Xula Interviews: Hanah SalasA powerful conversation with Hanah Salas about how the War on Drugs directly impacted her family and how that experience led her to become an entrepreneur while advocating for Cannabis and marginalized communities.
Hanah Salas is an energy worker, curandera (medicine woman), Cannabis educator and advocate, and mother, based in Kumeyaay Land, aka San Diego, where she spent most of her life. Cannabis is currently legal there for both medical use and adult use—or what is commonly known as recreational use—for adults 21 and over. Read on for a powerful conversation between Samantha Martins and Hanah Salas about how the War on Drugs directly impacted her family and how that experience led her to become an entrepreneur while advocating for Cannabis and marginalized communities.
S: Samantha H: Hanah
S: Thank you so much for being in conversation with me! I know we’ve been trying to connect for a while so I’m so happy to get to speak with you and share your story and your work with the Xula community and beyond. Tell me about your businesses, Open Apothecary and Magic Mama Co.
H: First, I started Magic Mama Co when I had my first child 9 years ago. I wanted safe and healthy ingredients to use on my baby and myself. Then a few years later I started Open Apothecary because I gave birth to twins and one had a heart defect and had to have open-heart surgery at 3 months. At the same time my mom was diagnosed with Lyme disease after years and years of suffering in pain. My mom had been using prescription pain meds for her pain and she wanted to transition to something more natural as the pain meds had destroyed her stomach, so she started using marijuana. She had great results from it but it wasn’t sustainable for her to be high all the time so I started looking into other methods of using the plant to help her. I made edibles, suppositories, the famous RSO (Rick Simpson oil), pain salve and oils, etc. She loved the way she felt with the suppositories because she didn’t feel the head high. Then I started hearing about CBD and thought it could be good as well. But at that time it was way more expensive than marijuana. I got ahold of some CBD isolate 1 gram for almost $100 (laughs)— so ridiculous— and I started playing around with it. Then I got some actual flower and infused that. I started giving it to friends and they loved it. So I felt like “ok, this is dope.” Open Apothecary was born! So Magic Mama Co is the family-friendly line and Open Apothecary is the adult line.
S: What challenges, if any, have you faced as not only a business owner, but as a woman of color, in Cannabis?
H: I have had lots of packages seized and destroyed and scary calls and letters from USPS and their investigative team. Accounts have frozen and there was lots of trouble finding payment processing and banking. But aside from that, I have had little to no issues with regular folks, I think for a few reasons. One, because I surround myself with very open-minded, radical thinkers so I can talk about marijuana and also fairies and spirits in the same breath and no one blinks an eye (laughs). And also I’m a light-skinned Mexican, cis and seemingly hetero woman and my many privileges allow me to speak more freely and publicly about Cannabis.
S: How’s your experience as a Cannaparent? Do you have conversations about Cannabis with your kids or is it a minimal discussion situation?
H: The kids are always around when I’m creating so they see the plants and medicine. Whenever they see people smoking, they ask “Mama, is that medicine or cigarettes?” I let them know whether it was a cigarette or if it was Cannabis and then we move on. Cannabis is readily available in my area. Folks have little markets lined up with all sorts of Cannabis goods so it’s not hard to find, you don’t even have to go to the dispensary. It’s very open and normalized in my area. Awareness and educating my kids about it helps them understand so they go into their association with Cannabis knowing it’s medicine, PERIOD. It removes the stigma.
S: You often mention the importance of mutual aid and supporting underserved/under-resourced folks including BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and differently-abled folks. The collective you cofounded, Brujitxs Del Barrio, does just that. Tell us more.
H: Brujitxs Del Barrio is an abolitionist healing collective that centers Black, Brown, Queer, Trans, disabled, and other underrepresented folks and provides sliding scale services, herbal and Cannabis products. Mutual Aid and community care are pillars of this collective. For example, we distribute goods that folks might be in need of but don’t have access to.
S: I know you have direct experience with how the War on Drugs affected you and your family. Can you tell me more?
H: Trigger Warning: includes death and jail talk. When I was young, like maybe 9-ish, my parents had recently divorced and I think my dad was trying to make some money so he drove a car across the US Mexican border filled with plant medicine and got caught. He really didn’t want to go back to jail, obviously—it’s terrible so he went back home to Mexico and never returned to the US where we lived and he was always kinda looking over his shoulders. Officers in plain clothes would follow me and my sister asking us if we had seen our dad and questioning us for probably what felt like 1-2 years. Years later even when my dad got into a car accident he was too scared to go to the hospital and got so bad that his brother finally took him and he died there. Definitely could have been prevented if he hadn’t been scared to seek medical attention.
