Welcome to the tawdry story of how Cheryl Shuman got control of Moms For Marijuana International for little more than the price of a video camera, a laptop, and a spa trip.Moms for Marijuana International got a taste of the Cheryl Shuman treatment this week, as the organization all but collapsed on itself after a mass exodus by many members of the Executive Board and Chapter Leaders nationwide. The organization began to unravel when members of the Board inquired about the financial records and non-profit filing for M4M. What they discovered was that the organization was not filed as a non-profit organization legally and that there was no accounting for the group’s funding.
Suspicions of unethical behavior led to further inquiry resulting in the Director Serra Frank’s (aka Jennifer Bennett) mysterious absence from all channels of communication. A story on Toke Signals entitled, “Is Moms For Marijuana Imploding? Board Dissolved; Major Resignations” started a difficult conversation by shedding light on the situation about multiple departures from prominent Board members of the organization. Questions were raised and not a lot of good answers were given.
The result was the release of the following public statement by Moms 4 Marijuana Board members and Chapter Leaders who stepped down:
This has been a serious blow to many ladies who worked hard building Moms For Marijuana International. It is difficult to watch your work be torn apart and destroyed by unethical and irresponsible behavior. It is even worse when instead of attempting to find resolution by opening the books and figuring out where it all went wrong the Director decides to continue to ignore all communications and goes on a shopping spree with Cheryl Shuman!
Public Statement November 15, 2013
How do you begin a public statement that will bring shame to the efforts of a worldwide community working to end prohibition? You begin.
We are some of the recently resigned Board of Directors (BOD) of Moms for Marijuana International (MFMI) and Chapter Leaders.
• Candace Junkin Assistant Executive Director- Chapter Leader of Maryland
• Cheri Shaw Executive Director of Chapters- Chapter Leader of Ontario & Kitchener/Cambridge/Waterloo
• Dana M. Arvidson Executive Director of Encouragement & Inspiration- Chapter Leader of Tennessee
• Deanna Jean Assistant Director of Encouragement & Inspiration- Chapter Leader of Minnesota
• Diane-Marie Jensen Executive Director of Administration – Chapter Leader of Canada, British Columbia & Kelowna
• Lindsey Rinehart Director of CPS Committee- Chapter Leader of Ohio
• Sarah Via Executive Director of Communications- Chapter Leader of New York & Western New York
• Tracy Ansley Executive Director of Education & Research- Chapter Leader of Dallas, Texas
• Sarah Caldwell Former Executive Director of Finance- Chapter Leader of Boise, Idaho
• Bettie Retro Former Assistant Executive Director- Chapter Leader of United States, Portland, Oregon, International Administration, Twitter & Instagram
• Erin Purchase Witness
The conditions for our resignations are due to the following concerns and intolerance’s with the Founder and Executive Director Serra Frank (SF) aka Jennifer Bennett and Cheryl Shuman (CS) Public Relations Director. We the undersigned have witness and expressed concern about the following:
• Most of us were not aware the founder of this organization was under an alias.
• On several occasions over the span of months a financial report was requested by Diane-Marie Jensen (DMJ) who was voted in on ____. In an effort to create the necessary level of professional organization for any legitimate non-profit 501c3 organization, Diane-Marie was met with passive neglect and conflict to produce the financial records. Upon public questioning a complete financial statement was promised* by Serra Frank to the Board of Directors as well as the Chapter Leaders group pages as well as with others in public and private communication by Friday November 15th. We can prove that we asked for the financials and other pertinent documentation for months since April of this year.
• We can prove that Serra Frank/Jennifer Anne Bennett violated the code of conduct to dismissed Diane Marie Jensen when she finally DEMANDED the documentation. After dismissing Diane Marie Jensen, Serra Frank/Jennifer Anne Bennett, systematically began deleting the EBOD from groups and pages.
• It was discovered the status of MFMI as a 501c3 has lapsed while encouraging Chapter Leaders to post on financial efforts and continuing to receive funds. We were unaware of this lapse until it was discovered by DMJ after investigating the legitimacies of this organization.
• Sarah Caldwell (SC) disclosed in private communication among this for mentioned group concerning comments by Serra Frank making statements to the effect of “I will do with the money as I see fit.” SC has witnessed and is aware of several transactions for rent as well as witness to the purchase of other transactions that have no relation to money that should have been spent pursuant to the Bylaws. SC confronted SF on several occasions to the concerns of what could be considered the mis-spending of finances. These concerns caused her resignation.
• Without transparency on SF’s part we are unsure how many WePay and other accounts there are. We are unsure how much money has been spent or received.
• We can prove that the disbursement of ALL funds on said expiration went directly to Serra Frank/ Jennifer Anne Bennett.
