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Del’s Journey From Activism to Foraging

Posted by Dan Holton-Roth on
Del’s Journey From Activism to Foraging

Umbo Co-Founder Del Jolly shares how his passion led him to starting Umbo.

What brought you to plant medicine and functional mushrooms?

About ten years ago, I was turkey hunting in Nebraska and I saw an old farmer walking through the woods picking up what I thought was trash. As he got closer, I saw he had a bag of mushrooms. Morels. He told me all about them. After he left, I started finding tons of them. As I was walking back to my truck, along the side of a dirt road, my hands full of morels, a local drove by and offered to give me a ride. When he dropped me off, I gave him half my bounty. That was when I realized there was a lot of power in these mushrooms. I was hooked as a forager. 

As my foraging and home grown food passion took off, I was asked an important question by a friend who also happened to be a cannabis advocate. "If you take your food so seriously,” he asked, “why not medicine?" That simple question prompted me to look into cannabis. I learned about CBD being used for seizures and to treat traumatic brain injuries in NFL football players.  

That's how I met Jake, who was working on a campaign called "When the Bright Lights Fade" for Realm of Caring, a cannabis non-profit that helps people understand how to use cannabis for various ailments. I got a job with Charlotte's Web, a cannabis brand, and that was how I met Rashad. His sister had glioblastoma and I connected them with Realm of Caring to help them better understand how to treat it. At the time, I completely misunderstood the power of this plant. I really didn’t know what it could do. But I learned. And I knew then and there that I would dedicate my life to rectifying the injustice against plant medicine.

How has your journey been?

It's been an extremely difficult journey. I remain surprised at how tightly people hold onto their old beliefs, even in the face of hard, scientific data. I've always loved the quote "strong convictions, loosely held" and wish more people were open to that point of view. But the world is changing. There is just too much information anymore. The evidence is too strong. There will soon come a time when everyone just can’t deny that plants and fungi are here to help. 

What have you been able to achieve that you’re most proud of?

Decriminalize Denver was an historic piece of legislation that decriminalized psilocybin in our city. My work as outreach director for it will always be really special. I remember telling Kevin Mathews, the campaign director, that if we got on the ballot, I'd be happy. When we won, I was absolutely blown away. Soon, Oakland followed. And since then, so many more. Denver was the tipping point and I'm excited for the amount of advocacy and education being put forth. 

What’s in your daily stack?

I'm all about Myco Rise. I wake up at 6 am for Jiu-Jitsu every day, five days a week. Because I’m up so early, I used to feel a crash around 1 or maybe 2 pm every day. Myco Rise has become my go-to to get over that afternoon slump. I also enjoy our bars because I like the idea of getting a lot of various mushrooms in my system. I don't think Americans eat enough mushrooms. A lot of us have a bit of mycophobia and our bars are a fantastic way to get to know mushrooms in a really tasty way.

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