Article by High! Canada
High! Canada Magazine was honoured to get to speak to Ashleigh Brown, Community Manager & Patient Liaison at Strainprint.
Tell us about your cannabis origin story, specifically on how you got interested in cannabis as a career path.
Like so many people in the cannabis industry, my movement into this space was fuelled by personal loss. 9 years ago I had a massive seizure that came out of the blue, and it changed everything. When I woke up that evening in the hospital, it was the beginning of the most difficult and painful chapter in my life. I had 12-15 seizures a day for 7 years. I didn’t just lose my health, I lost my role as a mother to two very young children, my job, my license, our home, and eventually my relationship.
Two years ago this month my dearest friend came to visit me with an oral syringe full of CBD oil. I was skeptical but she was someone who had never stopped fighting for me, so I tried it. For the first time in 7 years, I was seizure free for 24 hours straight. I got my legal prescription via a clinic, and then…I was pretty much on my own to figure it out. I didn’t feel comfortable telling people about it, so I made social media and Google my allies. I found thousands of Canadian patients who were online, trying to figure out dosing, strain selection, terpenes, and Licensed Producers. After a few months I noticed that many of these groups were pretty toxic. New patients would ask questions and get shamed or shut down. The advice and guidance was inconsistent and often devolved into an argument. So I founded SheCann, alongside a half-dozen other women. As a closed Facebook community for legal patients, we wanted to be able to provide all that elusive information, and the resources and support to go along with it. We just celebrated our one-year ‘SheCanniversary’, and we number almost 2,000 members now, mainly women, but also a select group of supportive and respectful men. It is a completely non-partisan, volunteer-run space.
This foray into social media connected me with some amazing humans, but the stars really aligned when Stephanie Karasick, Founder of Strainprint Technologies Ltd., and I met on Facebook. She is not only the founder of Strainprint, she is someone I am proud to call one of my very best friends. When we started to discuss how we could collaborate to help people use cannabis better, it was a natural decision for me to accept a position with Strainprint.
Tell us about some of the challenges and or adversity you have faced so far on your chosen path?
I had been out of the workforce for almost a decade due to my illness, so I had no idea how I would even pretend to know what a career looked like. In short, I lacked confidence in my own ability to meet the needs of my patient community and the expectations of any employer. It was also really important to continue to serve SheCann and grow the community alongside any role I took on in the industry, which is a tall order, especially since, in all honesty, I still have 12 seizures a month.
How did you move past those challenges?
In short? Good humans on all fronts. The team at Strainprint has been tremendously supportive of my desire to stay at the helm of SheCann as Founder, which has the added gift of allowing me to remain connected to patients on a daily basis, and to share the data that Strainprint is now famous for: data that helps patients medicate mindfully and have success in their cannabis use.
On the SheCann front, my lead admin Jaeme has gracefully and enthusiastically stepped into the role of running the community on a daily basis, which means that I can focus on getting the patient voice heard in Canada, and eventually the world! Good humans are essential for overcoming obstacles and challenges.
Advice for other women entering the cannabis industry?
Don’t forget to be kind: you will be busy, you will be discouraged, you will be wrapped up in it all, but then, more than ever, find a way to give of yourself. It doesn’t take any time or money to praise someone, or smile, or say thank you.
Own your shit: you will make some mistakes, and you will make some unpopular decisions, but that doesn’t matter nearly as much as what you do AFTER the fact. Take radical responsibility and just do the ‘next right thing.’ My daughters are learning to master this, and it’s pretty damn inspiring.
Find a few good humans. Hold each other up, and also, love the shit out of them. If you’re as lucky as I was, you’ll end up working with them, and that will make the battles easier and the joy deeper.
Three things you feel everyone needs?
Compassion, curiosity, and a jar of Nutella.