We live in a world that believes you are and encourages you to be a machine. Our focus when it comes to being “well” is how long and hard we can work and how much we can take on without needing rest.

A movement has begun to redefine wellness in a more human way. Cannabis legalization is part of that movement and the beginning of a much larger conversation about personalized wellness. But cannabis legalization is not just common-sense or topical, it is a moral imperative. The past two years has clearly show us that we can no longer allow antiquated laws and perspectives to exist – especially when they result in the harm of others.

Morgan Davis is an experienced attorney whose practice primarily focuses on matters of corporate law and cannabis. Davis is well-versed in the multi-faceted issues facing the CBD industry, and routinely hosts seminars to educate businesses.

An active member of the CBD Association, Morgan worked with the organization to develop a new tool called Cannabis Complete — a comprehensive, online database for all your cannabis compliance issues. This huge database covers all cannabis laws in the USA on a federal, state, and local level. If your company is interested in access to this tool, contact Morgan Davis today.

Watch Morgan’s TEDx Raleigh talk here:

Full transcript provided below

The Courage to Claim Your Wellness: Full Transcript

Morgan Davis:

Let’s talk about having the courage to claim your wellness, but first vocabulary. How do we define healthy? How do we define wellness? At first glance, these seem like easy vocabulary. We should easily be able to define it. But if you think about it, our use of them in society is so broad and varied. It’s quite difficult. Thankfully, the Oxford Dictionary offers us a hand. Health is a state of being free from illness or injury. Wellness is a state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal. So how I define it: Health is a state we arrive at. Wellness is an ongoing journey.

I think it’s fair to say that as a society, we’re focused more on the former than the latter. Anything from our political structures to our education, we talk about how you can function as a member of industry. Can you go to work? Can you produce? Can you take care of your own responsibilities? Think about the last time you went to your general practitioner. What’s your blood pressure? What’s your heart rate? What’s your weight? Like an instrument, having your diagnostics read. Think about our physical education system. We measure our children’s health by can they run a mile in under 12 minutes? Hated that. How many sits ups can you do? Think about how we treat homeopathic medicine. Think about how we treat cannabis and plant medicine. And on the backside of a pandemic or what we hope is the backside of a pandemic, isn’t it the perfect time to ask? Is it enough to function?

For me, the answer is a resounding “absolutely not.” I want more than to function. I want to actively pursue my wellness. And I think most of you want the same thing. We want more. And so what do we have to do? I believe we have to embrace to find fundamental truths. One, as individuals and as a society, we deserve more than the functional definition of health. We deserve the active pursuit of wellness. Two, we have a fundamental right to dig deep and define for our ourselves what it means to be well. Now, I’m an attorney by trade. And so until recently, these are not things that I thought about. The legal industry and wellness don’t naturally merge. So I would get up in the morning. My feet hit the ground. I think about what cases I have, what’s on my schedule, family, my friends, everything outside of myself. Anything that had to do with wellness was, am I going to get to the gym today? And am I going to have this salad for lunch or am I going to have the sandwich I really want?

And then about three years ago, I found myself staring in the face of this massive, terrible, overwhelming, and ongoing monster. And its name is anxiety. And I’m not talking about the kind of anxiety you get with a pending deadline or on a first date or when you’re about to stand in a room full of people and give a talk. I’m talking about the kind of anxiety where you can’t think. You can’t eat. You can’t sleep. You are living in the chaos of your mind and it’s not tied to anything. It’s just there all the time. And that’s where I found myself. I felt like I was drowning in my emotions.

So I did what I’d been told to do. I went to the doctor, I took meds, I went to therapy, I got some fresh air, I exercised more. And I could function. I could go to work, I could produce, but I wanted more than that. I wanted to feel better. I wanted my sanity back. And it was in that moment when I decided that I not only wanted to feel better, but I deserved to feel better. And I was going to pursue my wellness with as much vigor as I had ever pursued my career if not more. No longer was I surviving my anxiety, I was an explorer on the path to my sanity. I was a mad scientist willing to mix any ingredient I could find to create my own cure.

