How Being a Stoner Became a Career Advantage

I turned my love of weed into the job of my dreams

I didn’t realize how much of a stoner I was until I joined burgeoning cannabis industry.

I’m not sure when it really clicked — that my love for pot outside of work could become so valuable to my career. It may have been the day when an email circulated to my entire team, a cannabis review and information website, announcing that I was one of our internal weed experts. New employees with questions about the plant, could come to me — me?! — for answers.

That was probably the day I realized that perhaps I knew more about weed than I’d thought. How did this happen?

I’ve smoked pot recreationally since secondary school. I’m now 36, so I guess it’s been about 20 years — longer than I’ve done just about anything else. But like so many recent entrants to this line of business, I didn’t identify with the movement. Prohibition hadn’t really affected me, and while waiting for hours for a drug dealer to show up could be somewhat inconvenient, I’d never had any trouble buying illegal weed.

There is literally nothing better on earth than smoking a doob with like-minded pals and sharing some deep laughs.

But I felt a tug after attending a series of seminars online hosted by Leafly, an American cannabis company, at SXSW in 2017. There, marketers and journalists like Bruce Barcott spoke about the stigma associated with cannabis consumption, and how bringing legal weed to the mainstream would mean opening minds to what types of people use cannabis.

This struck a chord with me: In some ways, I am very much a stereotypical burnout — I love stoner comedies and adore psychedelic music that transports me to euphoric dimensions.

There is literally nothing better on earth than smoking a doob with like-minded pals and sharing some deep laughs.

But not everyone who uses cannabis feels the same way. There are gym rats who love weed, suits who hoot on vape pens before heading to networking events, and gourmet chefs planning five-course infused meals. And there’s more to me than my deep love of chilling out — I have a degrees and an excellent track record for making myself useful in the extremely challenging digital media world.

I hustle… and then I chill.

But before my fellow stoners start dusting off their résumés, I have to warn you: There is actually very little chill in this industry. For one, plenty of people will be critical of my use of the word “stoner” here, claiming that I’m perpetuating stereotypes. (To which I say: meh.) The diverse members of the stonerverse don’t all share the same politics, so there’s a lot of arguing happening, mostly on Twitter.

Emotions are running high. Members of the medical cannabis community are concerned that there won’t be enough medicine for them once licensed cultivators start selling to the adult-use market — and no one’s offering much in the way of reassurance. We’re a motley crew, jostling into position, trying to get a slice of this great green pie. But cannabis is a complex, fascinating plant, and its prohibition means it’s been poorly researched.

There’s distrust toward the government, distrust in shareholder-backed corporations, and distrust toward police, who have been arresting people for possession in recent years, but arresting nonetheless.

And despite calls for amnesty, the government still hasn’t announced what it plans to do with all the people currently serving sentences for nonviolent cannabis-related convictions — even as former politicians who previously campaigned against legalization set up shop.

So now, finally, after 20 years of taking it for granted, I’m an advocate. After you meet people whose lives have been transformed by medical cannabis or make friends with activists who have spent decades doggedly pushing for policy change, it’s hard not to be.

Sometimes I roll joints at my desk! And no one bats an eye!

Joining the legal cannabis industry isn’t activism — it doesn’t even come close. And it is accompanied by a few risks.

But for the moment, the pros vastly outweigh the cons. For someone in the content creation business, political upheaval, tension, and high stakes are good things. And probably for the first time ever in a workplace, I feel completely like myself.

I don’t censor my ideas; I don’t have a “work voice” or feel like I’m performing some kind of role. Sometimes I roll joints at my desk! And no one bats an eye! Instead, my team mates — the same people who ask me if sativa and indica even mean anything anymore, or how THC concentrate rosin is made, or what terpenes could make you feel a certain way — are like, “Woof, that smells great. What strain is that?”

Attitudes are changing, legalization is progress, and there’s still so much work to be done. And for the first time in a long time, I’m feeling optimistic.

Not bad for a stoner, right?



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