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Real Cannabis Stories

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Meet Elianne: Assistant Manager @ Green Wolf LA

1. What did you do before the industry?

Before I started in the industry back in 2012, I was studying to be a fashion designer FIDM in downtown LA. I wasn’t sure of what I wanted to do since I was a medical marijuana smoker due to my anxiety. Before Fashion Design my passion was to become a criminal investigator. Since I was already a recreational user and also a medical marijuana user, I wasn’t able to succeed as a criminal investigator since I had to join the police force before I was an investigator

2. What sparked your interest in the cannabis industry? How did you first get involved in the industry?
What first sparked my interest was when I smoked at the age of 14. It made me feel so much better than the pills I was taking. The whole science behind it and how each strain did something different. I wanted to help others since it saved me from my pharmaceuticals that I had been taking for years. In 2009 I stepped into my first dispensary and at that moment I realized I wanted to be apart of the movement.
3. Walk us through a normal work day? (things you do on a regular basis)
For the last two years I’ve been working at GreenWolf in Los Angeles California a Prop 215 PreICO collective. I am currently the assistant manager so I get to handle the cash outs, managing shop product orders, working with vendors, & interacting with patients. I Also do the cashier and budtend as needed. I work five days a week up to 50 hours. Honestly, I wouldn’t change a thing about GreenWolf. I’ve worked at a few Top collectives in Los Angeles & this one by far has been the most influential to myself as a boss lady in the industry!
4. What have been some of the hardest things about working in the industry? 
As a woman I feel like we are personally discriminated against in this industry. There is still a strong stigma against women in this Mail driven in the street. I’ve had moments for men will shut me down before I can say a word without them even knowing her knowledgeable I really am. I have met many very strong industry women out there who are making bigger and better moves than most men that I’ve met.
I have nothing personal against men in the industry but I feel like men and women could still do the same and accomplish the same even more and greater things than each other. We should all just support each other and help each other build and gain knowledge on what we can do next to become better than what we were already are.

5. What have been some of your favorite things about working in the industry?
Other than feeling like I am discriminated as a woman at times I feel like I have made my mark in the industry as someone who is educated & also very involved. It feels like forever but over the last few years people decided to split and start their own ventures. So it’s been easy for me to transition since I have met most of the people who split up and have become some of the top brands and industry.
6. Have you ever felt stigmatized for working in the industry?
My favorite moments have been working at all the events that I’ve worked in the last six years. From the high Times cannabis cup’s to Hitman Glass Chalice Festival, KushStock, and even secretsesh. I’ve met so many amazing patients, brands, celebrities, talents and many other other influential people involved.
7. Do you have any advice to job seekers looking into the industry?
7. For anyone who is seeking to be a part of the industry is that you must have a true passion for helping others. Also Being educated and knowledgable on products and all processes on how things are made & work.
Understanding current technology and loss is also a very important thing. Number one is having passion for the Industry and everyone involved. That includes patients, vendors, and others trying to just get involved and be apart. Please stay educated & on top of all current laws, products & processes.
Eli Michele
Marijuana user since 2004, MMJ patient since 2009.
Instagram: @yourfavbudtender

How to ACTUALLY get a job at a job fair

Whether you’re passively or actively job-hunting, job fairs offer an excellent opportunity to directly meet and converse with companies who are hiring. To get the most from these events, it’s imperative to come prepared. Bring a folder with several copies of your resume (Folder keeps your resumes neat, and shows you’re prepared).

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If you know how many companies are going to be at the event, you should bring at MINIMUM that same number of resumes. Also, if you know ahead of time what companies are going to be present, take some time to visit their websites and/or social media to familiarize yourself with their brand. In researching the companies that will be present beforehand, your goal should be to try to identify where you might be a valuable addition to their team. For example, if a retail company is opening another brick and mortar shop, you should talk about how your experience working in retail will make you an asset to their business in that you need very little training and can assist in the development of new hires. If you communicate exactly how you can provide value to their business, you will be able to book next steps to begin the interview process. Your goal at job fairs should be to make good first impressions, while also collecting emails and booking that first initial job screening. So even if an employer says to apply online, ask for their email and let them know that you’ll be following up with them. Better yet, if you’re able to schedule a follow up conversation on the spot, you can be confident you’re in strong position to start the interview process. Ask for their availability and ask to book a time to chat about a role where you can add value. Try to narrow down specifically what you can do for them. Its critical to be able to say specifically where you see yourself adding value rather than saying you can wear multiple hats. If they need support for the sales team, talk about how your sales experience would make you a great candidate.

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As a general mindset, you should go in with a sales attitude. Identify-Qualify-Discovery-Close. Identify the companies with whom you want to work. Qualify the opportunity in the sense that you want to ask those specific companies what openings they have now or better yet, ask where they need help to grow their business. Furthermore, ask about specific qualities they think are necessary to successfully executive the responsibilities of the open role or to address the challenges they need to overcome to grow. Discovery-ask plenty of questions to further understand the needs of the company and gaps that must be filled for growth in their business. If getting their product into more dispensaries is their critical business objective, ask questions around how they are getting into dispensaries now, how many people they have working towards that goal, what areas they’re targeting, and if there are any areas they are unable to target due to a lack of resources. Hopefully it’s clear that you want to ask more questions and do more listening than talking. Finally, the close would be booking time with them to interview for a need/role you have uncovered in the discovery process. Putting it all together, if it works out perfectly, as an example- you know that some topical cream company is going to be present at the event. You first qualify it (where do they need help), if it’s something you can add value to then you begin discovery. If their challenges or open role is not relevant to your skills, you can still network, but don’t worry about how you can help them (at least in the short term).

 

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So lets say that topical cream company needs sales support and you can sell. Then ask a ton of questions finding out why they need more sales support; what business drivers are creating that demand, what areas geographically need focus, what types of people do they want to hire, etc. Finally, once you have all that info, you can say to a recruiter/hiring manager, “based on all this that you’ve told me, my experience doing X and my success with Y, I would make me a strong addition to your team. Let’s schedule time to talk later this week or early next week, what works best for you?” If you go in prepared, you can come out confident in the time you invested in attending the event.

Good luck this Sunday!! RSVP @ hitmanjobfair.eventbrite.com

 

 

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Meet Miles: Communications and Special Projects Manager @ Northern Emeralds

1. What did you do before the industry?
 
The short answer is that I wasn’t working, not in the traditional sense anyway. I grew up in Humboldt County and left home after high school to attend the Clark Honors College at the University of Oregon. After earning a BA in Philosophy from UO in 2010 and a teaching credential in English from Humboldt State University in 2011, I spent a year teaching English in Japan before returning home in the summer of 2013. By that time, I’d decided that I didn’t want to go into teaching as a career, and also that I didn’t feel comfortable shouldering a huge amount of debt in order to attend graduate school.
I wanted to take a closer look at what the idea of a “career” really meant to me. So, from 2013 until early 2016, I conducted a personal experiment that I came to refer to as “useful unemployment.” I lived at home with my mother and girlfriend (now wife). They generously paid the bills, and I tried to be as useful as possible without earning money. I doubled the size of my mother’s vegetable garden, installed a rain catchment and drip irrigation system, and spent six months helping two contractors build an addition to my childhood home so my girlfriend and I could have our own living space. I also began volunteering weekly at a local meat farm that practices intensive rotational grazing––a laborious but environmentally-friendly form of agriculture.
The best part of being usefully unemployed was that I had a lot of time to study. I read nonfiction books on a range of topics that interested me: philosophy, science, psychology, history, ethics, technology, and futurism. I also read as much fiction as I could manage. On my blog, words&dirt, I wrote book reviews for every book I read (which I also posted to my Goodreads profile), and kept a journal to document my experiences working on my family’s property. In 2015, I founded the Humboldt Learners’ Society––a collection of friends and family that meets monthly so that one member of the Society can teach something to the rest of the group. So even though I wasn’t embedded in a formal academic environment, I was very invested in continuing my self-education.
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2. What sparked your interest in the cannabis industry? How did you first get involved in the industry?
 
Being a Humboldt native, it was hard to avoid at least a passing interest in the cannabis industry. Even though I was never involved in the industry growing up and abstained from cannabis use until college, I always hoped that Humboldt would one day be able to safely embrace its identity as an epicenter of cannabis cultivation and innovation. Those of us who grew up in Humboldt and want to continue living here know that a regulated, thriving cannabis economy is our region’s ticket to sustained prosperity. It’s also the best way to ensure that the environmental abuses resulting from irresponsible cultivation practices in Humboldt and other nearby counties get reined in. So it’s fair to say that my personal values and interests aligned with the legal cannabis economy before I became directly involved with it.
My initial involvement with Northern Emeralds was largely due to favorable timing. Several of my friends helped put the company together in 2015, and as regulations and compliance deadlines started coming down the pike, they began looking around for help with projects such as permit applications, HR policy formation, community outreach, and building out the company’s internal infrastructure. So I jumped in and lent a hand with whatever needed doing, and eventually settled into a role maintaining company communications and managing special projects.
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3. Walk us through a normal work day? (Or things you do on a regular basis if you don’t have a normal work day) 
 
The content of my work varies a lot day-to-day, but I do try to follow a basic structure. I always get up early and work at home for 2-4 hours on email and projects that can be moved forward without input from other team members. Next, I try to read, write, or work in my garden for about an hour, if I have time. I follow this up with about 75 minutes of exercise––rowing machine for fifteen minutes plus an hour of running. Then I take lunch before attending meetings in the afternoons. Depending on the day, I may have just one meeting, or several. They may happen online, or in various physical locations in Humboldt. On the rare days when I don’t have any meetings, I usually try to get at least another hour or two of work done at home in the afternoons.
I follow this basic schedule pretty strictly on weekdays. I am a part-time employee, so I usually shoot for 4-6 hours per day, but I often put in more hours when my workload is particularly heavy. I try not to work much on the weekends, but sometimes I do work a bit on Sundays to get a jumpstart on my week.

