Cannabis Got Me Into Harvard

I started using cannabis in college at New York University as a way to relax and distract myself from the fact that I was underage and broke living in New York City. My best friends and I would spend the weekends smoking joints, making popcorn to hide the herbal scent in our dorm, getting caught by our dorm security, and doing it all over again. I spent freshman year Halloween in an eight-hour seminar with other likeminded cannabis enthusiasts learning about why we shouldn't use cannabis because it was a gateway drug that clouded your sense of self. Instead, the experience reaffirmed exactly why we love cannabis, and we bonded over a shared joint in Washington Square Park as soon as we were released from the classroom. Breathing into the plant, I felt instantly calmer, happier, and free. 

What I only realized recently was that cannabis guided me through the highs and lows of the majority of my life. Cannabis was my personal tutor, therapist, and life coach, keeping me sane while maintaining a 3.93 GPA. Cannabis taught me how to be alone while boosting my risk tolerance, opening me up to new adventures that I would have never pursued without the plant. I was high at a party when I spontaneously decided not to study abroad in Italy like my parents had suggested, and instead I chose to go to Ghana. I was also high when I decided to apply to Harvard Business School as a college Senior. After ten years as a fearless activist fighting for safer beauty products, I discovered that I could use business to provide solutions to the world's problems. I was the first person from NYU's Gallatin School of Individualized Study to be accepted to Harvard Business School, and the first woman in my family to attend graduate school.

I am proud to say that I was the biggest cannabis advocate at Harvard Business School. As a longtime cannabis advocate, I felt an innate responsibility to educate other students about the potential health benefits of the plant. Not only did I bring cannabis to every party and event but I also made presentations about why I love cannabis and even submitted a final project for my Innovating in Healthcare class about the medicinal properties and history of marijuana. I pitched cannabis businesses to student investors and I hosted the biggest 4/20 party on campus. The one time I smoked before class, I raised my hand to make a comment about the case study and was shocked by the eloquence and brilliance of my words. When I finished speaking, the professor paused, nodded, and pressed her hands together as she said, "And that is the heart of the case." 

Cannabis has changed my life for the better. After graduating from business school in May, I realized that my story as an activist, entrepreneur, and avid cannabis user has the potential to de-stigmatize cannabis culture and open up the minds of others to the vast benefits of cannabis. I have met hundreds of women with similar cannabis success stories: women whose careers and lives have been saved or defined by their relationship to cannabis. Women have the power to change the face of cannabis and change the industry for the better. My mission is to empower a movement of women to explore cannabis as not a gateway drug, but instead, a gateway towards a new feminism. 

In order to bloom, female cannabis flowers must come together in clusters to form buds. In order to change the industry, women must come together and reclaim their power over the plant. Let’s start now. 


Jessica Assaf7 Comments