Meet The Women Working Some of the Coolest Careers in Cannabis

Anyone who’s made smoking into one of their hobbies has likely dreamt of what it would be like to turn their passion for cannabis into a full time career. “Man, that’s got to be the best job in the world,” we’d say, passing a joint over a jealousy ridden discussion of virtually anyone who got to work in the industry. 

For a long time the idea of making a living in the industry once ridden with taboos felt like a pipe-dream. Now, through endless hard-work and passion, that dream has become a reality for these four badass chicks. 

Cannabis Photographer: Danielle Halle 

Photo by @keti.photography

In terms of cannabis, a picture can truly be worth a thousand words. And with a huge need for images that reflect both the professionalism and diversity of the industry, cannabis photographers are working to produce some seriously beautiful images. But what is cannabis photography and how does it work? 

Having become increasingly impressed by the amazing photos of cannabis on her Instagram feed, photographer Danielle Halle became intrigued by the world of macro photography, or, extreme close-up shots. 

“Getting up close and personal with the trichomes made it seem like there was another world on the cannabis plant,” she says of the macro style of shooting. 

Now, Halle is the woman behind Sweet Dee’s Photography, where her images keep a strong focus on respecting the plant, the craft, and the people who work hard to help progress the industry. In terms of a typical work day for Halle, you can find her in her home studio shooting all kinds of products from concentrates, to flowers, to edibles, all of which can be extremely rewarding when shoots go well. 

“The most rewarding part of my job is when a client is overjoyed with my photography. I love making people feel good about themselves as well,” she says, “so if there are human subjects involved in the photos it is very rewarding when I make them feel good about their appearance.” 

What we really wanted to know, though, is the importance of cannabis photography as a visual language for the industry. “The most important part of my job is making cannabis look beautiful in a respectful way,” explains Halle. “I believe now there are more companies that are placing value on professional photography and branding, but it’s also important to tell the story of the community and industry pioneers. Not just beautiful, smiling—and let’s face it, mostly white, faces.”

As for the best strains to shoot or smoke, Halle feels that most of the time, the strains that look and smell the best also taste the best. “Sometimes pretty packaging can lead to not as pretty of a product on the inside,” Halle adds, “And even some products may appear to be covered in trichomes, but the flavor leaves me wanting more.”

Check out some of Danielle’s sweet shots on Instagram @sweet.deezy, and feel free to reach out for freelance contracting for photography, social media, and other content creation. 

 

Budtender: Ahnya Smith 

Photo by @keti.photography

When it comes to cannabis, the budtender is the hand that feeds. 

Responsible for helping consumers find the right choice for their needs, budtenders typically work in retail locations where cannabis is sold. Essentially, budtending is just like any other retail job, except with cannabis. For anyone looking to enter the industry, it’s a great place to start. 

Ahnya Smith became a budtender after her first trip to Herban Legends dispensary after moving to Seattle in 2017. Upon making her first legal purchase, she also left an application. 

“I knew moving to Seattle, I wanted to become a part of the cannabis industry, so I jumped at the first [opportunity] I saw and budtending happened to be it,” she explains to the Emerald. 

As a budtender, a typical day usually comes down to greeting visitors, showing inventory, and steering customers in the right direction based on their desires. “The most common questions I hear are as simple as ‘what’s the difference between sativa and indica,’ to […] ‘what has the highest THC?” Smith expresses

Overall, Smith finds it extremely rewarding to connect with people through cannabis. “When a customer’s grandparent is in the hospital dying and they want something to ease their discomfort, you can be the one to get them the topical or edible they need,” she explains. “They cry, and they hug you, and they thank you.” 

Now, Smith has co-launched The Colored Cannabis Collective, a non-profit dedicated to community service, representation of people of color in cannabis, and changing the stigma. Through monthly cleanups, community service projects and different events for people to connect and grow as a city wide cannabis community, “CCC wants to represent the full picture of cannabis, not just a small segment of it,” she explains.

The group will be hosting a North Seattle Cleanup August 24th, for more information follow @coloredcannabiscollective.

And for all you ladies dreaming of becoming a woman in weed, Smith has three pieces of advice. First, she says, stick together. “We have to uplift each other, put each other in positions to win, and realize that there is enough room for all of us to eat in this industry if we just band together.” 