• We can prove that Serra Frank/Jennifer Anne Bennett, did not follow Federal directives. Considering that Serra Frank/Jennifer Anne Bennett has been studying law for several years, she had to be fully aware that she was not following Federal directives and that her actions have been unethical.
• SF has insisted continuous postings to specifically benefit her fight for her boyfriend’s daughter. We were shocked to see pictures of toys purchased with the promotion they were struggling financially and we are concerned money raised for legal support was used with the history and progress of financial events.
• Bettie Retro (BR) (who expressed her alternative name with honesty from the beginning) was part of the original Board of Directors. After issues of not being able to retain reports or other meaningful documents, irrational conflict in communications, and other issues outside the scope of what we are currently dealing with found it in her best interest to resign.
Concerning and unacceptable actions by Public Relations Director Cheryl Shuman.
• Cheryl Shuman (CS) has only recently joined Moms for Marijuana International. She was voted in as Public Relations Director in April 2013.
• Deanna Jean (DJ) had expressed concerns on several occasions about CS and was encouraged not to be concerned without meaningful communication and on later communications of concern encouraged to not believe rumors. DJ contacted and was contacted by others in the community to the reputation and history of CS including Erin Purchase on her experiences with CS. CS had offered to give a portion of profits to help Erin’s family after being invited to be part of a media coverage to discuss MMJ for children. CS took most of the air time to promote her products on Ricky Lake for a segment that was supposed to address children’s medical needs to a safer medicine. The money promised was to go to the efforts being raised for Brave Mykayla. $42 was received.
• The same situation occurred on several TV programs before and after CS’s involvement with MFMI. Taking time to self-promote above giving a loud message for compassion and humanity. People’s needs.
• CS had offered to spend whatever money necessary to cover any costs and legally change SF’s name as well as to restore the 501c3 status of MFMI, and fly 180+ Moms to LA for a weekend spa retreat, which could be viewed as a welcoming gesture, however we see this as a way to immorally cover wrongful actions and considered a misleading and dishonesty of intentions. Money can’t buy morals or integrity.
• Dana A. (DA) had expressed concerns about CS and was ignored.
• SF has encouraged sabotage by the former Board of Directors on respective pages after removing themselves making it impossible.
• SF & CS encourage we are haters and are lying over a delusional plight to say we are angry at herself and CS over being encouraged to have a vote on a new BOD after CS encouragements for a new BOD. This situation did not exist; and has further solidified a recognized pattern of actions against former members of the BOD.
It is with heavy hearts we have to make this public statement. We have spent the last week in all day and night private conversations going through emails, bylaws, reviewing documents, conversations and the history of events and have had a member of this group meet with an Attorney.
We are Moms who love our families and are in support of repealing prohibition laws. We are Moms who support truth and education and we have all worked very hard to encourage others to join the movement. Needless to say Moms are a critical part to helping end prohibition because we have too many families benefiting yet congress still isn’t listening. This movement has dramatically switched from the stereo-type “stoner” to something much more.Every day more (people) are benefiting from MMJ including our children in legal and illegal States. Nothing should stop the momentum; especially these 2 women who have taken advantage of the now considered intentional lack of organization and trust of the members of the organization and the community.We publicly ask for Serra Frank aka Jennifer Bennett and Cheryl Shuman’s immediate resignation from the organization and for this organization to be dissolved and recreated with the pages intact that will be developed under a different name with a different logo. We would agree to help redevelop this as a legitimate organization with transparency within the established frame work so we don’t lose traction of the momentum we’ve developed.We have over 40,000 Moms worldwide with 182 worldwide chapters and we depend on each other, have cultivated relationships and effective networks working together, some for as many as the past 4 years. We should not make all these women around the world suffer the consequences of having to re-group elsewhere, or be disillusioned. They are working with responsible leaders in this community, to be further taken advantage of for self-promotion, self-profit, and popularity. CS has made threats in communications/conversations about using her resources to sue us for coming forward with our concerns to these events.Truth is more important than threats and truth will defend itself.We are willing to do whatever it takes with alacrity to ensure others are not taken advantage of and we will continue educating other Moms and all others in our communities no matter what may come. Together we shall rise above this. Together we will be stronger, and more effective. Together we shall change laws across our nation and indeed the world.
That is right…you heard me correctly.
To be clear, Cheryl Shuman began to co-opt the organization in April 2013 when she realized that the organization and the “Moms who smoke weed” were gaining notoriety in public media circles. It is no surprise that around this same time, out of nowhere, she resurrected her scorned relationship with her “daughter” Aimee and began promoting her “mother-daughter” relationship that was non-existent in her previous attempts at gaining fame from the cannabis issue. All of the sudden she was THE mom for marijuana and has made her rounds on the media circuit promoting her role as a “mother” with a daughter who wanted nothing to do with her most of her adult life. Oh…and did I mention that after a few short months in the spotlight and with using weed, Aimee is now a cannabis expert for children!?
