Creator Spotlight

Creator Spotlight: Casey Hiltemann, CEO of Budtenders Association

Introducing Casey Hiltemann, CEO and Founder of the Budtenders Association, in our latest Creator Spotlight feature. With a decade of experience in various industries, including hospitality, global supply chain, logistics, and health & wellness, Casey is a true entrepreneur at heart. However, her passion for cannabis runs deep, rooted in her personal connection to the plant from a young age. Through her work with the Budtenders Association, Casey aims to break down the negative stereotypes surrounding cannabis and promote its many benefits. Join us as we dive into our exclusive interview with Casey and learn more about her inspiring journey.

Introduce yourself and what do you do?

My name is Casey Hiltemann. I am a student of life, lover of plants and people, driven by a nourishing curiosity and interest in the human potential. Over the past decade I have dedicated my time and energy to thrilling entrepreneurial endeavors across the hospitality, global supply chain, logistics, health & wellness sectors. In my day-to-day I combine my passions for travel, plant medicine, and the collective with learned knowledge and intuition to create global solutions enabling education and research. Today that locates me in Canada, since my arrival here in 2016 shortly after learning of the pending legalization of cannabis for adult-use.

With due respect to a strong network of individuals and a growing community of passionate educators, this journey led me to founding one of the world’s first organizations supporting, empowering and elevating the main conduit between the cultivators of this sacred plant and consumers – Budtenders. Currently I am the CEO for Budtenders Association and its subsidiaries.

Can you share any turning points in your career or particular moments of success?

My career has been a zigzag of turning points – from acquiring my first customer and dollar made, selling cannabis internationally, between ages 13 to 19 – to legally owning, operating and advising small businesses to publicly traded companies.
A lot of decisions between and during that time were questionable and often fear-based but what I learned in hindsight (knowledge I now use to keep things in perspective) is that my biggest mistakes and fears became my biggest successes and opportunities.

Over the past 2 years during the pandemic; with the gift of solitude, self-reflection and improved health, I have adopted a growth mindset allowing me to see every uncomfortable situation as a challenge and necessary means to gain a deeper understanding of the natural complexities underlying simple concepts. This has completely reshaped how I approach business – it fuels my motivation to show up consistently, with a strong sense of purpose and non-attachment to a particular outcome.

Describe your cannabis use in 3 words.

A profound connection.

Describe the impact Cannabis has had on your life?

My purpose in this life is to de-stigmatize, facilitate and restore the organic, historic connection between the wisdom of plants and people. My connection with cannabis is intimate and founded early in life. From what some (mostly teachers and relatives) would describe as a tumultuous relationship of unconscious self-medication through my teenage years as I sought escape from the overwhelming nature of societal pressures and utter confusion, to working with cannabis as a physical healing modality, and now a sacred ritual, unifying practice, and recreational supplement of choice – without cannabis, I’m not where I am today.

“My purpose in this life is to de-stigmatize, facilitate and restore the organic, historic connection between the wisdom of plants and people. “

Where and when were you introduced to cannabis for the first time?

I’m from Amsterdam so this plant has been around during my upbringing and notably socially accepted from a very young age. When I was 11 and the youngest of all my cousins. One summer night my aunts, uncles, father and brother were all huddled around a bonfire in the backyard, a shared laughter and sense of peace protruded the air, connecting everyone in a way I noticed alcohol didn’t. That night I ripped my first bong in the safety of my community and the rest is history.

What’s your favourite post-smoke activity? Workout? Food?

Philosophizing with friends, yoga, meditating, dancing, sex, eating fruit and enjoying warm beverages are moments I practice in communion with cannabis. My consumption is mindful and tailored to target, enhance or inhibit certain receptors in the body thereby, promote homeostasis, balance and wellbeing to accompany a desired experience.

What music do you vibe to when using Cannabis?

I have a playlist for every time of day, mood and creative flow state but generally I trust spotify to play something that matches the current vibe! Music plays just as big of a role as cannabis does in the improvement of my physical and mental wellbeing.

“Philosophizing with friends, yoga, meditating, dancing, sex, eating fruit and enjoying warm beverages are moments I practice in communion with cannabis. “

If you could sesh with one person dead or alive, who would it be?

Maria Sabina Magdalena Garcia

What are your favourite ways to consume cannabis (joints, vapes, edibles, beverages etc.) and why?

