Last week we dedicated an article to the exciting life of Michka Seeliger-Chatelain, known as Michka. Today, you can get to know this great lady a little better, thanks to a recent interview with Seedsman.
Can you tell us a bit about the Michka Seeliger-Chatelain journey into the world of cannabis, and what led you to this plant?
In 1970, I arrived in Vancouver, soaked in French prejudices. I recall that today pot is legal throughout Canada, and public opinion was, even then, well ahead of France. During an evening with other teachers like me (I was a French teacher), a colleague passed me a stick, a thin joint of cannabis without tobacco, as they used to smoke it there.
Very disconcerted, I pretended to take a drag, but it took me a while to accept to let myself go. The famous fear of losing control…
Mischka’s wooden house in Canada
What was your first contact with the North American cannabis counterculture?
I discovered this counterculture a few years later when I returned to British Columbia with the man who would become the father of my children and with whom I built a large, comfortable cabin in the heart of the forest. It was the good old hippie days of going back to the land. It was all about living a utopia. Building your own shelter, growing your own food, having your children born at home. “To make love, not war,” to create a society in which cooperation would replace competition with psychedelics, and mainly grass, as a vector. In so doing, the hippies were bringing cannabis into the white bourgeoisie of North America for the first time so that it came to carry these revolutionary values. Marijuana was, first of all, a rallying sign, the symbol of the counterculture, a cultural movement that went against the established society.
Camping on the Mystic Beach, on the Atlantic Ocean
The world of cannabis has changed a lot since you first discovered it in Canada in the 1970s. It is now a multi-billion dollar industry. How do you view these changes?
I am somewhat disinterested in this essentially commercial scene. I have a pioneer temperament, a pioneer; that’s what makes me tick. That said, free access to plants, to all plants, remains my hobbyhorse. For me, this is a natural right of all living beings.
A quarter of a century ago, I also discovered shamanism and channeling, which are other ways of expanding our level of consciousness. We live in a multidimensional world. The books published by the publishing house I founded in 2000 with Tigrane Hadengue are intended to help us find our own way in this new world opening up to us.
The cannabis world is historically male. Has being a woman been a handicap or an advantage for you to make a place for yourself? What about now?
I have always had a special place in the world of cannabis. I was, and still am, essentially a writer who is keen to share her discoveries, especially about this much-maligned plant, which has been an ally and friend to me for some fifty years. No one has seen me as a competitor. In my case, I think that uniqueness was more important than gender.
You seem to have always placed great importance on femininity. How has this aspect of your identity been a driving force in your life? How important is it to you? Do you make a distinction with the feminist struggle?
The characteristics perceived as feminine in our society, i.e., everything that has to do with caring for life, seem to me to be crucial for our time.
Feminism is something else again. It has had its usefulness as a struggle that has allowed women to gain access to fundamental rights such as the right to vote or control their own bodies through contraception and then abortion. It is a struggle in which women have used qualities that we perceive as masculine, as warriors. Today, priorities have changed. The planet is in dire need of care for all living things. The time has come to help men reconnect with their feminine side, which society has forced them to repress.
What have been your main achievements and what are you most proud of?
I am proud that in a lawsuit against me in the early 1990s, I took various actions that had the effect of showing how some anti-cannabis crusaders were feeding the media the results of scientific experiments that were conducted against common sense to discredit it. It was very satisfying for me to understand, and then to show, how institutional disinformation works. Incidentally, the same process is being used today to lead us by the nose in this so-called ‘health crisis.’
In 2017, Sensi Seeds created a variety in your honour. How did you experience this recognition? Do you see it as a recognition or an encouragement?
I felt honoured. Moreover, Sensi Seeds made sure that the variety that bears my name, “Michka,” was up to my demanding tastes. It’s a real old-school Sativa (and Haze at that) with a cerebral high that encourages creativity. A type of herb that has become rare and precious to me, hard to find today, after decades of thoughtless genetic mixing. As far as the effect it generates is concerned, I consider that the quality of the grass has gone down. It is the race for yield that prevails.
