Strength and composure

Sacramento activist Joy Cole, 1963-2012

Sac Patients founder and activist Joy Cole, shown here in September 2011.

Sac Patients founder and activist Joy Cole, shown here in September 2011.


Joy Cole was a regular at the Wednesday night protests outside the downtown federal courthouse at I and Fifth streets; show up Wednesday, May 2, to celebrate her life. There will also be a remembrance for Cole this Saturday, May 5, at the Global Cannabis March on the north steps of the state Capitol.

The Sacramento cannabis community is in shock: Joy Cole, tireless and compassionate medical-cannabis activist, passed away on Sunday.

Cole, who was named “Best Cannabis Activist” in SN&R’s 2011 Best of Sacramento issue, was also a stage-four lung-cancer survivor and had an unwavering commitment to medical marijuana.

“Joy Cole’s passing is an immense loss for our community and for all of us who were touched by her love and dedication,” said Courtney Sheats, regional director with medical-cannabis-advocacy group Americans for Safe Access. “Joy has been a long-standing champion as a grassroots organizer and a dear friend to so many of us. I am so thankful to have gotten a chance to stand with her during many patient events and to have known her personally as a graceful, passionate and inspiring woman.”

Born in Southern California, Cole got her start as a cannabis activist shortly upon graduating from Ventura High School. After moving to Sacramento, she founded the Sacramento Patients Alliance and began spearheading activism efforts.

It was Cole’s dedication and inspiration that many people will remember. Ron Mullins, former manager at J Street Wellness dispensary and founder of the End Cannaphobia campaign, credited Cole with inspiring his activism.

“She was always positive, she always gave all she had, even when she was exhausted,” Mullins said. “She braved through cancer and many other adverse circumstances to do what she did. The Sacramento cannabis community has lost a leader and a hero, and we will all miss her terribly.”

Activist Kimberly Cargile, with Common Roots Collective, remembers Cole for her fearlessness. “She was fighting the good fight. Standing up for not only her own rights, but for those like her,” Cargile said.

Cargile recalled one moment when, at a Sacramento County Board of Supervisors meeting, Cole brought with her a bottle of water with medical-cannabis tincture inside. “[She] drank it right in front of them!” Cargile said.

“She did what was right. She did it with a great strength and composure.”