Posts in INDUSTRY
MJ Lifestyle // Magazine in the Making
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Original Date Posted: October 12th, 2017

 

"Who the hell starts a magazine?!" I ask my sister.  
Annoyed she responds, "Ugh, a lot of people!!"

 

After hearing her response Im instantly brought back to every moment where I wanted to give up because something was either too hard or I wasn't good enough. Like a broken record, he would say

 

"YOU ARE UNLIKE ANYONE ELSE.  

YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU PUT YOUR MIND TO

AND YOU ARE CAPABLE OF EVERYTHING."

 

Since I was a young girl these mantras have been present in my mind.   However as an adult, the stakes seem so much higher, and self doubt can get the best of me.  

As a mother with two little ones starting off school and team sports and learning about the world, I've become familiar with my childhood once again.  It somehow becomes so clear how significant being a positive voice in your child's mind is.  

Every time I doubted myself, whether is be on the soccer field or a school presentation or boys teasing me, I always had my dad on the sidelines cheering me on and my mom there to hold my hand.  As a kid you are so consumed with yourself and the things happening around you, you dont understand the sacrifices your parents have made for you and you certainly don't appreciate it until many years later.

As I embark on this new adventure - launching a Womens Cannabis Lifestyle Magazine - Im terrified.  But I also know that I am capable and I am unique and I can do anything I put my mind to.  And if this little awkward girl with NO rhythm can make the cheer-leading squad then this strong educated woman sure as hell can create a magazine!

We've got our hearts pounding with our newest passion project, MJ Lifestyle Magazine, created by determined women who believe in elevating the feminine voice in Cannabis and Culture. Follow along in the journey with me, Ill be sharing our steps along the way and would love to have you along for the ride!  

For ways to share your story and get involved email us! hello@mjlifestyle.com
and follow us on Instagram @MJLifestyle

 

 
Taking the High Road with Designer Megan Stone

Classin' up the Joint

From the first time I spoke to Megan Stone on the phone, I knew she was a diva - a headstrong, business minded, alpha-female with a razor sharp eye for detail. Megan is the brains (and beauty) behind the High Road Design Studio, a thriving business she started herself, winning her design firm dozens of accolades. Despite the comedic coincidence of her last name, Megan wasn’t always planning to work in the cannabis industry. I had the pleasure to pick her brain and discuss what it takes to be an award winning designer and all around badass business woman.

- by Khara Krawczyk

Has it always been your dream to design dispensaries?

In hindsight, the path was always leading to this career. But girl, it would have been nice to know that I was truly on the right path during the 1,473,901 moments along the way that felt like I was LOST AS FUCK.

Looking back, I have definitely always had an inclination for architecture, design, and presentation. I have always felt a very strong connection to the built environment around me, and I have always been someone who cares about what those around me feel-- I think this helps make me the designer that I am.

I remember being 3 years old and asking to drive past the mansions in any town we ever went to.

I remember when I was 5, we were selling our house in Gering, Nebraska to move to Fairmont, MN. Our house, like everyone’s house in the 80’s, was covered in wallpaper. I loved our wallpaper so much that I made my mom make a bound book of samples of every pattern of wallpaper in our house so I could cherish it forever (this relic still lives at my parent’s house).

I remember when my 2nd grade teacher told our class that she and her husband were building a house. I designed the whole thing for them, drew it, and presented it to our class.

In almost every job I have had-- whether it was working in a local coffee shop in high school, or catering swanky events at a private country club throughout college-- I was always finding myself handling the primping and polishing of our products and displays.

I guess becoming a designer is really not all that huge of a surprise.

The thing is, I didn’t see many designers growing up, and quite frankly, didn’t know that it was a career path. I could never articulate what is was that I wanted to do, and no wonder, because my true calling in life as a dispensary designer didn’t exist before me. I believe that our souls know things that our conscious selves don’t. My career is my proof for that.

It sounds like your eye for design has been there all along on some level. At what point did cannabis come into your life? Given your name, were you welcomed into the world with the sparking of a blunt?"

The weed part-- well, that was also a path that makes total sense now but was not something I knew I was venturing down until I was already half way down it.