For me nothing beats the ritual, intimacy and skill of rolling a proper joint filled with a lovingly cared for and perfectly cured flower.

I like the clarity, cleanliness and full spectrum benefits of a live rosin dab and during my travels I have embraced the convenience and discretion that vape carts offer!

Beverages are a great option for an indoor smoke-free environment or just a refreshing recreational alternative to alcohol when meeting with friends and family. This is a great format to introduce people who want to reduce or quit alcohol consumption – a very real global crisis that, according to the World Health Organization, results in 3 millions deaths every year. I’m exploring this category more and excited for further innovation.

Is there anything interesting that you’d like to share with the Choklit Park community? (feel free to share any important projects or exciting news you’d like our community to know!)

2023 is a year of evolution and renewed direction for Budtenders Association and the announcement of important partnerships in education, research and data analysis with like-minded companies. These strategic partnerships have been formed and nurtured to carry our mission and vision across borders and to new heights.

Our data hub and interactive dashboard (which collects, analyzes and reports on large qualitative and quantitative data sets) that delivers key insights and information around quality parameters, consistency, consumer preferences and industry benchmarking is launching this year!

Personally, I’ve been cultivating productive habits, behaviors, emotions and relationships which enable me to live my truest expression as a human being. Always adding to my toolbox and learning with others, I look forward to sharing more on upcoming community projects outside of the cannabis industry.

Reminder: you are a creator and have the power to choose your reality.

– Casey

Creator Spotlight: Noah Johnson, Master Grower of J Buds.

Our 11th Creator Spotlight series features the master grower, Noah Johnson, from the legendary J Buds. A family owned and operated micro-cultivation facility in Summerland, brothers Noah and Dillion Johnson work together to lead the cultivation team. As an Indigenous-owned company they encourage a diverse working environment and works hard to ensure limits on the environmental impact of all activities that JBuds is involved with. The team at Choklit Park are extremely excited to work with J Buds to launch our latest strain, Flawless Victory

Introduce yourself and what do you do?

My name is Noah Johnson and I am the Master Grower at JBuds

Can you share any turning points in your career or particular moments of success?

As a family run organization, we built JBuds from the ground up. A major turning point was when our very first cultivar “Chimpmints” hit the market and was a success.

Describe your cannabis use in 3 words.

Educational, Purposeful, Moderate.

Describe the impact Cannabis has had on your life?

Cannabis and legalization has completely changed my life path. 5 years ago, I had no idea what I wanted to do. Since entering the industry I’ve met a ton of new friends and people who I now consider family.

“Cannabis and legalization has completely changed my life path. 5 years ago, I had no idea what I wanted to do.”

Where and when were you introduced to cannabis for the first time?

I had tried cannabis before legalization. However; I was originally introduced to cannabis plants in 2019 when a friend brought us 4 of his outdoor plants to take care of while he was away during the summer.

What’s your favourite post-smoke activity? Workout? Food?

My favourite post smoke activity would have to be creating art.

What music do you vibe to when using Cannabis?

I vibe to hip hop & rap while I smoke kush. After a long day I might switch to some Mac DeMarco just to chill and unwind.

“I would sesh with “Noah” the man who built the Ark in the bible.”

If you could sesh with one person dead or alive, who would it be?

I would sesh with “Noah” the man who built the Ark in the bible.

What are your favourite ways to consume cannabis (joints, vapes, edibles, beverages etc.) and why?

I like to consume cannabis through joints to taste the flavour and also dab pens to be discrete about it at a function.

Is there anything interesting that you’d like to share with the Choklit Park community? (feel free to share any important projects or exciting news you’d like our community to know!)

[The JBuds] plants are grown with love and care. 

Creator Spotlight: Andrea Dobbs, Co-Founder Village Bloomery.

On the 10th edition of our Creator Spotlight series, we are honoured to chat with a local retail pioneer who helped pave the way for cannabis legalization in Vancouver, BC. Andrea Dobbs, Co-Founder of Village Bloomery, was one of the first cannabis retailers that opened pre-legalization 7 years ago. Her passion for cannabis and education is truly inspiring and her commitment to build an inclusive community is undeniable. We are grateful to feature her today!

Introduce yourself and what do you do?

