Cheryl Shuman: Queen of Cannabis or Controversy?

"Queen of Cannabis” in Beverly Hills

Cheryl Shuman: Queen of Cannabis or Controversy?


The New York Times just put out a story on Cheryl Shuman, the self-styled “Queen of Cannabis” in Beverly Hills.

The Times article paints a pleasant picture of Shuman, detailing her bout with cancer and how cannabis oil helped cure her. Shuman is a high level executive with Moms for Marijuana and founder of the Beverly Hills Cannabis Club. She is the face of A-list celebrity medical marijuana (and likely recreational) use in Hollywood.

In the 1990′s, Shuman was working for an optician and developed an impressive roster of celebrity contacts. Soon, she opened her own business fitting celebrities for eyeglasses. One such celebrity was Steven Seagal, with whom Shuman had an affair. When the romance failed, Shuman sued Seagal for sexual harassment and breach of contract. She later claimed that Seagal sent thugs after her for this lawsuit. Her case against Seagal was dismissed and Shuman went into hiding for several years. The fallout of this drama collapsed her eyeglass business.

In the mid 2000′s, Shuman was diagnosed with multiple cancers, deemed terminal, and turned to high doses of cannabis oil. She stated that within 90 days she was in remission and back at work full time. Since then, she and her daughter have become absolute juggernauts in the cannabis community.

But that is just one side of the story. Very shortly after the Times piece came out, put out an article blasting Shuman, claiming that she is not what she seems, going as far as insinuating that she fabricated her cancer story to sell weed. At one time, Shuman convinced NORML to let her open the Beverly Hills Chapter, but it was a short-lived tenure. NORML directors grew tired of Shuman, who they claim was simply interested in promoting herself and turning a profit, and stripped her of the Chapter.

Today, she is the epicenter of cannabis use to Hollywood. Driving a Ferrari, always dressed for the red carpet, and throwing decadent pot parties. The piece also mentions that after Shuman took her position with Moms for Marijuana, several board members left due to the direction she wanted to take the organization.

I honestly have no idea which perspective of Shuman is the more accurate, I suspect the truth lies somewhere in the middle. It is worth mentioning, however, that the author of the article received emails from someone at Moms for Marijuana ripping them apart for slander and libel against Shuman, who they say was unanimously appointed and that no discord followed her arrival.

The emails from Moms for Marijuana are fairly long and bellicose, which makes me think there is more truth to the claim than they’d like to admit. It also doesn’t bode well that NORML parted ways with Shuman, as they are one of the more above-board pro-legalization organizations out there.

It’s a mixed bag. One one hand, Shuman is spreading the word about cannabis and reaching a wide audience. On the other, what is the message and image she is putting out there? What we need in this country is mass acceptance so that the federal government really has no choice but to respect the will of the people and reschedule cannabis.

That is the top-down fix that will staunch the flow of all the idiotic laws and regulations that we currently have. Dressing like a movie star and flaunting cannabis to the super rich seems, in my eyes, to do very little for the cause of mass acceptance. It’s far too easy for the casual observer to just pass off cannabis as yet another shallow, detached celebrity activity.

I don’t think Shuman is wrong, per se. I just think that the cannabis movement could use a little more Carl Sagan and a lot less Paris Hilton.