I tried cannabis for the first time my senior year of high school, but it wasn’t until I got to college that I started seeing it as more than a way to party. I started using it as a life supplement more than a “drug.” I would use it before working out. I remember the first time I used it to help me focus and study for a final exam. The older I got, the more I was incorporating it into my day to help me think and experience things in an enlightened, deeper manner.

 

"Then there are those moments where the universe takes over and while you may not know it at the time, everything is about to fall into place."

 

2007: The job I took after college the year before (being a sales rep for high-end wood windows-- a job I thought would at least get me into the world of mansions that my young self always admired) moved me to Palm Springs, CA to manage a new sales territory. I researched California’s medical marijuana program more than I did my sales territory in advance of my move. I got my medical marijuana card as soon as I received my CA ID and visited my first dispensary ever in June of 2007. I was immediately unimpressed. This was the coolest thing I had ever walked into a store to buy, yet the first dispensary experience I had was one of the most uncomfortable experiences of my life. That certainly didn’t deter me from the product though.

2009: The recession and a few poor decisions on my part led to my “being let go” from my window shlepping job, and blessed me with the opportunity to head to the beach and enroll in interior design school. I was fired on February 9th around 10am. I was moved in to the guest room of my best friend’s house in Orange County by 3pm that day. I started interior design school in Newport Beach 6 weeks later.

2010: The new dispensary I started going to offered me a budtending job. I graciously declined the offer at first, being as I had a full time job (a random job in debt settlement, but a job nonetheless). I walked into the office the next day and found out that our office was closing down in 30 days. Luckily, they hadn’t filled that budtending position in the 18 hours that had passed. I started two weeks later. I was a budtender at that Orange County dispensary the rest of my time in design school, and then some.

2011: About a year into it, my boss wanted to give our shop a facelift and let me “practice” my design skills on our dispensary.

I went with dark brown paint on the walls, light wood flooring, black cases, and a custom feature wall behind our budtending area. I brought in my white Ikea pedestal dining table from my apartment and that became the World’s first candy store-like edibles display, I swear to God. (Ironically, 6 years later, I just repurchased that table for my studio!) I had all of our employees bring in one of their baby pictures, which we framed and displayed in our receptionist’s office to give our store a homey, personal feel.

Our patients absolutely loved it. It was so rewarding to see people feel good when they were in a place that I designed. It wasn’t just that they liked the way it looked. It was seeing the fact that they felt really good in our shop. Isn’t that what this is all about—helping people feel good, feel their best? Our patients needed a reason to feel good, whether they were struggling with AIDS or just having a stressful day. Hell, all of us—employees too—needed a reason to feel good about our daily lives. This place I helped give an identity to was able to do that.

That sense of purpose is something I never want to be without. I think it really is my purpose, at least in this phase of life, to help people understand us cannabis users differently. To legitimize us. To accept us. After all, we are all cannabinoid users. Some of us just need to supplement what our bodies naturally provide.

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"That sense of purpose is something I never want to be without. I think it really is my purpose, at least in this phase of life, to help people understand us cannabis users differently. To legitimize us. To accept us. After all, we are all cannabinoid users. Some of us just need to supplement what our bodies naturally provide."


You have won numerous awards and accolades for your design projects  (congrats!) is there anything you would attribute your success to?

I am pretty sure the equation for my success goes something like:

((unconscious bond to spaces + empathy) + (PASSION x daily THC) / (Midwestern Values + Work Ethic) + financial goals) - desire to conform - need to answer to anyone other than me) ^ fuck making plants illegal

Read: The sum of my unconscious bond to spaces and empathy, added to the product of my passion and “everyday is Highday” mantra, divided by the sum of my Midwestern Values and work ethic plus financial goals—all of that, minus any desire to conform or the need to answer to anyone other than me. Take all of that bad-bitch-ness and put it to the exponential power of a mentality of “fuck making plants illegal” and that is pretty much what has gotten me out of bed to do my thang over the past 5 years.

In non-mathematical terms, I think my unique (aka fucking weird) point of view and the human instinct to express oneself has gotten me places in life. Throughout my whole life I have been a little weird (Insert: childhood photos) so the fact that no one else seemed to be envisioning the dispensary experience in the same level of detail and panache that I always seem to is just more #storyofmylife. Realizing early on that my vision for what buying cannabis should be like is very different from other people’s forced me to either find a way to express my concepts and communicate my value or find another gig.

