When Suzanne Aubert passed away in New Zealand in 1926, her funeral was believed to be one of the largest in the small country’s history. Aubert was born in France in 1835, but moved to Auckland, New Zealand in 1859 as a missionary. Over the course of her life, she opened two hospitals, cared for homeless children and trained a local choir. She was also the country’s first pot farmer. For her services and legacy, she is up for sainthood from the Catholic church.
Aubert, also known as Mother Aubert or Sister Mary Joseph, had a fascination with science and medicine. Not only did she tend to the sick, but she also helped keep the covenant afloat by selling medicines and other apothecary goods. She also diverged from Western medicine traditions, seeking out ways to combine those doctrines with Māori medicine.
These experiments led her to create and cultivate her own medicinal marijuana. Aubert made most of her income from these medicines. Her small enterprise is said to have helped establish the community. You could argue that Suzanne Aubert didn’t only become New Zealand’s first marijuana grower, but their first dispensary as well.
Only a year after her death, in 1927, New Zealand passed the Dangerous Drugs Act. This made “the dried flowering or fruiting tops of the pistillate plant known as Cannabis sativa” a controlled substance, though medicinal marijuana was used in the country until 1965, in order to apply to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs treaty. As we speak, New Zealand’s members of parliament are voting on the future of cannabis cultivation and distribution in the country. Marijuana is facing a lot of resistance in the country, and the odds of legislation passing is a toss-up.
Aubert’s consideration for sainthood has yet to be included in the country’s cannabis discussion. Aubert was first nominated in 2010, but more recently, Pope Francis declared her “venerable” for the next stage of the process. In order to achieve sainthood, the Pope will require evidence of two miracles performed by Aubert. Pope Francis, my dude, have you ever tried weed?