 

4. Have you ever felt any stigma against yourself  from others for working in the industry?
 
Fortunately, no. Humboldt is a community that is very accepting of cannabis and supportive of individuals and companies who want to participate in a safe, regulated cannabis industry. My friends and family are very supportive of and curious about my work.
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5. What have been some of your favorite things about working in the industry?
 
My favorite part about being in this industry at this time is that I get to help form a synthesis of two very different worlds. The first world is the old cannabis economy. This economy generated a lot of wealth, but was also unstable for workers and the environment because it was largely unregulated and untaxed. This should never have been the case since cannabis prohibition has always been morally and legally idiotic, but nevertheless, cultivators were forced for decades to operate in the shadows with no real chance of participating in the normal business world. Now, finally, we can begin to enter that other world.
This is a complex and difficult process, but extremely rewarding. Working with Northern Emeralds has opened up opportunities to educate myself about the chasm that exists between these two worlds, and has taught me to repeatedly seek ways to close the gap, slowly but surely. I love connecting the cannabis world with regulators, contractors, and other members of the “normal” business community. The more I do this, the more I realize just how much the values and interests of cultivators overlap with those of the communities in which they are embedded. There are tensions, disagreements, and misunderstandings, to be sure, but by and large it has been a collaborative process. There are so many positive-sum games that can be fruitfully cultivated, and I am passionate about identifying those and helping them grow.
That first part of my answer is largely outward-facing (i.e. about how my company interacts with other organizations), but there is an equally important inward-facing dynamic here. The compliant cannabis industry has a critical duty to confront and ameliorate the labor abuses that have sometimes run amok in the unregulated industry. I take great pride in helping to provide consistent, year-round work for our more than 50 employees, and have played a key role in understanding and working toward compliance with state and federal labor laws.
In my view, any good cannabis company will produce a good product and turn a profit, but a truly great company will also ensure that its employees are safe and well-paid, that they care about their work and have opportunities for advancement, and that they believe in the mission of delivering a truly superior product to consumers. I am excited about the progress that Northern Emeralds has made thus far.

 

6. Do you have any advice to job seekers looking into the industry?
 
Given that I fell into the industry by way of serendipity more than anything else, I can’t really give advice about how to break into the cannabis world. However, I will say that I think cultivating one’s personal passions is absolutely critical. People in the cannabis industry love their work, and believe in it deeply. They want to work with people who are excited and driven, and the best way to project those qualities is to actually embody them as best you can, even if your background doesn’t have anything to do with cannabis.
If someone had suggested to me 18 months ago that the years I spent being “usefully unemployed” would help me be an effective member of the cannabis community, I would have laughed. But I now realize that the time and energy I spent on personal projects, both on my property and in my intellectual life, helped me hone skills that are somewhat unique in this line of work. It turns out that scrutinizing the details of a cultivation permit application isn’t so bad if you spend your spare time trying to grok what the hell David Hume was saying in A Treatise of Human NatureThat’s perhaps a bit of an esoteric example, but the point is that pursuing my passions helped me grow in ways that I couldn’t predict until I suddenly found myself taking on new challenges in a new environment. I can’t wait to see what’s next.
7. Why have you chosen to remain part time?

The main reason I am only part-time is that I am basically unwilling to work full-time. I have worked full-time in the past, and I always struggle psychologically when I force myself to commit the lion’s share of my energy to just one type of labor. I have so many avocational interests that I feel stifled if I have to narrow my focus too tightly. I also think having time and energy to pursue my personal passions makes me a happier, healthier, and more dependable contributor at work.
I am grateful that Northern Emeralds has accepted and embraced this aspect of my personality. I think the fact that the company has allowed me to carve out a space for myself on its management team under these circumstances is a testament to the organization’s diversity, flexibility, and authentic concern for the well-being of its employees.
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Meet Kate: COO @ vetCBD

1. What did you do before the industry?

I was-and still am!-a veterinary nurse. I’ve been working mainly in emergency and critical care veterinary medicine since 2004 until I quit my hospital job in 2016 to focus solely on VETCBD.

2. What sparked your interest in the cannabis industry?

How did you first get involved in the industry? Dr. Tim Shu, who is the founder of VETCBD, and I first met when we worked together in the hospital setting. A few years after that, he contacted me and told me the research he was doing and about the company he started. I was instantly fascinated and began doing my own research. I came on board with him almost immediately. As veterinary professionals, our most important job is to advocate for our patients, because they can’t do so for themselves. Cannabis has so many therapeutic aspects for all animals that it is our job to utilize the plant to their benefit.

3. Walk us through a normal work day? (Or things you do on a regular basis if you don’t have a normal work day)

I truly love what I do. A normal day involves a little bit of everything! I take orders from our collectives, oversee deliveries, manage our VETCBD team, schedule and coordinate patient appreciation days and other events, work with charities, ensure compliance regarding our packaging, maintain our website and social media accounts, educating staff at collectives, communicate with veterinarians and their staff, and answering pet owners questions. My favorite part of the job is hearing people’s stories of how VETCBD has helped their pet. I entered veterinary medicine so I could help animals (and their people), and I feel so happy that I am continuing to do just that, in a different setting.

4. Have you ever felt any stigma against yourself from others for working in the industry?

No, not really. I’ve gotten some funny looks sometimes, but I am always more than happy to explain what exactly it is that I do and how exactly cannabis can help heal pets and people. The more that people discuss cannabis and it benefits, the less stigma will be attached to the plant and to the people who use it, and I am happy to be a part of that discussion.

5. What have been some of your favorite things about working in the industry?

I don’t know what’s not to love! I feel so lucky to be in California and to have these incredible opportunities. Similar to the veterinary industry, the cannabis industry is a “small world”. People are happy and helpful for the most part, and very welcoming. There seems to be a passion to educate and advocate throughout. I also love that so many people in leadership and ownership positions are women.

6. What have been some of your biggest challenges?

My biggest challenge has been trying to keep up with all of the regulations surrounding everything in our industry. Almost every aspect of the industry is constantly changing! It’s been both fun and a challenge to keep up with it.

7. Do you have any advice to job seekers looking into the industry?

View the cannabis industry as any other industry; hard work and dedication are key to your success. Expect to work hard, educate yourself, speak with as many people as you can who are involved in this space, keep up with both state and federal news, advocate, and have fun!

kateandzee

VETCBD Bio:
VETCBD was founded and is formulated specifically for pets by our veterinarian, Dr. Tim Shu. Animals have a similar endocannabinoid system as people do, and we bring cannabis as medicine to pets. Our tincture is lab tested for quality, safety, and efficacy. We use California-grown, organic medical marijuana to make VETCBD. VETCBD relieves pain and inflammation, reduces anxiety, decreases nausea, decreases frequency and severity of seizures, as well as other benefits that are currently being researched. Our team is strongly dedicated to education, research, and information. We are veterinary professionals and are available by phone or email every day of the week to speak with you and answer specific questions you have regarding your pet.
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Meet Elizabeth: Brand Ambassador @ Moonmans Mistress

   1. What did you do before the industry?
Before the Cannabis industry I worked a waitress/bartender in the food and beverage industry. I’m also a triple threat Entertainer. (Singer, dancer, and actress)
2. What sparked your interest in the cannabis industry? How did you first get involved in the industry?
I’ve always been interested in the Cannabis industry since I lit up my first time at 10. I first got involved in the industry when I was 24. I was hired as a receptionist / bud-tender in San Diego. I became way more passionate about the medicine after my car accident four years ago.
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3. Walk us through a normal work day? (things you do on a regular basis)
Typically, I’m a morning person that needs a little coffee & CBD to get it started. I’m not the only one in my house that needs CBD for breakfast. I have a senior citizen dog of 16 years, need I say more. My fitness and cannabis use go hand-in-hand. THC will help keep me focused when CBD will help with the pain and recovery process afterwards. The first session of the day is how I strategize my navigation for sales. From 10 to about 5 pm I’m on the hunt to preach the good word of Moonman’s Mistress Edibles. I head home around dinner time for a night meditation session with my 12 year old Roor.
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4. What have been some of the hardest things about working in the industry? 
The two hardest things I’ve come across is there is a lack of education and respect of time. I’m very passionate about the science behind the medication and I love to educate myself about it as much as possible. But I understand not everybody is as passionate as I. I ran into that problem a lot being a bud-tender. I would interrupt my co-workers or peers when they were giving out the wrong information and it would cause drama of some kind. The problem I run into now in sales is being “ghosted”. I wish managers/buyers at collectives would be more straightforward and respect your time.
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5. What have been some of your favorite things about working in the industry?
It is always a perk when you meet a like-minded passionate person. I love hearing how cannabis has saved other people’s lives other than my own.
6. Have you ever felt stigmatized for working in the industry?
The only time I ever feel stigmatized by my industry is when you go to some of the Big Smoke Out parties. I don’t appreciate it when people turn medicating into a competition. I’m just trying to manage my back pain, knee pain, anxiety, and PTSD. I understand party culture for what it is and not all events are like that in the industry.
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7. Do you have any advice to job seekers looking into the industry?
Keep your mind open and ask the employer as many questions as possible. The reason why I say this is because there are companies that try to take advantage of good hard working people. I will not name names but it has happened to me. I am blessed and fortunate to work for Moonman’s Mistress. They are one of the few companies that MAKE SURE to give you a good clean product. There is no funny business when it comes to their products or their management. I love my team!

 

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Meet Luke S Zimmerman Esq. LL.M: Cannabis IP attorney

1. What did you do before the industry?

Before I started my own law firm focused on intellectual property in the cannabis industry I worked at a law firm that handled trusts, estates, and some civil litigation. When I was working at the law firm I was dating a glass blower who had a glass studio in our garage. I saw that she had passion for the art she was making and found a lot of happiness from picking an unconventional path. When the law firm I was working with broke apart and I had to make my own way I realized that I should pick an area that I Iove and believed in, that is how I picked intellectual property and cannabis.

 

2.What sparked your interest in the cannabis industry? How did you first get involved in the industry?

