Zahra Abbas, a political activist who became one of Michigan’s biggest advocates for cannabis legalization after discovering it was a successful treatment for her epilepsy, died Thursday. She was 35 years old.
Her death was announced by the Michigan Democratic Party Cannabis Caucus, where she served as chair.
“Without Zahra, the Cannabis Caucus would not be what it is today and the world is a lonelier place without her presence,” the organization wrote in a Facebook post. “Our deepest condolences to his family and friends. We know it touched many throughout this great state and beyond.”
He added: “Zahra dedicated herself to teaching the world about the health benefits of cannabis and helping lead the progressive movement to remedy the catastrophic consequences of the war on drugs. Zahra was frequently failed by our healthcare system and the cannabis ban that sometimes denied her the only medication that could control her seizures.”
A Muslim, Abbas previously said subway schedules that he had seizures every day, and brain surgery and a series of prescription drugs couldn’t make them go away.
But the cannabis had an almost immediate effect, he said. when she spoke with subway schedules in 2017, he said he hadn’t had a seizure in more than two years since he started using cannabis.
“As soon as I started it, within a few days my seizures stopped,” Abbas said. subway schedules. “Before he started researching epilepsy, he was very anti-marijuana because there was a lot of misinformation about it. I came to the choice between using that and having another brain surgery to control my seizures. … Turning to cannabis was my last resort.”
Abbas helped gather signatures to put cannabis legalization on the ballot, which Michigan voters approved in 2018. “I’m doing this because I think more people should have access to cannabis because it helps all people,” he said. subway schedules. “Everyone should have the right to use it,” she added. “It will help people. It is much better than other things that people do, drugs or medicines that they turn to.”
Abbas eventually became vice president and later president of the Cannabis Caucus, as well as vice president of the Detroit chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Motor City NORML. According to the Cannabis Caucus, his defense extended to criminal justice, saying he played a critical role in arranging a meeting with Attorney General Dana Nessel that resulted in her writing a letter to Governor Gretchen Whitmer in support of commuting the sentence of Michael Thompson. . In one of the longest sentences for a nonviolent offender in the US, Thompson was sentenced in 1996 for up to 60 years in prison after selling marijuana to an undercover police officer. Whitmer commuted his sentence in 2020.
According to the Cannabis Caucus website, Abbas was working as a medical assistant and wanted to go back to school for a degree in public health to help shape rules and regulations around health care, drug policy and disability issues.
During a Friday rally in Pontiac for local progressive candidates attended by Sen. Bernie Sanders, several speakers remembered Abbas.
US Representative Rashida Tlaib held a moment of silence in honor of Abbas, calling her “an incredible warrior.”
“His heart was full of love for the community, and there was no cause that he didn’t take on … 100%,” Tlaib said.
“She was one of our biggest advocates for health care and access to alternative approaches, including cannabis…and she never gave up the fight,” he added. “She will be sorely missed. I know she is with us today.”
Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, a physician who ran for governor in 2018 and is now subway schedules aide, said Abbas should serve as a role model for all progressives.
“She took her pain and used it to bring people together, to fight for all the things that she herself was denied, recognizing that she could have been anything else,” he said at the rally. “She took that pain and decided to make the world so much better.”
He added, “Zahra didn’t have a lot of time, but Zahra put her all into the time she had.”
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