Thursday, April 19, 2018

Hard Working and Good Looking

I've always known I was a sapiosexual.

It's the reason I've never really had a "type" and why I can't just look at a group of men and say, "I'm attracted to that one." But show me your brain with a healthy glimpse of wit and I'm a sucker.

So when Mac and I were making plans for tonight, she chose one event and I chose another, secure in the knowledge that the other would enjoy our choice just as much as we did. And if we hated both, at least there were fish tacos and fried chicken thighs in between.

We met at the Branch Museum for the Design Month opening reception, where the coolest piece was in the front courtyard. Meggie Kelley's "Porch" was just that, a colorful structure with some walls and a floor, flower boxes and room for rocking chairs, just not attached to anything. When I got there, two young boys were chasing each other around it, but later the museum director said she intended to have coffee on it every chance she got.

Meggie said her point in making it was to remind us of the importance of porch culture, sitting and talking to friends, neighbors and passersby, but all I could think was that in a town like Richmond that's flush with porches, don't we already know this?

Too obvious?

Inside, it was Rafie Khoshbin's "Daughters of Shiraz" which almost made Mac and I cry as we read about the Iranian women hung in 1983 for nothing more than practicing their Baha'is faith. The sculptural figures of women and the descriptions of the women was a powerful reminder of how far a strong woman will go to defend her beliefs. The installation was truly moving.

But it was the VCU Graphic Design MFA work that elicited the most hilarious comment of the evening. When I commented to Mac that the work seemed like a hodgepodge of familiar elements, she came back with, "Yea, it looks like they can't commit to any one thing." Boom, there it was.

Let's just say we'd get a kick out of being flies on the wall watching these MFA candidates defend their theses. Good luck with that, kids.

Although the Branch opening had been my pick, I couldn't say it was all I'd hoped it would be, so we headed back to Jackson Ward to ditch the cars and walk to Tarrant's Back Door for a quick dinner before crossing the street to the Broad, a co-working and social space for women.

A month ago, Mac had suggested we get tickets for tonight's panel discussion, cleverly title "Mary/Jane: Women and Weed," and while I'd done as I was told and ordered mine, she'd apparently had a brain fart and forgotten to get hers, a fact of which she was unaware until she looked for her ticket on her phone and couldn't find it.

Luckily, the good women at The Broad let her in anyway.

I have to say, the third floor space was very cool and so obviously woman-decorated and focused, never more apparent than with a sign that read, "I'm the CEO, bitch!"

The room was full of women (and one brave man) all eager to light up a conversation about the changing cannabis landscape and this is when my sapiosexualism kicked in big time.

On the panel were three incredibly smart, informed and funny women, all passionate about the subject. Jenn Michelle Pedini is executive director of Virgiia NORML, Siobhan Dunnavant is a state senator and obstetrician and Rebecca Gwilt was a healthcare lawyer.

Together, they schooled us on the history, health aspects and future of Mary Jane in Virginia.

First info out of the gate was about how commonplace weed was until 1937 and by common, that meant it was in every doctor's bag and on every pharmacy shelf. No big deal. Then came "Reefer Madness" and a public awareness campaign to make pot seem as dangerous as opium.

"Now it's used to disenfranchise brown people," Jenn announced and Mac and I knew we'd found our people.

From there, the panel dove into how few women own cannabis businesses (less than 30% and the rest are, you guessed it, white men), what a financial windfall taxing pot is for schools and infrastructure and how many diseases - glaucoma, Parkinson's, MS, autism, Crohn's, cancer - can be treated with weed.

And here's where I really learned a lot and developed girl crushes on all three panelists for their big brains and quick wit. People don't use medical marijuana to get stoned and forget they're sick, they use it because it causes a biochemical reaction that heals and inhibits the growth of more damaged cells (as with cancer). Using a small amount of pot with a low dosage of an opioid produces the same pain relief as a large dosage without the risk of addiction or overdose.

And perhaps most interesting, the future of weed isn't smoking, it's oils, ingestibles and sprays. Why puff when you can eat a pot gummi bear?

I'm telling you, these women dazzled the audience with medical studies, legislative bills, anti-drug history and so many telling facts that I would have listened to them all night, just to admire their big brains.

During the Q & A, an older woman with glaucoma asked about getting medical Mary Jane and was told that soon she'll be able to get a prescription from her doctor now that Virginia has passed a limited weed bill (31st in the nation to do so and nobody saw it coming).

When she politely asked where she'd then get it filled, a couple people in the crowd called out, "DC!" Her response was, "Where in DC? Can I get a map?" and the room cracked up.

The discussion ended with recommendations about what we could do to further the cause, starting with thanking our legislators for what they've done so far, then telling them to take it further next year. After all, being 31st is still better than being last.

Meanwhile, Mac takes the prize for picking the best part of tonight's outing and exposing me to the wide world of weed, not to mention my newest big-brained girl crushes.

It's simple, really: I'm a sapiosexual, bitch.

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