My name is Andrea Dobbs. I am the co-founder of Village Bloomery, a licensed Cannabis Retail shop in Vancouver BC. We’re celebrating our 7th year in the space and it’s been quite a ride! I wear lots of hats. I work in the shop as a bloom tender when needed, I support the curation of the menu both for Cannabis products and accessories, I work very closely with building the brand and all that it entails. I am most passionate about service design. I bring to my position 40+ years of education that is both formal in that I have a degree in design for the retail space as well as lived experience. It can feel isolating to be working in an environment that is teaming with people who come from the corporate sector as they seem to speak a different language that I am unfamiliar with but at the end of the day we are all charting new paths on the shoulders of people who created this opportunity to work in a legal cannabis marketplace. I am forever grateful for the work that was done and continues to be done to make this space more humane and inclusive.

Can you share any turning points in your career or particular moments of success?

There have been many moments over the 7 year span and they will differ greatly due to the nature of regulation. One of the most touching moments for me pre regulation was working with a family whose 94 year old father was suffering greatly under advanced Parkinsons. It was so enriching to witness how their experimentation with Cannabis not only enhanced his quality of life but it also brought them together as a family unit. They got their Dad back and that was epic. Fast forward to regulated times I can say this most recent experience we all had with the BCGEU strike was a success. It led to a victory in that we as an industry were able to put pressure on the decision makers to proceed with the promised Direct Delivery program. It was important to me that we honor the BCGEU workers as well as create an environment where we as retailers could work directly with BC’s craft/micro producers. The amount of energy that was spent behind the scenes networking and collaborating with other industry powerhouses was really affirming. It let me see that there is real potential to create a thriving and genuine Cannabis marketplace community.

Describe your cannabis use in 3 words.

Inspired. Delicious. Centering. 

Describe the impact Cannabis has had on your life?

It has been huge. I’m a late bloomer and didn’t really begin to enjoy Cannabis until I was 48 years old. I approached it first as a therapeutic tool to manage my peri-menopausal  experience and that was mostly centered around oil drops, topicals and CBD. Fast forward I’ve fallen in love with the plant in its many forms and I now grow it, I roll joints and smoke them daily, I occasionally enjoy bong sips ( I call it bonging) and make my own topicals and oil drops. It has greatly impacted my curiosity, my ability to play and my capacity to design solutions to trying scenarios.  More recently it is supporting my exploration into meditation. Overall the impact has been positive. Being in the “Business of Cannabis” has its downsides for sure but at least for me it always comes back to the fact that I love Cannabis inside and out.

“That Zelensky kid running the Ukraine right now…’I need ammunition, not a ride.’ Powerful.”

Where and when were you introduced to cannabis for the first time?

My first time was when I was 17 years old. I smoked from a joint that a boyfriend had carefully rolled. It was fun to watch him grind the flower and carefully roll it. When he asked if I”d like a puff I said yes. It was really fun. I laughed like I hadn’t laughed in a long time, I felt free to be silly and I was not concerned about being cool or sophisticated. I felt free to be me. I tried it a few times after that but found that I just felt tired so I thought Cannabis was not for me. In hindsight I wish I had known more about how cultivars and terpenes work so that I could have explored more of what worked for me. That said, I’m glad to be exploring it now because I have more freedom to focus on what I enjoy now that my kids are all grown.

What’s your favourite post-smoke activity? Workout? Food?

Ooh! So many things to choose from. Sometimes I feel like crafting, sometimes I want to do yoga, other times I want to design! It really depends. For the most part I’d say I want to do creative things.  A favourite post smoke snack is a medjool date stuffed with salted crunchy peanut butter topped with a piece of 90% dark chocolate. Dreamy!

What music do you vibe to when using Cannabis?
I’m all over the place here. I love to dance so you can turn on some 1980’s R&B and I’m in. A favourite is the Gap Band “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” I also really like No Name and Robert Glasper. I like music that you can move to and that encourages a playful vibe. The Lofi genre is pretty cool too.

“I’ve tried cannabis most of the ways but I’m old school and lean into joints almost exclusively”

If you could sesh with one person dead or alive, who would it be?

