The ups and the downs, the good and the bad. Riding the cannabis rollercoaster has been a wild ride, but somehow I still wake up excited and motivated to make a lasting impression on this ever-evolving and complex industry. My cannabis journey started several years ago, similar to many others, with friends in a backyard experimenting with the magical herb which fascinated me in more ways than one.
Fast forward a few years and I was traveling the country exploring different markets to educate myself to the best of my ability with the limited resources available at that time. Now with the new cannabis market in Missouri, my goal is and has always been to help educate both patients and doctors. I want to help provide them with valuable information so they might find relief and happiness with a medication which I have found to be truly beneficial for myself and so many others I have met along my journey.
Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane as I sit here reminiscing about some of my first experiences with cannabis. Like most, I was always told that cannabis was a drug, illegal, not to be used EVER! But oh boy did I have a lot to learn! Early on I discovered several documentaries and online forums which broke down cannabis in a way that I had never seen before. And I’m not talking about breaking cannabis down with a grinder! I mean providing information about the plant which made a lot of sense. It showed how cannabis could be so beneficial both as a medicine and as a business opportunity. One of the documentaries I remember most was The Union by Adam Scorgie (if you get a chance, I highly recommend checking it out). He discussed how the information we had about cannabis was largely flawed and misrepresented by our own government's propaganda, which started in the 1920’s. He also discussed the long history of medical cannabis and how prohibition had led to a lot of the issues associated with cannabis such as the gang-related trafficking and illegal grow sites set-up around the country. I knew at that point all of the mis-information I had heard earlier in my life was out the window (sorry mom).
Fast-forward a few more years and I found myself passionately researching cannabis and sharing as much information as possible with just about anybody that wanted to talk to me about the topic. Even my parents (through many years of hard work), finally began to shift their thinking as well. I knew if I could convince my mom that cannabis was not only harmless (for the most part), but actually beneficial for some, I could convince anyone.
Unfortunately, as time went on I saw a side of cannabis that wasn’t so glamorous and actually quite sad. Similar to Adam Scorgies documentary, I saw how prohibition could negatively impact lives of good people, people I still to this day call great friends. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until I found myself being aggressively dragged out of my car after leaving a friends house that I realized how serious it was. Even though I had done nothing wrong, as I sat there having my car searched by multiple officers while watching a line of marked cars pull into my best-friends property, I knew what a gut-wrenching feeling being on that side of the law could be.
After watching my friend being hauled off to jail, I quickly made a call to his girlfriend and eventually his parents, which to this day was one of the hardest conversations I have ever had to have. I had to explain to them what had happened and made a plan to bail him out of jail. Fortunately for him, this was a first offense and, after months of waiting, he was sentenced to 18 months of probation. Was it fair to him (or the countless others like him) that he was being punished for an herb that grows just about anywhere you plant some? Was it fair to tax-payers to have their money being spent on a young man’s arrest, all for a local police group to brag about how they had taken a small amount of cannabis off of the streets? Was it fair to me and my friends to be put in the middle of the situation? No, but it didn’t matter. That was just the way things were at that time, in a place I called home for most of my life. I knew there had to be a better way. A better way to be involved both as a patient and as someone who believed in the business and regulation of a plant which doesn’t cause much harm, other than to those unjustly impacted on a criminal level.
After traveling around the country and overseas while immersing myself in the industry as much as I could from where I lived, I made the decision to make a transition - both in my geography and the way I was involved in cannabis from a personal and professional level. I moved up to Missouri in late 2017 and began working for a vertically integrated cannabis company with operations in multiple states including California and Maryland. I quickly saw the difficulties from the business side while I continued to gain knowledge both on the plant itself and the operations. After over a year of my informal education, I learned that retail and brand development was where I ultimately wanted to be involved, and I think a lot of other companies are starting to feel the same way. I was no expert at cultivation, and with my background and my teams background in retail, I knew that’s where we wanted to be long-term.
In early 2019, several members of that team decided to form a new group together called Feel State. A group focused on creating a dispensary brand which wants to bring insightful information to Missouri patients and doctors. A group that stands for more than just making a profit, but rather creating an industry which is inclusive of all types of backgrounds and skill-sets. One which focuses on helping individuals and the communities around them by showing them the benefits of a legal and regulated cannabis industry.
I will continue to play my part as a connoisseur of cannabis and one which believes in the power of educating the masses on this amazing plant. While as of lately I have begun using cannabis in a much different capacity, it will always continue to have a place in my heart. Yes, I have put down the bong and instead opted for using full-spectrum cannabis capsules and small doses of flower and rosin, on occasion. But this doesn’t change the way I view cannabis. In fact, it's just another step in my journey of continuing to show people the benefits while doing what’s best for me and my body.