“Well behaved women seldom make history.”
When Pulitzer Prize winning historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich first wrote that infamous war cry on behalf of badass ladies everywhere, she was calling on women like Tracy Curley. And it was a cantation the passionate cannabis activist would sing throughout her years advocating for fair and safe access to the misunderstood plant.
As a longtime pioneer driving the Canadian decriminalization movement, she fought loudly and tirelessly on behalf of patients often lost and overlooked in a corporatized and politicized system. Curley experienced the benefits of cannabis as a medicinal consumer, using it to manage symptoms of diabetes—a disease she was diagnosed with at age six. She used her firsthand understanding to empower budding female entrepreneurs through the Toronto chapter of Women Grow, provide medical support and patient access through compassion clubs, and debunk misinformation at rallies, conferences, and in the media.
Curley passed on Saturday (June 1) in her home. Since news of her death broke, the community took to social media to share condolences, memories, and final goodbyes for the woman who touched many lives.
Most of all, PLEASE continue to advocate for dignified access for cannabis patients. We lost someone whose passion, grit+work ethic were equivalent to 1000 people, we ALL now need to work together to continue her legacy "Well behaved women rarely make history" @TracyCurley420— Abi Sampson (@HiHeidiHigh) June 3, 2019
It’s hard to put into words how much Tracy meant to me. She was a mentor, she was a friend, she was a long lost cousin to every Islander she met away from home. Her heart burned so bright! I’ll never be able to thank you enough @TracyCurley420 for everything you taught me— Annie MacEachern (@Miss_canniebis) June 3, 2019
Tracy in about 2007 outside Toronto on one of those crazy smokeout bus trips that she and the other activists would organize.— Curt Robbins (@RobbinsGroupLLC) June 3, 2019
To an Ohio technical writer, the Toronto scene at the time was the Disneyland of Cannabis—and Tracy was one of the passionate, intelligent queens. pic.twitter.com/slADirD5Zs
"We are old-timers, innovators, disruptors; wild women with pioneer spirits and fierce determination. We are medicine-makers, farmers, trimmers, party makers and herbal geeks. We love each other, hate each other, swear like pirates and take care of business." RIP @TracyCurley420— Kelly Coulter (@NORML_CWA) June 2, 2019
This is very sad news. Will miss her— Jamie Shaw (@jamiesashaw) June 2, 2019
This weekend we lost one of our best. Since the 90s, @TracyCurley420 has been a champion for patients and a consistent voice for compassion, dignity. The courage of a few in Canada elsewhere created the spark of global legalization we all enjoy today. #ThankYou pic.twitter.com/ihuYD8243p— John Fowler (@john_fowler_jd) June 2, 2019
Rest in Power Tracy pic.twitter.com/5bYWoVNN4B— Adam Greenblatt (@adam_greenblatt) June 2, 2019
The world lost the strongest woman I know I am planning a pop- up outdoor lounge in honour of Tracy this weekend outside of the MTCC. Please give me a bit to get the details together. Rest In Peace @TracyCurley420 I love you so much!!! pic.twitter.com/pPaNXKrmgR— Amy Anonymous (@TheAmyAnonymous) June 2, 2019
The cannabis community lost a very good friend and dedicated activist this week.— Cannabis Culture (@CannabisCulture) June 2, 2019
Tracy Curley was a passionate advocate: her fiery personality, incredible style and tireless work to help legalize cannabis will be remembered dearly.
Dr. Jenna Valleriani, CEO of the National Institute of Cannabis Health and Education (NICHE) Canada and drug policy expert, also wrote a moving piece for NOW Toronto detailing her personal friendship with Curley.
“She was clear and direct. But she didn’t hold your opinions against you if she felt they were coming from a good place,” wrote Valleriani.
“She was loyal and close to many pioneers who spent the early years of their cannabis advocacy risking arrest to provide access to medical cannabis to people who needed it.”
In 2016, Blog Talk Radio hosted a two-hour interview delving into Curley’s full history of advocacy. In the conversation, she shares numerous important lessons for activists, entrepreneurs, and investors to hold onto during the economically and politically tumultuous time. Many of her calls still ring profoundly true and reflective of the industry today.
“God bless them for fighting,” she says in the interview when speaking on medical patients fighting the drug war. “They have fought every step of the way, they have raised money for court challenges, they’ve shown up when they need to, they’ve let their voices be heard. It makes me proud to be a Canadian—the patients in this country.”
Tonight (June 3), Kensington Market’s Hotbox Lounge and Shop (204 Augusta Ave) hosts a community ceremony to commemorate Curley’s legacy from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. EST.
Surely, cherries will also burn steadily throughout weekend in Curley’s honour as the industry gathers at one of the country’s largest cannabis expos.
“I am a patient advocate first,” she says in the radio interview.
“If our city comes through a treats us all with this broad stroke, the ones that have been operating for two decades and are serving thousands of patients may very well have to close their doors. We’re fighting, and we’re fighting, and we’re fighting.”
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