Green Bee Life Founder, Maria Calabrese has endured a heavy sequence of traumatic life events. Amidst all their disruption, they opened her eyes to the cannabis space, for which she is eternally humbled and gracious.
Growing up in the DARE era where marijuana was dubbed a gateway drug, and ultimately becoming a law student wanting to stay on the ‘right’ side of the law, I was both uninformed of the benefits and inherently fearful of weed.
In a catastrophic car accident just one year into my studies, I suffered multiple injuries including a broken back resulting in four major spinal surgeries. That was only the beginning of 32 years of chronic pain and cyclical prescriptions of debilitating and addictive opioids.
The prohibition of marijuana left it off the table for me.
Long-term use of NSAI (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory) medicine contributed to my losing 20% of my large intestine. Only then, did I learn that over 100,000 people per year die from GI bleeds related to these types of medicine.
All the while, I leaned on my spirit animal "Juanita," a rescue pup from the desert of Mexico. For 17 years, Juanita was there for my highs and my lows, but after a long and blessed life my girl was suffering, herself, from congestive heart failure, loss of appetite and severe arthritis.
Right as Prop 64 was to hit the CA ballot, for which I would vote “Yes,” medical marijuana was recommended to extend Juanita’s life, helping with pain management and appetite.
Despite being for legalization myself, I had a visceral reaction to the idea; give the “deadly” drug I had been raised to disdain to my soulmate?
Click photo to watch Juanita's Cannabis Experience
With a heavy heart, and in spite of deep-seated reservations, I decided there was nothing I wouldn’t try for my beloved desert mutt. The process was an emotional rollercoaster of doubt, shame, fear, and confusion, from the moment I requested a recommendation to my first time stepping foot into a dispensary.
I wished, at the time, that there was a reliable, unbiased source of educational content about cannabis.
Rather, I was met with conflicting information, misguided bud tenders, incentivized brand loyalists, and recreational users that fit my preconceived stereotype of “potheads” causing me even more anxiety.
"My evolution in the cannabis space from starting as paranoid, to skeptical, then curious, and now enthusiastic, proud, and informed."
My journey is a common path for boomers; one of the fastest growing groups of cannabis users. “When I was in Law School my favorite quote was “Eve was Framed.” Neither the apple nor the cannabis plant are forbidden, rather God Given and every being’s right.”
Ultimately, cannabis, alongside much love and medical care, extended Juanita’s life for nine precious months, resulting in a peaceful passing. I began researching and using cannabis medicinally for my own pain management and health, learned about my endocannabinoid system and the multitude of benefits that come from this plant medicine. I was determined to help others explore, and make informed choices, while simultaneously ending the stigma and shame around marijuana. I was, in essence, pollinating Green Bee Life.
Maria Calabrese, J.D., former CEO/Co-Founder of Griff Entertainment and MC Squared Entertainment, thrives off giving a voice to the cannabis industry and community, cultivators, educators, advocates and brand innovators while helping them get the exposure they deserve to unleash the full potential of cannabis as a wellness solution. Her education and experience include marketing, law, cross-cultural communications, traditional TV/film management and production, branding, advocacy and mentorship. Collaborating with raw talent to produce groundbreaking work is what has kept her deeply seated in the entertainment industry for over twenty years. During this massive shift from traditional television to new media, her focus has remained on the empowerment, management, and profitability of content creators and cannabis educators and brands across all mediums. Like traditional broadcasting, she believes new content does not need to just compete for eyeballs, but can say something meaningful and be commercially viable at the same time.