Women to Watch: Ashley Markum
By Brandon Dunn
Ashley Markum is a wife, mother, advocate, and cannabis missionary.
Markum currently holds leadership positions as the director of Springfield NORML and president of the recently formed non-profit, Ayden’s Alliance.
Ayden’s Alliance is a 501(c)3 focused on helping Special Needs and Low-Income families with their cannabis-related therapy.
Married to her husband, Chris, for almost 15 years, the couple have 6 children.
While the workload of managing a family alone is strenuous, Markum’s household is slightly different.
“My cannabis journey started when my son, Ayden, ran out of Anti Epileptic Pharmaceutical options,” Markum says. “My mom had watched a documentary about children with Epilepsy that were having success reducing those seizures with cannabis oil. We right away knew this was our next step. Ayden was actually the 5th person in Missouri to receive his Hemp Card, which allowed us to purchase high CBD oil from the 2 state-licensed dispensaries.”
The Markums saw such dramatic results with Ayden’s treatment, not only in seizure reduction but also with cognitive gains, that Ashley was hooked on healing.
“We got involved with NORML in 2015 when a friend invited me to a monthly meeting. Shortly after, we began volunteering with the New Approach campaign and spent the majority of our lives working to pass medical cannabis in Missouri. I can count on one hand the times I turned down an interview or speaking engagement during those 3 years. Thankfully we had a great support system of family and friends that made it possible for us to invest so much into the campaign.”
“Passing medical cannabis meant, literally, everything to us, because if it hadn’t passed in 2018, our plans were to move to a legal state so we could have access to what Ayden needed,” Markum explained that while CBD has helped greatly, Ayden still needs more options.
With the passage of Amendment 2, Markum had time to refocus.
“I knew I wanted to do something to help patients. I shared my dreams of a huge patient support program with Missouri Cannabis Consultants and they helped make it a reality.”
Ayden’s Alliance was founded in December 2018 by Daryl Bertrand of Missouri Cannabis Consultants. Markum says that since formation, she has dedicated the time and energy she had focused on the campaign for medicinal legalization to focusing on helping other families through Ayden’s Alliance.
“Being a special needs mom myself, I wanted to create an easy way for families like mine to apply for and receive assistance. I also didn’t want other families to go through what we did in the beginning of Ayden’s cannabis journey, not knowing what oils were best and how to pick good, clean medicine.”
“I have seen medical cannabis give people their lives back, help families spend quality time with their children, and give patients the relief nothing else can,” Markum said, explaining that Ayden’s Alliance’s objective is to provide Missouri patients with access to treatments, certifications, and even state issued ID cards.
“We also want to help get the information into the patients’ hands. Our classes are free and accommodating for all patients.”
Markum’s husband, Chris, is a registered nurse and educates patients and the public about the endocannabinoid system, among other things.
But working toward a goal and offering education is only part of the initiative – now, Ayden’s Alliance has to spread the word.
“Social media has been very helpful in getting our mission out there and finding supporters,” she said. “I have personally seen social media, in general, be valuable for special needs parents – when you have very involved children or are sick yourself, getting out of the house can be next to impossible. Online support groups can fill that gap.”
What’s next for Ayden’s Alliance, Ashley Markum, and Missouri?
“I hope cannabis can become a front line treatment instead of one of last resort. I don’t want finances or lack of education to prohibit any patient from trying cannabis, and I believe with Ayden’s Alliance, we can build a huge resource for patients so that doesn’t happen.”
Please visit and donate to aydensalliance.org.
An event is planned in Kansas City on June 24 to benefit the organization, the Industry SuperHero MeetUp, at the Guild KC at 7:00 p.m.