Since I was a teenager I have always loved cannabis. When I obtained my philosophy degree from the University of Oregon in Eugene I also feel like I obtained in undergraduate degree in the cannabis culture. This grew into obtaining a masters in cannabis culture while I lived in Amsterdam studying my masters of international law. I think life knew I was going practice law in the cannabis industry before I did. It took me a few times to pass the California Bar Exam, the time I passed the exam after I was done with the test I drove to my friend’s house in LA and trimmed for 4 hours as a way to decompress from 18 hours of testing. A few months later I took classes at Oaksterdam, which I am proud to say I help found OU’s intellectual property section. I think I am the only person in the world to have an advanced degree from the University of Amsterdam, certificates from Oaksterdam, and am now teach a cannabis law class.

 

I think another thing to include is when I launched my law firm I did a google search for cannabis Ip attorneys, I could find about 6 attorneys in the whole country who identified as practicing in this area of law, that is when I knew it was a solid opportunity and I was seeing the future of the cannabis industry.

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3.Walk us through a normal work day? (Or things you do on a regular basis if you don’t have a normal work day) 

A normal work day is guaranteed to be filled with emails, client phone calls, and reading either articles on the cannabis industry or new law. Many days it will also require me to spend time doing research on TESS, which the is the federal trademark search engine on the USPTO( United States Patent and Trademark Office) website. I spend a lot of time explaining to people how intellectual property relates to the cannabis industry, especially trademarks.

4.Have you ever felt any stigma against yourself from others for working in the industry? 

I have, I remember when I started my law firm I told other attorneys what I was focusing on and quite a few of them didn’t understand the future need for Intellectual Property protection for cannabis.  I remember being at a friend from law school’s wedding in New Jersey a few months after I launched my law firm and at least a ¼ of the people in attendance were lawyers. I kept telling people people about my new law firm and I actually had someone say that Ip in cannabis didn’t exist, to be fair the concept hadn’t really hit the East Coast yet.

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5.What has been your favorite thing(s) about working in the industry? 

favorite thing about working in the cannabis industry is helping people and working to shift the paradigm on how cannabis is viewed in the United States. I believe the United States is in dire need of drug policy reform, especially with cannabis laws. The highlight of my career working in the industry was volunteering pro-bono on the Clemency Project 2014, where I successfully assisted a non-violent drug offender serving a life sentence obtain a commutation from President Obama.

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6. What is a challenge you have faced since working in the cannabis industry? 

I think the biggest challenge without any hesitation is the Federal Government. The ostrich like stance of the federal government about cannabis legalization is a constant frustration. The Canadian Government has shifted its policy to allow its citizens to become legal millionaires by leading the world in developing an international cannabis trade, while here in the United States we still are making people felons. We still cannot obtain federal trademarks directly on cannabis goods and services, while other countries federal governments have allowed cannabis businesses to register their trademarks on cannabis, hash, and cultivation services at the WIPO(World Intellectual Property Organization) level.

7. Do you have any advice to job seekers looking into the industry?

Learn the history of the cannabis industry. I have found a lot of people who are entering the cannabis industry do not understand the persecution that cannabis users, both medical and adult use, have suffered. I credit Oaksterdam University, and especially Debbie Goldsberry, with giving me a better understanding of this history of cannabis in the United States. I would also suggest you find mentors who already working in the area of the cannabis industry you want to be involved with and develop relationships with them. I don’t know where I would be today if it wasn’t for Kali saveria perkins, Brendan Hallinan, Mary Shaprio, Anne Glazer, and Tony Serra. Without meeting these attorneys I am not sure I would have had the confidence to focus my practice on cannabis. I think the last piece of advice is also after you start to get established help other people. Cannabis legalization is still something we are fighting for and if meet someone who’s heart is in the right space take the time to educate them about the cannabis industry.

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Law Office of Luke S. Zimmerman APC
201 Spear St. Suite 1100
San Francisco, CA 94105
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Meet Francois and Tamar: Husband/Wife + Cannabis Professionals

What did you do before entering the Cannabis industry?
Tamar: I worked as a marketing consultant for a market research firm called The NPD Group, working with some of the biggest tech manufacturers in the world. These market research firms collect point-of- sale data from retailers and help the retailers and manufacturers understand, using this data, what is selling and what is not selling… allowing the retailers to make category and product assortment decisions and allowing the manufacturers to strategize their business around ‘The 4 P’s: Product, Price, Place, Promotion. Before working with The NPD Group, I got my degree in Biochemistry. I did a stint at a lab in Israel doing research on solar paint, waitressed a little, and finally did some B2B sales before getting my MBA and moving on to a career in market research.

Francois: I got my degree in computer science and then went straight into the tech world. Since I didn’t want to code, I decided to get into the customer success side of tech. I worked for a medium-sized government contracting firm, eventually running the technical support team and servicing about 9,000 customers. From there, I moved on to become a business analyst for a startup in Carlsbad before taking our “first retirement” and traveling the world.

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How did you get involved in the cannabis industry?
Tamar: After a year and a half long backpacking adventure, we came back to California and began figuring out our next steps. I got reconnected with Liz, BDS Analytics’ President & co-founder, who was an old co-worker of mine from The NPD Group. She was  looking for someone to launch BDS Analytics in California, I was looking for my next mission and I just so happened to be passionate about this particular industry, so yeah – here we are!

Francois: I was looking for a position in San Francisco as a customer success manager. I had a profile on AngelList and was looking around for startups. One day, Treez popped up and I looked at Tamar and asked, "Should I apply to this company?" and she said, “Yes! Definitely! Apply” so, I did. Two days later, I got a call from the CTO, had a conversation with him, had an in-office interview two days later, and three days after that I received the offer. It happened very fast and there was an instant connection
between me and the rest of the C-suite. Now I’m the Director of Customer Success and I’m growing the team here at Treez.

Directed towards Francois: Did you have anything relating to cannabis on your resume? How did that happen so quickly?

Francois: No, not at all. I consumed occasionally, but had no idea how big and developed this industry was until I learned from Tamar as she was getting into the industry. What I learned sparked my interest, so I decided to take a risk and just go for it. I applied to a few other cannabis companies, but they were either too small/not hiring/not the right fit, so when I met the folks at Treez, I felt right at home. I think the feeling was mutual.

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What have your struggles been in this industry since it is so different from other industries?

Tamar: One of the biggest challenges I found is getting used to the pace of this industry. I’m used to a world where if a client e-mails you at 9 a.m. and you haven’t responded by 11 a.m., they think you’re dead. Also, I’ve had to get used to texting with
clients, which I never did in my NPD days. Now I'm texting all the time and it’s totally normal to get a response at a week’s delay.

Francois: Nothing’s really changed for me – I still work for a software company that
services clients. I just had to quickly learn the lingo of the industry.

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Directed towards Tamar
: Do you work remote or in an office? Is that different from what you were doing before?


Tamar
: I work remote, which is absolutely different. I used to work a ‘9-to- 5’, but realistically it’s never 9-to- 5 if you’re salaried. I traveled a lot, but spent most of my time in a proper office. In my current position, I spend most of my time on the move – either
at events, visiting dispensaries, manufacturers, and cultivators, or traveling down to So-Cal.

Have you felt stigmatized by family or friends for working in the industry?

Tamar
: Not at all. My family and friends are all very excited that Francy and I are in this industry.

Francois: Nope, and I come from a pretty conservative family!

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What have been some of your favorite things about working in the industry?


Tamar
: I have met some of the most incredible people since getting into this industry. I had no idea I would develop so many close friendships – that’s definitely something I had never experienced in the tech industry. Working, hanging out, sharing a mission
with folks of all ages, sexes, races, religions, nationalities… and cannabis is what’s bringing us all together.

Francois: Just gonna piggy-back on what Tamar said, since she said it perfectly.

What have been some of the Challenges?

Francois
: Keeping up with the pace that the industry is growing. As a POS service provider, we see new dispensaries opening up and coming on board each day… keeps us on our toes!

Tamar
: This industry is very “legacy”. People have been growing weed in Nor-Cal for decades, and I was this new-comer trying to prove that I have a place in this industry, which was tough since I didn’t know anything about this industry! I knew data, I knew
how to work with data, but I was no cannabis expert. Getting to know this industry and figure out how it ticks has been the real challenge, and it’s been awesome.

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Do you have any advice for job seekers looking into the industry?


Tamar
: Industry events. Go to anything that you can. This industry is still refreshingly welcoming. Check out events by the NCIA, CCIA, CMA (Cannabis Marketing Association) and other local communities, task forces, and organizations. Some events are free! Join Facebook groups and Meetup groups online, ask questions, and network!

Francois: Like Tamar said, get your name out there and meet people. Go to community events, research online, learn as much as you can about the industry.

Do you think that you need to have cannabis knowledge, or be a heavy
consumer to work in the industry? 

Tamar: It really depends on the job. If you’re hiring a grower, you definitely want
someone that’s been around the plant. We’re a retail analytics company… we want
people that know how to look at data and turn it into business decisions. Whether or not
they consume doesn’t matter to us, but if they have knowledge of the cannabis industry,
that is definitely a plus!

DCIM100GOPRO

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Meet Lucie: Sales Director @ Plus

1.What did you do before the industry?

Before working in cannabis, I did legal recruiting for a year and was set to go to USC law school in the fall (that obviously changed!).

2.What sparked your interest in the cannabis industry?

I was interested in working in cannabis because it is such a burgeoning industry and I like to be on the forefront of change. The opportunity for learning in this industry is immense. It is a completely unpredictable and rapidly growing landscape, which always keeps things interesting. I was also very attracted to the fact that cannabis helps so many people, I really believe in its medicinal values. Plus, free weed.

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3. How did you first get involved in the industry?

I saw on LinkedIn that my CEO (who I went to high school with) was starting a weed gum company. I thought this was the coolest thing ever and asked to grab coffee with him to discuss. He needed a fourth co-founder and Head of Sales, an opportunity that I jumped on.

4. Did you ever feel any stigma against yourself  from others for working in the industry?

Initially, I was concerned about the stigma that I might face turning down law school to work in cannabis. I have found that most people have the complete opposite reaction. Strangers and friends of all ages and backgrounds are very interested in learning more about the space, and most people think it’s pretty cool that I work in the weed industry.