This made me laugh out loud. I have two choices. If the flower is activating and energetic I’d pick Marie Kondo to Spark Joy with! I just think her gentle and positive nature is intoxicating and her ability to get things sorted is epic. I have lots of Virgo in my chart and I love a good organizing session! If the cultivar leans on the chill side I’d pick Alok (alokvmenon on Insta) because their way of speaking is both touching and poetic and their sense of humour makes me think critically about how society is structured. I am enriched by just their instagram account so a session would be epic. I should mention I have zero idea if either of them are 420 friendly but there you have it!

What are your favourite ways to consume cannabis (joints, vapes, edibles, beverages etc.) and why?

Joints all day every day BUT I will admit that I enjoy beverages more than I thought I might. Joints I dig because I like seeing the flower in its full form. I like to smell it, touch it and grind it up. I like the experience of rolling it even though I am still practicing at rolling. I like the dry pull becasue it gives me information around the flavours I’m about to engage with and then I enjoy the breath work that comes with smoking. I like that it can be a social moment and I also enjoy it when I’m walking my dog alone. I like that it is an experience I can control in that I can feel the elevation real time and when I’m good I can stop. That isn’t always an option with an edible. I also like that it doesn’t last as long as some other modalities. That said, if I am looking at it from a therapeutic lense I’d lean on ingesting because 9 out of 10 times what I’m looking at is supporting my sleep and longer is better in that department. Topicals are also a love. A good bath soak/bomb is heaven and I dig all of the creams and lotions.

Is there anything interesting that you’d like to share with the Choklit Park community? (feel free to share any important projects or exciting news you’d like our community to know!)

I am so happy that Choklit Park is a community! I used to play in Choklit park when I was a kid. It was an adventre playgound in the 70’s with a huge slide and a zipline. It was a place where I felt excited about life and free to explore it so it feels kind of appropriate to be discussing Cannabis in correlation with Choklit Park. Cannabis brings out the kid in me! That sense of adventure is necessary when being in this space. It’s not for the feignt of heart. We tried opening a second shop in Victoria and it proved to be more than we could handle due to multiple challenges. We had to make the tough decision to step away from that opportunity. That was a bitter pill to swallow because we really loved Victoria. On the other hand we are working on opening a second Vancouver shop in the 2100 block of East Hastings. That’s a 5 minute walk from my house so I’m excited to be able to both live and work in my home community. The original shop in South False Creek is our rock and we feel so supported and blessed to have the support of the folks who go out of their way to support us there. It is because of that support that we feel empowered to keep working at building upon our dream.

Creator Spotlight: Daryn Medwid, CRO of West Blvd Cannabis

On the 9th episode of the Creator Spotlight Series, we interviewed Daryn Medwid who is the CRO of West Blvd Cannabis. Daryn has a wealth of experience under his belt, from spending 13 years at Diageo to (most recently) exiting Experion Wellness/Citizen Stash as their COO. His passion and perspective for the cannabis industry is inspiring and we are truly honoured to feature him today.

Introduce yourself and what do you do?

Hey! I’m Daryn Medwid and I’m the Chief Revenue Officer at West Blvd Cannabis but I get to wear lots of hats. It’s a very collaborative environment so, while I get to spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to drive revenue, I also get to weigh in on a lot of the commercial and operational aspects of the business.

Can you share any turning points in your career or particular moments of success?

I’ve had a fun career and have had the opportunity to be a part of some cool projects all of which might count as turning points whether they were successful or not…there’s always something to learn whether you knock it out of the park or strike out. To make this answer relevant I’ll refer to my time at Citizen Stash and our 12 Joints of Christmas preroll mixer pack which was released during the 2021 holiday season across Canada. We conceived of the idea in February of that year and between Covid, floods preventing access to our facility, supply chain craziness, we still barely delivered on time. We took preorders for 70,000 cases but only had the capacity to produce 10,000 so worked (begged?) with every provincial board to put flexibility into systems that don’t generally like flexibility. The team stretched far beyond what anyone could have expected and the customers worked with us the whole way allowing us to move all 10,000 cases within 3 minutes of release in each market. The end result was gratifying and proof that a small team could punch well above its weight given the right dream and a bit of hubr.

Describe your cannabis use in 3 words.

Nightly. Joints only

Describe the impact Cannabis has had on your life?

The plant allows me to relax and I get a far better sleep than if I was drinking whisky (but I also like whisky!) and the business inspires me as we’re all start ups in a start-up industry (the legal industry anyway) trying to figure out what it’s all going to look like.

