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Starting the Women’s Cannabis Chamber of Commerce Part 1

Women's Cannabis Chamber of Commerce Part I

Starting a Women’s Cannabis Chamber of Commerce or being involved in way with the emerging cannabis industry had never entered my mind.  It was a beautiful spring morning in Evergreen. I was meeting with another member of the Evergreen Chamber’s Ambassador Committee. I owned a social media marketing company and morning coffee meetings were common.

He leaned in and whispered softly, “I have this friend and he needs someone to do marketing stuff”. In my mind I had already begun to speculate and react. His behavior was overly secretive, “oh, my God, he’s into porn and I’m going to freak out in the local coffee house.”

“Ah, he’s opening a medical marijuana dispensary and ah would you meet with him?”

In my mind my response was “Oh, f#*k No!”

I’m old enough to be able look back at all the crossroads in my life and how my choices played out. Intuitively I recognized this as a crossroads. I excused myself and went to the rest room.

In 2011 getting into a cannabis related business or being an activist for medical marijuana and legal reforms did not capture my interest.

At 61 I had settled into a comfortable lifestyle in the foothills outside of Denver. Up until the early 90’s my relationship with marijuana (no one called it cannabis) had been more than just smoking. People I knew were going to prison. We couldn’t visit or write them because it would put us under scrutiny. They became ghosts, their absence from my life haunted me. Living with the daily fear of going to prison and losing my business and home was not worth it.

I had followed the progress of medical marijuana since the passage of Amendment 20 in 2000. I watched the news stories about the first dispensary, Colorado Compassion Club, opening in 2004. And, the news stories about it being raided that same year.

There were sensationalized stories about the 2007 murder of  Ken Gorman, a Colorado marijuana activist, and founder of the 420Rally. I was certain the medical marijuana movement had no future.

My knowledge of marijuana as a medicine was nonexistent. I needed to do some research. I refilled my coffee, went home and began researching medical marijuana. I was literally shocked by the research especially Dr. Grinspoon’s. He began studying marijuana in 1967, with the intention of defining scientifically the nature and degree of the dangers of marijuana use. As Dr. Grinspoon reviewed the existing research and literature he concluded that the general public had been misinformed and misled.

I poured over medical journals and obscured research papers some dating back centuries. Why didn’t I know about the healing qualities of cannabis? I had always been into herbs and natural alternatives to pharmaceuticals. So, this was what the “patients” protesting for access to medical marijuana knew. This was the education that Colorado Consumption Club was providing. My ignorance was overwhelming.

To further my research into what was emerging as the business of cannabis, I created a facebook profile as MySweet Jane. I immediately received friend requests – all from men. Where were the women?

The way cannabis businesses and consumers were using social media to connect and market was brilliant. I had been conducting social media workshops for small businesses and was frustrated that few of those in attendance comprehended the power of social media marketing. The cannabis industry and consumer was changing how marketing was done.

It was sunrise and I had been researching all night. It was too late and too much coffee to go to bed. I needed more information. I drove down the mountain to the nearest dispensary. I had a list of questions, including “are there a lot of women working in medical marijuana dispensaries?”

I rang the bell. The darkened window behind the bars opened. A young woman asked if she could help me. I awkwardly tried to explain why I was there.

Two days later I was the first person in line at the Cannabis Cup.

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