Our NewBee, 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, she was both uninformed of the benefits and inherently fearful of weed. In a catastrophic car accident just one year into her studies, Maria 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. Prohibition of marijuana left it off the table.
Long-term use of NSAI (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory) medicine contributed to Maria losing 20% of her large intestine. Only then, she had learned that over 100,000 people per year die from GI bleeds related to these types of medicine.
All the while, Maria leaned on her spirit animal Juanita, a rescue pup from the desert of Mexico. For 17 years, Juanita was there for Maria’s highs and the lows, but now 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 Maria would vote “Yes,” medical marijuana was recommended to extend Juanita’s life, helping with pain management and appetite. Despite being for legalization, she had a visceral reaction to the idea; give the “deadly” drug she had been raised to disdain to her soulmate?
With a heavy heart, and in spite of deep-seated reservations, Maria decided there was nothing she wouldn’t try for her beloved desert mutt. The process was an emotional rollercoaster of doubt, shame, fear, and confusion, from the moment she requested a recommendation to her first time stepping foot into a dispensary. She wished, at the time, that there was a reliable, unbiased source of educational content about cannabis. Rather, she was met with conflicting information, misguided budtenders, incentivized brand loyalists, and recreational users that fit her preconceived stereotype of “potheads” giving her even more anxiety.
"Maria describes her evolution in the cannabis space from starting as paranoid, to skeptical, then curious, and now enthusiastic, proud, and informed."
Maria describes her evolution in the cannabis space from starting as paranoid, to skeptical, then curious, and now enthusiastic, proud, and informed. A common path for boomers; one of the fastest growing groups of cannabis users. Today, Maria says “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. Maria began researching and using cannabis medicinally for her own pain management and health, learning about her endocannabinoid system and the multitude of benefits that come from this plant medicine. She was determined to help others explore, and make informed choices, while simultaneously ending the stigma and shame around marijuana. She 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 artists, farmers, educators, advocates and brand innovators while helping them get the exposure they deserve. 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 just to compete for eyeballs, it can say something and can be commercially viable at the same time.