PARDON Profile - Amanda Siebert
Amanda Siebert is an award-winning Vancouver journalist covering the cannabis industry. Her first book The Little Book of Cannabis: How Marijuana Can Improve Your Life comes out on legalization day.
We spoke with Amanda to discuss her pursuit of taking the road less travelled in order to lead change.
You’re the former cannabis editor at the Georgia Straight. What drew you to reporting on cannabis?
Honestly, I just really love cannabis. When I began using it socially, I quickly became aware of the indirect benefits that personally benefited me: I was sleeping better; I felt less anxious; if I was choosing cannabis versus alcohol on a night out with my friends, I wouldn't wake up with a hangover. As I've gotten older I've been using cannabis in a more directly therapeutic way, but it's always served me well, so I wanted to share that information with others. The side (of the argument) that propagates stigma has been making noise for quite a while and I wanted to speak to the other side and pursue a different angle.
You’re about to launch your first book. How has that journey impacted the way you view reporting on the evolution of cannabis?
When I started out as a journalist, we were told to keep our voice out of the story. However, I've come to realize that, as an author, it's time to shed some light on what cannabis can do for people in a positive way. That's not to say it's for everybody, but I think we've been convinced (by the media) that it's a negative thing and the reality is that cannabis is an ancient plant that has been used for thousands of years. I'm excited to speak to that to inspire and educate others.
With legalization day coming up, what do you think is important to consider for Canadians going forward?
This is 1.0; this is the beginning, but what is legalization without freeing the people who have been trapped by cannabis prohibition for so many years? I believe the legislation needs more development, but particularly when it comes to pardoning people who have possession on their record––people who have a hard time getting jobs, travelling––when it's about to become legal. I believe this should have been priority number one for the federal government. The fact that it hasn’t is really upsetting for me.
What does PARDON mean to you?
It's all in the word. It makes me think about how Canadians get made fun of for saying sorry all the time. This is one instance where the government should play into that stereotype. Let's definitely apologize to these people who have been struggling because they have this mark on their record for possessing a bit of cannabis. For some people, that's as little as having a single joint. I'm in Vancouver, it's a bit of a bubble here, so when I hear things like that it's horrifying to me that people's lives have been ruined by something so simple. We absolutely need to pardon these people; we need to apologize to them. It's the right thing to do.
Follow Amanda on Twitter @amanda_siebert.
Written by Jon Dekel
Photo provided by Amanda Siebert