By Sarah Meier
In the span of two years, Nina Parks’ father and brother were separately incarcerated for something more privileged kids now legally earn millions from. While the two men in her life were locked up, this half Filipina beauty took the helm of their family cannabis delivery business and revolutionized San Francisco’s regulatory process.
When Nina Parks walks through her San Francisco Mission District neighborhood, store owners stick their heads out to say hello, and people of all ages wave to her from across the street. It has the familiar elements of a Disney opening scene: Beauty and the Beast’s Belle with her books, walking through the village, or Snow White gliding blissfully through the forest, blue cartoon birds circling her head, lifting the hems of her skirt. There is an extended sense of belonging and home. Of reverence. Of ease.
It is representative of the kind of person Nina is, a radiant creature who loves people and actively participates in fortifying her community, a trait likely passed down to her from her father. A man who, we hear, was a beloved neighborhood dentist, one who did pro bono work for many of the people who now wave so warmly to his daughter. When Dr. Weitz passed, Nina continued to oversee things at the clinic, but this was not the first time she’d had to assume responsibility for a business left behind by a man she adored.
Nina’s older brother Josh was pulled over in Texas and charged with possession of marijuana in 2014, what would have been a pivotal year for legalizing his Mirage Medicinal delivery business under California’s increasingly lenient cannabis laws. Their father, the amiable Jewish family dentist, recognizing his son’s hard-earned progress, took over where Josh had left off. Not long after, Dr. Weitz was behind bars with his first born and Nina was the only one left in line to assume the mantle for Mirage. What she has done since that time has been unprecedented and revolutionary.
The metal warehouse door swings open to reveal an expansive concrete space, made inexplicably warm and intimate by lovingly laced string lights and sand-colored wooden beams. A registration table marks the next entrance, the inner sanctum, where an attendant smiles at you through a cloud of her just-exhaled smoke, gently pushing the signup sheet in your direction. “Your yoga mat,” she says, gesturing to the rolled up foam cylinders leaning to the right of the table. “And don’t forget your rolling tray.”
This is Mirage Moon, Nina’s monthly cannabis yoga meet up, helmed by her and another lithe and earthily endearing Filipina named Jeane. Jeane has a smile that makes you feel like you’re home, the warmth of 7,000 islands emanating from this feather of a being. But for as whole as these two friends and collaborators are, there is something missing. It will not reveal itself until much later. For now, Jeane’s flowy pants billow around her as she takes the teacher’s position at the head of the room. This class, she announces, is whatever you want or need it to be. Hold a pose for as long as you are moved to, stop and smoke or vape whenever you feel pulled to. Just lie there, if that’s what your body is saying is right for you. The next hour seems like a magical blur for the attendees, who somehow incorporate journaling their high and getting high into the fluidity of their asanas. Nina had, after all, set the tone before class, speaking about the moon cycles (to which these events are always synced) and the expected energies and emotions of the month ahead, but also highlighting her mission for cannabis education, and asking those present to observe how they responded to the different sativa, indica, or hybrid strains each was consuming.
The class ends in savasana, the corpse pose—lying on one’s back, arms spread, eyes closed. For the regular yoga student, it is a familiar closing ritual. But here, even the regular yoga student is taken to new heights as Jeane circles the room doing reiki on each prone body, and a sound healer hovers over faces with the end of his didgeridoo, using the bellowing aboriginal musical instrument to create an otherworldly experience. In this almost ceremonial rite seems to lie ancient truths and rooted rhythms, and all anxieties linked to technology, modern social constructs, and hyper-connectivity, melt away effortlessly.
The faces in the room are all amazingly serene. It is quite unlike anything one experiences in the middle of the city on a weeknight. And with this, Jeane calls the room back to the present moment, bowing with gratitude. Nina leads the charge, forehead finding the tips of her pushed-together palms. She comes up beaming and shares a smile with Jeane. And that’s when it clicks—these two women, spilling over with the kindness and compassion that are common of the Filipino people, are strikingly different from most others we know. Because missing, it seems, are the undercurrents of judgment, of guilt, and of martyrdom. These Filipinas seem to have truly found what it means to be free.
Josh, too, is free. And as his sister has spent countless hours in courtrooms and civic halls contesting and rewriting the language in the California cannabis regulations, it’s looking like come Jan. 1, 2018, Josh may very well be able to legally own the business he’s been building since he was 14. As will other people, mostly minorities, who were arrested for what is now no longer a punishable offense. As of the writing of this article, for the first time in history, a majority of the US supports the legalization of cannabis. Republicans included, despite the Southern-drawled pleas of Trump-appointed attorney general, Jeff Sessions. But that, my friends, is another story.
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