Updated: May 3, 2020
As we all navigate our new reality during Covid, I decided to share my experience of changing careers to the cannabis industry and job-seeking during these unprecedented times. So, I share a virtual cover letter, to no one and everyone, and I hope it inspires you to re-think how your experience and skills will serve our new world moving forward.
To Whom it May Concern,
I am writing to express my interest in obtaining a position at your cannabis company. I recently completed my Graduate Certificate in Cannabis Regulatory Affairs at Clark University, the nation’s first program of its kind. I submersed myself into the program and earned a 4.0 GPA and have been encouraged to apply to teach an online course for the program in 2021. The certificate has provided me with an intensive education on cannabis health and public safety, cannabis education and enforcement, and legal frameworks of the cultivation, distribution, sale, and consumption of cannabis and cannabis-infused products. More importantly, the degree gave me insight into how I could combine my experience in communications with a career in public health to improve a system that is failing so many on the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum.
When we criminalized cannabis, we failed a plant with healing potential and we failed humankind. How could we make it illegal to test a substance whose healing properties had already begun to be discovered and used for thousands of years? (I'm sorry to use this reference but Wikipedia sums it up just fine: The history of cannabis and its usage by humans dates back to at least the third millennium BC in written history, and possibly further back by archaeological evidence. For millennia, the plant has been valued for its use for fiber and rope, as food and medicine, and for its psychoactive properties for religious and recreational use.
The earliest restrictions on cannabis were reported in the Islamic world by the 14th century. In the 19th century, it began to be restricted in colonial countries, often associated with racial and class stresses. In the middle of the 20th century, international coordination led to sweeping restrictions on cannabis throughout most of the globe. Entering the 21st century, some nations began to change their approaches to cannabis, with measures taken to decriminalize cannabis; the Netherlands became the first nation to legalize cannabis, and in 2015 Uruguay became the first to legalize recreational cannabis with Canada following in 2018 and South Africa for personal home use only.). It's scary to think about. But the industry is slowly creeping forward, and the plant is slowly becoming de-stigmatized, and efforts are underway to legalize and right the wrongs of our history. I understand the progress can be slow and clunky at times...and while we need great minds to discover the full spectrum of medicinal properties this plant offers, right now we need sensible people with well-meaning hearts and passion to ensure that happens through advocacy and hard work as essential cannabis workers answer the call to supply patients with their medicinal marijuana. (And if you don't have your medical marijuana card and for some reason can't get one right now while recreational stores are closed, you can always get some beer, so stop your complaining. You don't drink alcohol? Well, start...complete sarcasm).
I worked ten years as a broadcast journalist, lived my entrepreneurial dreams of opening a boutique PR firm, and held Director of Marketing and Communications positions with Worcester Public Schools, Mechanics Hall, and Worcester State University to name a few. I've asked people to sing and donate money for pancreatic cancer research through creating an event called Karaoke for a Cure for UMass Memorial Hospital and co-founded the Young Professional Women's Association with a board of young women who were eager to get out of the shadows of the 50-year established Young Businessmen's Association of Worcester. I survived severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and through it all, I learned I traveled this journey for a reason and that reason is clearer than ever now thanks to Covid. Setbacks have turned into comebacks. Regrets turned into wisdom. And this past summer when I decided to make a bold move and change careers at 43, I had no idea what the timing of this choice would bring.
I thought I was going to be able to use my skills in communications and my new graduate certificate to help advance the cannabis industry and all of those disproportionately impacted by the criminalization of marijuana and possibly even have some kind of impact on new cures and medical discoveries through the power of cannabis education and advocacy. But now, I get to enter this new field in a brand new era, in the time of Covid. A situation I never thought I would never see in my lifetime. A time when so many of our loved ones lost someone from this plague. Where local officials had to cure chronic homelessness in a matter of days to mitigate the potential impact of the virus. I was never so thankful for a roof over my head, my own bed, clean water, and friends and family who wouldn't let me go hungry getting caught between jobs in such a tumultuous time. I've had the benefit of diverse life experiences to guide my moral compass, but to go through this particular experience as a collective group, with the societal changes that have already begun due to Covid, has been transforming. We are as strong as our weakest link. And we've all been pushed to some kind of limit these past few months. The way I see it, this is the absolute best time to be entering the cannabis industry. We have to move forward in cannabis together and now we are together more than ever before.
God had a plan for me, he has a plan for all of us. The world has put out her hands, asking for your help. I believe we are heeding that call. And I hope we do for the rest of our lives.