Marijuana

KushConII to take medical marijuana seriously, says MMJ user/cancer patient Cheryl Shuman

KushConII, December 17-19 at the Colorado Convention Center, has made news over its RTD bus ads, which have drawn protests from law-enforcement. But Cheryl Shuman, the event's international director of PR and media, would rather focus on the event itself, which she says takes medical marijuana seriously. That's important to her, since she's got inoperable liver cancer she treats with MMJ.

April's Colorado Cannabis Convention -- the first KushCon in Denver -- was criticized by some MMJ advocates for focusing too much on lifestyle and not enough on the serious medical issues being addressed by marijuana. Shuman's heard some of the same complaints, which she says were caused in part by behind-the-scene drama; the event's original organizers allegedly disappeared with a pile of vendor checks just before the convention was set to get underway, forcing the folks at California's Kush Magazine to go into last minute rescue mode.

This time around, however, Shuman says Kush has had the opportunity to take charge from the start. And while there'll be lots of entertainment, including a skateboard exhibition and concerts by the Flobots, Mix Master Mike and more, KushConII will also feature a distinguished panel of speakers from all over the United States, including former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, current Congressman Jared Polis, representatives from every major marijuana advocacy organization and lots of medical professionals. Look below to see a detailed release and a speakers schedule.

"We've got almost $1.8 million in the show," Shuman says, "and on the political side, we'll have the powerhouses of the industry. That's one of the reasons I wanted to be involved -- to bring everybody to the same place in the same room."

Example: KushConII will be the coming-out party for the NORML Women's Fundraising Alliance, which she sees as a major step forward in changing medical marijuana's reputation among mainstreamers. Moreover, Shuman insists that the event as a whole will be "family-friendly, which is important to me, because I'm a mom."

She's also a true believer in the medical efficacy of marijuana, which she discovered after she suffered a health crisis she continues to battle on a daily basis.

"I worked in TV and film publicity for 25 years," she points out. "I worked with Tom Cruise, Madonna. But then I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I was in the hospital for years and had many surgeries. Part of my colon and bladder were removed, and now, the cancer has metastasized to my liver."

In the beginning of her illness, Shuman relied entirely on standard medication. "I was on 27 different pharmaceuticals," she recalls. "I was literally bedridden, on a morphine pump." Medical marijuana gave her back the quality of life she enjoys today, but it also put her at odds with the medical establishment. As she tearfully notes, "I was denied a liver transplant because I am a medical cannabis patient."

With surgery to remove the cancer from her liver not an option, Shuman has turned to Colorado Springs' Dr. Bob Melamede, "who helped me get into a cannabis science program in Colorado and put me on an experimental medicine. I haven't had my next MRI, but I'm hopeful that it can stop the growth of the tumor."

In the meantime, Shuman is pouring her heart and soul into KushConII. "I hope before I die, I'll see cannabis legalized," she says. "I want to leave a legacy. I want to stand for something, and this is my chance. Colorado is the center of the universe for cannabis, and that's why we're here. We're going to make history."

Look below to see a release about KushConII, the aforementioned speakers schedule and a video of Shuman testifying before the Los Angeles City Council about her medical condition:

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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