Women in Weed: Gen Garcia
If you were around last week, you know that we shared our first-ever product spotlight on Seed Technology, an in-dispensary kiosk that helps new customers get educated about cannabis and feel empowered making their dispensary purchases. In addition to celebrating the brands that are committed to redefining the new-user experience, I also want to spotlight the industry leaders that are pushing this effort forward!
This week, we’re continuing to share the love by spotlighting one of Seed’s incredible team members, industry leader, and cannabis education advocate: Genevieve Garcia. Below you’ll find a Q&A I did with Gen about her experiences in the evolving cannabis industry, the importance of education and, the steps that must be taken to make new cannabis users feel safe and informed.
Gen is truly one of the most earnest and passionate leaders I’ve met thus far on my journey, and I am ecstatic to have the opportunity to celebrate her!
What information has resonated the most with people as they get educated on cannabis? Does anything specific make people rethink their stance on cannabis-use?
As cannabis research continues to improve, people are beginning to better understand and experience the many benefits that cannabis has to offer. When people discover the multitude of ways that cannabis can help people lead healthier lifestyles, and that it is not all about “getting high”, they typically change their stance. People are often surprised that you can use cannabis and experience benefits without the intoxicating/psychoactive effects that cannabis is commonly known for.
I find that people get excited to learn that cannabis doesn’t just mean “flower” anymore- and comes in a huge array of products that differ in their onset, duration and effect. It’s been a privilege to work on a product that allows me to provide, and at times witness first-hand, people’s “a-ha” moments as they are presented with information they never knew before. Whenever I have been present for someone experiencing the interactive education on a Seed kiosk (like at a tradeshow, for example), I’m amazed at how people light up at all different places of the journey. Some get a kick out of exploring terpenes, while others get so into how they can treat multiple ailments with a single cannabinoid.
How do you incorporate cannabis into your wellness and fitness these days? Any favorite tools or products?
I continue to use cannabis daily because I enjoy its many different health and wellness benefits. First and foremost, cannabis helps me relax. With how hectic our schedules can be these days, I truly believe that it is essential to utilize any and every healthy tool available to achieve balance. I use CBD products to help relieve my anxiety, as well as a supplement to prevent inflammation. I still use THC to help with my migraines and find it helps more than the pharmaceuticals my doctor has recommended.
I also use cannabis for inspiration in creative projects and enjoy incorporating it when I am out exploring nature. One of my favorite cannabis brands right now is Dosist. I really enjoy microdosing and being able to titrate my dose lets me control my high. My personal favorite is a mixture of their Bliss and Relief pens.
How has your relationship with cannabis evolved?
I started experimenting with cannabis in high school. Back then, I enjoyed it more for its recreational benefits. As I grew older, I began experiencing severe migraines and found that cannabis was an incredible tool for managing them.
When I moved to Southern California, I felt access to the caliber of cannabis I wanted was more challenging, so I decided to get my medical marijuana license. This opened up a whole new world for me. I began visiting dispensaries and my initial experiences were exciting, albeit a little scary. I remember my very first dispensary visit, where a girlfriend and I were directed down a dark alley, followed by an even darker hall. The windows were blacked out and had bars on them. I couldn't quite tell if I should feel safer about, or seriously alarmed by, the towering security guard. He solemnly greeted us, took our licenses and had us sign our lives away in order to join their collective. As he opened the main door that allowed us into the dispensing room, my nose was hit with the sweet smell of cannabis. Suddenly, I felt like a little kid that was let into a candy store for the first time. The excitement quickly dissipated when I realized I had to figure out what I wanted and felt overwhelmed by all the choices. It was awkward asking the staff questions, especially when, in the back of my mind, it still felt like I was doing something illegal.
I am sure I drove many a budtender crazy asking 20+ questions each time I came by. I discovered that many of the staff had good intentions about being helpful, but they often lacked the level of knowledge I was after. I found that I would often get conflicting answers depending on whom I spoke with. Some days, I left the dispensary more confused than ever. Worse than the frustration accompanied the confusion was the fact that I regularly went home with products I did not enjoy, or that were not well suited for me. This challenge encouraged me to begin independently researching cannabis in the hopes of finding products that I would enjoy.
At first, I turned to the internet, only to discover more conflicting information. Being that I was a grad student of psychology at the time, research was something I was (and still am) very comfortable doing. However, back then it was extremely challenging to find reliable sources for cannabis research. I often wondered why getting accurate and consistent cannabis information in a dispensary was so challenging and I knew that there had to be a better way. That’s why, when I was presented with the chance to help create an educational cannabis platform called Seed, I jumped at the opportunity.
What is the responsibility of cannabis brands to educate their communities? Can education and marketing co-exist as cannabis research becomes more widely available?
From my experience, in this industry there are two types of “education”. The first concentrates on educating people on the science of cannabis, while the other is educating people on specific products and their effects.
In my opinion, product education and marketing should absolutely go hand in hand. Customers want to know what effects to expect from a particular cannabis product before they purchase it. I find that people are mainly concerned with effects at the moment, but slowly becoming increasingly interested in the science behind the those effects.
I believe educating customers on cannabis from a scientific standpoint helps lower the stigma. While a dispensary may not want, or be able to, provide in-depth education on the science of the plant, I do think general cannabis education is very much their responsibility as a purvey. Offering accurate and consistent education to customers can help stores sell more product, improve the customer experience and build brand loyalty -- which any marketing team knows is essential to building a strong brand.
If there was one thing you could say to someone who is interested in trying Cannabis for the first time, what would it be?
First impressions are important, so my goal with a new user is to make sure that their first time is a positive experience. I would start by asking them why they want to try cannabis and what effects or benefits they are hoping to achieve. I would go over the different consumption methods and explain their varying onsets, durations, and product type categories. Then, I would start them on a very low dose, and remind them that they should go slow. I’d share some remedies of what they should do if they begin to feel any uncomfortable effects. Product-wise, if they live in California or Florida, I would recommend they give the Dosist Calm vape pen a try first. Vaping has a fast onset, a short duration and is fairly discrete, making it very user-friendly for novices.
The Calm pen is a 10-1 CBD to THC ratio and each dose is 2.25 mg. Dosists proprietary technology is easy to use and vibrates once you have inhaled a 2.25mg dose. This helps a new user know how much they are consuming and allows them to slowly feel the effects without overdoing it. You can always do more, but you can’t do less, I tell them. The high amount of CBD should offer a calming effect, while the low THC ratio will cause mild psychoactivity based on how many pulls the user takes. From there, they can move onto their other effect-based vape pens, or try a different product type entirely. At that point, low-dose edibles or high-CBD flower becomes a lot less intimidating to people.