Taylor McQuoid | Dancer / Aerialist / Coach

Taylor has danced professionally her entire life, traveling all over the world sharing her talents! She began training as an aerialist in 2010, and recently settled home back in Phoenix. After returning to Arizona at the end of a contract on board a cruise ship as a dancer and aerialist, she learned about the medical marijuana program. It wasn’t until 2018 that she began to use cannabis for herself. She prides herself in being an open book and frequently talks about her past. PTSD, anxiety, and depression are just a few things that she regularly struggles with, and cannabis has allowed her to manage the debilitating symptoms she was experiencing, both emotionally and physically. Here’s her story!

When did you first try cannabis? Describe the experience.

I first tried cannabis back in my youth, as I’m sure many current cannabis users did. Back then however, I was completely unaware of the benefits it offers. I began to use cannabis again in 2017, and decided to obtain my medical card at that time.

My experience deciding to get my card, and the whole process, was quite a long one, but simple to start. I was suffering from a few different things. I have some pretty serious hormone issues, one of which was a 2.5mm tumor on my pituitary gland. This alone caused havoc on my system. Among the hormone issues, I also deal with the aches and pains of being a professional dancer and aerialist.  Additionally, I have pretty major anxiety, depression and PTSD issues that I manage every day. I knew, when I finally learned about the program, that this was what I needed to do. Once I made the decision, I found a clinic in Chandler that I trusted, applied, and was qualified thereafter. This is where the process began to take sometime.

Going into this program not knowing much about cannabis, was a little intimidating. Ok, it was actually really intimidating. There was so much I didn’t know, and to this day, there is still so much to learn. It took a lot of trust in the bud tenders I would meet, and a lot of trial and error nights. I visited as many places as I could to find the right “fit” for me. I wanted to find someone, and a place, that was willing to not only listen to me, but who would help me figure out exactly what I needed!

When I first started, I made sure to find nights that I could try different things and do so in a safe space. Once my tolerance was built up a little bit, and once I found strains that I liked and disliked; I was able to find products that I preferred. This is when I was introduced to RSO, which quickly became a game changer. I’m proud to say that as of right now, my tumor is gone, my hormone issues have balanced out, and I attribute a huge piece of it all to cannabis, healthy habits, working with my doctors and tons of self care. I know cannabis played a huge role in my healing however, always speak to a medical professional about your needs! :) my healing was my own, and not everyone is the same!

What is your relationship with cannabis today? How has it evolved over the years?

I’m a daily user and have a full time job where I need to be aware of my surroundings, people, and more. I’m still a professional dancer, aerialist and coach. Because I was able to take the time needed to build up my tolerance, I know how to use cannabis at different times of the day to achieve the help I need without losing control of myself. Cannabis, in every way, is my go to for healing. I do supplement with other things like CBD if needed, especially if I accidentally take too much, or get a little too high.

When I first started, I stuck to mainly smoking flower. Now, I use cannabis in every way. I love edibles at night to help me sleep and I love to use my Oura by Kandypens to smoke my concentrates. I still enjoy smoking flower at night as well, but I mainly stick to concentrates and edibles at night. I do prefer to micro dose during the day if I have things to do that involve work or functioning around people, but if I have nothing to do, I smoke at home to help me stay focused!

Does cannabis use help you in your professional career? If so, how? If not, how does it help in other ways?

Oh my goodness, it helps me tremendously! Aside from helping me manage my pain, injuries, and more.. it helps me manage my mood. It helps me find creative energy, and it helps to calm me down. I know that if I need to be creating a piece to perform, I can use a good old fashioned sativa strain to help boost that creative flow! I also know that if I wake up and I’m a little anxious, I can find a good hybrid to find that happy medium. I use THC/CBD salves and balms for aches and pains. There are obviously times where safety comes first, especially as an aerialist.  In those moments, I am very careful about what I use and how much. I typically will hit my pen once the morning of, or bring it with me for a small micro dose, but that is only because my tolerance has been built up enough to allow for that. I highly recommend building your tolerance first before using throughout the day if you have to work around people or do things that require you to be safe in specific situations.

What do you think is the most misunderstood opinion about cannabis today?

I think this is a really hard question to answer. I believe the entire industry is misunderstood for many reasons.  People tend to believe in the fear they feel about things they don’t understand at times. With the lack of proper, consistent education, people will never have access to the information they need to be informed. When you mention you’re a cannabis user, its as though some people still visualize the “D.A.R.E” drug monster! I’m kidding, kind of, but its like they immediately, falsely stereotype you as messy, lazy, etc.

So maybe to answer this best, I think the biggest misunderstanding in the industry is that you can only be a cannabis user if you fit a certain mold. People of all walks of life are cannabis users, and they all medicate for different reasons. That’s why this is MEDICINE! That’s also why I believe it’s important for budtenders to be educated to best help their patients. Now, I’m not saying to use this and this alone, of course speak to medical professionals about what your needs are. However, this is medicine that works for so many people, and it’s unfair to attach a stigma to those who are benefiting from utilizing this is a medicinal way. If you don’t believe in cannabis, that’s great! I, along with many others will support that! Don’t judge us based off of the fact that we’ve found a solution that you’re not necessarily informed about.

How do you educate others about cannabis to help break the stigma that still surrounds the plant today?

I simply ask questions and I remain open to answering questions as transparently as possible. I love to see how people react when I tell them what I do, and that I use every day. It’s like they can’t believe that someone like me could be a daily cannabis user. It’s so strange, but again, it is a conclusion that is reached by lack of awareness, education and information. I don’t force it onto people when I’m out, and I abide by all laws and regulations. However, if the topic does come up, I take the time to tell people, that this is an incredible plant that helps those in need in every way. I love to bring up topics like CBD and THC salves, and tinctures. One of my favorite topics to discuss is how using a topical blend that contains THC, will not actually get you high but instead, help tremendously with the pain. The molecule is too big to be absorbed into the blood stream! The receptors in our skin work hand in hand with the THC molecule to help alleviate pain! People see THC and it immediately causes stress and fear. I enjoy showing people that it deserves a chance and in order to have that decent, first time experience, be safe, start small, and enjoy.

It’s a process, much like any other medication. You have to first be diagnosed, then have the right medicine for the diagnosis, then have the right dosage, then perhaps change if that doesn’t work right away, or maybe change the medicine all together. It’s a true process of trial and error, like any other medication. Except this form of a medicine, is a plant.

In the future, what would you like to see happen in the cannabis industry?

I would love to see more opportunities for free education in the industry for newbies! The people who are thinking about getting their card, people who have just received it, or even those who have no idea that buying CBD at a gas station probably isn’t a good idea! I want to see more events take place that allow for non cannabis users to experience a chance to learn information about what it is and what it does; events to teach newbies how to properly dose the first few times, and what to use. I believe that if dispensaries did something like this once a month, the turn out would be incredible and it would allow for more connection and trust between the bud tenders, and their patients. It would show that it isn’t just about the bottom dollar, but about their needs and how to best support them. I also believe that it would be extremely beneficial if there was easier access to transparent test results, and more regulations on companies that don’t follow these guidelines.

I feel like if more people spoke up, freely about being a user, that would help as well. Let’s have open conversations! Let’s have open events that allow for those conversations and questions! I’m thankful for this opportunity to do so! Even in the smallest or biggest of ways, I know this will impact someone.

Thank you Taylor for your story, you’re a Kindred Spirt for sure! We loved learning about how cannabis has changed your life and how you have gone on to educate and inform others about your experiences. That’s how to destigmatize it! Thank you Taylor for what you do.