Nichole Montanez documents the children who helped legalize cannabis.
“It is riding on the back of the children, and an entire industry was born out of the necessity and love for a really special group of kids,” she stated.
The Colorado-based photographer made a photo series called “Face of Cannabis” that portrays more than 280 young people whose lives were changed by cannabis since 2013. She was inspired by her niece who was diagnosed with Dravet syndrome, a rare form of intractable childhood epilepsy. The condition is characterized by frequent seizures and behavioral and developmental delays.
“They are the reason—the sole reason—that legislation has moved as quickly as it has over the last five years,” she explained. “Had it not been for Charlotte [Figi] and all the kids that came after her, and all of the parents contacting their legislators and making it known that this was important, and it was important now, many of those people would never have even taken a look.”
Montanez used to be skeptical about cannabis being used for medical purposes, but after she was assigned to photograph Charlotte Figi for a news report she began to experience its benefits.
Charlotte Figi appeared in the 2013 CNN documentary “Weed.” The documentary contributed to the growing conversation about legalizing medical cannabis.
Montanez said the reason she makes the portraits is because she knows just how powerful photography can be.
“You can’t ignore a photo,” she said. “You can look at it, it’s confrontational, you get the message right off the bat.”