As a designer, some of the most important ways to communicate one’s ideas is through one’s portfolio of work. From the start, I have been very intentional about building a unique portfolio of work that is both totally different from anything anyone has ever seen before, yet immediately recognizable and understandable. People get it when you show them a better retail space, no matter if it sells cannabis or shoes. I seized every opportunity to design spaces that would take great photos and tell good stories. Luckily, there are a lot of great stories to be told in this industry. I am lucky to have gotten to work with clients who give me the freedom to bring their stories to life in their dispensary.

Emma Chasen - A Rising Star in the Cannabis Industry
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When Emma Chasen’s supervisor at the Brown University Oncology Research Group declined her request for cannabis trials and instead, encouraged an expensive pharmaceutical drug, Chasen knew her journey would lead to greener meadows elsewhere. Now, an industry consultant and cannabis educator, named Portland’s Best Budtender 2016, featured on television and podcasts, Newsweek, MG Magazine, Stoner Magazine, High Times Magazine, The Oregon Leaf and Teen Vogue, Chasen is changing lives by helping people heal and understand the scientific powers of the plant.  

After graduating in 2014 with a degree in Medicinal Plant Research, Chasen began coordinating at the Clinical Oncology trials with the Brown University Oncology Research Group. She soon realized she could no longer work for a company that did not support her vision and drifted to Portland, Oregon where she found herself aligned with a company that took a more scientific approach to cannabis - Farma, a popular Portland dispensary. Beginning her career as a Budtender for the dispensary, in a few short months, she quickly became promoted to the General Manager. After a little over a year in that role, she was given the title of Director of Education, focusing on educational efforts and creating training curriculum focused on the science behind the plant, knowledge, medicinal benefits and empathic patient care.

After over two years of acquiring extensive experience and knowledge at Farma, she decided to continue her journey with Sativa Science Club, a grassroots cannabis education initiative. By joining, she understood that she could target the cannabis community on a larger scale and expand her curriculum into a certification program. In the fall of 2017 through the Sativa Science Club, Chasen launched the Core Science Certification program which focuses on everything from cannabis botany and cannabis compounds to the endocannabinoid receptor system, cannabis products and more.

With a heart of gold, Chasen is positively impacting and influencing the cannabis industry, on her mission to educate the people on the science behind cannabis.

WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING ON?  I am a cannabis educator and consultant. I work with cannabis businesses to elevate their brand presence by creating consumer facing educational marketing collateral and educational programs. I also help retail cannabis businesses successfully navigate the transition from medical to adult-use cannabis. I help with business organization, structure and also create in-house educational training programs so that employees are better able to service the consumer market. In this highly competitive market, cannabis businesses must distinguish themselves and the way to do that is with highly trained and educated staff. I also teach workshops in Portland for both enthusiasts and cannabis industry professionals on the fundamentals of cannabis science. Since I have a robust background in medicinal plant research, I feel it is part of my job to explain cannabis science in an accessible and meaningful way for people of all backgrounds.

TELL MJ ABOUT YOUR EXTENSIVE KNOWLEDGE IN CANNABIS.  I graduated from Brown University in 2014 with a degree specializing in medicinal plant research. I tried to study cannabis in my undergrad, but could not due to its illegal status. So anything I wanted to know about cannabis I had to teach myself. Luckily, my degree gave me a foundational understanding of how secondary metabolites operate within a plant matrix and the medicinal potential of secondary metabolites when consumed by humans. I read as much literature as I could find on cannabis and began studying the plant in a more hands-on way when I moved to Portland and began working at Farma (a scientifically-minded dispensary) in 2015. Since then I have been lucky enough to continue my study of cannabis by having access to the latest research and interfacing with some of the industry’s most brilliant minds. I like to think of cannabis as the ‘All Star’ medicinal plant; the medicinal plant that will help people feel empowered to explore holistic modalities in regards to their health and wellness. And the potential of that reframing the way we approach healthcare is so damn exciting.

