Yoga instructor Jessamyn Stanley defends cannabis use. Her advocacy began with self-acceptance.

Jessamyn Stanley is a renowned yoga instructor and cannabis advocate for self-love.Bobby Quillard
  • Jessamyn Stanley is an internationally known personality yoga instructor and cannabis lawyer.
  • In 2019, she publicly shared her cannabis use and advocacy for the very first time.

When Jessamyn Stanley smokes a joint, she feels free.

Stanley, a 34-year-old internationally renowned yoga instructor who founded cannabis advocacy organization We Go High NC, said cannabis saved her life after discovering its ability to calm her anxious mind early in life. the twenteeth.

As she continued to use cannabis, Stanley discovered its therapeutic benefits and the social and racial inequalities that exist in the cannabis industry. As a black queer woman, Stanley said it was disturbing to learn of the disproportionate number of black people incarcerated for using weed.

But she avoided expressing those views or sharing her personal use as she became increasingly known on social media for her body-positive approach to exercise. She said she feared being judged and losing her job.

She said the burden of hiding her passion for cannabis, now a daily practice, became unbearable when she took a job where she was contractually obligated to remain a mum on the subject due to a morality clause.

“I never wanted to be in a situation like this again where I couldn’t talk about something and that would make me dishonest to some degree,” Stanley told Insider. “Because a lot of yoga, ultimately, is about being honest with yourself, and I felt like I wasn’t living my yoga practice honestly if I hid that part of myself- same.”

I think that’s been the biggest reward for me, knowing that I can operate from a place of integrity where I don’t have to hide that part of me.

After the contract ended in 2019, Stanley publicly shared his love of marijuana for the first time, on the cover of Yoga Journal.

Soon after, Stanley co-founded We Go High, a mission-driven, for-profit organization in his home state of North Carolina, where cannabis is illegal. The organization educates local communities about weed and advocates for legislation to decriminalize cannabis, guided by Stanley’s belief that no one should go to jail for marijuana.

Yoga instructor Jessamyn Stanley defends cannabis use.  Her advocacy began with self-acceptance.
Stanley’s cannabis advocacy organization, We Go High NC, hosts events and provides educational resources to destigmatize cannabis use.Erin Bell/Bull City Photography

“The freedom to operate the way I like is priceless,” she said. “I think that’s been the biggest reward for me, knowing that I can operate from a place of integrity where I don’t have to hide that part of me.”

Stanley said that while her openness to cannabis use has closed the door to some business opportunities, she doesn’t regret the decision, as others see her authenticity as a positive.

Adidas asked her to be a brand ambassador after she shared this part of her identity publicly – she said it was one of her proudest moments.

“That wasn’t part of the conversation. I feel like the brand respects the authenticity of my voice and my connection to my community, and they choose to support that above all else,” Stanley said.

But most rewarding, she said, is the chance to see how her honesty about cannabis use inspires others to speak up too or change their minds about it.

Yoga instructor Jessamyn Stanley defends cannabis use.  Her advocacy began with self-acceptance.
Stanley said that once she fully embraced her passions, she felt more like herself as exciting opportunities presented themselves.Bobby Quillard

In June 2021, Stanley released her second book, “Yoke: My Yoga of Self-Acceptance,” where she shares her journey of self-love. In it, she explains how her cannabis use, like her yoga practice, helped her become her authentic self.

Bringing together her two passions, smoking weed and getting on the yoga mat, Stanley has never felt more like herself, she said. Now she becomes a beacon of authenticity for others.

“There are always people who disagree with you, and they don’t like what you’re doing, and maybe they’re mad at you or will just ignore you,” Stanley said. . “But inevitably, the tide turns, and there are people who find themselves, who are able to really see each other, thanks to your stance.”