When we think of Theodore Cornwall, words like tenacious, brave, strong, and determined come to mind. Theo not only has an inspiring and brave journey of transitioning and identity, but he has also overcome addiction and thrived despite the obstacles they have faced.
Theo grew up in a household where drug consumption was the norm. “I watched my parents use drugs growing up and I looped weed into the same category. I thought stoners were lazy and unmotivated. It wasn’t until I started using cannabis to help me get through my long physically demanding workdays where I started thinking, hey, this is more than just getting high.” This change in perspective facilitated a shift in outlook from Theo’s first consumption experiences. “I was given some weed by a friend, we all smoked and laughed so much! It wasn’t until much later that I found out I could use it for a multitude of reasons.”
Through Cannabis, Theo found an alternative to Narcotics for pain management, “I am an addict, I was using Narcotics to take my pain away, self-medicating, I reached my breaking point and switched to cannabis.” Having a degenerative disk disease means that Theo must stay active, and the use of the canna-products has helped with pain prevention and relief.
While Theo’s thoughts on cannabis have evolved over the years, they believe there is still room for improvement when it comes to the conception of members of the cannabis community. “Theo calls out a generalization/misconception when it comes to productivity, “Weed perpetuates whatever a human is already feeling. While different strains can enhance feelings of euphoria and excitement, if someone is already not a motivated person, it can be hard for it to always motivate you in the long run.”
It makes perfect sense that the efficacy and knowledge of cannabis combined with Theo’s passion for helping others would make them an ideal fit and conduit to help people within the cannabis sector.
After moving to Portland, Theo took up jobs working as a blunt packer and a dog bather but was not feeling completely satisfied. “I always wanted to have a job that helped people, one way or another...the universe was looking out and I got let go of my bathing position. I had a dispensary I was already a regular at, I went in and let them know I got let go, what happened, what was next for me (which at the time I was so stuck between working in cannabis and with pups), and was offered the job! I enjoy the connection, being able to listen to what type of “vibe” they're (clients) looking for, and going from there! I enjoy talking about it, and learning from others and just everything about it!”
Theo is inspired by the community, comradery, and acceptance in the cannabis space. They recalled a moment that they found particularly touching at the dispensary,
“A customer came in and noticed my trans rights pin and pronoun pin. She felt comfortable and safe enough to tell me she just found out she was born a girl. She told me her name, and we talked for a little bit about life and crying and love and how powerful tears are. Two weeks passed and I was still thinking about that interaction, the next time she came in, this beautiful human was alive and in front of me and so fully her, it brought me to tears. She thanked me for the support and reminded me again, it is okay to cry.”
It is moments like this that we love to highlight, creating a safe space of caring and comfort is so vital for bridging pathways to the cannabis-community, and really any community for people who might be a little intimidated or who might need a little extra support!
Cannabis also played a major part when it comes to Theo’s transition journey. “ Doing my transition which is so possible, without cannabis would have been a different journey in itself. I really utilized it while I was going through my puberty/menopause phase. Smoking helped me calm down the rush of emotions I received during the first half of my transition.”
Theo also feels like cannabis can create some common ground and intersection between both the cannabis and Trans communities, and there are already some resources and communities online that represent those intersections, “There are groups on Facebook dedicated to trans stoners, so we can talk about pain management during surgeries, what different strains everyone enjoys smoking and so on.”
Theo also shared some insight on the places where there is an opportunity for growth when it comes to the representation of Trans People in the cannabis sector, and beyond, “I feel like we are trying our best, it’s always important to have different people from different walks of life to represent and I think some people forget that one person doesn’t ever speak for everyone’s personal experience. But I do believe we are slowly going in the right direction. I feel like, just like a lot of industries, it’s overrun by cis white men, they have such a small scope on life because this country was built for them. The best thing we can do is just educate ourselves and know that we all can contribute to society in our own ways. I feel like the most important part of change is just allowing people to ask questions, I’ve noticed that when we answer people with compassion and understanding that they are more open to hearing what others say. It’s also really important to remember that anyone who is trans or queer gets questions and looks constantly so while it's important for us to lead with kindness, it’s also important for others to be aware that everyone is tired.”
While Theo hasn’t faced stigma because of their cannabis consumption, they have faced stigma because of their identity in the workspace as a budtender, “A lot of people will challenge you, especially if I’m dressed in any type of feminine. I just kill them with kindness. It's not the choice for everyone but, If I am in the space then, I will just pretend like what you said wasn’t hurtful, smile with my eyes, and ask if I can help you with anything else.”
It is this same kindness and positivity that helps Theo focus and draw inspiration from the people he meets in both the Trans and Cannabis communities, “Every single person I meet inspires me in some way. I think everyone is so complex and we all can learn so much from each other, even if it's the smallest thing, everything is so important.”
We couldn’t agree more that being open to communication and education, along with practicing kindness and focusing on intention is all tremendously vital when it comes to working in the right direction for positive change.
Theo also mentioned a silver lining to all of the crazy shutdown / essential worker dynamics of the past year or so, “ It’s helped a lot of people see how important cannabis is and how we can utilize it. It’s decently accessible, it’s still being controlled by the states and anything that’s controlled by the states usually isn’t accessible to everyone, just a select group. I can only speak out about the normalization in a legal state, I feel like there's a lot more normalization around cannabis here in Oregon, but I only have experience with Portland. The policy within cannabis is a weird one, there’s a lot of waste with all the regulations they have, I know eventually, we can get to a point of minimal waste/ packaging and figure out how to better the planet, one step at a time!”
This tenacity for making the world a better place and a viewpoint of hope is one that really resonates with us. It is also reflected in what Theo looks forward to when it comes to the future of cannabis, “I feel like I’m excited about things I don’t even know I should be excited about yet! But in all realness, I am excited for us to truly figure out how connected we are to this plant. I believe it has amazing cancer healing properties, anti-inflammation, antiviral, anti-anxiety, and the list can go on. The more it becomes legal the more studies can be done on it!”
When it comes to personal preference, Theo has an assortment of concentrates, flower, edibles, drinkables, tinctures, and balms .” In the morning I usually smoke a bowl, if I have any pain I stretch, and if the stretching doesn’t help then I use a balm or an edible. I have heard there are a lot of benefits from juicing cannabis that I've also wanted to look into, the plant holds so many nutrients!” We will let you know if we find any amazing canna-juicing plans!
Theo is a fan of any type of Cookie strain, and while it was hard to pick a favorite, they narrowed it down between gelato #41 and Runts (We are obsessed with White Runtz right now).
When it comes to what’s next, Theo is looking forward to working closelyr with nature, “I’m going to work on a farm! I really want to work with bees and cannabis and I’m excited to see how to incorporate them together and truly see how they both can work with each other. Eventually, I want to make affordable products so they can be available to the masses.”
We cannot wait to hear more about Theo’s adventures on the farm, and what’s next! It was such a privilege to get to talk to such an inspirational light in both the Trans and Canna Communities. To learn more about Theo, please follow them on Instagram @selfmade_theo!