It was in that moment that I started to get better. And then that thing happened that happens to all of us whenever we’re trying something new or we’re facing a crisis. Those little voices started. You know the ones I’m talking about. You don’t have enough time. It’s too expensive. You’re fine. This stuff doesn’t really work. And worst of all, what if it doesn’t work? What are you going to do then? And I backslid lots of times. You see, because unless you shift your fundamental definition away from functional health and demand the higher standard of actively pursuing your wellness, I believe that in the face of fear, in the face of judgment, sometimes in the face of convenience, we will backslide and let it be enough to function.

And why is that? Why do we do that? Because as a society, in times of crisis, we have given up our agency to choose to other parties. In the name of safety, we have let others define for us what is healthy, what is medicine, what is wellness. Let me give you an example. For thousands of years up until the 1900s, cannabis was recognized for use in farming, medicine, and spiritual practice. George Washington wrote about it in his journals. It was used for opioid treatment, stress reduction, appetite stimulation, you name it, any number of ailments. And then in the early 1900s, the Great Depression hit. And we had a society full of people crying out for help, desperate, and increasingly angry. And so the government used a common strategy used over and over again historically, to give the people a common enemy and prohibition was born. And in prohibition, lots of vices were made out to be the reason people were sick, the reason people weren’t doing well. Cannabis was one of them though the story behind cannabis and the propaganda about cannabis is a slightly different.

You see, all the propaganda around cannabis was tied to the influx of Mexican immigrants that were coming into the country at the time post the Mexican Revolution. The name marijuana is a racially derived term that is connected to that time period. So effective was this strategy though by 1937, cannabis was illegal across the United States. We saw the same strategy implemented again in the Nixon administration in the late ’60s and early ’70s with the war on drugs. And in the war on drugs, the government created common enemies of crack cocaine and cannabis. Now the real enemies were the black community, the Latin community, and hippies. All of Nixon’s enemies.

Now, I could do a whole nother talk on the very ugly political propaganda surrounding cannabis, but politics notwithstanding, the strategy was so effective that since 1968, tens of millions of people have gone to jail for marijuana-related crimes. I myself have represented hundreds of people who’ve gone to jail for cannabis-related crimes. And we know cannabis is medicine. We knew it for thousands of years. Today, 38 states have said it’s medicine. 18 states have said it’s the same as alcohol and tobacco and yet our federal government treats it no differently.

And this is the really ugly part of giving up your agency, of giving up your choice to another party because you leave yourself open to be misled. We left ourselves open to being manipulated. That’s why in my opinion, cannabis legalization is one of the most important political movements of our time. Not because I’m a cannabis user, not because I’m a cannabis advocate, I am both of those things. Not because I think cannabis is the miracle drug they’ll let me tell you, there’s lots of anecdotal evidence to say that it can treat any number of ailments, but because it is a political shift that says, we the people gave you a mandate and you lied to us. So we’re taking it back.

And that political shift will fuel an internal shift in all of us that says we embrace our fundamental right to choose for ourselves and we take back our personal responsibility to define for ourselves what it means to be well. I lived with crippling anxiety for way longer than I needed to because I would always say the medicine isn’t working. The therapy’s not working. What does that mean about me? Because I was afraid to confront my own judgements, because I was afraid to confront the judgements of others, because I was afraid to do the work and take the responsibility. I was used to letting someone else tell me what would make me well. Wellness takes courage, but it is your fundamental right.

And so here’s my challenge to all of you… tomorrow morning when you wake up and you’re making breakfast for your family or you’re thinking about your day, take a second and stop and ask yourself: 1) what does it mean for me to be well? 2) what stands in my way? What are the impediments? Are they mine? Are they someone else’s? Are they justified? And 3) if they’re not, what am I going to do about them?

It is time for us to reset our mindset and not accept the functional definition of health and demand the higher standard of the active pursuit of wellness. It is time for us to dig deep and explore and define for ourselves what that means. And any impediment that comes along the way, question it. Ask why. And maybe while you’re at it, try a little cannabis.