We were honored to get to speak with Shannon DeGrooms, Executive Director of This Is Jane Project, a non-profit organization doing amazing work to shed light, build community, and uplift the lives of women and non-binary trauma survivors.
For Shannon, cannabis was not something that she had ever planned to consume prior to going through a traumatic violent experience. She shared that this had a lot to do with internalized stigma, “I was clean from alcohol and substances for over a decade before trying cannabis medicinally. It literally took a gun to my head for me to even be open-minded enough to try it! I knew I suffered from PTSD but never once thought that cannabis could help me. I think that can be the hardest part for members of recovery communities or those who’ve struggled with addiction in the past. The realization that cannabis is medicine -- not the drug I’d been programmed to think of it as.”
Prior to using cannabis medicinally, Shannon was a believer that cannabis was a gateway drug. “I self-medicated with other substances for a long time, so when the people who helped me to get clean said it, I believed them. That’s the thing about stigma. It’s everywhere, in everything, and it will continue to show up as we move towards decriminalization. Unless we talk about it, that is. So that's why I keep talking about it.” It is through these important and vital conversations that This Is Jane Project was born. “What began as a desire to make a documentary is now a board-governed non-profit organization.” The project aims to not only have the conversations and tell the stories but also to support survivors in meaningful, tangible ways.”
We are truly inspired by the platform that Shannon and the project is giving to people who have needed a voice and support for so very long. As a woman driven by a passion for social justice, it makes perfect sense that Shannon is lighting the path for this project. “I guess you could say that it came to me. From studying Women’s and Gender Studies and Peace and Conflict Studies in college to working as a Youth Advocate for houseless youth ages 14-21 at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, it has always been paramount that my time and work be centered in advocacy and social justice. So, after the carjacking and the subsequent reopening of old wounds, I decided to move away from direct-care in the nonprofit world, and focus my passion for social justice on cannabis.”
The project itself was originally aimed to destigmatize conversations around trauma, healing, and medicating with cannabis. However, after documenting nearly 100 janes, it was clear that the project needed to be more than media. The pandemic allowed for serious reflection about the space the project was creating, its safety, and its long-term goals. “Forming TIJP as an official non-profit organization has been incredibly difficult, but I’m so glad that we did! Now, This is Jane Project, 501(c)(3) aims to shed light, provide community, and uplift the lives of women and non-binary trauma survivors. We do this through storytelling, community engagements, and supportive programming to include low to no-cost medical marijuana cards, compassionate cannabis donation programs, and, once it’s safe to gather again, trauma-informed events where survivors gather to share stories of hope and healing with cannabis!”
TIJP is proud to be governed by an amazing Board of Directors including Board President, Mskindness B. Ramirez, M.Ed., Board Secretary, Jennifer Whetzel, Programming Chair, Jennifer Axcell, Treasurer, Rachel Murley, and Board Member, Dr. Tiffany Bowden. “We are also delighted to have the commitment and dedication of our volunteer advisory members, Lauren Marie, Lauren Carter, and Rebecca Oribello.”
Shannon finds inspiration through the many courageous Janes that have participated, “I remain inspired by each participants' courage. From the cult survivor, to the baby girl left in a garbage can outside a hospital. The violent crime survivor. The female hemp farmer working in a toxic environment. The woman abused as a child who never fully healed, yet wants to. All of them are my inspiration. Every day.”
When it comes to what success means for TIJP, for Jane, it would be passing the torch and continuing to heal as many lives as possible through the project. “The ultimate success for TIJP would be passing the torch as Executive Director over in 18 months to an incoming and eager Jane. The project would be self-sustaining and relying only upon the generosity of major donors who align with our mission. We would have supported hundreds of Janes. We would be publishing research to explore the connection between trauma, healing, and medicating with cannabis for marginalized communities.”
When it comes to what’s next, TIJP is working on a beautiful compassionate care collaboration with Dear Cannabis, an open-source network of companies in the community collaborating to create free compassion projects for patients in need. Please check out their page to learn more about how you can help them reach their goal of 100 boxes of donated state-compliant cannabis for California Janes.
TIJP is also working on launching another compassionate care partnership with Eaze, a highly calculated cannabis delivery platform out of California. Together with Lake Grade Cannabis, “We’re excited to provide 20 women and non-binary survivors in LA & SF Area with a sizable flower donation in July.”
When it comes to the future of cannabis, Shannon is most excited about accessibility and Federal legalization, which would allow organizations like This is Jane Project to operate nationally.
It was an honor getting to know more about the project and the amazing work being done by Shannon and This is Jane Project. To learn more about the project and how to get involved you can donate at https://www.paypal.com/thisisjaneproject, and follow them on Instagram, Facebook, or sign up for their mailing list.