“That Zelensky kid running the Ukraine right now…’I need ammunition, not a ride.’ Powerful.”

Where and when were you introduced to cannabis for the first time?

Probably 14 or so burning hash on butter knives at my buddies house when his mom was at work.

What’s your favourite post-smoke activity? Workout? Food?

Sleep lol.

If you could sesh with one person dead or alive, who would it be?

That Zelensky kid running the Ukraine right now…’I need ammunition, not a ride.’ Powerful.

What music do you vibe to when using Cannabis?

I’ve got a pretty good vinyl collection but right now I can’t get Khruangbin, Texas Sun off the turntable. Who doesn’t love Thai funk played by a Houston trio supported by Leon Bridges?

“I’ve tried cannabis most of the ways but I’m old school and lean into joints almost exclusively”

What are your favourite ways to consume cannabis (joints, vapes, edibles, beverages etc.) and why?

I’ve tried cannabis most of the ways but I’m old school and lean into joints almost exclusively.

Is there anything interesting that you’d like to share with the Choklit Park community? (feel free to share any important projects or exciting news you’d like our community to know!)

Choklit Park High Country Diesel (+30%) is coming your way in a couple of weeks.

Creator Spotlight: Tom Smale, CEO / Founder Growbox Consulting

On the 8th episode of the Creator Spotlight Series, we interviewed Tom Smale who is the CEO and Founder of Growbox Consulting.  He’s been extremely passionate about cannabis all his life and have been behind some of the best cannabis brands in the market today. His talent, knowledge and expertise in the cannabis space is elite level. We couldn’t be happier to feature him on this Creator Spotlight Series. Enjoy!

Introduce yourself and what do you do?

My name is Tom Smale, I am the CEO and founder of Growbox Consulting. We support cultivation and processing facilities to build culture, productivity, and procedures that allow teams to dance while staying compliant within the regulated market. We’re basically full time cheerleaders and play quarterback once in a while. 

Can you share any turning points in your career or particular moments of success?
Without a doubt…Shutting down the “legacy” grows and moving across the the country to the GTA… It was horrifying, painful, and a big change in income compared to flipping packs out of the back of the car but the legacy market was dying and I love growing cannabis. I could see that the legacy market was dying and I had to do whatever it took if I wanted to stay in the game. I walked into the building and they were like you need to learn these SOP’s. I was like, what the f**k is a soap? 
I put my head down, worked hard, asked questions, and built new muscles. 
Describe your cannabis use in 3 words.

Love, Care, Proud 

Describe the impact Cannabis has had on your life?
Epic…Growing cannabis taught me Philosophies that apply to every aspect of my life. I love consuming it but cultivating has taught me so much. 
 
1. Patience. I couldn’t force results or take short cuts with growing cannabis. I had to earn them by putting the effort in. 
 
2. Do diligence. I had to learn that doing things I didn’t want to do was actually what needed to be done if I wanted the result that I’m proud of.  
 
3. Environment. I couldn’t grow healthy thriving plants in a negative or dirty environment. Growing cannabis taught me that I personally needed to remove myself from toxic environments and place myself around people that would lift me up and support my own personal growth. 
 

“Growing cannabis taught me Philosophies that apply to every aspect of my life. I love consuming it but cultivating has taught me so much. “

Where and when were you introduced to cannabis for the first time?

I’m from BC bro lol. All jokes aside, I come from a family that was sort of split in half. My uncles had been growing cannabis since I was born but my parents sent me to rehab in grade 12 for smoking too much of it.  I’ve been around cannabis ever since I can remember and it’s been a cultural part of my life. For readers, my parents have come a long way. They get it now.  I’m grateful they support me and what Growbox is all about. 

What’s your favourite post-smoke activity? Workout? Food?

Pizza without a doubt. We smoke a ton of meat around the house but that takes hours so a pizza is usually eaten while we’re waiting for the brisket or ribs.

If you could sesh with one person dead or alive, who would it be?

My mentor GT – RIP.

What music do you vibe to when using Cannabis?
My playlist bounces [around.] I’ll go through hip hop, country, and classic rock all within 30 mins. It Drives my friends crazy and they don’t let me go DJ very often. Whatever the mood is. I love music. 

“Choklit park is about bringing that legacy fire to market while honoring and telling the story of the growers. We aligned very quickly and Growbox supports this concept.”

