The right to medicate: using storytelling to humanize the marijuana debate
Garett Roush, who has battled with epilepsy, is a passionate advocate for the medical use of cannabis as he has personally experienced the benefits of the plant. He recently joined forces with two other SFL alumni to found Right To Medicate, a 501(c)(3) organization that strives to get cannabis-friendly policy passed in Michigan, and eventually other states around the country. Garett’s story is incredibly compelling, and he’s fast becoming one of the leading voices on the benefits of medical marijuana in the free market. Yet, he wasn’t always comfortable sharing his personal story and being vocal about individual freedom around the use cannabis.
“I silently used marijuana medically to manage my condition, so I was a little nervous to talk about it. SFL gave me the platform to share my story and allowed me to feel comfortable telling it. SFL helped me get published inRareandThe Detroit Newsand I even had aninterview with Matt Kibbeon my experience. It is because of this support that I feel comfortable enough to start my own non-profit”
Garett became involved with SFL during his sophomore year at Syracuse University, first as an intern through the Koch Internship Program, later joining the Campus Coordinator Program. He was actively involved with SFL’s training programs, becoming a Speak Freely Advocate and earning a spot on SFL's North American Executive Board as the Northeast Regional Director. One of the biggest highlights of his time as a student leader with SFL came in 2017 at LibertyCon, when he moderated a panel on education reform.
“One thing I appreciate about SFL is that students aren’t micromanaged. With SFL, you get to explore what your interests and as a student, I got to moderate and facilitate a conference session with experts, including a panelist from Cato. I don’t know of any other organization that would give such an opportunity to a student.”
There’s a lot that comes with founding and running an organization, but Garett believes that Students For Liberty helped him develop and hone many of those skills, “SFL taught me management skills, especially when I got manage a conference as regional director. I also learned communications skills. It is a lot easier to promote individual freedom when people have a story to relate it to. Good storytelling can also help us reach out to people on the other side. For example, Alternet, a left-leaning online platform shared my story.”
Although Garett is hard at work on his own non-profit, he is still involved with Students For Liberty as a staff member, working as the current North American Leadership Manager. When asked why he chose to remain with SFL after graduating, Garett emphasized, “I love the organization. In college, I felt I didn’t have the ability to think for myself but SFL trusted me. The lack of micro-management in SFL allowed me to be creative and to find my niche. So I wanted to stay involved to help other students change the world. Not only are we teaching students about the ideas of liberty, we also help them develop unique skills set that prepare them for the workplace.”