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Mieko Hester-Perez Redefines Medical Cannabis, Healthcare and Motorsport

Photos courtesy of Mieko Hester-Perez


Mieko Hester-Perez Redefines Medical Cannabis, Healthcare and Motorsport

Mieko Hester-Perez is determined to shift the narrative of medical cannabis by immersing herself in the world of motorsports.

Mieko Hester-Perez embodies the archetype of a modern-day “warrior mom.” For almost two decades, she’s been on a mission to break barriers and champion change for cannabis patients and their families. Since publicly sharing her son Joey’s success with medical cannabis in 2009, Hester-Perez has become a beacon of hope and guidance for families navigating options for their children on the autism spectrum. 

Hester-Perez began her cannabis advocacy journey at a time when regulations were virtually non-existent. “Dr. Lester Greenspoon, Jorge Cervantes, DNA Genetics, Aaron Justis, Matt Chiu and world-renowned cultivators from the Emerald Triangle served as my mentors during those early days—and I owe them a debt of gratitude for guiding me to where I am today,” she says. “Even now, they remain like family to me, Joey’s ‘undocumented uncles,’ a reminder of the invaluable support they provided. Their mentorship was comprehensive, and no question was off-limits.”

According to Hester-Perez, the cannabis community was the first community to honor autism without any reservations. She recalls times at expos when people would approach her tearfully, asking to be introduced to Jorge or Kyle (Kushman). “Their teachings showed me what it meant to have their unwavering support and understanding of my approach,” she says.

Despite facing personal tragedy with the passing of her son Joey in 2018, Hester-Perez remains steadfast in her commitment to ensuring that no family is left behind. During that difficult time, she faced the daunting task of redefining her advocacy efforts while honoring her commitment to Dr. Greenspoon: to remain true to the cause and never compromise her principles for personal gain. 

With over two decades of legal secretary experience and more than 15 years specializing in medicinal cannabis education, Hester-Perez is a trusted consultant for healthcare providers worldwide, particularly in prominent autism centers and palliative care institutions. Her expertise in consumer safety, compliance protection and product knowledge has positioned her as a leading authority. 

“Transitioning into a public advocacy role required dedication,” she says. “My background, which is largely unknown in the industry, includes owning an attorney service in California since 2005 and working as a legal secretary. Joey’s journey became one of my most significant cases, equipping me with legal expertise and resources to advocate effectively for others seeking medicinal cannabis for similar treatments.” In recognition of her unwavering dedication and community service, Hester-Perez has received special commendations from the United States Congress and was honored with the Lifetime Advocate Award at the prestigious Chalice Festival. 

In 2023, Joey received his only award for his contribution to the cannabis and autism community that bears his name at the Nothing But Fire event in Los Angeles. “Some people go a lifetime not knowing their purpose,” Hester-Perez says. “Joey knew his purpose and trained me for mine.”

Mieko Hester-Perez with son Joey
Mieko Hester-Perez with her son, Joey.

Supporting Those in Need 

Navigating the complexities of the cannabis industry and legal medical marijuana landscape is a continual challenge, Hester-Perez says. While legislative progress has been made in some states, families navigating the complicated world of medical cannabis lack sufficient guidance.  

“While the cannabis industry has made significant strides since my early involvement, there remains room for improvement,” Hester-Perez says. “The legalization of adult-use cannabis in certain states has introduced new complexities, particularly concerning medical marijuana licensing for parents.” As a result, she says, families frequently seek advice and support for their children. 

“My advocacy work extends beyond mere product recommendations; it includes building goals, setting realistic expectations and providing ongoing support to families,” she says. “The lack of uniformity in regulations and support systems across different states compounds the challenges faced by families, particularly those with special needs children. This glaring gap in support is what motivates my push for legalization and the establishment of specialized support services.”

The intricacies of navigating the world of special needs care are known only to a select few. “It’s fascinating to hear advocates confidently offer advice to families in similar situations, not realizing the unique challenges we face,” Hester-Perez shares. “From deciphering our children’s cues to determining the most suitable products and settings, the conversations I share with families can span from two hours to two years.”

Mieko Hester-Perez speaking on a panel for cannabis medicine for children in Panama.

In states including New York, Florida, parts of California, Arizona and Colorado, the lack of clear guidelines and regulations regarding cannabis use poses significant challenges for families. Even with a valid medical marijuana license and thorough compliance with legal requirements, Hester-Perez says families may still find themselves under scrutiny from Child Protective Services due to opposing views on cannabis.