5. What have been some of your favorite things about working in the industry?

I love the people. I have met so many amazingly interesting, diverse, and open-minded individuals in this industry. People are working on some truly exceptional things in cannabis. I also love the constant opportunity to learn.  Because weed is still federally illegal, not nearly enough research has been done.  As a rookie to the industry, there was a steep learning curve – but there is always more knowledge to gain.

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6. Do you have any advice to job seekers looking into the industry?

Find a company that speaks to you and a team that you are excited to make history with!

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Meet Greg: Marketing Director @ Vapor Nation

 What did you do before the industry, as far as work, education?

Greg: Well, I went to Loyola Marymount University. I came out to Los Angeles from Chicago, in the first place, to get more involved with entertainment and the music industry. So while I was in college, I was taking on various internship programs and opportunities within entertainment and music with MTV and Disney. After I graduated, my experience helped me secure a job at CBS Radio. From there, I began working for a marketing company by the name of Grace Entertainment Marketing where they were basically in-charge of all the entertainment and music culture integration for the Red Bull brand. So whether that was product placement on TV shows, movies, music videos, or actual events themselves, such as private listening parties or big large-scale Grammy parties. Most of what we did was more geared towards influencer supports, whether they were the actual talents themselves or people who simply work in the industry.

I was basically overseeing a lot of the music integration through Red Bull and obviously music culture shares a lot of interest with the Cannabis consumer and it is just as widespread as Cannabis consumers go. It is all sorts of cultures and walks of life and interests when it comes to music and I think the exact same thing can be said for Cannabis consumers. There is not one type of consumer. There are many different types of consumers. So I think the background and history I had with incorporating a specific brand into such a diverse interest which is music really helped with a lot of the marketing and advertising opportunities that I have uncovered for Vapor Nation in regards to targeting a Cannabis consumer. It has just as wide as the variety of cultures and people and types of consumers as music. So I think that really relates itself well to what I’m doing now.

The real lure, if you will, of the Cannabis industry and the Cannabis consumer was more based on being able to create and grow and build a specific brand within a specific industry as opposed to just kind of managing and creating opportunities for something that is already very much established.img_5975
How did you get involved in the industry?

Greg: I wish I had a lot cooler of a story … I was kind of exploring various opportunities in and out of the Cannabis industry. I understood there was a fantastic opportunity for me in working as a marketing director with VaporNation, not just in the sense of the industry itself, but the position itself. Before, I was a lot more focused on artist integrations  and events. VaporNation really gave me the opportunity to cast a wider net as far as what my responsibilities were. Being able to build our entire marketing department based on what I know and my experiences in marketing and advertising was really the main appeal. The fact it was in such a booming industry was also a huge appeal.

I was sending out resumes and connecting with various people in the industry, in really all industries, and VaporNation reached out to me. They must have found me somehow online and approached me to oversee all their marketing  efforts. In all honesty, I don’t want to use the term it fell on my lap, but at the same time, I was just at the right spot at the right time and took advantage of an opportunity that presented itself.

I did take a pay cut in moving to Vapor Nation. For me, it wasn’t about the monetary value. It’s about the long-term ability to not only further myself as a marketing professional but also to integrate myself as a marketing professional into an industry and company that are ready to explode.

You’ll find in the Cannabis industry that a lot of these emerging companies don’t have the type of marketing and advertising focus that what more well-established companies like Red Bull have. It is kind of like there is a certain aspect of the startup approach that is very much still there within the Cannabis industry. I certainly think that you’re going to see that changing soon but right now, it is very rare that you encounter a company or business that’s really just throwing marketing and advertising dollars at professionals and opportunities. 

When did you start with Vapor Nation?

Greg: Over three years ago. I think it was the beginning of January, 2014. So I’ve been the marketing director for Vapor Nation for over three years now.
image001-1What does an average work day look like for you?

Greg: Right now, it’s totally different because we’re gearing up for 420, which is basically like our Christmas, so obviously we’re a lot busier. But I would say there are a few different aspects that I touch on every week, almost every day. Number one would be managing and evaluating the current advertising and marketing campaigns we have going. Whether that’s looking at analytics as far as what type of digital aspects are bringing us traffic or what type of traffic it’s bringing us, what’s worked, what hasn’t. Basically overseeing all the current efforts that we have on the table whether they are event driven, whether it’s print advertising, or our email blast marketing, whether it is digital marketing, content development, social media, etc. So everyday I’m diving into the analytics, making sure that they are performing as best as they can, and adjusting our campaigns to optimize. Beyond that, when our campaigns are finished, it is about evaluating the value of that campaign. What type of ROI did we receive? What type of ROI can we expect if we are to move forward with another? And really evaluating whether the opportunities that we are currently involved in once they end are worth renewing. On top of that, every single day I’m encountering new opportunities for advertising and marketing Vapor Nation and our line of products. Whether it’s a new event that pops up, whether it’s a new media company that’s starting, whether it’s a one-off artist integration that has come across my desk, whether it’s media research on my own about what is out there as far as marketing and advertising a Cannabis Vaporizer retailer or wholesaler. And again, everything I do is double-headed too, because you have the whole sale aspect of Vapor Nation and the retail aspect.

So I would say, optimizing what we currently have going on, deciding whether to move forward or not with campaigns that have concluded, finding and seeking out new opportunities. Beyond that is managing the internal aspects that we have as far as personnel go. Making sure that our SEO team is staying on top of what they are doing and that we’re still ranking. Making sure that the content team is creating relevant and original content for the brand and for the line of products that we carry. Making sure that our social media manager is taking advantage of the best practices he can. Really just staying on top of our internal teams and keeping that channel of communication open between all of us to create synergies are very important. So I would say, in a typical week or typical day, those are the main focuses of what I do. And again, a lot of that is internal too. It is working with the people we have as a part Vapor Nation, not just our marketing aspect, but even the sales aspect as well. Communication is definitely key in not only survival, but our success in this industry.

Do you have any advice for job seekers that are looking to enter the industry?

Greg: The most valuable asset that I have is just pure knowledge of who the major players are in each given area, whether it’s media companies, vaporizer brand, and understanding of the industry itself. So if you’re going to try and get involved in or be a part of the Cannabis industry, whether it’s for a media company, an online retail store like Vapor Nation, or a dispensary… Whatever it is, you need  to be as knowledgeable as humanly possible for that specific area of the industry and even beyond that. For example, if we had someone who could be an amazing social media manager, they don’t necessarily need to have ton of experience working within the Cannabis industry but they also need to know who these major players are, who do they need to align themselves with –– whether they’re influencers, media companies, or specific brands. So I would say being extremely knowledgeable about this field or the area of the Cannabis industry that you’re trying to get involved with is going to give you that much more of an advantage over anyone else who comes across their desk as a potential candidate. I mean, if you have product or knowledge in that industry or that specific product, you’re going to be that much more valuable. I’ll take somebody who knows the industry a little bit better over somebody who’s, maybe, come from an irrelevant industry background but perhaps has more skills and experience. If I’m hiring people for our marketing department, I would want them to have an understanding of who’s who.

So just basically doing your research. You don’t necessarily have to have the experience growing unless you want to grow. With the the internet, you can do all this research and you can learn about what’s out there, what’s working, what’s not working, and you can become pretty knowledgeable on what you should be doing specific to this industry.

Greg: Absolutely. There are so many people that have great experience with working in various fields and probably have a solid resume as far as marketing and advertising or any related position for that matter but you don’t necessarily need to have worked at a WeedMaps or a Vapor Nation to get a job at within the Cannabis Industry. As long as you can apply the knowledge you have as a professional to the Cannabis Industry  and you are able to voice that in an interview or cover letter or even within your resume itself, that’s going to give you the biggest leg up in my opinion. And it also goes without saying, as with any industry, it’s all about the people that you know, and that just falls under the same category as being knowledgeable. Connecting with people on LinkedIn who are executives within the industry, I think, goes hand in hand with knowledge. It is doing what you would do in any other industry that you would want to get involved with. But I think the knowledge aspect of Cannabis is even more valuable than it has been because that’s really going to set you apart from anyone else who is coming in and maybe competing with you to pull a position. As simplistic as it sounds, that’s the truth. A lot of people don’t realize that. Like, “Oh, I like to get high so I should work in the Cannabis Industry.” Well, no. There’s a lot more you need to know than just getting high. If you like to watch TV, you can’t just go up to CBS or NBC and say,”Give me a job. I like TV.” You know?
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Very true. I remember back when I met you at the conference, you guys were hiring. Are you still hiring at this time?

Greg: Yes, in the Los Angeles area we’re still hiring wholesale reps.

Visit: http://www.vapornation.com/

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Meet Sara: CEO @ Hifi Farms

1. What did you do before the industry?
I was in technology startups in San Francisco and then worked in the Angel Investing industry.  Tech and finance basically.
2. What sparked your interest in the cannabis industry? How did you first get involved in the industry from a career standpoint?

I moved to Oregon at about the same time as Measure 91 passed.  It was a coincidence but I quickly felt the energy around Oregon’s legalization measure.  Friends of mine were setting up a grow and asked me to look at the business side of things.  It was just so much more interesting than anything else I was looking at.  I just got hooked.


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3. Walk us through a normal work day? What skills have you learned from past careers that have helped you succeed in the cannabis industry? 

My days are largely taken up with meetings and events.  As the CEO I have to cover a large expanse of ground in terms of understanding what is happening in the business.  I am also constantly networking, attending events and emailing people as part of our ongoing need for capital and talent in the company as we grow.  It’s a huge amount of relationship management, business oversight and management.  I usually find time to duck out and take the dogs for a walk around the farm.

4. Have you ever felt any stigma against yourself  from others for working in the industry?
Not really and that has been a pleasant surprise.  I was not sure how folks would respond to my decision to get into cannabis.  People have been generally curious and positive about it.  I have been snubbed a couple of times at non cannabis events but I think that is to be expected and I don’t take it personally.  People have been subjected to decades of propaganda.  It’s understandable if some of them remain in the dark about the real benefits and value of cannabis.
5. What have been some of your favorite things about working in the industry? 

