If there is anything you can learn from me I hope you learn the importance of respecting your worth. When I first entered the Cannabis industry I was bright eyed and bushy tailed with the world ahead of me. Meadow was my introduction to the world and I am so glad that I entered through cannabis technology before I went to a dispensary because I had the opportunity to enter a start-up tech environment with ZERO experience in a tech space. My months at Meadow were some of the most influential months of my life. I met so many amazing people, got to learn about the community, had the opportunity to learn about cannabis from industry experts and found my life passion.
Through Meadow I found a part time position at a local dispensary that paid more than my job at the time at the Hillsdale Mall (Teavana) and would work with my schedule at Meadow. Having aspirations to finally move out of the studio garage my boyfriends parents graciously allowed me live in, I took the job. Im not sure how many of you have worked for an unorganized business but I am sure you know that it isn’t fun. Especially when you enter a business of 15+ employees with no hierarchy established. Welcome to my personal hell. Part-time quickly turned into full time and at first the money, product, travel and parties made this lifestyle job the most fun I have ever had but all that isn’t important when you have aspirations of your own.
As I am sure a lot of you who are in the cannabis industry already know, canna businesses struggle with opening bank accounts. For those of you who don’t realize how important that is when running a million dollar business, its really fucking important. If I was a twenty one year old who just graduated college and worked a full-time job in one of the most expensive cities in the nation, as the executive assistant for a million dollar company you would think finding a place to live would be easy (Especially with Zekes dual income). Well, as it turns out I, a twenty one year old dreadlocked (important because landlords seem to base a lot off of looks these days) college graduate with a full time job as the executive assistant (among other roles) for the owner of a grandfathered medical cannabis dispensary in San Francisco, found it impossible to find a place to live with no means of proving income.
Although my boss had succeeded in his own way in opening an account, when I joined his team we somehow lost the connection to the account and our payroll system got shutdown because of it. What that meant for me was that I got paid in cash and had no way to prove to anyone how I received the money I worked for, where it came from and if it was taxed (until the end of the year when I mysteriously received a W-2).
This soon became a huge issue. When I would go to open houses on my days off, landlords would laugh at the typed letter stating my income and signed by my boss. It got to the point that I gave up on looking because I was so down on myself for not being able to rent a place. Although I was lucky to have a boyfriend whose family was able and willing o basically adopt me and let me live in their home all I wanted in life at the time was to establish a space that was Zeke and I’s. I wanted (still want) more than anything to drive to a place I could call MY home especially after working tirelessly day in and day out doing everything my boss asked me for. I wanted to get off of work and work on my personal aspirations in my own sanctuary of a home that I paid for with the money I earned working my ass off. I kept finding myself talking about how badly I wanted to move and how much I hated my living situation and after a while it just lead to argument after argument with Zeke about our living situation.
This is where its important to realize your self-worth. My responsibilities at the dispensary from the first day I walked into the office grew until the day I walked out. My salary didn’t follow the same pattern as my responsibilities and after eight months of driving from Zekes families house in Redwood City to San Francisco five days a week, working anywhere from eight to thirteen hour shifts (with no breaks at times), depending on the situation and compromising with myself to just wait a few more weeks for someone to realize I was doing more jobs than my own, I decided to ask for a raise. I felt as though I was well within my right to ask for a raise in pay. Especially when I found myself being asked to work with a recently hired CFO to create an entire accounting system with legitimate books to prepare for an audit coming up with little to no knowledge on how to do so.
Not being a person that likes to ask for money I presented to my boss a list of all the responsibilities I had, the projects I had accomplished and the ongoing projects I was working on to show I wasn’t asking for the raise without reason. This was the first time I was told that although I was working double the amount in not only hours but in actual work, I couldn’t get paid more than someone with not only less responsibility but less hours due to their seniority. I was absolutely baffled and in total honesty my spirit broke quite a bit. I didn’t understand why my hard work, dedication, and personal sacrifices I had made were somehow less than those who clocked in for two bud tending shifts a week. I tried to understand my bosses logic behind denying me my dollar raise (that would still bring me two dollars lower than people doing less than me) and being told my value and accomplishments were nothing more than successes my boss had created for me. At one point my boss went as far as to say that I should actually be paying him for all the opportunity and knowledge he has graced me with. I didn’t realize it then but that was the moment I lost confidence in my work and in myself. I remember being so confused by his answers. Wondering how things could work that way, I kept up my work for three more months before I got to the point that I could no longer take it.
I wish I would have been able to walk away the first time I felt disrespected and not taken seriously but I stayed because I thought in some twisted way maybe what he said was normal? Maybe I should be more grateful and appreciate the opportunities I have been given at that job? I learned so much while working for the collective and would be forever grateful for the opportunity but I questioned my work, my accomplishments, my education, and my ethic. With my confidence at an all time low and no respect left for someone I once aspired to be like, I felt lost. I remember sitting at my desk texting my favorite account about an order when Allie (creator of the Hepburns) texted something along the lines of “you can go anywhere you want, don’t forget that.” I think I just needed someone to believe in me and having someone I look up to encourage me focus on my dreams was just what I needed.
I havent regretted that decision since the day I left. Not much has changed, I am still in my studio garage that doubles as Zekes music room, I don’t have my own sacred space to work and I am still looking for the right opportunity in the industry that satisfies my need to grow as a leader and learn. I am however much happier than I ever was in that year and have had the opportunity to work with incredible companies with amazing humans running them such as the Hepburns and Green Rush Consulting! Things don’t always work out the way you want them to. Don’t give up on the next opportunity. You might be in a place right now that you absolutely hate, don’t forget there are more opportunities out there, you can’t give up on looking for them because they don’t just knock on your door. Be proactive about your situation, people in this industry (and in life) aren’t just handed things. You got to go out and get your piece of the pie. Although these are words I need to remind myself on a daily basis, as long as you keep your head up, stick to your morals, and continue to be a positive influence in your community things will be okay! Im not saying everything will be perfect, and that those opportunities are around every corner but never sell yourself short! You want to try something? Do it. Know your worth and don’t let any fucking person tell you different.
It takes a certain type of crazy to want to try and live in the Bay Area straight out of college without a solid full-time job. Move back to Los Angeles or stay in the Bay Area find a job and stay with Zeke? In my eyes there was really only one option there that would make me happy. So, I found my future the same way I found most of my jobs throughout college. After applying to everything from being a nanny to scanning tickets at local events, Craigslist got me through the door of the Cannabis Industry. It’s only a little shy of two years now since I started working within this community and I never imagined it would have taken me as far as it has in such little time. There is so much to see, so many amazing people people to meet, and you wouldn't believe how much there is to learn. I think that the future of this industry lives among us and they are just looking for opportunities.