In the US, placing children in educational settings involves navigating a labyrinth of confidentiality agreements, such as those in Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings. “Disagreement from just one social worker, social security representative, or regional center official can throw a wrench into the process,” Hester-Perez says. “In such cases, my role as an advocate becomes crucial.” While she refrains from publicizing specific cases, Hester-Perez guides to parents on how to advocate for their children without jeopardizing their safety.

Amidst these challenges, Hester-Perez says providing consistent and uniform guidance remains paramount. “I’ve encountered skepticism from judges and social workers. However, my focus has always been on quietly and diligently supporting families, one at a time, through the system’s complexities,” she says. “As attitudes towards cannabis evolve and regulations change, I remain dedicated to empowering parents and advocating for their needs in a rapidly changing landscape.

“Recently, I devised a plan to shield these families from undue scrutiny—a provision designed to offer guidance and support. This provision, similar to an online course or the DUI model, aims to provide clarity and direction in navigating the complexities of cannabis use within the family dynamic,” Hester-Perez says. “With approximately one out of every 17 homes in America experiencing Autism in some form, she says it’s imperative to establish a framework that ensures their protection.

Beyond consultation and advocacy, Hester-Perez’s willingness to go the extra mile for families in crisis sets her apart. “Whether it involves drafting letters, appearing in court, or offering boot camp-style support, I’m deeply invested in ensuring that families receive the assistance they require,” she says. “My experiences have imbued me with a profound understanding of the intricacies of family dynamics and the challenges they face, driving me to provide unwavering support to those in need.”

Hester-Perez has certifications in brain health, pain management and assessment and ethical issues in healthcare. She attends court with a certification as a legal nurse expert to support law firms in finding the appropriate resources for civil and family law cases.

Mieko Hester-Perez with Team Curry Motorsport

The Move into Motorsports

Recently—and somewhat unexpectedly—Hester-Perez has found herself working with NASCAR motorsport teams and drivers. Her journey was sparked by an encounter with a driver who disclosed their autism diagnosis. Recognizing the gap between autism awareness and mainstream acceptance, Hester-Perez says transitioning between unconventional therapies and motorsports has been seamless and driven by a shared commitment to addressing unmet needs.

“Venturing into motorsports allows me to step out of my comfort zone while still honoring my son Joey’s legacy,” she says. “These partnerships have allowed me to work with companies and support inclusivity in the industry.”

What initially seemed like a casual foray quickly revealed deeper connections to her past.

“I didn’t realize how much motorsports had been a part of my life until my dad sent me over pictures from my fifth birthday,” she says. “I was wearing a “Dukes of Hazzard” hat. When I sat down with a professional motorsports team owner, pleading my case, I said, ‘I’m supposed to be here.’ When he asked why, I showed him the picture and he said, maybe, you’re supposed to be here.’”

Hester-Perez seized the opportunity to support this cause by aligning with CBD companies and exploring potential collaborations within the motorsport community. She says her immersion into professional motorsports transcends mere fandom; it represents a unique opportunity to bridge the gap between mainstream sports and the burgeoning CBD industry.

“Through motorsports platforms, I aim to introduce mainstream audiences to the evolution of CBD companies that are able to market their companies through conventional marketing outlets, thereby facilitating greater acceptance and understanding within the broader American sports landscape,” she says.

Mieko Hester-Perez with Armani Williams
Mieko Hester-Perez with NASCAR driver Armani Williams.

In 2021, Hester-Perez was gifted the role of an advisor for the Team Armani Racing NASCAR driver Armani Williams. In the role, she worked closely with the pioneering NASCAR driver diagnosed with autism, securing sponsorships to support their initiatives. Currently, Mieko Perez is the business development for a driver development program at Curry Motorsports, in addition to working with various motorsports professional teams independently. She’s also working on a docuseries, “Track Pursuit,” that will cover her journey navigating the business of motorsports.   

These business endeavors mark significant strides in raising awareness and breaking barriers within the motorsport community—another example of Hester-Perez’s continued work breaking stigmas. Through it all, Hester-Perez’s dedication is unwavering. “I’m committed to oversight and consumer-centered outcomes with unconventional therapies, leveraging my experience and knowledge to navigate the complexities of the legal and medical landscape,” she says. 

“My journey, though born out of personal tragedy, has become my source of inspiration and empowerment. It drives me to make impactful business decisions that will change perspectives.”

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