You have more than once compared cannabis to tomatoes and called for the lifting of all restrictions on access to the plant, claiming that tomatoes are freely available and that anyone can do what they want with them. Nowadays, agriculture is very controlled (farmers have to comply with many standards in terms of varieties, fertilisers, etc. and marketing standards are just as numerous). So, do you think the state should regulate the production and marketing of cannabis or do you trust individual responsibility and think there should be no rules at all?
Our lives are increasingly dominated by many laws and decrees, and our freedom is steadily decreasing to dubious benefit. I have come to believe that most of the laws that govern us are unnecessary or even harmful and that the only essential rules are straightforward ones, such as “thou shalt not kill” and, more generally, the great basic rule, “do not do to others what you do not want done to you.” It may sound simplistic, but it’s a guideline to think about.
France seems to be moving in the opposite direction to the rest of the world in terms of cannabis, with an increasingly repressive policy. How do you explain this situation?
Our country is proud of its great wines, its terroirs, and its wine-making traditions. Wine symbolises the blood of Christ. It is sacred. Cannabis must be present at every celebration, from weddings to successful exams. It is part of our culture, i.e., values that we are not even aware of, so deeply rooted, are they. In contrast, cannabis is ritually consumed in India by holy men who have taken a vow of renunciation. In France, wine is good, cannabis is bad. All sorts of rationalisations are then put forward to justify this visceral conviction.
And do you think this is a sustainable trend?
Things are changing with the younger generation. And above all, the United States, which worked to impose cannabis prohibition worldwide, has realised that it was wrong. Today, the American states are legalizing one after the other. This is the beginning of a worldwide phenomenon from which France will not escape. But when is the real question.
What is your utopian vision of post-prohibition cannabis?
I fear that legalization, when it happens, will bring us a rather modest increase in freedom because, unlike decriminalization, legalization comes with a host of regulations. I only hope that the system that will be put in place will not bring a downward levelling of the quality of cannabis available.
Why do you smoke cannabis?
Because I like it. Because there are varieties that stimulate my creativity and imagination, that put me in touch with my intuition. If I have an important decision to make, I’ll smoke some excellent weed. I always take it pure, without tobacco. Mixing the two plants confuses the issue. You think you want to smoke cannabis, when in fact, it’s the tobacco that’s calling.
Michka and Jack Herrer
Has your relationship with cannabis changed over time? You are a cannabis user. But do you grow it yourself? And have you ever tried breeding?
You could say that I am more consciously consuming than at other times in my life when I smoked every day. Today this is not necessarily the case, and I enjoy the contrast between the moments with and the moments without.
I don’t grow, but I did grow at one time. I didn’t try my hand at genetic selection, but I was very close to Nevil Schoenmakers, often considered the ultimate master of cannabis breeding, who has sadly passed away. He was the king of Haze, and I loved his Neville Haze or his NL5 x Haze, which I helped save. So I can still enjoy it.
What motivates Michka Seeliger-Chatelain?
What motivates me every day and even every minute is to manage my mental content in such a way as to remain at a high vibratory level. It is to find joy.
Michka Seeliger-Chatelain, Grand Dame of Cannabis
If the life of Michka has fascinated you and if you want to know more about her, consult the biography available from Mama Editions.
Thanks to her extensive knowledge and connections in the cannabis world, Michka Seeliger-Chatelain wrote a must-read book on medical cannabis, which answers the most frequently asked questions about this unusual plant medicine: Medical Cannabis. From Marijuana to Synthetic Cannabinoids.
For the writing of this book, Michka is joined by Prof. Raphael Mechoulam—who discovered the THC and CBD molecules—as well as Prof. Manuel Guzman, Prof. Denis Richard, Jorge Cervantes, Robert Clarke, Chris Conrad, Philippe Lucas, Prof. Adriaan Jansen, and Don E. Wirtshafter, J.D. This is a book that everyone interested in medical cannabis should have in their library.