Get to Know Me

Diane’s career history is multi-faceted.  With more than a dozen years in the high tech industry, she learned to perfect an assertive, relationship-based approach to sales.  Most sales involved multi-million dollar, multi-year contracts that required attentive account management before, during and after the sale.  When she had an opportunity to become an entrepreneur with her husband, Jay – she took it, and jumped into the world of real estate development.  Being in the real estate and building business gave Diane a deep understanding of regulation, processes and legal issues surrounding buying and selling properties.  When the opportunity to become cannabis pioneers was presented, she was apprehensive – it was the first time she had to consider how her involvement in this industry could impact her family.  When their response was resoundingly supportive, she made the leap into uncharted territory.  Her approach has always been to work with integrity, tenacity and responsibility.  Throughout the development of this industry, Diane has aligned herself and her business with like-minded individuals.  She has also had the opportunity to work closely with advocates who have worked tirelessly to move the industry from the depths of the black-market to the professional store-fronts we see today. So as each state begins to explore bringing canna-business into responsible regulation, she delights in knowing she had a part in making that change.

What is your personal niche within the Cannabis industry?

I’m kind of a matchmaker. I’m constantly trying to connect people that might have complementary businesses. I am always trying to make connections between people. That’s one of the things that has drawn me to be so involved with some of the organizations in the industry like NCIA, ArcView, and Canopy Boulder. Those all really lend themselves well to networking with other people.

What do you love about this industry?

There is this driving force in almost everyone that I meet that really wants this to be a better industry. It is an industry that’s really motivated by the social affects that we have, the environmental impact that we have, and by changing the wrongs of the drug war. To the people I work with it’s more than just a new business. There is a lot of heart, compassion and amazing stories that have brought people here. Many of them are very sad. Sometimes it is because someone very close to them died, and they didn’t have access to cannabis. Some of them were wrongly arrested because they had a half a joint on them in college, and it really took them down a difficult path for trying to get student loans later in their life. So what I’ve found was even though I didn’t know all of this when I started, it has definitely kept me involved. I love the feeling that everyone is really committed and has the right issues motivating them to succeed.

Could you talk about the road to becoming Consultants?

We had one of the first licenses in Colorado. I remember the people at the Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division when they interviewed us were like, “Oh my gosh your application was so well done! I wish they were all like this! It was so easy to go through and so well documented, and easy for us to identify where all your money was coming from.” That’s kind of what gave us the idea that we could do it as a consultant. We also began to realize that had we stuck with our business Boulder Kind Care in Colorado, we would have never had the national awareness that we have now. We would have had our plate full just with the day-to-day tasks of our dispensary and cultivation facility. I enjoy this so much more.

What are some of the challenges you’ve had to overcome?

We are very open about our struggles with Boulder Kind Care. It was more about us getting caught up in a big movement that was happening here in Boulder to shutdown as many businesses as possible. It had very little to do with who we were, or what we were doing. The city was just looking for an opportunity to shut down as many businesses as they could. For our dispensary in particular, it was grandfathered in. It was close to down town, right around the corner from a daycare. Had we not been in business before the rules, it wouldn’t have been allowed to be there. So they were especially motivated to shut us down. Even though it was a pretty traumatic experience for me, because I had to let go of something I was very passionate about, I realized that it wasn’t really because of me or anyone in our company. It was just that we were caught up in Boulder’s process of shuttering as many cannabis businesses as possible. It continues today.

What is it like working with the legislation in other states?

We actually helped change some of the laws in Connecticut. They listened to us because of our experience. We kind of told the entity that was regulating the businesses in Connecticut, “We understand why you came up with this idea, but this really won’t work.” They didn’t understand the nuances of dealing with the plant. So I’m really grateful that we have gone down this road because now we have worked in so many different states, and each on is so different. We now understand the temperament behind them. We know how helpful or antagonistic they are. For example, in Massachusetts the people were very much for legalizing Cannabis, but I don’t think the regulators really appreciated having that put on their plate. We see that a lot in many states. They view it as kind of a “pain in the ass.”

Could you talk about some of your experiences with patients?

There are so many incredible stories…

My daughter had a friend who’s father was very sick with cancer. I went to visit him in the hospital so I could help him get his paperwork done. The first group that helped him complete his paperwork did it incorrectly. Because of that he was rejected even though he was a terminal cancer patient. So I helped him redo his paperwork. I was able to bring him edibles to make him more comfortable. He died before he ever got his medical marijuana card.

There was another man that was recovering from prostate cancer. He was on oxygen and really couldn’t leave his apartment, so I made deliveries to him. I recently ran into him at the same senior living facility where my mom lives. I was so happy that he was still alive and doing so well!

There was a younger woman who stopped me one day inside Boulder Kind Care. She gave me a hug and thanked me for opening the dispensary. She had been involved in a car accident that left her with significant injuries including a broken neck. She was a young mother with two young children. She said that the pharmaceuticals she was on made her lethargic and bed ridden. She thanked me for giving her something that kept her active and engaged with her kids.

My mother had to move to Colorado for medical reasons back in 2013. By the time she got here, she was maxed out on her prescription medication for pain and it wasn’t doing the job. Those medications have so many terrible side effects, too. She wasn’t healthy. We started out by giving her tinctures, and she really liked that. It helped her sleep through the night after she had been getting up 3-4 times a night for months. It was honestly difficult to get her to transition because she grew up in a “pill-popping world” where you take a pill to fix everything without considering what other things that pill might be doing to your body. I have had to be patient with that and realize that at her old age it’s about quality of life. So making sure she’s comfortable is the most important thing. I had to realize I can’t force my will on her. It has to be something she wants to do as well. Now she takes a CBD capsule every morning and it has become a part of her daily routine.

Another example is when we found out our business partner had a lymphoma in his jaw and couldn’t be an active partner for several months. We had only been open for four months at that point. That was a real life experience of someone going through cancer treatment and using cannabis. He made a full recovery. It definitely reaffirmed my belief that cannabis has a positive affect on how quickly he was able to recover and come back.

What is it like to be a mother in the industry?

It’s important to me that my children understand the truth about the drug war, and how people have been impacted by that; about Cannabis being a safe alternative for adults. To kids I stress that it is a medicine, and overall great for incorporating into a healthy lifestyle. I do know that a developing brain reacts differently than a fully developed brain. I do not believe it is healthy for children to use recreationally. However, I firmly believe that cannabis has medical properties that can help kids that have medical issues. I certainly haven’t tried to push that on anybody. Instead, I want to point out that alcohol, which is very socially acceptable, is far more dangerous and unhealthy. There are really no medical benefits to alcohol.

I want my kids to know it’s important to be aware of other people’s trials and tribulations and try to advocate for those who can’t advocate for themselves. That has become a more important focus for me and my kids now.

I especially want my daughters to know the importance of being a powerful, confident woman. I don’t want them feeling like you are beneath anyone because of your gender; that you seek out and pursue whatever you want. About 37% of the executives in this industry are women and I love that. It’s more than double of what other industries have for executives. It could definitely be better and more diverse, but it is a start.

Final thoughts?

There are so many people in the Cannabis industry now that have become dear friends to me. As a focus of this website, I would like to show that they are human just like everybody else. Our focus is not about getting high, and being high all the time. It’s about how it’s incorporated into our lifestyles; how it keeps people very physically active, and mentally healthy. These people are all very well-known and respected in the industry. I think it is important that people know that we are human.

Interview By Madison Stratford 5/2016