Article by High! Canada
Hi Courtnay – Thank you so much for speaking to us.
It’s so great to be able to speak to you all today. I am a 22 year old woman who has spent the last year working in the cannabis industry. I have held two positions so far working with members of the cannabis community, one with a local head shop and the other a medical only dispensary here in Ottawa, ON called The OMD. Right now I am working as a representative for a few cannabis products through my instagram @court.yay
Tell us about how you got involved in the cannabis industry? What is your particular cannabis industry entry point origin story?
Approximately 2 years ago I had been just re-introduced to Cannabis and had been visiting the head shop near my work when I noticed they were looking for a new retail worker. I was unhappy in my current position as a Front of House worker at Tim Hortons, so I spoke to the very purple haired manager – one of the sweetest women I have met so far – and connected with her. I had explained to her that I wasn’t very experienced in the industry but she gave me the chance anyways.
I worked in that shop for about 3 months before I obtained my ACMPR through my regular doctor. With that I was finally able to go to the dispensary my manager had been talking up for ages. I started visiting the medical only dispensary about once a week, so they got to know me a little. I also made sure that every time I visited the dispensary I took the chance to discuss the head shop and how I would love the opportunity to learn more about strains and the plant in general. I ended up unknowingly discussing that with one of the owners there and was asked to bring in a resume. The day I brought it in, they hired me on for a couple trial shifts and by the next week I was working at a dispensary.
Did you encounter any challenges or adversity to adopting a full time role in the expanding Canadian cannabis market and if so what did you do to overcome them and successfully move forward?
As a young woman in the industry I had a few challenges that I needed to deal with.The first challenge I had was with my finances. While working at the head shop I was being paid minimum wage which at the time was 11.25/h. It was hard. I was working 45-50 hours a week and it was still never enough to pay my rent (which was for a tiny bachelor apartment in a very bad area of the city). It got to the point where I started a second job working at a fast food joint to help pay my rent. I remember actually breaking down in front of my new coworkers at the dispensary because I was so tired from working. I had my second job at that fast food place for a couple weeks while I worked at the dispensary, but once I saw my first paycheck at $15/h I was finally able to relax and leave my other job.
The second issue I had was obtaining knowledge about accessories in the industry. When I first started in the head shop I had very, very little experience with cannabis. I had smoked occasionally before I started working there but I was by no means an expert on any of the accessories, especially not on any of the vapes. Even after I had explained that to my bosses, they just told me that I would learn as I go. I felt really stupid my first 3 months working there because I had no idea what I was talking about and the customers that came in could tell. I couldn’t really help anyone and it was frustrating so I had to do a lot of research on my own which is hard when you don’t have the money to buy the products yourself to try. I spent a majority of my time watching Youtube reviews on stoner boxes where they would show how the accessories worked and reading product reviews on as many different websites as I could. I would also purchase slightly broken items that customers had returned to test them out and get a better look at what they did.
Another challenge I had to face was my own mental health. I have Bipolar II and Anxiety, both of which I had been prescribed high dose antipsychotics to take. Before I obtained my ACMPR my irritability and mood swings were making me absolutely unbearable. I wouldn’t eat and I had a really hard time being patient with customer s who had too many questions that I had no idea how to answer. It wasn’t until I started using cannabis as medication that I was finally able to show people that I wasn’t a complete jerk. I had read that CBD was being tested as an antipsychotic so I tried taking CBD caps and eating a piece of a 50mg medicated chocolate bar before work every morning and I noticed a HUGE difference, and I think the customers did too. I actually had one man come up to me and discuss the “extremely irritable girl who worked at the other location” that turned out to be me before my transfer. We had a very long discussion about that girl and I am 100% sure he thought that the woman standing in front of him was a completely different person (it definitely didn’t help that I had a tendency to dye my hair different colours). I definitely apologized for my previous behaviour and made sure he was well taken care of at the shop.
Once I had heard that legalization was on the horizon I was ready to drop everything and move to Victoria, BC to get another dispensary position and start working my way up through the ranks there. I was excited and only one month away from my move when the Ontario government announced their plans for the new government run dispensaries. I was shocked and disappointed that they were moving away from craft cannabis, especially after watching Tweed bring several new craft growers into their market place. With this news, I needed to find myself a position in the industry that wouldn’t end up closed two months after arriving there. After I decided to start work more on promoting my Instagram and myself within the industry I was given the opportunity to represent Dipstick Vapes at the Lift Ottawa Expo.
What are you working on now. Can you run us through an average day for you?
Plans for the future – personally and professionally (Example: Personally I am looking forward to visiting Amsterdam in the not to distant future but right now we are getting read for a new product launch or something like that and gearing up for a ….)
My plans for the future are somewhat open right now. I have plans to join an online program for Business Man agement and Entrepreneurship. I also hope to start up my ACMPR grow of mainly CBD plants by the New Year. Professionally, I am looking for an opportunity to work wit h members of the community. I loved working with the members who came into the dispensary. Getting to know members of the community personally and discussing with them which cannabis product would best suit their medicinal needs is one of my favourite things. I honestly think it is the most rewarding thing to be able to help someone with a personal challenge of their own. I feel very grateful for having the opportunities I have had where I have been able to do just that.
Last question – what are three things that you think everyone should be doing?
The first thing I think people should be doing is talking to other cannabis users on social media. There are so many people out there in the world that have more (or just different) knowledge than you. It is always good to pick the brain of someone else. The second thing is to get out there! Go to your local events! I would have never had the chances I have today without networking and talking to vendors at events. Finally I say that you should also be yourself and find your niche. There is nothing better than seeing an industry member with a rad personality. You will find more people to connect with and become better friends or partners in the long run!