How exciting. Isn’t Hollywood awesome?
But back to the lecture at hand. With the organization in disarray and a number of concerns about the direction they are headed under the direction of Ms. Shuman and Serra Farnk/Jennifer Bennett their brilliant solution is to make the embattled Director, Serra Frank, QUEEN FOR A DAY! Yes….you heard that right. Apparently if you run an organization into the ground there are prizes!This was posted by Camp Shuman yesterday:
Cheryl Shuman shared Cheryl Shuman’s photo. about an hour ago
QUEEN FOR A DAY WINNER!!!!
For those of you who are curious, Serra Frank, founder of Moms for Marijuana International was our choice for the Queen for Day prizes. let me tell you a bit about Serra. She started www.MomsforMarijuana.org in 2005 as a disabled single young mom who used cannabis for her disabilities. With virtually zero budget and funding the organization out of her own pocket from her disability check she put in so much blood, sweat and tears organizing moms for all over the world to speak out for Cannabis. Her group of moms is one of the largest and most respected women’s activist groups in the world and has done so much for these women. Serra never asks for anything and even though she has struggled herself, she is the first person to help set up a fundraising account for other moms in need. For example, when I was on The View, I was originally going to take Serra with me, instead, she selflessly said no, let’s choose another mom who needs the exposure more, so we took Lindsey Rinehart on the show instead. Moms group also helped Lindsey raise close to $7500 for her legal fees when CPS took her children away from her even though she was a legal MMJ patient with Multiple Schlerosis.Then when Jenny Kush was killed by a drunk driver, there was another account set up for her family to help with the funeral and college funds for her children. When I saw how hard this young woman works and how dedicated she is to helping others, it was an obvious choice that we needed to do something to honor Serra Frank and her work. On November 12th , 2013 the international day of awareness to save our families from Child Protective Services, Serra was unable to allow us to fly her in to LA for what was originally going to be a day of pampering in Beverly Hills, so we brainstormed to figure out what could we do to truly show her how much love, respect and admiration we have for her as an activist and just an all around amazing young woman.Well, here’s what we did.#1: Moms For Marijuana was behind on some corporate legal fees and paperwork, so instead of spa stuff, we paid for all of the legal fees to get the organization in to current status Problems solved.#2: Serra had recently moved and was without internet, phone or TV service So, we arranged to have DISH Network, cable and phone service installed in their home this morning Problems solved.#3: Serra did not have a working computer to keep caught up with internet work for other Moms So…. We decided to buy her a brand new computer. Great productivity gift to help Serra and alot of other moms by keeping them up to date with the latest news and awareness campaigns.#4: Serra had always wanted to do video blogs to cover activism events but was unable to afford a camera So… we surprised her with getting her a brand new HD video camera so now she can document anything she wants and put it up online for Moms or family or whatever she wants.I’m very happy that Aimee and I were able to help Serra and pay her the respect that she and so many other amazing moms deserve. I am determined though to get Serra to LA and get her to a spa, new hairdo, if she wants, new clothes, mani-pedi etc. I don’t know about you, but it always makes me feel like a happier person.There were so many amazing women who reached out. I will definitely be doing this again and hope that we can make another announcement very soon. Meanwhile, I hope that you can congratulate Serra and click the “LIKE” button on the https://www.facebook.com/Moms4MJ page I hope that you will congratulate Serra and wish all of our great moms the best in this upcoming yearMuch love to all of you.- Cheryl Shuman — with Cheryl Shuman and Serra Frank.
This is what folks in the PR business call “SPIN.” They try to take a situation that is damning and unethical and spin it into some sort of success story. It is bullshit. Do not fall for it. It is actually “SCRAMBLING” in every sense of the word, as these women try to find a path out of the destruction caused by their deceptive practices.
Instead of releasing the funding reports for the organization they create a distraction that makes it seems like poor little Serra Frank is struggling, and that Cheryl and Aimee have come to the rescue of the damsel in distress. Their assertion that Serra Bennett, or Jennifer Frank, or whatever her name really is, has fallen victim to being underprivileged and all of these issues were caused by her not having a nice computer and a video blog is LUDICROUS. It is insulting. It is really very pathetic and these broads should be ashamed.So now the decision has been made to turn over the organization to the total control of Cheryl Shuman, as she has refiled the organization in Nevada with her attorneys and management team. They have chosen to disregard the concerns of the many women who stepped down; and to elect an entire new Board of Directors under the direction of Cheryl Shuman with bylaws developed by Shuman’s legal staff.
NOTHING TO SEE HERE. MOVE ALONG.
