by Kayla Johnson
Medical cannabis patients have a unique ability to become advocates of cannabis use, simply by living their lives and sharing how the plant helps them become the best version of themselves they can be. Mattie Badgewell is one of those patients who has shared her story widely, to give people a glimpse of how cannabis has changed not only her life, but the lives of some of her loved ones as well.
Though Badgewell grew up in Park City, Kansas, she moved to Oklahoma in 2006 after meeting her husband, and has deep roots in the Oklahoma cannabis community. Unlike many of us, Badgewell’s upbringing was decidedly pro-cannabis, rather than vehemently against it.
“As a teenager, my father made a point to talk to me about drugs, and alcohol, and peer pressure; he always told me that if I decided to go out with friends, I should smoke cannabis instead of drinking. Needless to say, that’s what I did.”
Like thousands of others, Badgewell’s first experience with cannabis came in those teenage years when many first try it for themselves. “I was around fifteen, I believe. I smoked off and on as a teenager and a young adult. I stopped several times for different reasons over the years, but I’ve been a daily user for the last three to four years now.”
That long-term experience helped Badgewell shake off some of the stigmas and stereotypes that many of us are familiar with, and for her, legalization didn’t change much. “When I became a legal cardholder, my opinion didn’t change much, but I was just glad to see that the stigma and worry of not being legal was gone.”
While she’s always been in favor of it, it wasn’t until a loved one needed it medically that she began to truly appreciate that aspect of the plant. “It wasn’t until my son became a medical cannabis patient that I started to see the science and true medical benefits that cannabis has.”
Now, Badgewell, her husband of 14 years, and their son all have medical cards. “We do have two daughters as well who do not use medical cannabis, but they, along with our other family members and friends, have been very supportive of my use and our son’s use as well. I’ve been very open about it, which isn’t easy because I think the stigma of using cannabis as a mom still exists.”
That stigma is one familiar to countless women across the state and across the world, and Badgewell says it’s something that even has her reconsidering what she shares on her own page at times. “I know I still second guess posting things on social media because I’m worried about judgment, but it’s something that I think we just have to reteach ourselves, that this is our medicine and that it’s okay to say that.”
While cannabis has made a dramatic impact on her health and her family life, Badgewell says the unique struggles that she faces as a mom and caregiver to two children with autism contributes heavily to the stress and anxiety that she combats with cannabis. “The day to day level of stress in my home can sometimes feel like a powder keg, and as much as I try, I’m still human; it was really beginning to impact me, I have stress hives on occasion, I can’t sleep as well, my body aches from all of the tension, and then depression just creeps in and out on a whim. In addition to all of this, I was diagnosed with endometriosis after years of unbearable pain and brushing it off. Cannabis has been the only thing that I can use throughout the day to relieve the tension I’m feeling and allow me to stay active and focused on my kids, it treats all my symptoms without adding any problems to the mix, and during the period after my first procedure to deal with my endometriosis, it was extremely helpful in treating my pain.”
With her family obligations, it’s not always easy for Badgewell to get out and about within the cannabis community. Even with the slight roadbumps, she has become a staple on Oklahoma cannabis-focused social media, running a Facebook group called ‘Ok CannaNet’. “I try to share and promote all of the local cannabis companies, networks, events and related legislation that I can. I’m as active and involved in the industry as I can be, including appearing on The Mother Planet and High Maintenance Productions, as well as speaking at two different events. I love advocating for cannabis, especially for pediatrics, and would love to continue doing so in any way that I can.”
Like many of her fellow patients, Badgewell is focused on the future, and where we can take the industry and community from here with the right support. “I would really like to see more pro-cannabis candidates running in our state and local government. This, in my opinion, seems to be the only way we can build a strong foundation for our medical program to remain what the people wanted and voted for. I also believe our medical market and industry should be fully implemented and protected before we shift our focus to a recreational market, and of course, we need federal decriminalization as the ultimate goal.”
For those who have yet to try cannabis, but are curious and maybe feel a bit uncertain about it, Badgewell encourages them to research it for themselves. “I’ve had a few conversations like this already, with people who are usually using pharmaceuticals that aren’t working or are causing more side effects than benefits for them. I always encourage them to research the endocannabinoid system, research the plant’s history, and remember that it’s a natural plant that grows in the ground. It’s no different than lavender or eucalyptus. It’s a natural form of medication that has been on this planet for centuries; I don’t think you could find a better example of God giving us what we need.”