Article by Piper Courtenay, Georgia Straight
“Well behaved women seldom make history.”
When Pulitzer Prize winning historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich first wrote that infamous war cry on behalf of badass ladies everywhere, she was calling on women like Tracy Curley. And it was a cantation the passionate cannabis activist would sing throughout her years advocating for fair and safe access to the misunderstood plant.
As a longtime pioneer driving the Canadian decriminalization movement, she fought loudly and tirelessly on behalf of patients often lost and overlooked in a corporatized and politicized system. Curley experienced the benefits of cannabis as a medicinal consumer, using it to manage symptoms of diabetes—a disease she was diagnosed with at age six. She used her firsthand understanding to empower budding female entrepreneurs through the Toronto chapter of Women Grow, provide medical support and patient access through compassion clubs, and debunk misinformation at rallies, conferences, and in the media.
Curley passed on Saturday (June 1) in her home. Since news of her death broke, the community took to social media to share condolences, memories, and final goodbyes for the woman who touched many lives.
Dr. Jenna Valleriani, CEO of the National Institute of Cannabis Health and Education(NICHE) Canada and drug policy expert, also wrote a moving piece for NOW Torontodetailing her personal friendship with Curley.
“She was clear and direct. But she didn’t hold your opinions against you if she felt they were coming from a good place,” wrote Valleriani.
“She was loyal and close to many pioneers who spent the early years of their cannabis advocacy risking arrest to provide access to medical cannabis to people who needed it.”
In 2016, Blog Talk Radio hosted a two-hour interview delving into Curley’s full history of advocacy. In the conversation, she shares numerous important lessons for activists, entrepreneurs, and investors to hold onto during the economically and politically tumultuous time. Many of her calls still ring profoundly true and reflective of the industry today.
“God bless them for fighting,” she says in the interview when speaking on medical patients fighting the drug war. “They have fought every step of the way, they have raised money for court challenges, they’ve shown up when they need to, they’ve let their voices be heard. It makes me proud to be a Canadian—the patients in this country.”