The people, the social justice agenda, the energy and the amazing talent that I have come across.  The incredible perseverance and resilience of this comment of entrepreneurs as we struggle with a very challenging regulatory and business environment.  The degree of female participation in the industry. It is all pretty inspiring.


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6. What have been some of the hardest things?
Seeing good people and good companies fail because of the challenges of the emerging regulatory landscape.  That is hard and it could have happened to any of us.  

7.  Do you have any advice to job seekers looking into the industry?
 
Cannabis is a great industry to work in and it badly needs skills coming in from other sectors.  It’s a refreshing change if you are coming from a more mature corporate environment.  Some companies are probably better employers than others and it’s worth having a very clear list of your expectations in regards to how you are dealt with as an employee or a consultant.  This is a world of startups so ask for equity if you are going into full time employment. If you are helping a company grow, you should have the opportunity to benefit from that growth.

sara-1 

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Meet Andrew: Colorado Sales @ CBD Living Water

1. What did you do before the industry? 

Before CBD Living I worked in a few different industries: banking, finance, retail, wholesale, tech… even started my own business… a couple times. There is a long and winding history of working & not working throughout my professional career.  At least I graduated college & made my parents happy.

2. What sparked your interest in the cannabis industry? How did you first get involved in the industry?

I guess what “sparked my interest” in the cannabis industry was my love for the plant and its many different uses. I first got involved when I was very young, but it wasn’t a serious consideration until relatively recently.  Can’t live on a Trimmer’s Salary…

3. Walk us through a normal work day? (Or things you do on a regular basis if you don’t have a normal work day) On a normal work day I sit at my desk, look out the window, and wonder how people got this idea that working in this industry is “super glam.” Lol. I honestly sit and work from my desk a LOT. More than the avg person would believe. I mean, I went to Chalice this last weekend, and that was GREAT, but its not like that DAILY. Day to day, its a ton of work trying to keep up with this industry, especially if you want to be successful.

4. Have you ever felt any stigma against yourself  from others for working in the industry?

I don’t know if I can legally answer this question. So in short, like Dr. Dre says… hell yeah.

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5. What have been some of your favorite things about working in the industry? 

The opportunity to meet so many great people is of course one thing. There are definitely a lot of interesting characters here, and thats a huge plus! Other than the social aspect tho, the chance to help so many people through cannabis education is also a positive. I like taking people’s preconceived notions about drugs and making them fly out the window, so much so that the person acts as if only an idiot would think that, and they themselves wonder where they got that idea from.

6. Do you have any advice to job seekers looking into the industry? 

Two things. First = Persistence. Its all about persistence. If you want to be in this industry you have to be persistent enough to make it a priority. Now don’t be afraid to leave the industry in order to come back as well. Getting valuable knowledge OUTSIDE the industry is what has made me more valuable INSIDE the industry, so getting that experience is invaluable and can be the key to your success.

Using Quantum physics CBD Living Water takes CBD along with other nutrients like CoQ10 and Methyl B12 and puts them through a process which Nano sizes them into tiny particles, one millionth of their size. This process allows the Nano Sized CBD and Nano Size Nutrients to immediately penetrate into your cells, past the blood brain barrier and gives the body immediate 100% bio availability, giving a NANO AMPLIFIED EFFECT.   We then encapsulate them in a water cluster and, infuse them in perfect 7.4 PH Water and CBD Living water is created!

When ingesting CBD and Nutrients, traditionally a majority of the CBD or the Nutrients are lost to the bodies’ digestive system. Often, this loss is upwards of 90%. Nano amplification allows you to experience 100% of the CBD and nutrients because they go directly into your cells.  Nano sized nutrient particle delivery is the most effective way to introduce nutrients in your body. There is no other water on the market like CBD Living Water that utilizes the cutting edge approach of: Nano technology Balanced Nutrition and pH to allow Maximum Hydration Absorption and Wellness.

“We are always looking for talented people in sales, marketing, social media standouts & all others:”
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Meet Whitney: Founder @ Apothecarry

 

Sam: What did you do before entering the cannabis industry?

Whitney:  Before working in the Cannabis industry, I was a reality television development executive in the Entertainment Industry. I developed reality TV, syndicated programming, and branded programming for networks and cable companies.

Sam: What sparked your interest in the Cannabis Industry?

Whitney: Working in the Entertainment Industry can be super stressful and I have anxiety. I was diagnosed with anxiety from a doctor and after trying some medications that I did not like, I was suggested to take a look at Cannabis. It wasn’t something that I was very familiar with but I looked into it and started to do my homework. That got me interested in the Cannabis space as a whole because I saw how even in my world (as being an entertainment person) I had absolutely no idea of how effective it was for a host of medical issues.  I started looking into the industry and I realized from articles from Forbes, from Times, from Entrepreneur Mag, how big of an industry this was and how much opportunity there was in it. And at the same time, I was starting to have issues of my own with Cannabis storage because I have a child and a pet —  I was hiding it from myself in my house so my dog and my kid wouldn’t get it but then I’d lose it or it and by the time I find it, it’s like dried out, and a horrible harsh smoke. And I realized: how come no one have made an awesome Cannabis storage system? How come I have a wine fridge, I have this bar, I have a humidor for cigars. How come my Cannabis is still in the shoe box under my bed? How come I’m a 30-year old professional smoking out of a shoe box? That didn’t make sense to me.

Sam: What does a normal work day look like for you?

Whitney: So on a daily basis, my job is to run Apothecarry and that changes everyday on what our needs are. So, you know, I get up and get into it. Reading emails becomes the drain of my life, but I have to stay up on top of it. I consult on a weekly basis with my marketing guy, with my supply chain management person, giving them what our plan is for the week. I stay in close contact with our manufacturers to make sure that they have the materials needed and that we are running according to schedule. I take meetings on a weekly basis with cultivators, and dispensary partners who are looking to move our cases. I personally develop our branding and marketing materials and get those out. I attend functions to support Apothecarry. Whether that be going to women’s grow, going to some sort of conference or events. All of that sort of stuff… Then it’s usually noon, ha!

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Sam: What have been the best and worst moments working in the industry?

Whitney: When we first started out, we started out as an Indiegogo campaign.  halfway through the event, we got shut down for being paraphernalia. That was one of the hardest things that happened to me because I put so much time, and money, and effort into it. So I boot strapped it and I bought a hundred cases to do MVP testing. And those 100 cases sold out in 6 weeks with no advertising. That was a fantastically proud moment for me because they told me that even with no money left to advertise, that this was a product that people wanted, and that it could move. So that was fantastic to me. And then I guess the next proudest moment is that after coming through Canopy San Diego and doing all of the work that that takes, we re-launched our product. You know, we talked to our first customers, iterated on the case and made it an even better value.

We’re currently in the middle of a round and are over half committed. Always looking to meet with people who can  see the vision of Apothecarry who want to be on the frontline of luxury Cannabis storage going forward. I think that this is a pick and shovel business for the Cannabis industry. If you want to be involved in the cork screw of Cannabis,

I’d love to have those conversations.

Sam: Advice to job seekers?

WHITNEY: Yes. I do. My first piece of advice is to go out and network. Talk to people who are in the industry. Talk to people who are doing what you want to be doing. Talk to people at larger companies to find out breadth of what you could be doing. This industry is not just growers and dispensary owners and products from people. There are spaces for attorneys and CPAs. Just like there are spaces for sales people and security, banking. Go out and understand the breadth of the industry. I would suggest that if they really want to get down and dirty that they talk to entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are people who are getting their business started.  Consider what are you willing to do for free to get into this company or on commission or do it for a couple of companies and make money that way. Think outside of the box. This industry is not set up fully yet. There are so many opportunities for you so you come up with a way that you can work with companies and brands that you like that might not have been thought of yet. And, especially if you can come in, can be one of those first 10 people. Maybe you can find a way to make a little money and to have an equity stake in some of these companies that you really believe in. This is not a place where you can just sit around and wait for a job posting to pop up. it’s better that you be proactive, that you reach out. You let people know what you can do and what you’re willing to do it for and have those meetings. And even if a company that you love is not hiring at the time, see if you can offer to take staff person out to coffee, out for lunch. Sit and talk to them about what their needs and what they’re working on and find out if there’s a way for you guys to collaborate.

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SAM: Do you have any plans to hire in the near future?

WHITNEY: We just brought on our first hire and we are starting to look in the next couple of months for some people to work with us on new business, business development and sales.


You keep your wine in wine fridge.
You keep your liquor in your bar.  

Your cigars are in your humidor.
Why the heck would you keep your high quality cannabis in a shoebox under your bed?!

Meet Apothecarry.

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Inspired by a lack of stylish, safe cannabis storage systems and a distain for storing medicine in a shoebox, Apothecarry Brands CEO Whitney Beatty is a successful entertainment industry executive turned cannabis storage designer that’s spearheading her quickly growing start-ups first financial raise. After meeting so many like minded cannabis users, who lamented about a lack of good storage system, worried about securing buds away from kids and pets and who were tired of searching around for their stash to discover it dried out from plastic baggies and non-airtight dispensary jars, Apothecarry was born.  The brand seeks to redefining the image of cannabis users who take pride and pleasure in their stash, while filling a hole in the marijuana paraphernalia market for everyone from the attorneys who tokes after their high powered workday, to the  “stiletto stoners” who are hosting ladies night, to the seniors using medication for health benefits and everyone in between who demands the best in all things.  Their initial offering, the Apothecarry Case, is a sleek and sexy storage and humidity system designed to safely keep cannabis at its freshest, most optimum quality while providing luxury tools and humidity control for the discriminating connoisseur.  Her company Apothecarry was in the first cohort of Canopy San Diego cannabis business accelerator, and won the best pitch award at the Arcview Group’s LA investor summit.

 

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Meet Jess: Cannabis Consultant & Yoga Teacher

What did you do before working in the cannabis industry and how did you end up getting involved ?

