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Melissa Etheridge Rocks Women Grow Conference

Melissa Etheridge addresses a full house at Ellie Caulkins Opera House in Denver as part of the Women Grow Leadership Summit on Feb. 4. (Courtesy of AP)

Medical marijuana advocate and rock singer Melissa Etheridge took center stage at the Women Grow Leadership Summit in Denver on Feb. 4. Here's a partial transcript of her speech:

"I want to tell my journey. I find when I tell my journey it inspires people. I've been an advocate now for cannabis for over 10 years. I do liken it very much to the LGBT and marriage equality movement, because it's about coming out… 

"I grew up in Leavenworth, Kansas. Kansas needs your help. They're still locking up people and taking kids away. That's on my radar right now…

"I really didn't have much contact with cannabis until I was in high school. My first girlfriend said. 'Let's get some pot.' The girl who was behind me in creative writing gave me a bud. What do I do? I had no idea. We went off into the woods and nothing happened. It was all dried. It was not the right experience.

"But later I went to school in Boston at the Berklee School of Music. I met another woman. She was walking me home one evening...

'We sat down on a stoop and she pulled out a joint. It was the first time I smoked. I remember saying, "What is this? This is amazing."

"Life goes on. One morning I woke up and I had a lump in my breast. My life completely changed. I was diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer. I found the medical community was kind of a conveyor belt. It's all numbers. Finally, I got to the surgery and the chemotherapy part.

'Right before I started, my good friend David Crosby calls me up. If you don't know, he's the father of two of my children. He says, "Melissa, you must get some cannabis." I said alright. This is 2004.'

"It was medicinally legal in California. I found a good roadie to go to a place and he started showing me all this stuff that's available at the cannabis dispensaries. I started smoking. For the first time I was smoking medicinally. I was smoking just to feel OK, not to get high, but just to be able to function. The only thing that kept me sane was the smoking and vaping. I ate it with medicated butter on potatoes...

'I did not take the steroids or the pain reliever – the four or five medicines they wanted to give me that could be taken care of with this one natural herb.'

"We're changing the paradigm. Cannabis is the thing that's going to push the whole conversation about health. Cannabis, being the female plant and the female spirit, is pushing this and demanding the attention and proving itself over and over and bringing back what we lost, that pagan knowledge of medicine and wellness that we were burned at the stake for.

Melissa Etheridge canna-wine is available at Greenway Relief in Santa Cruz.

"Here we are today – we find ourselves not only at the precipice of a paradigm changing, but also with that, business opportunities, money. It's time now for us to become balanced, for us to become the male and female inside of ourselves and run that business with the knowledge of the health and the wellness, and also, the other energy of capitalism and of business. We will show that it can work..."

Last year, Freedom Leaf reported that Etheridge had authorized Greenway Compassionate Relief to produce a branded wine infused with cannabis for the dispensaries patients. The bottles are hand-signed by Etheridge. According to the Denver Post"She's also working on a line of THC- and CBD-infused wellness products."

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Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of CelebStoner.com, editor-in-chief of Freedom Leaf, co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness, and the former editor of High Times.