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Mikel Weisser – The Patron Saint of Arizona’s Cannabis Community.

Curated by Michael Cassini

The Arizona cannabis community has lost one of its most prominent warriors, Mikel Weisser, 61, this past month. For decades, Mikel Weisser has fought for cannabis rights and, since 2015, he led the NORML chapter here in Arizona. He religiously attended community MITA meetings and any other local government gathering involving cannabis policy. He was a supporter of cannabis medicine and justice and wellness. He fought for Veterans and the sick and never judged anyone who he met. He advocated with a kind and gentle heart and many of you will remember the sweet conversations we had with him. You could find him a lot of times with the core regulars in our community planning or plotting a new directive involving cannabis within the government. We will surely miss Mikel but his fire to fight for what is right lives on in each of us. Thank you Mikel Weisser for inspiring the next, and hopefully last, necessary generation of cannabis activists!

Mikel Weisser was born February 7, 1959 and died on May 14, 2020. He was 61 years old and is survived by his wife, Beth Weisser, and three children: Samuel Weisser, Victoria Weisser and Valerie Weisser. Michael was originally from Beaumont, Texas and loved debate and worked in politics. He studied at Northern Arizona University most recently in 2005 and never stopped seeking knowledge that could help others. Mikel was a humble man who never spoke down to others or judged a situation without knowing all he could first. We are honored to remember him in this tribute. Please enjoy these memories from our colleagues who knew Mikel and cherished his friendship dearly.

Adrian Ryan:

Mikel has been a fixture in Arizona cannabis since I started my own path; he has been a checkpoint on several occasions as I navigated my career. I was saddened by his passing with my deepest condolences to his family and friends as it will be difficult to carry on without his light. He was one of the most engaging and gregarious individuals I have ever met, and always willing to chat about any or everything. In the infancy of the state MMJ program, I was fresh out of Oregon unsure if I wanted to enter the industry here in Arizona. I enrolled in some general education programs about our state’s MMJ program. I was excited because Mikel, a known advocate and leader of our AZ chapter of NORML would be speaking to our class. He did so and fielded questions with humor, hope, and humility that inspired me to continue my journey into cannabis.

In every dispensary position, event, or meeting of minds, he was the factotum that everyone gravitated towards because he understood from the start what was at stake. Mikel understood the freedom and ability to live well, born from our right to cannabis that we all should have had for as long as we have been a country. I am thankful to have known him, and to continue the work needed to provide cannabis to those who depend on it. I hope his spirit carries on in everyone that works to provide cannabis, expresses a need for cannabis, or even those trying a joint for the first time; my gratitude for his work that provides for me, as well as my hope we all can support his family during this difficult time.

-Adrian Ryan, Cannabis Cactus Staff Writer

Tom Dean:

The loss of our dear friend, Mikel Weisser, has been hard for all of us. He was a true believer for freedom, equality and legalization and was tireless in pursuit of those causes. The scope of his influence was immense. That’s all true. But he was also a good friend who was always there with a smile and words of encouragement when I needed them. He had adversaries, to be sure, but they respected him, and he didn’t hold grudges, even when certain people might have deserved it. He just never gave up on anything or anyone. I could go on and on in praise of Mikel’s many talents and virtues, but I will finish with his own words, a brief poem about himself:

“They call me Mikel Weisser & they call me quite a lot They call on me for all kinds of things Tho sometimes it’s just to share some pot I’m a poet and a painter and a singer and a fighter History teacher, homeless vet, carnie, plumber, political writer Education, legalized, immigration are my goals Y yo vivo en Arizona Por que yo hablo espanol” Godspeed, old friend,

-Tom Dean, Attorney for Cannabis

Uncle Nick Smokes:

I knew Mikel since my start in the industry back in 2017 and I have to say that he was a force back then and you could feel it instantly when you would first meet him. Always welcoming, always full of useful information about the happenings in our community. He spoke from the heart and was a fighter for us all. Some of the things going on in our state would not be possible if it weren’t for him (like our nice new 2 year AZ MMJ cards) because he believe in full access to our beloved plant and wanted everyone to be aware of its healing properties to help make a better community – here in AZ and the world at large.

I personally looked up to him because of his fervor and unending love for humanity; let’s not forget he was an excellent writer, musician, activist, mentor, etc. The list goes on and on, because his personality and energy went on and on. It was hard to contain him and with our community still being on the younger side, with its bright future of maturing in the distance, you could always count on him to be leading the charge and fighting the good fight for all people – big and small.

Yes, Mikel Weisser was larger than life and it’s all because his heart was unmeasurable and I hope his memory spawns many others like him to continue to hold this community up and reaching for the stars, in hopes that it one day cannabis becomes decriminalized the world over to help those in need of its life saving benefits and to create a brighter future for us all.

You did a great job for us all buddy and I hope you’re having a ball in the next life just like you did in this one.

Smoke on with the Creator for me!