I launched and managed Sparkleberry Lane, a conscious living blog dedicated to the appreciation of live music and covered music festivals internationally. 2012 was a peak summer for my writing, and going to Burning Man was the most appropriate way to conclude that season’s festival tour.  Finding a ticket to the world’s most radically self-expressed event, however, wasn’t so easy… until I found an article written by Troy Dayton (CEO of the ArcView Group and longtime burner) that paved my way to a ticket.

I ended up not going to that Burn for all sorts of reasons I won’t get into, but mostly because I was relocating from South Carolina to the Bay Area.  Once in the Bay I realized it was time to step my career game up and reached out to the only professional person I knew, who was Troy.  At the time we had never met and I had no idea what he did, I just knew he looked like he had something going on that was legit with the potential of relieving my parent’s anxiety.

When I reached out, he said it was synchronistic to hear from me and invited me to his home for interview.  I was 24 and unqualified  for the position he was hiring for at the ArcView Group, but since he really liked me he decided to give me two weeks to try out.

With the opportunity to build out the world’s first cannabis investment firm in  mind, I now understood the potential at hand and did everything I could to impress him — at one point, I cooked him three meals a day and led him through private yoga classes.  All that while learning everything there is to know about cannabis and business on the spot…

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I remember my parents were really concerned that I was working out of a house with a “cannabis” company that they couldn’t find much about online. That all changed when we landed the cover of Fortune magazine three months into the job, and my photos were actually used in the article.

I eventually proved my worth and value to ArcView and remained present with the firm, as their first employee, for 2 and a half years. While there, I supported the company in all departments and helped increase their investor memberships by over 1000%. I largely contributed to the familial feel one experiences at one of their investor conferences and launched a business-mindfullness initiative for the industry through their platform.  I was hired as the Executive Assistant to the CEO and departed in good chemistry as their Communications Manager.  I left ArcView because I felt called in another direction and the work itself became entirely too stressful for my mind and body to handle.

Today I work independently as a cannabis consultant, teach yoga, and plan cannabis retreats for industry professionals. I am hopeful to open my own cannabis retreat center.

What sparked your interest in the cannabis industry?

The cannabis industry chose me. I didn’t really come to the industry looking to get involved, it sort of happened by fate. Anytime I’ve drifted away from the cannabis industry it pulls me back in.. aggressively. Now I know that this is an industry I’m going to be involved in for the rest of my life.

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Walk us through a normal workday.

Each day is a new opportunity to succeed higher than the day before, and the most important measures in my everyday life are how I sleep, eat, and move. I like to meditate in the morning for at least 20 minutes and will try to eat foods that are low in sugar and are fruit and vegetable based to give me energy throughout the day. Sugar creates a state of lethargy that really inhibits my ability to be productive, so,  I do my best to avoid it! I aim to move a lot during the work day too and schedule walk meetings whenever possible. Movement helps increase our creativity and overall productivity… it also feels way better than sitting in a chair! For sleeping I try to turn off my phone at least 2 hours before I go to bed and to not look at any screens because the lights coming from them suppress our serotonin levels and keep our mind active, which makes it hard to sleep.  So if you’re having trouble sleeping, try reducing your screen time before you go to bed.  (as I type this as 2:47 a.m.)

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What have been some of the biggest challenges?

The hardest thing is the pace of the industry and the constant change in regulations.  They say that 3 months in the cannabis industry is like 5 years in any other industry, so it really is like dog years. That’s why having a mindful practice at your desk is very important. You need a sustainable business model, but you need to take care of yourself in order to succeed in this space as it’s demanding and the best version of you is needed.

What have been some of your favorite things about working in the industry?

The people. I consider some of the people in my network family. We’ve made/are making history together and I’m grateful to be on this ride with so many unique and proactive individuals. It’s super inspiring.  Also, the cannabis industry is a great opportunity to create a new kind of industry and I take that very seriously. At this point, you have the counter culture hippies coming together with Wall St. bankers and there’s a unique opportunity for all to work together and learn from each other in a way that can benefit the world as a whole.

Do you have any advice for professionals looking to transition into the cannabis industry?

Volunteer! Find the events that resonate with you and see if you can help out. If there’s a company that you like and have the time and space to lend a hand, reach out and see if there’s a way in which you can support them. I’ve seen dozens of people land killer jobs that way.

Also, be sure to surround yourself with good people.  While growing, this industry is still small and who you sit with says a lot about who you are and what you’re up to. Make sure you roll with high vibe and good-intentioned people.

For companies, make sure your SOP’s are in place. Seriously, make this a priority now. Your operation can’t afford to outgrow a system that’s not in place.

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Meet Kaiya: CEO @ Utopia Farms

1. Past: What is your professional background? Why did you decide to look into the industry?
I was focused on Social Psychological research with a plan to teach at the university level before entering the cannabis space. I entered the cannabis industry after being disillusioned with the options available. I’m a “clean-label” guy and hated that I couldn’t validate where a product came from, how it was made or what the chain of custody was. I knew enough about analytics testing to know that the market was contaminated with solvents, pesticides and microbiological contaminants and I wanted to find products I’d be comfortable using. This commitment to product integrity motivated Emily, Jesse and myself to start Utopia.
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2. Present: How did you get involved? how has the transition and overall experience been?
Nothing could have prepared me for the cannabis space. This industry is so rapidly evolving that flexibility is key. Its been great to watch California cannabis adapt into a market that supports Utopia’s philosophy – a commitment to transparency and quality and I feel blessed everyday to be a part of it. We work way too hard but at the end of the day we’re always proud of what we’re doing and even on our hardest day we’re cognizant enough to know we’re blessed to have this opportunity. One of the greatest benefits of founding Utopia is the breadth of skills I’ve had to acquire to keep the company moving forward. There’s not many industries where you have the opportunity to become proficient in tasks from plumbing to marketing to zoning laws.
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3. Future: Do you see yourself working in the industry long term? Why? 
I’ll consider myself blessed to be involved in the cannabis industry in 10 years. As long as the industry continues to foster community, ethical responsibility and innovation, I’ll be a part of it. We often hear fears of cannabis mirroring big-ag, big-tobacco, big-alcohol and big-pharma. At Utopia, we’re committed to keeping the industry pure and a reflection of our consumers. If money and power overtakes that commitment, it will be hard to find the same pleasure coming to work each day.
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4. Do you have any advice you’d give to someone looking into making a career change into the industry?
Bring flexibility, patience and a commitment to your values. The industry is so young and constantly changing that you will be forced to adapt what you were doing yesterday to fit with tomorrow’s innovations. Embrace that opportunity for growth – if you want stability you’re in the wrong place.
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Did you ever feel stigmatized by the industry?

All the time. Its improved with time, but the stigma reaches all aspects (from banking to family relations).

How did you get your first cannabis job?

Started our own company.

Have you been promoted or worked for different companies in the industry?

Nope.

 Has it been difficult?

Amazingly so.

Any advice to someone looking to get involved in the industry with no cannabis experience?

I don’t feel that you need cannabis experience to enter this industry. It parallels so many other spaces (CPGs, marketing, agriculture, manufacturing) that you can take your expertise and adapt it to match cannabis. Furthermore, the space is so new that there are few experts and constant innovation and change.

What do you think the future looks like for the industry?

Depends on my mood :-).

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Here’s Kaiya at the last Bloom Farms job fair!! 

Utopia Farms is the cannabis brand committed to providing highly desirable, quality products. Specializing in artisan flowers, refined extracts, and nutritious edibles, Utopia Farms supports the cannabis community with variety, quality, and transparency.

History:

When Kaiya Bercow, Jesse Bower, and Emily Bercow set out to create their cannabis brand, they were imagining a state of things in which everything was perfect. Hailing from the same hometown, they entered the industry as cultivators, perfecting their craft over years of study and work. Disheartened by the industry’s lack of quality, clean-tested products, they set out to develop a branded alternative to the unlabeled, un-tested products filling dispensaries shelves. Their commitment to consumers has resulted in a line of products focused on health, higher business ethics and unparalleled quality.

Products:

Utopia Farms knows that one size doesn’t fit all, and the beauty of medicating is in choice. That’s why they provide flower, extracts, and edibles. Utopia Farms’ signature flower is the C. Banana, a phenotype they’ve been cultivating for nearly a decade. With THC tests as high as 35%, this Sativa-dominant Hybrid is renowned for its powerful effects and fresh banana aromas. Utopia also cultivates Lambsbread, Taffy, and a variety of other strains. Their extracts are potent and pure with unique terpene and cannabinoid profiles and are available as processed trim, cured resin, and live resin grades. Utopia Farms’ macaroons (available in four flavors) are health-conscious and are made with raw, gluten-free, vegan, kosher-friendly, paleo-friendly and organic ingredients. Blended with their in-house extracts, these edibles take you higher!

Lab Testing:

Utopia’s products are lab tested with SC Labs, every batch, every time. Total transparency is one of the cornerstones of Utopia Farms practice and with that comes batch-testing to ensure purity, safety, and consistency. After undergoing full-spectrum testing, each product package is labeled with a batch number that is linked to a publicly available lab result, allowing you to know the potency, terpene pesticide, residual solvent, and microbiological test results. Utopia Farms works hard to provide trusted products and is at the forefront of California’s pesticide-free movement. Clean growing, clean ingredients, and a company that cares – #ThisIsUtopia.

 

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Meet Gilbert: Founder of Pacific Salsa Co

1. What did you do before the industry?

I enlisted into the U.S. Army as a Junior in High School. I was in the 2nd Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment and actively deployed to Iraq (2004) and Afghanistan (2005) as an Airborne Infantryman. I transitioned back into civilian life by taking five years of college courses while also serving in the Texas National Guard for two years. I graduated in 2012 from The University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in Psychology. I moved to Oakland California in 2013 and founded The Pacific Salsa Company on June 3rd, 2014.

2. What sparked your interest in the cannabis industry? How did you first get involved in the industry from a career standpoint?

