From CPD to CBD: Burnt out Chicago cop now selling hemp derivative to help officers de-stress

Jamay Nellum-Fane first turned to the cannabinoid to deal with job-related stress and treat postpartum depression. Now she’s retired and encouraging other cops to try it.

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Jamay Nellum-Fane and her husband Moustapha Fane, co-owners of La Collection Mouja, a line of CBD and beauty products, show their products in Nellum-Fane’s parents’ home in the North Austin neighborhood, Wednesday afternoon, April 13, 2022.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

After having twin girls at age 45 and returning to work in the Austin police district, Jamay Nellum-Fane began searching for something to help manage her postpartum depression and cope with the violence and despair she witnessed on the job.

The veteran cop eventually turned to CBD, or cannabidiol, a nonpsychoactive compound typically derived from the hemp plant that’s used to treat everything from insomnia and pain to Parkinson's and epilepsy. When she had good results, Nellum-Fane became an evangelist and started a CBD company last year with her husband, hoping they could help other cops get past their misgivings about cannabis and ultimately heal.

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Jamay Nellum-Fane, co-owner of La Collection Mouja, a line of CBD and beauty products, poses for a picture outside her parents’ home in the North Austin neighborhood, Wednesday afternoon, April 13, 2022.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

“Officers are afraid. But I just tell them, ‘Hey, do your research. As long as it doesn’t have the THC in it, you’ll be fine,’” she said of the mind-altering component found in marijuana, which officers are still drug tested for.

On Wednesday, she retired from the police department after 16 years to focus more on her family and the company, La Collection Mouja. While she was earning a six-figure salary in her most recent role as a training instructor at the police academy, Nellum-Fane acknowledged it’s “very hard now to be a police officer.”

She said supervisors canceling days off on short notice was “one of the primary factors” in her decision, noting it took a “major toll” on her family life. Much to the chagrin of rank-and-file officers, that’s become a common practice as the department struggles to recruit amid a spike in departures.

“My husband works as well,” she said, “so I had to routinely ask my mom and dad who are elderly to watch my two daughters.

“I’m responsible for these little girls, and I’m a mom first,” she added. “I understand I have a duty as a law enforcement officer, but it’s a decision. This is not prison. I had to make the decision to come up with another stream of income and to focus on that.”

Nellum-Fane, who is Black, also pointed to the police killing of George Floyd, which she said changed her perception of policing and at times “made it extremely difficult for me to put that uniform on.”

“I’m not quite sure if people are familiar with the history of what African Americans probably have experienced or gone through in this country,” she said. “And I think what really magnified it is that it was done on film. The world saw it. It was no going around it. It was like right there in your face, and it was just a horrible event.”

Still, she said, Floyd’s murder offers an opportunity for police and community members to “come together to heal these wounds.” She said she joined the police department with a “community mindset” in 2005 and hoped to “bring change” to the city.

The Austin native previously worked as a community organizer with the nonprofit Northwest Austin Council and later spent much of her law enforcement career policing the district that covers that area.

Though she came into her career hoping it would give her an “edge” to help her community, her perspective shifted after she had her twins in July 2019 and was hit with postpartum depression. Having to return to the “fast-paced” and violent Austin district didn’t help, she said.

“I was trying to cope with what I’m seeing on the daily, trying to serve in the community, and then when I get home, I’m a mom,” she said. “So it was just a lot. To be honest, I really wasn’t aware of how severe the postpartum was.”

Then she found CBD, a “game-changer” Nellum-Fane said has helped manage the depression and her sleep issues. After seeing the benefits, she and her husband, Moustapha Fane, eventually partnered with one of his college friends to start La Collection Mouja.

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Massage oil containing CBD from La Collection Mouja, a line of CBD and beauty products, are set up outside Jamey Nellum-Fane’s parents’ home in the North Austin neighborhood, Wednesday afternoon, April 13, 2022.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

The company now sells a variety of CBD products — including oils, beauty products and candles — through its website and at vending events. Their key goal is to offer some form of relief to cops, who Nellum-Fane noted often suffer from depression, PTSD and sleeplessness.

“We wanted to be part of a team that’s gonna help the officers understand that it might be difficult for them to go see a therapist … but we can deliver them a product that’s gonna help them cope with whatever situation they’re going through,” she said.

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