Dear Jodie: I was saddened to hear the tragic news that Michelle Rainey is possibly just weeks away from dying from her melanoma and lymphatic cancer, which has now reached critical proportions throughout her body. She’s only 39. Melanoma is such a vicious cancer, and cancer has been terrible on her brother, killing him young, and affecting others in her family. Considering Michelle battled Crohn’s Disease since she was a teenager, it’s a bitter blow for her, this life of suffering she’s had.
Michelle was my #1 partner in so many of my great triumphs, which I hope she regards as her great triumphs too. Considering the considerable pain her health has given her, she was heroic in so many ways, in so many campaigns that helped so many and represented the movement with class and clout.
With Matthew Johnson, Michelle and I ran the legendary and historic full-slate election campaign of 79 BC Marijuana Party candidates in the 2001 BC general election. You had to be there to believe it: in the campaign HQ, gathering all the candidates, getting the 40 signatures in each riding to qualify, having Richard Nixon’s old campaign bus tour the province with BCMP leader Brian Taylor (now Mayor of Grand Forks) on board. We nicknamed that old bus the “Cannabus”, and that campaign was when you got into politics, Jodie, going to your very first rally in Kamloops the day that bus came by Riverside Park.
That campaign, with our 54,000 votes, 3.5% of the total cast, would never have been possible without Michelle. When we didn’t have a candidate way up north in Peace River South, Michelle volunteered to be the candidate and went up there to Tumbler Ridge and Dawson Creek, getting signatures at The Alaskan Hotel in Dawson Creek. You know how Charles, the owner of that cool old museum of a hotel, is always so nice to us there, Jodie? That’s because Michelle smoothed the way for us in that community. Michelle was a great campaign manager with Matthew, she was like Mother Teresa, Houdini, and Vince Lombardi all rolled into one: cajoling, guiding, and making impossible things happen in the last play of the game for that campaign.
Michelle was an all-inclusive mother, household manager, and business partner, and while both of us attended to our own spousal relationships, we were a powerful and dynamic duo six years from 1999-2005, the greatest period of activism Canada had seen in our movement. Michelle lived with me pretty well from 1999 at the house on 9th Ave. on the Sunshine Coast to January 2003 at the apartment on Nicola in Vancouver, over three years, and worked from sunrise to late every night making sure I looked great and presentable every day, keeping my house clean, all the employees paid, the seeds out on time, the producers paid and happy, the media fully informed, Pot-TV running smoothly, and Richard Cowan (who lived with us on the Sunshine Coast for over a year) taken care of – it’s amazing, all the incredible accomplishments she got done.
Michelle was my great team mate at the 2001 and 2003 IDEACITY in Toronto where I spoke about our incredible work to end prohibition and save the world. The 2003 IDEACITY is where I announced, for the first time, on stage, that I was going to smoke out the Toronto Police Station the next day as the first demonstration of what became the wildly successful Summer of Legalization Tour, proving that cannabis possession laws did not exist at that time. Michelle made sure she introduced me to everyone of importance there and indeed, many of the speakers said they thought our work was important. Romeo Dallaire, Henry Morgentaler, Wade Davis, Dianne Francis, Jaymie Matthews, and so many other great Canadians complimented Michelle and I on our great determination to end the suffering caused by prohibition.
The greatest celebration of cannabis I have ever experienced or ever heard of in the annals of cannabis culture were Michelle’s fabulous Toker’s Bowls of 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, hosted by Cannabis Culture Magazine. There has simply never been any presentation honouring the cannabis culture as classy, considerate, cannabinoid, warm, and loving, as Michelle gave love to every attendee for the whole glorious four-day affair. There were the boat trips, the bus trips (with the ever helpful Reverend Herb as the driver!), the 20-25 kinds of incredible pot for each judge, the nightly parties, rented restaurants, the entertainment, the prizes, the bubblehash, and the gracious and thoughtful Michelle making everyone ever so comfortable and welcomed. And Michelle had to work so hard to earn the money to cover the losses that each Tokers’ Bowl had. They were the greatest parties our culture ever experienced, but they didn’t make money, and Michelle had to work months to pull them off.
We had the greatest cannabis seed business ever known, that revolutionized the world, because Michelle, known fondly as Denmother, put love and care into every order. A medical cannabis user herself, struggling with Crohn’s, she fully appreciated how our seeds were helping thousands of people. I certainly gave away millions of dollars to all those great and good causes, like the 2003 Canadian Supreme Court challenge to legalize marijuana ($85,000), the 1999 class-action suit of the US federal government in Philadelphia to bring back the compassionate use program of medical marijuana ($28,000), the 2000 Canadian Marijuana Party election campaign($22,000), the 2001 BC Marijuana Party campaign ($152,000), the Iboga Therapy House treatment facility for hard-drug addicts ($205,000), the Worldwide Global Marijuana Marches of 1999-2005 ($35,000 each of those 7 years), ballot initiatives in Colorado in 2000 ($15,000) and Arizona ($10,000) – all of those expensive projects and hundreds more which was paid for by mine and Michelle’s hard work.
Michelle did what virtually no other human being could do or did, except her and I. She was an engine for great change in the world, committing money, her health, and her whole soul into this great movement that is forever in debt to her – just as I am in debt to her, for everything she has done for me and our cause. The whole movement, but especially the Canadian movement, may never know how much of our progress in the last decade is attributable to Michelle’s perseverance in the face of great pain, stress and financial pressure. Everyday we had tremendous demands on us for monies we had committed to activism, to our suppliers, to our many employees. Every day we knew we risked a run-in with the law, and all these combined pressures certainly took their toll on her.
Michelle is dealing with this critical juncture in her life with modesty and privacy, but before it’s too late, Michelle needs to be recognized as one of the greatest activists this movement has ever had. Michelle may have literally given her life to the movement, and when people think about what they can do for freedom in their lifetime, Michelle’s life is a shining example of how much is possible, even under great duress.
I wish her a miracle, as she certainly deserves one. I salute her as my great comrade in arms who brought honour, passion, and achievement to our movement, and I can confidently say that the lives of thousands of people are and were forever improved by Michelle being there for them, and for me.