Many founders of cannabis companies have origin stories about how the powerful plant changed their lives – from enhanced intimacy and increased focus to better performance in sports and better sleep. I, however, do not have the same story. In fact, I was never really interested in cannabis and was somewhat of a reluctant participant.
But I had the grave misfortune of becoming life-threateningly ill with Crohn’s disease that went undiagnosed for many years. And I’m not alone. 74% of Americans have ongoing digestive trouble and 70 million have a chronic GI condition. Unfortunately, I am part of that 74%.
While doctors prescribed opioids, my husband suggested I try cannabis products with high levels of CBD as an alternative. I was skeptical, but out of options. The end results were incredible as I saw first-hand how it worked to reduce inflammation and manage my pain. Being introduced to cannabis made living my life possible again and has become the single most effective therapy for me and my disease.
At the time, the sources of high CBD to THC ratio medicine were unreliable. After getting a bad batch of tinctures that gave me arsenic poisoning, I knew I had to take matters into my own hands. I established my own collective and began to legally grow my own medicine since I was having trouble getting access to clean medicine in an unregulated market.
Combining learnings from my previous career as a fashion, beauty and marketing expert with my new experience as a farmer and Crohns’ patient, I sought out the best chemists working in the business and set about making the highest quality cannabis wellness products available on the market today. I now own and operate one of California’s largest legal outdoor cannabis farms and sell about half a million pounds of cannabis wholesale each year.
Together with my husband, we grow about 22-acres of cannabis on our 63-acre organic farm but like all farmers, we have to operate on thin margins to ensure we are around next year and for years to come. This requires scale and efficiency like any agricultural endeavor but because it is cannabis we also have to navigate intense public scrutiny, legislative complexity and constantly evolving regulations at the state and local levels.
For independent cannabis farmers to succeed, cannabis brands of all sizes need to build local advocacy and activism into their brand pillars, as well as dedicate time, resources, and budget accordingly. And we need the industry’s operators (both large, corporate and small, independent) to come together as a single voice to ensure we do this effectively. While national and state support are vital for our long term success, I strongly believe local strength is the true barrier to an independent cannabis farmer’s survival. We can achieve this by creating regional coalitions in each county, led by statewide strategies to reach our goals.
I’m doing my part as an advocate and an ally to the cannabis industry, providing education to the misinformed through data and science and encouraging decision-making on facts over fear. I do this work so I can share the health and wellness I found on my farm with others.