It wasn’t exactly a revelation or a call from God, but for me, it was close.
I’d been noodling the idea of doing communication consulting for a few years. As a senior public relations practitioner, it felt like where my career should go. I didn’t, though, like the idea of being a general practitioner. I wanted whatever came next to be meaningful, special and interesting. I was waiting for that idea to come to me.
On a November evening in 2016, I heard a NPR story about a cannabis industry trade show. What caught my attention was the hundreds, if not thousands, of ancillary businesses that support growing and distributing marijuana. The lights, fertilizers, air exchange systems, grow systems, edible products, star-powered cannabis brands, packaging, vape pens and security systems. It wasn’t about selling flower, but the picks and shovels of this green gold rush. I knew exactly where I was supposed to go next—into cannabis communication.
I secured the domain Canna Communication (how did no one already own this, I still wonder) and then jumped into my more formal education about cannabis. It wasn’t good enough that I liked pot—I needed to know it. I started meeting people in the business, reading books and articles, and listening to podcasts. I stopped being a marijuana mooch and got a Michigan Medical Marihuana card for chronic knee and back pain, the result of years of running.
Cannabis has always been a part of my life to some degree. While in college, I used marijuana socially and recreationally. I learned to roll a joint using Zig Zags and the cover of any convenient double album. As an adult I took a hit when it came my way, but didn’t seek it out. I never thought of cannabis a medicine—like for pain—but something for mental relaxation and happiness. As an introvert, cannabis helps me be more engaged with people.
Coming Out for Cannabis
I started to slowly come out—dropping hints on social media by sharing articles about cannabis and telling select people I was moving toward communication consulting in cannabis. It felt good to say it and people’s reactions were one of surprise, validation and connection. The more I talked about cannabis, the more people told me stories about their experience or that of someone they knew. People connected me with people in the business—a brother who made fertilizers, friends who were growers and people who use the plant for all sorts of medical conditions from Epilepsy to cancer therapy. People validated my business assumption that this was a field full of growth potential.
Just more than a half-year after I bought the Canna Communication domain, I walked away from a good-paying, highly visible position to devote myself to sharing information about cannabis and helping people grow their businesses.
I gave it up because I am sure I’ll get something more than what was left behind.
I aspire to be more self-directed, not just in the work that I do, but in my daily life. I want to complete the narrative about my career; I want it to be about being an entrepreneur and following my intuition about what the future might look like. I envision a story about standing up for something that is changing American culture for the better.
Cannabis is more than a plant for human health—it’s about working for freedom, science, smart public policy and social justice. It’s about being ahead of, and on the right side of history.