We all miss you very much and are extremely grateful to have known you. Love you Mikel! Sincerely, Uncle Nick Smokes

“Media by © 2019 Meristem // @unclenick.smokes & @che.varona for Weedly Phoenix”

Allison Stein:

When I was a teen living in Scottsdale in the 90s, the big thing to do Friday and Saturday night was to cruise up and down Mill Avenue in Tempe. It was a counter culture hub from people, to shops, to music. At that time, it was where you found the better cannabis, such as hash. We would go and check out the shops and smoke in what used to be the Salt River (now Tempe Town Lake, under the Mill Ave Bridge). During a trip to headquarters in its original location, I stumbled upon an Arizona 4 NORML card.

What is this? How do I get involved? What do I have to do? I can’t even believe such an organization existed. Reforming marijuana laws? Sign me up! There was a problem, though; there was no phone number, there was no internet searching at the time, with only dial-up available, and the address was located in Tucson of all places. I asked around but quickly realized that I wasn’t going to find much out.

I remember daydreaming about what a NORML meeting would be like. What kind of people would I meet? What was talked about? What was it like? I kept that card in a scrapbook until 2008. In the meantime, I lived my daily stoner life, still daydreaming about cannabis justice.

Every time cannabis reform hit the Arizona news, I figured NORML was behind it. When Prop 203 finally passed, I just figured NORML was behind it. I figured I didn’t have to fight because NORML would. So as the years grew on so did my impression of NORML.

The more I became involved in the cannabis community, the more I became a part of something bigger than me, and the more I wondered about NORML. I had been to an Errl Cup and a few events and had never seen them. (I now know that they were there, I just wasn’t paying attention… well maybe just to all the pretty dab rigs and bongs). Nonetheless, I thought you had to be a part of a secret club to find it, so I didn’t look. However, I wondered, did the mists of Avalon have to drop and the veil be lifted in order for me to find NORML?!

And then, I found them! All I had to do was brave a Women Grow event. By the time I met Mikel, he had some pretty big shoes to fill. He was everything the State Director of NORML should be: kind, patient, welcoming, and about 5000 other words I could use to describe him. He was the definition of the State Director of NORML. When the legislature was in session and there would be a marijuana-related bill to discuss, don’t think those politicians wouldn’t scope the crowded room looking for that pink cup.

It’s not just the work he did running around at the State Capital, though; it’s all the meetings behind closed doors, as well. In fact, I don’t know any piece of cannabis legislation that Mikel did not have his hands on in the last five years.

As Mikel would joke about himself, he was a man of many hats. He was not only the State Director of NORML, but he was also my editor at Arizona Cannabis News/Monthly.

It’s at this time I must admit I just wanted to write reviews and get free pot. I had never before even thought about informing a community, until Mikel.

My first article “wasn’t what he was looking for,” but he encouraged me to keep trying. My second article he classified as an “opinion piece” which didn’t make the cut to the Arizona Cannabis News. I can still remember his words, “Well Allison, it’s not quite what we need for Arizona Cannabis News; but I’ll tell you what, I’ll post it on the Arizona NORMLI page. Try again.” My 3rd article didn’t make the cut either, but finally my 4th did, and so Mikel began not only being my editor but also my writing mentor.

One thing you might not know about Mikel is that he was a statistics junkie. Yes, he loved checking the numbers and sharing them with me. “600 reads in only four hours. Congratulations, Allison, I think you hit a nerve in the community.” Working with him was definitely one of the best jobs of my life.

What Mikel did was help me to discover a new passion. He helped me combine my passion for storytelling, cannabis, and helping others. He guided me to where I am today, and for that, I am forever grateful.

I will miss our car rides and conversations the most: how much we had in common, how well he understood me, and how would push me to do better, without me even realizing it. I miss how much I not only sought out his opinion about politics and writing advice but how I looked forward to sharing little things with him, too. Every article I write, I write as if he is still the editor. I will be forever asking myself, what would Mikel do?

I am not the only one that feels this way. Almost everyone has a similar, yet different story about Mikel, and that is the reason I wrote this. He helped inspire us and guide our passions. He was a legend before we met him, and he will forever be one, as he lives on in all that he inspired us to achieve.

When it’s my time, I hope it’s Mikel who picks me up at the gates of heaven, in his little gray car overflowing with NORML supplies, saying, “We’re running a little late for the event. Here, hit this,” as he passes me his hand-rolled joint. He’ll say, “Make sure you put out the sign-up sheet this time.” Because, of course, if there wasn’t a NORML in heaven before, there sure is now.

Allison Stein, Publisher of The Kush Kronicles Former Writer at Arizona Cannabis News And Volunteer for Arizona NORML

Thank you for supporting the Weisser family during this time and for helping us compile this tribute to remember Mikel as a cornerstone of our community. You can send your own thoughts via social media to his wife @bethweisseraz. Thank you.

Michael Cassini is the founder and editor in chief of The Cannabis Cactus Magazine. He focuses on community relationships with a goal to maintain a culture of love, peace and knowledge in the cannabis industry.


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