This message was sent out by Team Shuman confirming the taking over of the organization and co-opting of their mission:
Moms have grown enormously this year especially with all of the media we’ve been a part of. Several changes are coming up. For example. I’m attaching new bylaws where Moms will for the very first time have a true corporate structure so we can continue to grow the right way in compliance with state rules. Please take a moment to review these bylaws for our group. This is the first draft. We are also going to be electing a new board of directors for the organization. Anyone that would like to nominate themselves for a position is more than welcome to do so. If you would like to step up to the plate and volunteer for our social media committee or advisory boards that would be great also. The first draft of bylaws is used by other non-profits in the cannabis sector. If you have any suggestions, we are always interested in hearing from you. We are also working on a new website for Moms. Serra is working on getting all of the past financials up to date and I’m very proud to tell you that this year Moms raised money to help women like Lindsey Rinehart pay for her legal bills and for activist Jenny Kush’s tragic funeral when she was killed by a drunk driver. It is my hope that in the future we can help more moms all around the world. I wish all of you a wonderful weekend and look forward to hearing from you. Kindest Regards, Cheryl Shuman
So get that…..Not a mention of the old Board of Directors or the concerns raised about the previous financial activity of the organization. Just a clear power move to take control of the organization; and to likely destroy it as she has every other project she has ever worked on, as I previously wrote about in my piece entitled “Cheryl Shuman is Full of Shit.” It is only a matter of time before she completely destroys whatever remains of this organization’s good name. It is what she does.I received this strange message via Facebook yesterday from one of their apparently faithful followers, Gina Epps:
Not cool the bs you are spreading about Moms For MJ. Try learning about the situation before you go running your ignorant mouth. You’re listening to women scorned, consider your source. THANK YOU CHERYL SHUMAN AND THE REAL MOMS 4 MJ. ONE LOVE.
I have considered my sources for a long time. I have been in this movement watching the circus go by for many moons. I like to think I am a fairly good judge of character. I trust my intuition…but more so, I know Cheryl Suman and her bullshit antics. The woman is like a festering boil on the face of cannabis reform. Anyone aligned with her is either really stupid, or they are in on it. Either way, I do not feel sorry for them in the least.
But the way she ended the message rang a bell for me….” THANK YOU CHERYL SHUMAN AND THE REAL MOMS 4 MJ.”
It was not the REAL MOMS 4 MJ, but yet a ploy to make it THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF MARIJUANA. Cheryl Shuman has been wandering around this movement for the last few years bragging about her “upcoming reality show” that has NEVER materialized. It is always Showtime or Discovery or some other big name channel who she “has a deal in the works” with to make her show; and there is certainly no doubting that she has pitched any number of Cheryl Shuman reality shows to Hollywood producers. But amazingly, not one to date has taken her up on her offer to do a show for free starring her. She continues to get rejected and denied, which is where her NEED for Moms 4 Marijuana stems from.
Shuman is simply casting for her next big pitch and she knows it has to be more than just her because, frankly, people think she is super plastic and gross. But if she can co-opt the lives of some real women in the struggle and use their stories to promote herself and her interests then she might actually get some recognition for once. She is obsessed with getting a reality show and it is so obvious that this is her latest effort to make it happen. People love the shock value of moms smoking weed, and Cheryl is here to capitalize off that value.
Do not get it twisted…Shuman cares about Shuman and nothing else. She does not care about weed. She does not care about children and families. She cares about Cheryl and making Cheryl famous. She will use her newly purchased position in this organization to further promote Cheryl and shit Cheryl is selling this week.
I have been contacted by many of the good women who have been caught up in this mess, and sometimes asked for my advice.
A Possible Solution
My thought is to develop a new organization that focuses on the real issues facing parents and children regarding pot in our society. I have began the development of a group called Parents 4 Pot that I hope to slowly develop over time to be a positive voice for change in the community. I believe there is a powerful message to be shared from parents who use cannabis, and parents of adult children who use cannabis who have been afflicted by this insane prohibition. I hope Parents 4 Pot can serve as a vehicle to propel that voice.
Parents 4 Pot acknowledges both the mothers and fathers who struggle daily with their role as a parent and their choice to use cannabis. We use the word “pot” because it is a common use phrase in the daily walk of most people. It is purposefully informal because we really have nothing to hide or fear. Cannabis is safe, enjoyable, and helpful and parents who smoke pot are good people.
#Parents4Pot will be working on Board development between now and the end of the year. We welcome mothers who may be looking for an alternative to Moms for Marijuana after the new direction and tarnishing of that brand. We also welcome fathers who face the same challenges in their role as a parent. For more information, to be a part of the group, or to nominate potential great Board members please visit our Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/parents4pot.
Stay tuned for more developments on this new and exciting group of like-minded parents and activists!