Second, speak up and speak out. “If something happens to you in the industry, tell people. Nothing is fixed by keeping problems in the dark,” Smith explains. 

And lastly, be you. “You are unique, there is no one else out there who has your exact formula. Use that!” Smith says, “Don’t shy away from the special quirks you have, that will be your winning ticket.” 

 

Cannabis PR: Sarah ElSayed 

Photo by Audrey Collins

In the cannabis industry, aesthetics and presentation can mean everything. And with companies striving for normalization of the plant, it’s more important than ever to have creative marketing that places products in the best light. 

For Sarah ElSayed, CEO of Grass is Greener PR, and Senior Account Executive at Human Nature PR, that means directing the narrative—and pushing boundaries to uncover taboo topics. 

“The mission [at Human Nature PR] is to position our clients in the media as the brilliant thought leaders, distributors, and innovators that they are,” she explains. “Everyday, we communicate with our clients directly to stay abreast of their strategies and whereabouts, and communicate unique angles and interview opportunities to the media. There’s loads of cold calling, email pitching, irritating follow-up and risk-taking involved!” 

ElSayed was drawn to the industry for the opportunity to be herself. She always imagined her role would be to help elevate cannabis brands as a luxury brands, like wine/spirits, travel, and fashion, she says. “I knew that my work in this industry would create a ripple effect on social acceptance and ultimately on legalization.” 

ElSayed is excited or the future, she explains, “I can’t wait to see other psychedelics collow in the footsteps of the cannabis industry,” she adds. “Some publications are still steering completely clear of the cannabis and CBD trends, but I know at some point they’ll eventually come around. It’s inevitable.”  

Encouraging other women in the cannabis industry and community to have each other’s back and promote each other, Sarah advised:

ElSayed says empowering, and promoting other women in the industry is key: “Talk to as many people as you can, support other women in the industry,” she adds, “and whenever possible, use your resources to help connect people who need to be connected! We’re all in this together.” 

Interested in learning more about Grass is Greener PR? Catch them at the Hester Street Fair in Manhattan on September 21, 2019 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m, or visit GrassisgreenerNY.com.

 

Cannabis Lawyer: Jessica Gonzalez 

Photo by ByCrystalee

With cannabis remaining illegal on a federal level, lawyers are leading the charge to legitimize the industry and businesses in it. For that reason, we wanted to talk to Jessica Gonzalez, co-founder and managing partner of the female, and minority owned law firm, Moyeno, Gonzalez, and Associates PC. 

“I didn’t just want a job, I wanted a career that could bring about a positive change. Cannabis has been a part of my life for quite some time and has positively impacted my life in various ways,” explains Gonzalez. “The more I researched the cannabis industry the more opportunities I saw to contribute,” she continues.

Thus, Gonzalez pivoted her career path towards advocating for medical cannabis. After leaving her original firm, she began to put her energy towards helping anyone who wants to participate in the industry to be able to do so.

“I left the firm I was working for to start my own firm with my partner with the goal of helping women and people of color [demographics that have been severely marginalized in the cannabis community] enter the cannabis industry,” she says.

In regards to her knowledge of cannabis law, it’s been all self-education. “I researched and read and educated myself constantly on the history, medical and business aspect of cannabis,” she explains. “Most of what I’ve learned, I’ve learned from simply talking to people or listening to those who have been in the game.”

A typical day for Gonzalez consists of drafting contracts, preparing trademark search reports, taking meetings and reading legislation. “To practice cannabis law means to practice everything cannabis touches and that’s just about everything. Because cannabis pervades all areas of law and because laws are always changing, my job is always changing,” she expressed. 

Gonzalez is able to assist all types of entrepreneurs, “from those looking to apply for a state license, to current license holders, to cannabis/hemp educators, cannabis services providers, CBD retailers, artists, etc,” she says. Proudly, a majority of her clients are women or people of color.

For other women hoping to specialize in cannabis, Gonzalez says, “Please do. And women of color especially.” She is among the only 2% of Latina attorneys in the US, she urges women to find the needs that reveal themselves as legalization progresses, and take the opportunities that come with it, she continues, “Participate in that formation and be a part of the momentum.”

To learn more about Gonzalez’s firm, visit www.mgalawpc.com

Emerald contributor since June 2019

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