I have always maintained a healthy relationship with cannabis that began in my teenage years. I collected High Times magazines and had dreams of visiting Vancouver, B.C. I enjoyed movies such as “Half-Baked,” and “Friday.” Even though I participated in cannabis culture, I never planned to have a life career in the cannabis industry. My involvement unfolded organically as the compassionate people around me guided and nurtured my dream of blending great salsa. Much of my success could not be possible without the community around me. Sometimes I feel like something greater than myself has chosen me to lead the way in cannabis infused salsas.

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3. Walk us through a normal work day? What skills did you learn from past careers that have helped you succeed in the cannabis industry?

I always like to keep things interesting with a little variation. A normal work day can range from slow to hectic, but an ideal work day is productive and rewarding. A good example is my April 19th 2017 production day. I began by making suppositories for a patient with colon cancer. Next, I have a little fun making a gelatin based confectionery mixed with nerd candies. After these warm ups I dive head first into my salsa production process which can be long and unforgiving. In between production projects I work on my marketing, packaging, answer emails, send invoices, and consume some cannabis. I am currently a one man operation with the occasional help from my friends but I am excited to say that I am creating jobs with the success of The Pacific Salsa Company.

I have learned many valuable lessons and skills from my time spent in the military and at the university but I am constantly open to learning and experiencing new things.

4. Have you ever felt any stigma against yourself from others for working in the industry?

The cannabis industry has always been very open and compassionate towards me. However, I have felt stigma from both sides of cannabis culture and counterculture. To most of my old military buddies I am labeled a long-haired “hippy” that likes to “support terrorism” by buying pot and losing the war on drugs for America. To some of my new cannabis industry buddies I have been labeled a “fed/narc” that doesn’t wear enough “hat-pins” and doesn’t “dab hard” enough. The stigma I have felt in the past has diminished as I have established myself amongst my peers. Also, our public opinion regarding cannabis has begun to change more drastically as more patients are using cannabis to treat their ailments.

For the most part I am received with a smile and a raised eyebrow when I inform someone that I make cannabis infused salsa.

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5. What have been some of your favorite things about working in the industry?

My most favorite thing about working in the compassionate industry is definitely the cannabis. Sure, I get to meet a lot of interesting people but having access to some of the best cannabis in the United States has been a dream come true. I have been fortunate enough to experience and participate in many different aspects of the cannabis industry. I have always been familiar with the recreational aspect of cannabis and it wasn’t until after I moved to Oakland that I began to hear of all the medicinal effects. At first I was skeptical of what many geriatric patients would tell me about the treatment of their conditions using cannabis. After experiencing the healing effects of cannabis first hand I have become a full believer in the awesome potential this plant can offer humanity.

6. Do you have any advice to job seekers looking into the industry?

My advice to anyone looking for a job in the compassionate industry is to stay positive! Try this: Go grab a big piece of cardboard and draw a large pair of scissor on it with a black marker. Hitchhike your way up the 101 to Redway and find a nice spot in the shade to hold your sign. If you get hungry there is an unlocked dumpster behind the grocery store. Anything frozen from the day before should still be good. Distinguish yourself from the others by acquiring a pair of trim shears and wearing them in a holster. A little persistence and your presence on the side of the road should be acknowledged with the opportunity for the ride of your life!

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“With a name like “The Pacific Salsa Company,” we have to think big and we have to think global. This is why we are dedicated to developing huge tastes everyone on Earth can enjoy. We are devoted to exploring the far regions of uncharted territory to shower your taste buds with our remarkable fusions. Come take a journey on the relaxing waves and let us be the wind in your flavor sails.”

-Gilbert Joseph Pacheco III, Founder
The Pacific Salsa Company
www.PACSAL.com

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Meet Shayne: ‘Docent’ @ Serra

What did you do before the cannabis industry?

Well I grew up in Portland and spent my college years between Portland State, and the University of Oregon. I bounced between studying business and science, trying to figure out what I wanted to do. Although I no longer dream of being a dentist, I took much of what I learned in science and applied it to learning the science of cannabis.

I worked at Dutch Bros Coffee for a few years before working at Serra. If you’ve never been, it’s a drive through coffee franchise that specializes in kind of “above and beyond” customer service. Going through hundreds of face to face interactions with customers everyday, gave me probably my one and only real strength coming into this job. We’ve all had at least one really stellar customer service experience that stood out among others. The biggest draw I took from Dutch Bros was learning to seize that unique opportunity with customers. The opportunity to be that experience for them. Every time someone walks into Serra I want them to feel like I’m glad that they’re there, and I want it to be one of the best parts of there day. That’s how you build loyalty, you structure it off relationships.. and that’s kind of where I came from.

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How did you get your job at Serra with no industry experience?

I was up against having not only no real industry experience, but also not a lot of real experience with cannabis personally. I didn’t even use cannabis for the first time until I was 23 . I went all throughout high school and college without ever touching it (with hindsight, I wish I would have used it in college, because it helps me focus!). As far as getting the job, It was through a personal connection. I had known someone who started at the first shop in Eugene, and in passing they mentioned they were opening up a new store in Portland. I was ready for something new, so i got the email of the hiring manager and sent in my resume. I was fairly certain going in that I would have the least amount of real experience with cannabis, so I knew that would be a weakness I’d have to get around and that’s what I did. The reality and nature of cannabis is that everyone experiences it slightly differently, so going forward quality customer service will be the backbone of who gets hired on the retail end.

Despite my lack of experience with cannabis, I got hired because I was prepared. I did a ton of research before I came in for an interview.  There’s a bunch of resources and platforms to utilize for cannabis research. I watched youtube videos, read a ton of articles, documentaries, you name it. I just absorbed as much info as humanly possible.
How has it been working in the industry? Harder than traditional retail?

It’s harder in that there is more responsibility than traditional retail. It can be a scary thing for people who have had negative or no experience with cannabis in the past, so there is a lot of trust put in us to guide them into a good experience. I see cannabis as a tool, and it has so many tremendous benefits to reap from, if you know how to use it. Many of our customers are medical patients too, so its imperative that we know what we are selling.

I love it though. I love being a part of the ground floor of this very raw and still fragile industry. There’s so many states and countries even that are keeping a close eye on how we navigate the early waves of legal cannabis.
Have you ever felt stigmatized for working in the industry?

It will, more than likely, take years for popular opinion to come around fully on legal weed. Serra Downtown was one of Leafly’s “Top 10 most beautiful Dispensaries in America”  and also Dope Magazines award winning “Best New Dispensary” so luckily for me, where I work is actually the best tool for me to fight stigmas. Our shop is beautiful and far from your “dark, green cross, bars on the windows” type dispensary. Our goal is to bring cannabis into the modern way of life and give our customers a one of a kind experience.

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What advice do you have for someone looking into the industry?

Just do your research. Treat it like you would any other job. Be professional, Don’t bank on just smoking a lot of weed as your X factor. Be able to conceptualize where the industry is headed down the line and what it will look like. And just like any other industry, be dependable and work hard.

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Meet Jimi: Cannabis Industry Writer

What did you do before the industry? School? Any other jobs outside of the industry?

 

I got involved in drug policy reform, in general, my second week of college at Franklin Pierce University in the fall of 2005. The thing that pulled me in at first was Students for Sensible Drug Policy’s efforts to end the Higher Education Act Aid Elimination Penalty, the section of the bill that prevented folks from receiving federal financial aid due to a drug conviction as minor as marijuana possession. Not long after I became aware and more involved with SSDP’s cannabis advocacy efforts. Meeting the SSDPers from Brown  in the summer of 2006 when  I attended a Marijuana Policy Project workshop, I was sucked in completely at that point and believed medical initiatives, at the very least, would continue to pass one by one. Things obviously accelerated very quickly in the years after that.

 

What sparked your interest in the cannabis industry? How did you first get involved?

 

By the time I graduated in 2009,  I’d risen through the SSDP ranks to serve on the board of directors and on the board of Massachusetts NORML, with a stint in Washington DC the previous summer interning with the Drug Policy Alliance and The Drug Reform Coordination Network. In the fall, DPA hosted their biennial conference. The Washington DC experience convinced me I needed to move to California immediately following graduation.

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Walk us through a normal work day.

 

I start my days still opening the dispensary. I came out here to work at CBCB, where I recently celebrated my eighth 4/20 on the team. I leave around lunch time to go follow my journalistic endeavors, whether it be for Hearst and their properties Green State and The San Francisco Chronicle, Cannabis Now Magazine where I serve as Staff Writer, or one of the other publications I’m currently freelancing for. Many evenings I’ll rendezvous with friends and sources just to get a pulse on what their up to and get the biggest picture possible of the industry as a whole.  

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Have you ever felt any stigma against yourself from others for working in the industry?

 

No, I’ve been in the game too long. When I got here, if they were anyone that mattered, you had to be ready to go to jail together and keep your mouth shut. Most of the petty stuff flew out the window quickly. But obviously, some people don’t think folks who wear sandals every day can spar verbally when it comes to products, policy, and best practices. That’s always fun.

 

What’s been one of your favorite things or proudest moments about working in the industry?

 

Getting into the San Francisco Chronicle this year and writing the CBD section for Ed Rosenthal’s new book were huge for me as a writer, but having the confidence of the industry’s top minds when trying to tell their stories is what I’m the most thankful for. After spending a decade cultivating relationships, being a phone call away from an expert in any part of the industry, that I likely call a friend, is a catalyst for the type of coverage I’ve been able to provide.

 

Do you have any advice to job seekers looking into the industry?

 

The best companies hire their best people from those who gave their time to nonprofits. Look at the who’s who of the industry, in nearly all their bios they list their favorite campaigns or nonprofits they worked with. These are the type of people you want to get hired by because they already won the game. You can have all the capital in the world, but if you don’t have a bricklayer, it’s going to be a shitty wall.

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Jimi Devine

Cannabis Industry Writer

Staff Writer – Cannabis Now Magazine

Contributor – Smell the Truth on SFGate

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Meet Amanda: Co-Founder @ The Green Remedy

What’s your story?

