With our brief hiatus now behind us, we’re officially back with yet another dope-ass conversation with a cannamom of color. We introduce to you Dr. Kim Harris. She’s an old-school cannamamma, fellow West Phillian and co-founder of Abofa House, a 420 friendly wellness retreat center in Lethe, Jamaica.
Dr. Harris forged her own path of cannabis wellness before it was even remotely legal to do so. Today she benefits from a society that’s slowly catching on to what she knew from the jump: Cannabis is a natural tool that can improve the overall quality of life.
Her relationship with ganja was renewed upon being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007. Dr. Harris incorporated various uses of the plant into an overall natural wellness regimen that essentially saved her life. She and her daughter, canna-chef Aida Desta Campbell, implement these healing mind-body-spirit modalities into retreats, classes, workshops and residencies at Abofa House to provide a therapeutic experience for each and every participant.
How did cannabis help you overcome cancer?
When I got cancer I did some intense research because I realized that my endocannabinoid system was compromised. I got frustrated and wondered why the doctors weren’t looking at it from that perspective with regard to healing. Maybe they could have saved me from losing one of my breasts. They really wanted to take both of them.
Did you speak with your doctor about using cannabis?
At first I was being secretive with my oncologist, but one day I may have gone in for a visit and smelled of [cannabis]. She questioned me and I was honest with her. I told her of the other herbal supplements I was taking too. I shared my perspective to the point where she invited me to share this with her team.
What was the cannabis treatment most helpful for?
I was nauseous and I had bad migraines to the point where I couldn’t even open my eyes. It was due of the chemo and radiation treatment. Even after the fact, I still rub cannabis oil on that part of my head, and on the area of my mastectomy. I use skin care products that have cannabis in it, and I put it in my deodorant. Wherever I can infuse it, I will.
Do you feel cannabis is keeping you cancer-free?
Yes, I feel it has aligned with my endocannabinoid system that was compromised. Cannabis oil has given me an extra coating, like a salve on the inside of my body. It is a part of my healing modality, which is also why I started embracing Kemetic yoga and other things I love to do.
I’m 57 and this is the best I’ve felt mentally, physically and spiritually. It’s all about that authentic self-care. Not everyone’s self care is “cookie cutter.” It’s not one size fits all.
Did you consume cannabis while raising kids?
Yes, I have 4 children and sometimes when they were young they would beg me “Mommy don’t smoke when company comes over.” But now that same company says, “Your mom was cool back in the day!”
You’re an OG cannamom!
I really and truly am, but it’s only been recently that I started sharing with the world that this is what I do! It’s nothing to be ashamed of and I can tell you one thing: I couldn’t have written my dissertation and received my doctorate if I didn’t [consume cannabis].
What was it like being a cannamom during a time when legalization was non existent?
It was a little hard because I had 4 children. In the schools they were just pumping it into them: “Say no to drugs.” Cannabis was on that list. My two oldest would question me about it. I told them, I don’t do drugs, I smoke herb. I always told them that it’s not a chemical, this natural.
I was on welfare, a single-mom living in the neighborhood, and I embraced cannabis. It became a conflict having to explain my cannabis use to my son. I would say, “It’s ok to use cannabis at home but we can’t use it around certain people and don’t tell your teachers.”
Were you able to connect with other cannamoms?
I found myself migrating towards other moms. I guess it was something in our demeanor and eventually we’d have play sessions at each other’s home with a designated smoke area where the children weren’t allowed.
All four of my children are cannaseurs and it was because of the environment they grew up in. It was nothing for my kids to see me crunching up. And they are pretty well-grounded as far as indulging.
Please tell us all about Abofa House.
It actually evolved out of a yoga certification I received in Florida in 2014. A Breath Of Fresh Air was the name of our graduating class. I noticed the first letters and (ABOFA) I thought that sounded cultural.
We are a private bed and breakfast in the western part of Jamaica, in the hills and off the grid. We have our own garden and we nurture our land. We have a plant-based mission, and we try to empower others who are going through that transition. It’s a hands-on experience. Our guests are involved in the process. Each person has a little task like preparing meals, for example. We want to show them the simplicity of it because we live off the grid so we utilize a lot of local products.
Do you offer cannabis to participants?
People who come are 420 friendly. My daughter makes a [cannabis infused] hot tea that she mixes with coconut milk, which helps to activate the terpenes. She also makes an ice tea (which is my favorite) with healing herbs like lemongrass mixed with cinnamon. It’s a nice tonic. We’ve had some people who come just to embrace the tea element.
What are some of the activities attendees can enjoy during their stay?
We offer an afro-centric form of self-care for brothers and sisters. In December we will hold the Healing in the Hills series that will address certain areas like healing the trauma of our ancestral karma and paying attention to the patterns in our lives. There’ll even be a discussion on celibacy vs. sexual connection. Each retreat has an artistic therapeutic component, group circles, African dance, yoga, zip-lining, trips to the beach, river and fire cleanses. Everyone comes home tired but it’s a good tired. I want people to leave feeling like, “You know, this thing called life, I’m ready to do it!”