EXPLAIN YOUR GOAL(S) IN EDUCATING THE COMMUNITY?  I have a mission to educate people on the science behind cannabis. Because I have an extensive scientific background (in addition to my degree, I worked in oncology research after I graduated) I really see my role as someone who is able to translate scientific language into layman’s terms. Currently there is a problem with cannabis education. Reliable cannabis science information is often only found in dense, research articles that can be hard to understand. Blogs and internet sites will also publish articles with cannabis science, however it is often difficult to determine the legitimacy of the information. I believe education and information should be accessible to all. My job is to take scientific concepts discussed in research papers and present them in such a way that everyone can understand. I educate everyone from consumers to budtenders to industry professionals. I believe that everyone should invest in cannabis education, as it is crucial for advancing this industry forward in a responsible, ethical paradigm.

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WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU THINK WOMEN FACE AS A WHOLE IN THE INDUSTRY? There are many challenges that women face in this industry that are extraordinarily similar to systemic problems we face in other industries - sexual misconduct, abuse of power by men, wage gaps, and lack of equal representation. Due to media, people believe women finally do have equal representation in the cannabis industry and that creates a false sense of complacency. The amount of female CEOs in the cannabis industry is close to the abysmally low national average. We still need to fight to gain ownership. And we haven’t even talked about the immense challenges women of color have in being a part of this industry.

WHAT EXCITES YOU MOST ABOUT THE CANNABIS INDUSTRY?  The potential for discovery! There is so much that we still get to uncover about this amazing plant. We’re just at the beginning and I am so excited to see all that the future holds for cannabis. I’m also hopeful for the revolutionary impact that cannabis could have on both the agricultural and healthcare industries.

ARE YOU A MEMBER OF ANY CANNABIS ORGANIZATIONS OR GROUPS?  I am! There are so many wonderful organizations/groups in the Oregon Cannabis industry. One of my favorites is Tokeativity - a cannabis community for women with the intention to nurture a safe space for women to create, learn, and connect. 

WHAT CAN YOU TELL OTHER WOMEN WHO WANT TO PURSUE A CANNABIS CAREER? Learn everything you can about cannabis and find your niche - what excites you, what are you great at, what can you bring to this space. Because the industry is so nascent there is so much opportunity for creativity and innovation. Trust in your genius, make connections, invest your time in people who want to elevate you, and work like hell.

FIVE THINGS PEOLE DON'T KNOW ABOUT YOU:

  1. People think I’m an extrovert but I actually am a big homebody at heart

  2. I was a hardcore substance free human (like puritanical) until my second semester of college

  3. I was cast on a reality tv show on FOX

  4. When I was growing up I wanted to either be a surgeon or an actress

  5. I am obsessed with French Fries

FIVE THINGS TOU CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT:

  1. Toothpicks

  2. Chance by Chanel perfume

  3. My phone (my family lives in NY so it’s the way I stay connected with them)

  4. This is not a thing per say, but I can’t live without my friends and family. I am so incredibly grateful for their support.

  5. Trees. Trees are so goddamn special and I love them so much. Plus, we all literally *could not* live without them

TOP FIVE FAV BEAUTY PRODUCTS:

  1. Anastasia glow palette

  2. Tarte liquid primer

  3. Anastasia chocolate eyeshadow palette

  4. Kiehl's facial moisturizer

  5. Dark lipstick

WHO OR WHAT INSPIRES YOU THE MOST AND WHY? My mom definitely inspires me the most. She is so strong, kind, loving, gracious and powerful. She raised four kids while also running a business devoted to the social/emotional wellbeing of children. She owns and operates a private school, Spark Elementary, that seeks to advance the social/emotional development of pre-k and elementary school children through literacy and creative arts therapies. Like yes, everyone should be following her lead!! I definitely hope to become as resilient and wonderful as she is.

IF YOU COULD BE ANY ANIMAL WHAT WOULD YOU BE?  Probably a giraffe. I’d love to glide around and eat leaves from the tops of trees all day.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO IN YOUR FREE TIME?  I love watching movies, it’s my favorite way to relax. I also love to cook. And if I’m feeling like going out my favorite thing to do is to go see one of my best friend’s perform with his band, Jame. He’s an incredible performer.

FAVORITE STRAIN TO SMOKE? I generally enjoy chemovars with higher concentrations of pinene. I love the heightened presence and clarity that come along with pinene.