Before opening The Green Remedy with my husband, I stayed at home focusing on raising our three children. More than a full time job in itself! Our oldest has mild Aspergers so the fact that I grew up surrounded by organization and creativity has been very helpful in almost everything I do. I have worked in the food industry, done person and product photography and even delivered newspapers daily. I’ve worked a lot of tough but great jobs that taught me a lot about hard work and perseverance. My husband is a frequent inspiration, he has taught me to hustle hard and never give up even when things are tough.
My husband was an amazing debt collector but when the economy crashed there wasn’t much business left. We started doing medical grows and vended at local events around the Puget Sound. Before dispensaries, patients got their meds from cannabis farmers markets. We even started a delivery at one point and advertised through craigslist.
We looked into how to open a dispensary and spent time doing research on how we could do it “right.” In the beginning, a lot of success was because of luck. Not all property owners were willing to work with a cannabis business of any kind. We got lucky and found a great location and moved in right away but didn’t have a lot of money to get started. We rented furniture, went to secondhand and dollar stores and had maybe 5 strains in the store. Not even 5 pounds total. Ha!
At first, every time someone walked in we thought it could be the cops but as time went by and licensing began that worry lessened. We always had the mindset of taking the right stops to be responsible and progressive in this new industry so we were ready for licensing when it came. Each licensing process has varied a bit and brought it’s own new challenges. I’m thankful to be recreational now because we have the ability to serve more people in need than before.

The Green Remedy actually just celebrated it’s 4 year anniversary on February 8th 2017. We took a bunch of our vendors, friends, current and past crew to a Portland Trailblazer game VIP style which was a blast! I really appreciate the people we get to work with and I try to show that appreciation whenever I can!

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How does your day to day look as an operator of a dispensary?

I wake up early, get the kids off to school and then mentally collect and ready myself for starting work. Most days are spent in an office doing paperwork and other administrative duties. The constant phone calls, emails and meetings can be monotonous, thankfully we can goof off with our crew. We work with a great team, some even friends, but we have learned that not everyone can keep up with the frequent changes of this industry.
My husband and I are also working on some different businesses – In the past we have grown, made extracts, award winning edibles and want to move back towards those in the future. The process for those involves differing types of licensing and other things that take time.
We’re also starting a screen printing company which will allow us to diversify and give out more swag at The Green Remedy which is a big part of cannabis branding and marketing. It will also give us the ability to have a bank account! The worst part of the cannabis industry is that we can’t have a bank account. We have large amounts of cash, which is unsafe, but we have found ways to deal with it.

What do you look for in employees?

We didn’t focus on the “branding” at first, I made our first logo on Microsoft Paint. Instead, we focused on the feel and vibe of the store, which meant we needed great people to work with us. We look for individuals with retail experience or who come from the service industry. You have to be familiar with IDs, controlled substances, inventory management and communicating with people.
We’ve hired both people with and without cannabis experience and that do or don’t consume. As a budtender, having personal experience is important. It’s hard, but not impossible, to be on that branch of the industry and not consume. Reception, processing, wholesale etc; not so much. We certainly don’t force anyone to consume but it’s good to know the products.
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What are tips you could give someone looking into the industry?

– Go into social networking groups, interact with people and make online friends. Just start meeting people. This is an industry where it does often help to know people because there are some trust issues.
– Educate yourself on cannabis and the local industry. Be ready to persevere because you’ll probably turn in a lot of resumes and not get many calls back.
– Don’t put “I like to smoke weed” on your resume. One of the biggest misconceptions is that we are always high while working. It’s not always about being high!
– Be yourself! We want to be able to see who you are as a person.
– Prepare yourself for a lot of attention to detail and to follow many specific steps.
– Be careful with the gimmicks of the industry. It’s better to take your time and make sure you’re getting into the right thing.
– There are still risks you have to be aware of. Cannabis is still not federally legal so there is still a risk of police involvement, banking issues etc. A few downsides but many upsides as well!

Advice for women?

This industry is a lot nicer to women than many others but at times people will still treat you poorly. Some, not all, may brush you off or talk to you differently. I have actually turned down a vendor for respect issues that remained unresolved after multiple attempts to make them aware. Compared to others, you will be appreciated more, there are A LOT of women involved in building the cannabis industry. You are not alone in this!

Why do you do what you do?

I want to be better tomorrow than I am today and leave a legacy for our children. We’re building something for future generations and I am proud of what I’m doing. There’s a lot of people that still don’t approve of what I do, but I believe in cannabis and believe it’s important.

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“Come check out The Green Remedy located in Southeast Portland Oregon. With great products on sale daily and an amazing crew to greet you; once you visit us you’ll see why “Quality Cannabis, Friendly Faces” isn’t just our motto but something we live by!”

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Meet Christina: Corporate Paralegal @ Frontera Law Group

1. What did you do before the industry?  Immediately before working in the cannabis industry, I worked with a start-up franchise in the restaurant industry for several years.  For their twenty plus locations, I created training programs, built operations systems, and ensured compliance with relevant governing bodies, such as the health department, employment laws, etc.  I have a background in law and I am drawn to compliance based, legal research, and paralegal type positions.
2. What sparked your interest in the cannabis industry?  My interest was sparked upon moving to Los Angeles, where I was greeted with medical cannabis shops everywhere I turned.  It was a new sight for me!  I didn’t know much about the industry in California, but when I saw an opening for a paralegal position with the preeminent Southern California cannabis law firm, I knew I couldn’t pass it up.  I had always considered cannabis to have extremely powerful healing capacities, so I wanted to be part of a team that focused on making legal access a reality for people in need.
3. How did you first get involved in the industry?  Working as a paralegal, I have learned a lot from experienced industry lawyers, professionals, and entrepreneurs.  For me, there was no better way to learn and to navigate California’s complex system of regulations.
4. Have you ever felt any stigma against yourself from others for working in the industry?  Honestly, never.  Most people are intrigued that I work at a cannabis law firm, and it becomes a great platform to spark a conversation.  I think people have reasonable questions and fears, and I love being able to discuss some of these issues, while hopefully providing some useful, relevant information.
5. What have been some of your favorite things about working in the industry?  I love knowing and seeing that there are patients out there that benefit from this medicine, and part of what our team does is helping make that more and more possible from a legal standpoint.
6. Do you have any advice to job seekers looking into the industry?  Follow your heart and do it for the right reasons.
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Frontera Law Group is California’s premiere cannabis business specialty law firm. Frontera provides knowledgeable strategic advice for companies in and around the cannabis industry, helping each of its clients navigate the ever-changing landscape to build successful and sustainable enterprises while complying with California’s complex evolving patchwork of state and local rules and regulations.  Frontera Law Group’s practice areas include corporate structure, corporate formation and governance, corporate strategy, securities, mergers & acquisitions, complex cannabis-related business transactions, state and local regulations and compliance, licensing, intellectual property, entertainment, permits and applications, and real estate.  Frontera specializes in working with best in class businesses statewide to create a thriving regulated economy for cannabis in California. www.fronteralawgroup.com

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Meet Don: Partner @ 4front Advisors

1.What did you do before the industry?  I served for almost 10 years in the US Army as a Squad Leader in an armored tank division.  I learned the value of hard work and teamwork and how to accomplish goals.  After leaving the military, I was attracted to the hospitality industry and I was fortunate to spend 5 years with Hillstone (Houston’s Restaurants) learning about service and cuisine.  I spent several years training and preparing new managers for the culture of the Hillstone organization.   Next, I ran the west coast operations of Le Pain Quotidien where I oversaw a chain of 15 restaurants and retail shops as well as an organic bakery in Los Angeles.  After that, I joined the team at Sweetgreen in 2009 and moved to Washington DC, where I worked with an amazing team of people to build a scalable healthy fast casual model and drove the company to 25 stores and set them in motion to expand to the rest of the country.
2. How did you first get involved in the industry?  While I lived in Los Angeles I had begun to see the proliferation of medical marijuana dispensaries throughout the city.   These dispensaries were owned and operated by well intentioned people who often simply didnt have the experience to run a retail operation.  I knew that these early pioneers who were operating in a legal grey area could benefit greatly from professional employees and managers.  I saw this opportunity to bring my experiences with people, operations, and systems to the cannabis industry to help professionalize it.

3. Have you ever felt any stigma against yourself  from others for working in the industry? If so, has it gotten better over time?   Obviously the perceptions that the general public has about marijuana have evolved over time.  It does appear that the majority have Americans are OK with prohibition of marijuana ending now.   I had a preconceived idea of marijuana patients when I came to the industry and that has dramatically changed after seeing so many patients quality of life improve.  The biggest test was telling my Mom that I was going into the marijuana industry.  When my 76 year old mom told me that  if she needed it and it was available, safe and legal she would want to use it as a medicine, I felt like there must be many people like her that would be open to learning more about cannabis as a medicine.

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4. Can you describe what you do during a normal work day?  I have worked with 4Front Ventures since 2014.  As many people in the cannabis world will tell you that there is no “typical day”.   Everyday something about this industry changes.  I work with clients in every time zone across the U.S.  I spend the day helping our clients through the challenges of each individual state program.  I work with our clients that are all in various stages of their business.  I have clients that are new to the industry and are trying to apply for a license in their state.  I work with clients to develop their implementation plan for getting them operational and I continue to work with them to ensure that they are running sustainable, compliant operations.

5. What have been some of your favorite things about working in the industry?  I am fortunate that the team that I work with are all happy, humble and hardworking people who share the vision of making the cannabis industry professional and respectable.  I enjoy training managers and employees who have never worked with patients about the benefits of cannabis as a medicine.  4Front Ventures has helped our clients win more than 50 licenses across the U.S. and all of our clients are focussed on opening and operating  best in class businesses.
6. Do you have any advice to job seekers looking into the industry?  Every business owner I meet in this industry is a true entrepreneur.   They have built their business from scratch and have often worked every position within their operation.   There is nothing that they haven’t done or couldn’t do themselves, so as a job seeker, you need to convey how you are going to make their lives easier.     Owners are looking for someone that is willing to work as hard as they have.   Be flexible about what you are willing to do to get your foot in the door and get educated on the rules and laws of cannabis in your jurisdiction so that you come to the process with some knowledge.

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