Futbolista Turned Marijuana Medicine Maker

Dania Cabello and her plants (Majo Calderon)

Dania Cabello is a former professional fútbol player, who now teaches the sport to young folks through the program Oakland Street Stylers. She was one of the main characters  in the film Futbolistas 4 Life and is a producer on the series, The North Pole. But her most recent venture involves juicing marijuana leaves to make healing salves and bath salts; and her company is called Ojo De La Sol.

After mastering her medicine in her kitchen, Dania says she went through the long bureaucratic process of filing paperwork, getting her products tested and when she finally got access to a space where she could mass produce, that's when the first shelter-in-place orders came down from Governor Newsom.

Since then, she's struggled to get her products into stores, as  meetings are hard to arrange while socially distancing. But nonetheless, she's managed to set up her online shop and sell her her salves and bath salts through a digital storefront. After all, this is a time where masses could use medicine.



Below are lightly edited excerpts of my conversation with Dania Cabello.

Dania: About ten years ago, I had been working with a farmer, and it was this farmer who was my teacher and friend that introduced the idea of juicing cannabis leaves. It's kind of like a wheat shot grass, like when Popeye takes his spinach. That was the effect that juicing fresh fan cannabis leaves had on my mental health, on my ability to take ownership of my own well-being. 

Pen: That's wild to me. So I've never heard of juicing cannabis like I've heard of weed, tea leaf, weed, balm, like weed, everything. I've had weed, ice cream before, juicing the actual leafs?

Dania: And probably the reason you haven't heard of it or seen it that much is that it requires so much fan leaf to make one tiny shot. So it's just really expensive to make cannabis juice. 

Pen: Gotcha. OK. OK. And so you've been exploring this and learning about it and practicing it and you were gearing up to launch and then Covid hit... 

Dania: I'm constantly re-figuring out how to even navigate this. The day that we went on lockdown for the pandemic was supposed to be my first day cooking in my new kitchen. It got put on pause for a moment until cannabis was deemed essential and I was allowed to return to my kitchen. And, you know, I had to look in the mirror quite a bit and look at my alter and ask myself, what would my ancestors do or think about this moment? And what I kept reverting back to was in a moment like this they would provide medicine for their people, and that kind of eased some of the discomfort because there's nothing comfortable about this time for anybody, let alone to be launching something. While half the people I know are out of jobs, you know, can they even afford to buy cannabis in the regulated industry? I don't know. 

Pen: Well, be it that you're swimming in uncertain waters, is there any philosophy that you rely on?

Dania: I think right now one of the things I've been relying on is my own self-awareness, in that I'm the daughter of political exiles who fled horrific persecution to arrive to a country as immigrants. At a place in Oakland, California, where they arrived just after the civil rights movement. And so when I say self-awareness, it's a privilege and gift. It's my responsibility to use all of my gifts: education, sports, cannabis.

Rightnowish is an arts and culture podcast produced at KQED. Listen to it wherever you get your podcasts or click the play button at the top of this page and subscribe to the show on NPR One, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, TuneIn, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts.

Sponsored