FAVORITE WAY TO CONSUME?  I actually love edibles. That’s my preferred method of ingestion. But I also love a joint rolled with some additional passionflower, lemon balm and peppermint.

ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE MJ READERS TO KNOW?  Find me on instagram, facebook, linkedin, or through my website. Always happy to continue the conversation!

INTERVIEW BY Amy C. Witt
@caliiforniadreamin
@smokiingbeauty
 

Synthetic Cannabis? No Thanks!

Big Pharma continues to create synthetic versions of cannabis. Is this a better method since it’s FDA approved?  Ask yourself this, would you ever try eating a synthetic salad?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is aware that cannabis and cannabis derived products are being used for a number of medical conditions, such as AIDS wasting syndrome, epilepsy, neuropathic pain, cancer, and nausea. However, they have not approved a marketing application for any product that is derived from the marijuana plant. What they HAVE done is approved Big Pharma to distribute a synthetic version of THC, called Dronabinol. This active ingredient is an oil that is derived from sesame oil. Researchers have found that only 10-20% of a pill that contains Dronabinal reaches its target in the body. This is because the liver sees Dronabinol as a contaminant and gets rid of it immediately. 

What side effects do patients who take synthetic cannabinoid medications experience?

•       Weakness

•       Sudden feeling of warmth

•       Stomach pain

•       Nausea or vomiting

•       Memory loss

•       Anxiety

•       Confusion

•       Dizziness

Wait….what? Vomiting and nausea?

Marinol is a prescription drug that contains the active ingredient, Dronabinol. Patients with AIDS, cancer, or neurological conditions were initially prescribed this drug to help cope with their nausea and vomiting. Not only did it contradict its intended use, but Marinol also worsened mood symptoms and often caused depression or anxiety. How infuriating to think a drug that was initially prescribed for nausea and vomiting, causes the same side effects and even more! At most U.S pharmacies, a supply of 60 capsules (2 month supply) costs around $700. On top of that, patients who are using these drugs are usually experiencing major health issues and have other medications to pay for as well. And don’t forget about doctor visits! Although insurance helps some individuals, many are left with hugely expensive bills to pay off.

Since the marijuana plant naturally produces THC, its form is more therapeutic and can be home grown for self-medication. Marinol is manufactured in labs and creates life threatening side effects. So why is one approved and not the other?

Dronabinol has been studied for neuropathic pain and was not found to very effective. For chronic non-cancer pain, it was shown to be slightly better than the placebo. Since many studies are government regulated, there hasn’t been much research done on the marijuana plant. In all the research that has been done, marijuana was found to be better than the placebo at relieving pain. While there might not be a lot of research taking place here in the United States, The Marijuana Business Daily reported that we can finally welcome the launch of a new research center in the Czech Republic. The International Cannabis and Cannabinoid Institute (ICCI) could provide an immense amount of information on how cannabis can help increase our quality of life. With more research being done, society is questioning the stereotypes and stigma that have plagued marijuana for years. Medical marijuana hasn’t just become a big industry in the United States, it’s becoming an international movement!

 

The Art of Feminine Financing with Sara Batterby
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"I feel the reason women take to fundraising well is because they begin to believe in themselves and know that they can do it."

Sara Batterby

Last year, she was named by the Portland Business Journal as one of the ten ‘Executives to Watch’ in 2017.  She has helped numerous cannabis companies, mostly women-led,  raise millions of dollars. With a background in technology and over 20 years of financial experience, Sara Batterby is on a mission to educate and empower women all over the country to embrace financial opportunities and raise money for their companies!

Before entering the cannabis industry, Sara co-founded an early stage venture fund in Silicon Valley with the goal of helping investors understand the powerful business case for investing in women. In 2014, she moved to Portland, Oregon and built a cannabis cultivation company called HiFi Farms, based in Hillsboro which specialized in Clean Green Certified craft cannabis. The next year, she became the Founding Chair of the Women Grow Chapter in Portland, which became one of the largest female professional network groups in the cannabis industry. Upon exiting HiFi Farms in 2017, she established the Batterby Group to educate and empower a diverse group of entrepreneurs who seek access to capital for their growing ventures.

A member of the Oregon Cannabis Association, and a Board Member to both Women Led and the Resource Innovation Institute, Sara Batterby is a powerful woman. And now this fascinating beauty is changing women’s lives by empowering them with the financial tools they need to achieve their goals.

