The cannabis community is filled with passionate, forward-thinking people who have devoted their lives to changing people's perceptions. But the question remains - how do people become involved in the cannabis industry in the first place? It turns out everyone has a unique personal journey that has brought them to the world of cannabis. Each week, cannabis professionals, activists, and others will tell their stories in their own words. This essay comes from Deirdre Ann O'Gorman, a medical marijuana patient and activist.

Deidre Ann O'Gorman

In my early thirties, I was diagnosed with an extremely painful condition called interstitial cystitis or "painful bladder syndrome." I was a paralegal and this disease put an end to any career I might have had. I had recently moved to Maine and I found myself becoming increasingly more housebound as interstitial cystitis took over my life.

I was on every type of medicine they could throw at me: opiates, opioids, anti-depressants, benzodiazepines. I took them all. Every single day was pain-filled for me. When my son left for college he became involved in the school's SSDP chapter (Students for Sensible Drug Policy). He began to teach me that cannabis wasn't bad and would provide me with some semblance of relief.

I started to research the healing properties of cannabis for myself online and found a wealth of information and testimonials. I began to question why it was that marijuana was not freely available to those who needed it. Not only was it not available, but it was a crime to use it, or grow it. A crime with very harsh consequences. I also discovered the magic of edibles. Marijuana-infused food. It was then that I found that my pain could actually be controlled, that I could cut out all the toxic pharmaceuticals and rely just on cannabis to treat the pain of interstitial cystitis.

420 People shares knowledge about the good cannabis does

Around this time a friend and I founded 420 People on Facebook, and for the last five years I have been devoted to our growing number of 420 People groups, pages and website in an attempt to share my knowledge of this wonderful healing plant. It still astounds me that in this day and age people will tell me all the bad things they "know" about cannabis. Of course, any quick online search puts their fears at rest. Our main 420 People group has more than 115,000 members. I enjoy being able to reach so many people and change their opinions with facts.

As the years pass and cannabis is becoming more accepted worldwide I hope to see it legalised in my home country of Ireland. I moved to Massachusetts when I was 18, but I'm originally from Cork. I joined the NORML Ireland organisation, and I am currently on their board of directors.

Many of the older people in Ireland still view cannabis as badly as they do heroin or crack cocaine. There's also a huge religious factor in it, unlike here. I, along with some very dedicated people back in Ireland, are committed to seeing cannabis legalisation become a reality in the Republic Of Ireland very soon.