S: The prohibition of weed creates so many problems beyond simply possessing or using. Like you said, had your dad not feared getting medical attention, which is understandable that he felt how he felt given his life experience and the fucking system, that could’ve been something that could’ve changed his outcome.
H: I’m so glad it became part of my life’s work and that didn’t even click for me until recently. I grew up with this medicine around me. My parents used it, among other substances and so it’s weird because I was like, “I’m never gonna do any kind of ‘drug.’” But for me, this one is different, it's not like alcohol and other shit. It’s magical and it’s powerful and it’s healing.
S: Did you ever imagine that this would be what you'd be doing, that Cannabis would become part of your career and life so deeply?
H: Absolutely not! I never thought about it. Especially because it was something I said I would never use myself. As someone who grew up around folks addicted to drugs and alcohol, I never wanted to use anything that would make me feel not in control. I was terrified of drugs tbh. I had to do some shadow work to get through some of that fear, pain, stigma, etc. I had to decolonize this plant in my own mind first. And once I started finally using it myself, bc I was working with it for years before I actually used it myself.
S: Why Cannabis? Why do you consume? In what ways has this plant supported you?
H: I feel that cannabis has this really innate ability to meet you where you are and do what it needs to do for you. It’s a plant medicine that feels very adaptogenic. It’s so special and wonderful. I consume it for myself first, and then for my living family and for my ancestors. Because when I feel better, my family feels and responds to my demeanor and energy. And when I heal myself I heal my family and the generations before and ahead of me. Marijuana has supported me in allowing me to feel body and mind comfort like I’ve never felt. It hugs me in unconditional love and releases emotions and energy that need to be expelled.
S: Do you have favorite strains? Fave methods for consumption or preferences? Any fave products or recommendations?
H: I’m such an Abuelita medicine person that I haven’t played around too much with strains. I mix whatever plant material I get a hold of and make oils with it. I’m excited to explore more with the plants. I like oils and microdoses. One thing that I do buy is these 1:1 mints from Petra. They are super cute and I like to take them when the kids go to sleep and I can curl up in my bed and chill. Also, I of course love my CBD pain salve that I use daily. I think the science behind the plant is super interesting and amazing but what gets me more is the energy and natural plantcestor vibes it has.
S: Do you have a quote or a saying or practice that grounds you and keeps you going?
H: What grounds me is my energy work so when I’m anxious or worried or also when I’m thankful or happy I like to say the opening prayer for Reiki. “I’m not taking on any of this person's energy, I’m not giving any of my own energy. I’m just being a clear channel for the Reiki energy and any other divine energies that choose to run through me for our highest good.” I say that and I put my hand on my heart or my core and I feel so cared for and loved. I’m also into tapping, shout out to Lotus La Loba!
S: What do you think is important for people to understand about Cannabis, especially folks who may feel less inclined to support Cannabis legalization, decriminalizing, and descheduling?
H: I think it’s important for people to think with a mind that sees color and privilege and systematic oppression and understands colonization. If those things aren’t recognized it’s going to be very difficult for that person to deeply understand the beauty and power of the plant as well as the destruction and violence humans have caused because of it.
S: What is your dream for Cannabis and humanity?
H: My dream for Cannabis is that it evolves into an herb that everyone is comfortable speaking about and using. That Black, Indigenous, and Brown people are the CEOs, leaders, and at the forefront of everything Cannabis. That we use money from cannabis taxes as one form of reparations for Black people. I want power to the people, resources, healing, access, health, and wealth for all underrepresented communities. And that’s me thinking small.
S: It’s been great talking with you! I’m so glad to have met you and to continue to be in orbit with you in the Cannabis and mind-body-spirit wellness space.
H: So wonderful talking with you! Thank you again and again.
Find out more about Hanah Salas:
Opens Apothecary & Magic Mama Co
Instagram: @openapothecary @magicmamaco
Find out more Brujitxs del Barrio:
Editor’s note: As a Latine, Black, woman and queer-founded brand, we are dedicated to uplifting the voices of fellow canna-advocates, business owners, and community leaders. We are dedicated to uplifting community over competition. You can find out more about Xula’s origin story here. If you have a story to tell, please feel free to reach out to Xulita Journal at email@example.com