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Tell us about the “Art of Feminine Financing?”  I raised over $5 million in two years for Hifi Farms and I realized that there should be more women doing the same. I figured no one was really addressing the gap in education around fundraising and I felt I needed to. I wanted to educate women especially in raising money to do what they want to do. When I was asked to speak about fundraising at a Women Grow Summit, I didn’t want to talk about myself. I wanted to create a workshop on how to do it.  What to do and, more importantly actually, what not to do. That speech was called the “Feminine Art of Fundraising” and that is how I started to codify what I was doing that I believed was making my fundraising efforts successful. It all happened organically and now I work with some amazing female clients and host a Capital Masterclass for female entrepreneurs here in Portland.  Soon I hope to be delivering this critical content through intensive workshops all across the country.  

What is your goal through all of this?  To get women to the point where they feel "OK, I can do this."  When that happens something changes and women are really amazing at fundraising because they tend to be great at building relationships and communication.  They have to feel prepared and competent in the task, but once that happens they are unstoppable.

What do you feel the future holds for financing and business operations in the industry?  I feel it will continue to be a huge rush of money that will mostly get plopped into companies exclusively run by men. I believe women and minorities have not circulated in network where money is generally exchanged and fundraising is treated like a network strength and not a skillset which, ultimately, it is. I created  “Courting Angels” which is a strategy designed for for first-time fundraisers. It delivers a structure for preparing and executing your raise. We add technical and tactical support on incorporation, investment structures, investor protections, governance and so on, to a really unique methodology for engaging and converting investor interest into capital. At this point, I can say with complete confidence that it works and a lot of women led companies are funded because of it.  That is incredibly rewarding and exciting for me.

Why do you think less women have been involved in the opportunity that is available in the industry?  Women don't feel prepared and that prevents them from going out and asking for money. Women are amazing at raising money but generally won’t do things that they do not feel prepared for. The truth is nobody is really taught to raise money but it's much easier for people who come from communities where money is exchanged within established networks.  These communities tend to be white and male. 

What is the biggest challenge you face as a women in the industry?  I don’t face any different challenges than in any other industries I have been involved in which have been technology, finance and business. Unfortunately there is a deeply entrenched, low grade sexism in pretty much every professional industry.  In particular as a leader, especially as a CEO, it's tough being a woman sometimes. The responsibility of the CEO is to be 100% responsible for performance in the company which means you have to insist on a high degree of accountability and performance in your team.  This can be extremely difficult because it means being tough and that often get's you labelled as a bully or a bitch. I have certainly had my fair share of that but ultimately, my problem was that I wasn't tough enough and struggled to choose being unpopular and effective over being popular and less effective.  It's not a fun line to have to walk.

What excites you most about the industry?  Hemp! It’s a massive agriculture commodity that has such powerful potential. It is also exciting and interesting to be around so many entrepreneurs with exciting visions and so much energy.

What can you tell other women who want to purse a cannabis career?  Learn to raise money and just go for it. Be aware and know there is space and room to grow. Don’t let feelings of being unprepared stop you! Get past whatever it is you don't understand or don’t feel qualified for. We need diversity and a lot of women professionals who have been involved in marketing, finance, technology, beauty, wherever their passion lies.

Five things people don’t know about you?

1.   I am half Maltese – my mother is from Malta.

2.   I am ambidextrous.

3.   I am dyslexic.

4.   My first job was lambing in a Wellington, a village in England.

5.   I am obsessed with houses and real estate.

Anything you cant live without?  My dogs – Rosie, Frea and Pippy

Favorite fashion designer and why?  Channel because it's classic and timeless.

Favorite thing to smoke?  I love smoking a CBD/Hemp joint and love Cherry Wine. I also love tinctures by Luminous Botanicals and Danodan Grassworks.

Any closing thoughts?  Yes, I feel the reason women take to fundraising well is because they begin to believe in themselves when they realize they can do it. Cannabis is an industry full of dreams! But also a lot of challenge, I would encourage anyone to spend a few minutes out of the day believing in yourself and being nice to yourself. 

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To Connect with Sara, visit: https://www.batterbygroup.com/