What are your favourite ways to consume cannabis (joints, vapes, edibles, beverages etc.) and why?

I used to hit bongs but I’d just fall asleep. It’s mostly joints nowadays but for some reason I still fall asleep. 

Is there anything interesting that you’d like to share with the Choklit Park community? (feel free to share any important projects or exciting news you’d like our community to know!)
Choklit park is about bringing that legacy fire to market while honoring and telling the story of the growers. We aligned very quickly and Growbox supports this concept. I’m telling you…. if I figured out how to dance within this legal industry, anyone can. 

Creator Spotlight: Alannah Davis, CEO of Dabble Cannabis Co.

On the 7th episode of the Creator Spotlight Series, we interviewed Alannah Davis who is the boss lady at Dabble Cannabis Co.  She’s worked with one of the biggest Licensed Producers in Canada for years before jumping on to be CEO of her family’s farm. Her story and resilience is highly commendable and it was an honour to get to know her story more. Enjoy!

Introduce yourself and what do you do?

My name is Alannah Davis, I am the CEO of Dabble Cannabis Co. my family cannabis farm in Duncan BC – which also has a cannaB&B, private lake and soon a farm store. I have a background in hospitality, banking, supply chain and operations and that combined with a love affair with concentrates, puts me in an incredible position to create the ultimate cannabis paradise at our farm.  

Can you share any turning points in your career or particular moments of success?
The best advice I ever received was if there isn’t a job posting for you, design one that fills some gaps and ask them to create it for you. I have had success in creating 3-4 brand new roles in my career. Launching Dabble and packaging our first jars up was such an incredible moment, but I am *this close* to seeing my product in stores, which will be a huge accomplishment, years in the making. 
Describe your cannabis use in 3 words.

Dabs all day!

Describe the impact Cannabis has had on your life?

For years I tried to figure out what my passion was, and found myself bored of every job I tried. I had always loved smoking, but it was a pivotal moment when I had my first dab and everything began to fall into place. I began what is sure to be a lifelong learning journey about cannabis and specifically concentrates. I learned everything I could about the industry and products and now have the opportunity to apply everything I learned to my own brand. Cannabis is my life’s passion and work, and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here. 

Where and when were you introduced to cannabis for the first time?

As a teenager, in my friend’s mom’s kitchen – wrecking her knives, trying out hash. I didn’t realize it til much later, but my love of concentrates started there! 

“I had always loved smoking, but it was a pivotal moment when I had my first dab and everything began to fall into place.”

What’s your favourite post-smoke activity? Workout? Food?

The best activity is being in the sunshine and being on the boat on the lake, boating and swimming. In the winter, I love a good bath with some pie or other treat. 

If you could sesh with one person dead or alive, who would it be?

The legendary Frenchy Cannoli – master hashishin. 

What music do you vibe to when using Cannabis?
Depends on the occasion, I sometimes like more mellow stuff, but also love to sesh at my DJ friends house cause they always throw down some beats that you can’t help but dance to. (shout out DJ Awood @awood55 if you like)

“Dabs of live hash rosin – it is the ultimate experience.”

What are your favourite ways to consume cannabis (joints, vapes, edibles, beverages etc.) and why?

Dabs of live hash rosin – it is the ultimate experience. Flavourful, super clear head, and a strong full spectrum effect. Why – because consuming distillate or isolated THC, just doesn’t do it justice without the terpenes which give you that beautiful full-mind body experience. I also do like beverages, as they have given me an alternative to alcoholic beverages so they’re fun too. 

Is there anything interesting that you’d like to share with the Choklit Park community? (feel free to share any important projects or exciting news you’d like our community to know!)
We are extremely close to bringing our very own live hash rosin; Dabbleberry, to market soon. Cultivated, harvested, washed, pressed and packaged all by my family and I – from soil to oil. We will be launching in BC very soon, and it helps us to have retailers and customers request our product from BCLDB. 
Check out our farm www.hipointguestranch.com / @hipointguestranch and www.dabblecannabis.com / @dabblecannabisco 

Creator Spotlight: Christina Michael, Founder and CEO of The Entourage Co.

