Diana Haronis: Dedicated to Freeing the Leaf
MMJ Advocate: Diana Haronis, Huntington Beach, CA
Hello my name is Diana Haronis. I am an artist and a photographer, I am married, and I live in California. I have a wonderful daughter, three lovely granddaughters, and three little dogs which I’ve adopted. I love animals and am a big proponent of animal rights, as well as an advocate for the legalization of cannabis. I believe that the benefits of legalization are vast and important for us economically, socially, industrially, environmentally, medically, and personally. I also feel it is a human right to be allowed to grow one’s own food and medicine.
Can you tell us about your current work in the space?
About 4 years ago, a friend and I started a Facebook Group to promote awareness about cannabis and to gain support for legalization. Since then, our group has grown to over 20,000 members. It is a place where like-minded individuals can share ideas, help and support one another, work together on arranging rallies and marches, and organize all other means of promoting awareness for legalization. We also have a community page which shares information with the public in order to inform and educate those who may not understand the many benefits of cannabis and why it should be legalized.
Since then, our group has grown to over 20,000 members.
When was your interest first piqued by the cannabis plant?
I would have to say it was when I was partying in High School. In my younger days, it was the recreational aspect that attracted me. Later, it was the spiritually mind-expanding quality, but these days, I am much more concerned with the many, potential health benefits it offers and also the positive effect it could have on our economy and our planet.
What were you doing before becoming a part of this industry?
I was creating Art and Photography, which I’m still doing. I have several websites that I manage and I also do stock photography for Getty Images. Aside from legalizing cannabis, I’m also an advocate for animal rights.
What’s the most touching story you’ve heard from someone you’ve encountered in your work?
I can’t think of one story in particular, however, what touches me the most is seeing cannabis become legal and the people who’ve been suffering, finally having access to the medicine they need. Every time another state becomes approved for legalization, it brings joy to my heart! Every day, at Free The Leaf, we hear people talking about how they know cannabis could help relieve their suffering or that of a loved one but, that they are unable to get it because it is illegal where they live. They are then forced to use pharmaceuticals which have harsh side effects or they risk breaking the law in order to ease their pain. It’s so wonderful to see the relief in their faces as the fear is removed and they are then able to access and use their medicine of choice in a legal manner.
How would you describe the cannabis consumer community?
I would say it is all over the map! The community is very diverse. It’s not just hippies anymore. Professional people of all walks of life are using this wonderful herb for relaxation, healing, and pleasure. I find that the community in general is very peace loving, compassionate, free thinking, and creative. There are so many inspired ideas and potential businesses waiting to bloom as soon as more states become legal. The feeling I get from the community now is one that I would describe as hopeful and optimistic.
I find that the community in general is very peace loving, compassionate, free thinking, and creative. There are so many inspired ideas and potential businesses waiting to bloom as soon as more states become legal.
What do you wish people would know about the cannabis plant?
I really wish they would realize that it is not dangerous. There has never been even one reported death as a result of marijuana. It is simply a plant and a herb. I believe it is inherently wrong to make a part of nature illegal. There are many other plants growing freely that actually are very dangerous – For example, no one is arrested for growing oleanders and they are extremely poisonous, as are many other plants that grow openly in people’s yards. To me it seems crazy and wrong that people are going to jail for growing or using a plant unless they actually did use it to poison someone, which is impossible in the case of marijuana.
I would like people to realize all of the wonderful medicinal qualities of cannabis. The money used to keep it illegal should be put towards exploring and utilizing its many healing properties. Also, I would like people to realize the enormous potential of hemp farming and marijuana legalization to help our environment and economy. Legalization would create countless jobs and put money back into the community; money that is currently being spent on the police and the upkeep of prisons. Hemp is a huge industry that could save our forests. It takes a tree 20+ years to grow to the point in which it can be used to make paper. Hemp is ready to harvest in 4 months and can be used to create paper, cloth, fuel, and many other products.
What words do you live by? Is it a quote? A mantra?
My philosophy in life is to relieve suffering when I can and to do my best to never to cause any on my own. My favorite quote is from the Buddha, “If you see yourself in others, whom can you harm?”
What part would you like to play in moving this industry in a positive direction?
Just what I have been doing… raising awareness, educating people about cannabis, and promoting legalization. Once it is legal, I have some other business ideas I may move forward with, but for now I’m just focusing my time and energy on ending prohibition.
What trait does one need to do great work in this space?
I would say persistence and patience. It’s difficult at times not to get upset by all the ignorance and negative propaganda, but I feel it is important to stay positive and keep promoting the truth in a peaceful, constructive way.
What is your message to the CannaEffect community?
Stay positive and keep raising awareness! It really does work! Look how far the movement has come already and how it is gaining momentum every day. Prohibition is an unjust law and it is crumbling. The truth will prevail! Every time someone stands up for the truth and raises their voice against injustice, it gives others the strength to do the same. As Albert Einstein said, “You never fail until you stop trying.”
Stay positive and keep raising awareness! It really does work!