Mommy's Funny Medicine
The Making Of The World’s First Children’s Book About Medical Marijuana
By Russell Barth
Christine Lowe and I are both medical Marijuana users. Christine uses cannabis for her epilepsy and post traumatic stress disorder, and I use it for my fibromyalgia and anxiety. In mid-December of 2002 we met a woman in a wheelchair on Bank Street in Ottawa. Since I use a wheelchair for most of my transport needs, we compared notes on our machines and the state of Ottawa sidewalks.
I asked her if she was in pain and she said that she was in constant pain. I asked her what she used to treat it, and she said “Ten Tylenol 3’s a day.” We then and asked her if she had ever considered cannabis. She was shocked and offended by this, comparing pot to heroin. We told her that cannabis was safe and effective, and not addictive like codeine, and that she needed to educate herself.
She absolutely refused to listen, falling just short of sticking her fingers in her ears and chanting “La la la I can’t hear you.” She acted as if even discussing it was a scandal. “What would I tell my grandson?” she asked. In unison, Christine and I replied “The truth!” The woman, whose name we never got, stormed off, quite insulted.
As Christine and I departed, one of us said to the other “Someone should make a children’s book.”
We thought nothing more about it until December 22nd, when I was talking on the phone to my father, who was in Florida for the winter. He is an avid prohibitionist, and despite all the science to the contrary, firmly believes the myth and hype about pot “warping your mind” and being “ten times more carcenogenic than tobacco”, so we didn’t discuss my medical marijuana use in that conversation.
After I got off the phone, I asked Christine how I could possibly explain all of this cannabis use and activism to him? I was miming that I was reading a bedtime story, pointing angrily into my hand at an imaginary book: “Look. See Russell. See Russell getting well with his new medicine.”
Christine and I looked at each other and gasped. The idea just popped into our heads like that, and we knew that it was something that could possibly be huge.
Most of the text for Mommy’s Funny Medicine came out that night, written in one session. We did some quick pencil sketches and showed it to our good friend, Ottawa activist Mike Foster. He got choked up from just reading the text, and said that it was a great idea and that we should do it.
We knew that a children’s book on such a controversial topic would be difficult to pitch to publishers. We also knew that there would eventually be media publicity to deal with.
We didn’t want some big publisher making more money off of this book than “the cause” would, and we didn’t want to appear on TV saying “Buy our book so we can buy pot!” We might have appeared as the “Pied-Pipers Of Pot”, and that wouldn’t help us, the book, or “the cause”.
We decided that the best idea was to somehow get it self-published, and give all the proceeds to help establish the National Capital Compassion Society. That way, if we did media publicity, we could hard-sell the book because all the proceeds went to a charity.
Over the month of January 2003, Christine did the black and white line-work illustrations. We scanned them, and I spent the month of February in front of the computer, touching up the lines, adding color, and pasting in the text.
On March 1, we did the first print on a standard home computer laser printer. Upon seeing this first print, Mike Foster said he thought it was so nice, he’d like to publish it himself.
The 2000 printed copies arrived at Crosstown Traffic on April 21st, 2003, and since then, we have spoken to TV, Radio, and print media, trying to draw attention to the fact that we need a Compassion Club with a safe and consistant supply for people in the Ottawa area.
Mommy’s Funny Medicine has appeared in Cannabis Culture magazine, on local TV, Pot-TV, and can be ordered online at crosstowntraffic.ca.