When Weeds hit the small screen in 2005 the series seemed relatively surreal in its portrayal of a suburban mother who began selling cannabis to support her family, but now more and more mothers are making their way into legal cannabis industries across the country.
Cannabis has continued to find more acceptance across the country as its medical efficacy is becoming more widely understood. Something that people outside of the industry don’t realize, however, is that the people who are finding success in the cannabis industry are an extremely diverse group of individuals.
Motherhood and the cannabis industry may not go hand in hand in the minds of many people, but for the following women their lives are strongly influenced by both their children and their choice of careers in the cannabis industry. Alicia Rose, Jennifer Price, Julie Batkiewicz and Pamela Hadfield have each found their place within the legal cannabis industry within California and Colorado.
While finding great levels of support within the industry, they have often found many people outside of the industry have questions about why they do what they do.
Jennifer Price used her public relations and marketing background to break into the cannabis industry. She started by working for Strainz, one of the country’s leading cannabis specific brand management companies, in 2015 to help her friends, Chris and Hugh Hempel, get their new company off the ground.
Initially, she was hesitant to get involved in the cannabis industry with two teenage daughters at home, but she began to learn more about the benefits of non-psychoactive marijuana. Chris and Hugh founded Strainz in 2013 after learning that their identical twin daughters suffer from a rare and fatal neurodegenerative disease called Niemann Pick Type C (NPC), which often referred to as 'Childhood Alzheimer’s'. The condition causes intractable seizures and whole plant CBD helped the children enormously by easing their intense seizures. This was a revelation for Jennifer and put her on a path towards working within the cannabis industry.
Jennifer now works for clients across the cannabis industry with her partner Susannah Grossman, helping industry people in every area from marketing to sales to team management. She has found a balance in life while navigating her new passion within industry. Her new career focus has sparked many interesting conversations between her and her two teenage daughters. Jennifer says, “They have taken time to understand my business and we have countless thoughtful and candid conversations about cannabis, the stigma surrounding it, and why it is important to keep an open mind as we navigate through life.”
Ultimately, Jennifer believes that a general lack of education still leaves the stain of stigma on an industry that she says is, “filled with extremely creative, intelligent, successful, driven people.”
She has also seen cannabis change lives as she has delved deeper into the industry, “I have seen this curative plant bring life back to those who had been addicted to opiates, minimize chronic migraines, alleviate anxiety, reduce arthritis pain and inflammation, and act as a natural sleep aid."
She continued, "I have held a Mom’s hand as she shared the story of her beautiful baby girl’s battle with a brain tumor, and how she administered CBD oil against the advisement of doctors. She told me that within 24 hours her toddler was eating again and regained the sparkle in her eyes. That toddler is now a cancer-free, fun-loving tween.” Jennifer says she has found a home in the cannabis industry and feels secure about her identity as a mother and a person who believes in the power of the plant.
Alicia Rose is a well known pioneer on the Northern California cannabis scene. She founded HerbaBuena in 2015 in Napa Valley wine country to give medical marijuana consumers in California access to the same high quality products they expect from their food and wine.
Alicia has always focused on providing cannabis consumers with high quality and sophisticated products, which stems from her background in ecosystem science, farming, and her fifteen year career in the high-end wine industry. HerbaBuena’s product line focuses on providing consumers with functional medication in all aspects of their life including topical products, tinctures, and sun grown, bio dynamic whole flower products.As a public figure within the cannabis world, Alicia hosts ongoing events for HerbaBuena’s Social Club where she aims to create community while informing and educating consumers.
When asked about being a mom, she says she has approached cannabis in a very simple and educational way with her child. “We talk about cannabis as medicine and define it as something that is only for adults, like alcohol and swear words,” but she does find approaching her career in more-conservative Napa to be a carefully calculated process.
Whether it is at her child's school or with her former wine colleagues, she still experiences many mixed reviews for being involved in the cannabis industry. She says, “There are obviously many who support what I do, but there are also still a fair share of those who see cannabis as a drug, like heroin. It's my hope that as we continue to educate the public about this plant, the fear and taboo and stigma will shift, but we're not fully there yet.”
Alicia, however, believes so strongly in the benefits of cannabis that she is willing to face the stigma to continue to educate people, “You truly have to believe in this plant to be involved in the cannabis industry because people still hold significant prejudice, and the stigma is real. Helping to educate and remove the taboo is just another part of the job for all of us in the industry and those who support it.”
Julie Batkiewicz launched her company, Monte Content, in November of 2016 and by the end of this month her company will be providing in-store content to dispensaries in five different states. Monte Content produces educational and lifestyle content related to cannabis that is featured directly in dispensaries. The content is broadcast in dispensaries to help introduce patrons to ideas ranging from safety procedures to new products. Julie launched Monte Content when she was pregnant to provide herself with the flexibility to be her own boss when she raised her young son.
Now, with a five month old son, Julie has not felt stigma working in the cannabis industry as a mother, yet. She does believe that is greatly affected by her location in Colorado where it is a widely accepted part of the state culture. She has found that many people are generally open to learn about her job in the cannabis industry, “I've made a lot of new mom friends and they are more interested in learning about what I do as opposed to judging me. I live with my mother-in-law, who is a tremendous help with the baby. She understandably had a lot of questions about marijuana, and after many discussions has been more open to it. She recently used a topical on a sore knee that really changed her perspective.”
Julie does, however, believe that things may change when her son starts school and said of the potential future experience, “I think my experience will be very different once Noah starts school and makes friends. Right now, I'm mostly surrounded by supportive friends and family members. Ask me again in a few years!”
Pamela Hadfield started HelloMD with her husband after finding that cannabis stopped chronic migraines that had plagued her for 25 years. In addition, she was able to stop using narcotics for her pain. After cannabis changed her life, the cannabis industry seemed like a natural choice and she and her husband pivoted their existing healthcare business to cannabis.
Since that time two years ago, HelloMD has become an industry leader, serving thousands of patients in California by providing them access to a doctor online via Telehealth. HelloMD also developed the industry’s first Q and A platform called Answers which allows patients from anywhere to ask a question and receive answers from the community or a doctor. The company's mission is to inform and educate consumers, especially those that are new to cannabis and wish to use it as a vehicle for their own health and wellness.
As a mother of 3 young girls, Pamela was initially wary about her shift to cannabis, fearing people may push their own stigma of cannabis onto her kids. “Personally, I had no issue about being within the cannabis industry or caring what others thought of me, that was never a consideration. What did concern my however, was that people may treat my children differently. This intial worry deeply troubled me.” Luckily, she discovered this fear was largely unfounded.
“What I discovered is that people may not always agree with the idea of cannabis, especially with recreational use, but they tend to be open to what I am doing and why I choose to be within the industry. People are mostly open to cannabis education and especially to the medicinal use of cannabis. I also believe it helps that I am doing what I am doing in California, as cannabis has been medicinally legal here for over 20 years, so people have been hearing a bout it and growing more accustomed to it over time.”
When asked about how she talks to her young kids about cannabis, she replied "We have tried to keep it simple, but really, in my mind cannabis is a tool for health and wellness. HelloMD has helped facilitate a relationship with cannabis for many people who are very ill. I tell my kids that we work to help these people. Kids are very altruistic by nature, so they really embrace this idea and it helps them when the topic comes up at school, which sometimes it does."
Each of these women has had a different experience in the cannabis industry, and a different experience of raising children while working in the industry. One thing that they all have in common, however, is their desire to continue to empower and educate people about the health and wellness benefits that cannabis can provide. Jennifer, Alicia, Julie and Pamela all show that they will not let any stigma about the industry get in their way of finding success inside and outside of the industry.