On the 6th episode of the Creator Spotlight Series, we’ve had the opportunity to connect with another pioneer in the Cannabis space. Christina Michael, Founder and CEO of The Entourage Co.  has been shaking the industry up since the early days. From starting her own health and wellness bar at 21 years old, to working on cannabis projects from inception to completion, some with modest budgets, and others with 50mm+ budgets all over North America, it’s safe to say Christina is a vet in the game. 

Introduce yourself and what do you do?

I am Christina Michael, the founder and Chief Embodiment Officer at The Entourage Co. and Strategic Partner at Diplomat Consulting. Over the past six years my focus has been providing services and solutions in the regulated cannabis industry in Canada, along with some opportunities stemming from the US market, and most recently Ireland.  We provide consulting and collaboration services and solutions for regulated emerging markets including, cannabis, psychedelics, natural health products and blockchain. Our areas of specialty include, governance and regulations, advocacy,  advisory, strategic planning, brand strategy and business development, identity design, integrated digital and social communications, creative direction, product commercialization, and events.

Can you share any turning points in your career or particular moments of success?
I have experienced the privilege of great mentorship and trust throughout my career. Most notably I have received and continue to experience both personal and professional trust from incredible people, teachers, leaders and in personal relationships that span 40+ years. Looking back, I recognize that I have worked for and with a lot of women leaders that not only trusted my abilities, but also appreciated and nurtured my growth as a person with courage, vulnerability, and ambition. I’ve also had some wonderful male influence, guidance and support from men that also trusted me with opportunities to grow their business and push me to reach my potential. I am proud to share that I am still friends with many of these people to today, and we keep in regular contact. This has taught me a lot, along with working together in alignment to reach goals, and we are all responsible for the outcome. Working at established businesses and start-ups including my own has been amazing, challenging, and fulfilling. Being seen, to me, is not about accolades, it’s about trust. Through this I have learned to trust myself, and with this trust I am able to show up for myself and others. This is my definition of success. 
Describe your cannabis use in 3 words.

Personal, Conscious and Educated.

Describe the impact Cannabis has had on your life?

I have fun, healing and end of life care experiences, professional education & success, and met my life partner along the way. Cannabis continues to impact my life both personally and professionally every day, and I love sharing, learning, educating, new experiences and being a part of this exciting time. In all the same ways I hope my personal and professional cannabis journey has an equal or greater positive impact overall. 

Where and when were you introduced to cannabis for the first time?

I witnessed the consumption of cannabis prior to this, but my first experience was at 15 years old. 

“Cannabis continues to impact my life both personally and professionally every day, and I love sharing, learning, educating, new experiences and being a part of this exciting time.”

What’s your favourite post-smoke activity? Workout? Food?

I have moved away from smoking flower, as I have explored edibles, beverages and concentrates that work better for me. Set and setting is also very important to me. I have the privilege of trying different products working in the space and with a health and wellness background I also understand what I need to fuel my body to feel my best. Consuming different products based on strain profile, understanding terpenes and knowing that high THC content is not for me I choose different products for what I am engaging in. CBD supports my overall health, while low dose THC edibles, beverages and topical work for different occasions. I also enjoy infused culinary experiences with friends and colleagues. I am not big on cooking for myself, but I love it when others share their joy of cooking with me and elevate our connection with cannabis infused food. 

 

If you could sesh with one person dead or alive, who would it be?

This is a tough one. I would say my brother would be the first person I would have a session with. He passed away before I was born, and I wouldn’t be here if he was still alive. If I could bring him back for 24 hours I would like to hang out with him.

What music do you vibe to when using Cannabis?
It depends on what I am doing. Some of my best times have been listening to The Doors. Mr. Mojo Risin himself never disappoints. 

“I am excited about the future of experiential consumption in both social and private settings. I am hopeful to see projects in our current portfolio come to life and succeed.”

What are your favourite ways to consume cannabis (joints, vapes, edibles, beverages etc.) and why?

Beverages, edibles, gummies and infused creations. 

Is there anything interesting that you’d like to share with the Choklit Park community? (feel free to share any important projects or exciting news you’d like our community to know!)

I am excited about the future of experiential consumption in both social and private settings. I am hopeful to see projects in our current portfolio come to life and succeed. And continue to collaborate with passionate and inspired people working with intention and vision for the future of cannabis globally. 

Creator Spotlight: Kayla Mann, CFO and CRO at Cake & Caviar/Habitat Life Sciences.

