Trail Blazers is a series of portraits by photographer Maria Levitov, spotlighting cannabis consumers from all walks of life.
Mykia Stephens was one of thousands who made the annual pilgrimage to Denver on April 20, 2018, partaking in the 4/20 festivities at Civic Center Park
. Although smoking joints with friends is nothing to hide in Colorado, Stephens isn't able to to do so as freely in Indiana, where she currently lives and cannabis is still illegal. Stephens reminds us that cannabis is part of life in all regions of the country, but in many of them it is not as tolerated as it is in this state.
"My name is Mykia Stephens. I am a young African-American woman living in Indiana. My Republican state treats the things I love, like cannabis or the way I wear my hair, to categorize me. I came to Denver to celebrate cannabis because it has helped me in ways that judgmental people cannot understand. So many people are quick to judge what they see or smell, but what they don't see is that weed helped me realize things within myself."
"I now know that those long nights watching television or sleepwalking was not me just being a kid, but that I am one of those people that sleep does not come easy to. I am also more social now than ever in my life. I was never one of those people to just go up to someone and start a conversation. Here I am now, after one weekend in Denver, and I have made so many wonderful new friends. And to think it all started with the rotation of a blunt."
See the start of the Trail Blazers series here