INTERVIEW WITH JESSICA MCCANN: A WOMAN IN CANNABIS
Jessica McCann is a Marketing Project Coordinator and Executive Assistant for Spiritleaf, based in Western Canada. Having met Jessica very briefly while she was doing her thing at Lift and Co this summer (and their booth had gelato!!?), I reached out to see what she was up to in the cannabis industry!
Q1: How did you get involved in the industry?
Would you have guessed that I used to be a pre-school teacher? I lived and worked in New Brunswick and then decided to hop in a car and move across the country to Alberta. I applied right away to work at a Spiritleaf retail location (even though I had never worked in cannabis) and was hired to be a Cannabis Concierge at their Macleod location. But remember what happened in Nov 2018? AGLC put a pause on cannabis retail licenses in Alberta. Unfortunately, this meant that my location wasn't going to be selling cannabis for quite some time. Although this was a tough hit for Spiritleaf, I was lucky enough to be shuffled around and started as the Executive Assistant to the CEO, Darren Bondar. Fast forward 1.5 years later and I now balance multiple roles in marketing and our community initiative Spiritfund. To be honest, I took any chance I could to involve myself in projects across the office. I stuck to marketing and continue to make connections through my position (oh yeah, and work my butt off.)
Q2: Have you experienced inequality in your career and how did you overcome it?
As you can imagine this question has multiple layers. I can say with 100% confidence that my team has Spiritleaf has always empowered me and enabled me to succeed. But if you step back and look at the big picture - there are many things in corporate culture that directly affect a women's ability to succeed in business. Only 17% of women are in C-level positions in Canadian Cannabis Companies. Society still has a hard time seeing women as CEO's and CFO's, ultimately positions in leadership and influence. Does this directly affect my career path? Absolutely. I originally thought the best way to overcome this, was to play harder in the men's game. But what I found out was that we don’t have to work "like men", we need to change the whole structure. We can do this by advocating for women's issues and celebrating women who are kicking ass in the industry. My mission is to uplift women so that we can all rise together!
Q3: Favourite part about the cannabis industry?
Easy! My favourite part is meeting all the female powerhouses of cannabis. I see you hustling ladies!
Q4: What do you think of Legalization 2.0, are we making strides in the right direction?
My favourite part of Cannabis 2.0 is that the government is now making it more accessible for consumers to try cannabis. It's understandable that people are hesitant to try smoking or concentrate vapes. I love that people can ease into trying cannabis with more familiar formats - like topicals or beverages. Speaking of beverages - how exciting is it to be able to drink cannabis instead of alcohol? There is a large social expectation to drink beer or wine at social events, and I hope that cannabis beverages can make their way into that category. From a retail perspective, it gives our franchise partners the chance to increase their product selection and acquire new customers. My concern for the new products is mg/unit. 10mg max per edible/beverage??? There is no way consumers with high tolerance are going to pay for and eat 15 chocolate bars. What consumers need to understand though is that it's not the retailers or the producers making this call - IT’S THE GOVERNMENT.
Q5: What's ahead for you?
2020 is my year, and I've spent most of 2019 working to put myself in a position of growth. I'm investing most of my time in mentorship and refining my professional skills. I can't stress how important it’s been for me to ask questions and learn from all the talent in my team. Stay tuned in early 2020 - you may have a new venture coming from me. Here is a hint: Women + Weed 5ever!
Thank you, Jess, for answering my questions and best of luck as you hit the ground running into the next decade!
The Feminist of Cannabis