Allie (Alexandra) Erin Butler: Founder, Hepburns
When and how did you become an advocate for cannabis?
I have been smoking pot and have been an advocate for safe access and harm reduction since I was a teenager growing up in Berkeley. My real advocacy work started when my mom got sick with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) just before I left for public health graduate school at New York University. I wanted to study HIV/AIDS and cancer, but I got swept up educating myself on the benefits of cannabis for my mom and ended up following my heart and studying drug policy (I wasn’t allowed to study cannabis specifically but I did work in harm reduction). My mom baked fresh warm cookies to support Prop. 19; she inspired me to want to make change. Shortly after she passed away, I started working for Compassionate Health Options in San Francisco. I have been working consistently in the cannabis industry since January 2012. After my term of employment at SPARC on the buying team, I was blessed with the opportunity to start Hepburns. Since cigarettes killed my mom, I am excited to have the chance to make Hepburns real, powerful healing medicine that people can enjoy.
How has cannabis benefited your life?
Cannabis has helped me to find balance, to find purpose and to relieve pain without the help of pharmaceuticals. It has also helped me find love for myself (and love in general) and find a community I feel at home with.
What’s your greatest achievement for the cannabis cause?
I feel like my biggest achievement is happening right now; that is working to support my community by doing the best job I can running Hepburns. We employ an amazing, diverse group of people who I love helping make their way in life by working collectively on this endeavor for health. My work is not without its challenges; luckily I am diligent and love a good challenge—that is, bringing you all the best medicine possible through Hepburns! I’m working to build my tiny company into something much bigger than me. I hope that Hepburns can go national and I am working to ensure we will (hopefully) be around in 300 years, and can and will provide sustainable environmental, economic and educational benefit to our community and to our earth. I want Hepburns to be the opposite of the cigarette companies that killed my mom; we work hard to bring life and love and good health and cheer to our patients!
Who do you look up to or admire?
My heroes in the cannabis industry include Nina Parks, Amber Senter and Sunshine Lencho [Founders of Supernova Women], Debby Goldsberry, Raea Campbell, Lynette Shaw, Jazmin Hupp, Dennis Peron, Martin Olive, Mary Lynn Mathre, Donald Abrams, Jack Herer, Alex Zavell, Andrea Unsworth, my mom and dad, and my favorite extract artist, Hashbury Extracts. These people have all made modern history in our movement; it is important that the new generation of advocates in our movement continue to educate ourselves and our communities on our history and what really matters, while paying respect to our foremothers and fathers and the leaders in our generation.