening of politics, pot, and pride as former politician and supporter of legalization, Heather Mizeur, came out of political semi-retirement to speak at Thursday’s Women Grow meeting during LGBT Pride Month.

A trailblazer in the 2014 Maryland gubernatorial elections, Mizeur is a pro-cannabis lesbian who helped sway the votes to make Maryland the eighth state with same-sex marriage and believes in using Maryland’s cannabis tax revenue to help fund education. Ultimately, she lost the election to Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. One factor that contributed to her loss, she says, was her very vocal support of legalization. “I was in it to win it…I was tired of politicians stepping up to say what you want to hear,” Mizeur said. On cannabis, she’d give them a middle ground on legalization with decriminalization and medical. However, sometimes when she would talk about using the tax money for universal pre-K, she says she could feel the tension in the room, “some people just didn’t want to talk about that topic.”  Reminding the mixed-gender crowd of the importance of civic engagement, “it’s when we step aside is when things get posed on top of us. I applaud Women Grow for the relationships to each other and to connect each other, women, women in particular have such a healing presence.”

Women have an important role to play in the fight for legalization, she said. “We technically aren’t a state where you can meet those needs. Maryland agrees on medical access and we need to live up to it and it’s up to your engagement to make sure that happens with letters to the editor, social media, and engagement. Most importantly, she said, “for a Republican governor to get elected takes a lot of Democratic support, and I’d remind them of that.”

A self-identified occasional wine drinker, Mizeur doesn’t care much for beer or cannabis — but can see how, for others, it could be their ‘thing’. Mizeur recalled her first time smoking cannabis was with her friend, the singer, songwriter, and breast cancer survivor, Melissa Etheridge.

Medical marijuana is always a topic of discussion at Maryland cannabis networking events,  the state is taking its time in getting their medical marijuana program up and running and both applicants and patients are growing impatient. Women Grow Baltimore Chapter Chair, Carissa Cartalemi, is cautiously optimistic that the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission’s new Medical Marijuana Czar and former state trooper, Patrick Jameson, will be on the same page as Marylanders. “We want to make sure he feels the urgency to get this off the ground,” she said before the Women Grow chapter meeting. The cannabis commission’s previous director, Hannah Byron, abruptly resigned in December.  

The next Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission Policy Committee meeting takes place at 10:00 am on Tuesday, June 14 at the Maryland Healthcare Commission.  Their website says the Policy Committee will meet to discuss proposed revisions to the existing regulations, and the next full Commission meeting will take place on Tuesday, July 12th at 2:00 pm, the location is yet to be determined.

During the Q&A, when asked about a 2018 run for Maryland office, Mizeur reluctantly announced that she would leave the future open to the opportunity. The Democratic superdelegate has endorsed Sanders for this upcoming election and admits, “before this [presidential] election cycle I wasn’t going to run for office.” She lamented how much time and energy she thought she had to put into fundraising. Then, she thought of how Bernie is getting money with minimal time on the phone asking for it, so she thinks she may be able to as well.  “Hello?! I was the original Bernie Sanders,” she exclaimed, both Mizeur and Sanders insisted on running a publicly funded and grassroots campaign.