On this episode of the Creator Spotlight Series, we’re excited to break bread with the lovely Kayla Mann from Cake & Caviar / Habitat Life. Kayla’s been working behind the scenes with some of the industries’ best cannabis companies, making a positive impact on any project she’s involved with. Her passion and love for cannabis is undeniable, and we can’t wait for you to get to know her a bit more.

Introduce yourself and what do you do?

Kayla Mann, I am a Chartered Accountant by trade and the Chief Finance and Revenue Officer at Cake & Caviar/Habitat Life Sciences. 

Can you share any turning points in your career or particular moments of success?
From legacy, to craft (micro), to Valens and back to craft, I feel like there’s been a lot of them. 
 
Getting A1 (Summit and Basecamp) beverages signed at Valens is one of my favorite moments. Everett Knight at The Valens Company and I worked really hard with the A1 team in Toronto to bring those together and to see so many flavors and evrey store stocking them saying people love them is a really good feeling. 
 
At Habitat, getting the salmon operations commercially certified and selling the. salmon to the local community (retailers and restaurants) was another beautiful moment. Nourishing our communities, while fostering the land and water around us, and getting people high is the best. 
 
Now, I get these recurring moments of success on the road for sales getting to tell folks about our farm and how it works. 
Describe your cannabis use in 3 words.

The Problem Solver. 

Describe the impact Cannabis has had on your life?

Cannabis helped me find my place. In work. In life. I’ve lost myself in many careers and many chapters, and cannabis brought me back to me. 

Where and when were you introduced to cannabis for the first time?

Cannabis was very prevalent in the skateboard and snow sports industries of which were my life growing up so I was introduced to it at a very young age.

“Cannabis helped me find my place. In work. In life. I’ve lost myself in many careers and many chapters, and cannabis brought me back to me. “

What’s your favourite post-smoke activity? Workout? Food?

Eat, create and/or learn. I’m usually smoking at the end of my work day to relax, process and enjoy my downtime to fullest since I don’t get a lot of it. Cannabis has a way of reminding me what matters, to appreciate things and to be present. 

If you could sesh with one person dead or alive, who would it be?

Sue Kwon, she’s my favorite rap photographer (living legend), I have all her books, I used to print out all her photos off google as a kid (sorry, Sue, no copyright infringement intended) and post them all over my walls with rap lyrics.

What music do you vibe to when using Cannabis?

Depends on mood! But mostly rap, hiphop, r&b. 

“Eat, create and/or learn. I’m usually smoking at the end of my work day to relax, process and enjoy my downtime to fullest since I don’t get a lot of it. Cannabis has a way of reminding me what matters, to appreciate things and to be present. “

What are your favourite ways to consume cannabis (joints, vapes, edibles, beverages etc.) and why?

Joints and beverages (emulsified) and infused meals. The beverages are my favorite summer drinking substitute. 

Is there anything interesting that you’d like to share with the Choklit Park community? (feel free to share any important projects or exciting news you’d like our community to know!)

I’m very excited to be BC Craft Co-Op’s newest board member. This Co-op is doing amazing things for our cannabis community and I’m looking forward to working with the amazing team there to propel our industry forward with community events (BC Craft Summit, etc), regulatory input and more. (Formal appointment is this fall, officially. So I hope to have everyone’s support!)

Creator Spotlight: Andrew Gordon, VP of BC Craft Farmers Co-Op

On the 4th edition of our Creator Spotlight Series, we have the privilege to sit down with local cannabis pioneer Andrew Gordon. Andrew’s been deep in the cannabis trenches since 2014, paving the way for legalization and building a strong community along the way. His passion and dedication in the cannabis industry is unmatched and it’s truly an honour to have him featured today.

Introduce yourself and what do you do?

My name is Andrew Gordon, I’m Vice-President of the BC Craft Farmers Co-Op, and I love cannabis, and everyone that contributes to its production, distribution, sale and consumption in a positive and community-driven way! 

Can you share any turning points in your career or particular moments of success?

Being a part of the “Golden Age” of cannabis retail (2014-2017) in Canada was amazing. It’s something that will never happen again, and to have been an active member of the community of retail operators that helped build the social license to make legalization possible was an incredible experience that I will forever be proud of.

Describe your cannabis use in 3 words.

All day, everyday!

Describe the impact Cannabis has had on your life?

Cannabis saved my life; and helps me live life to the fullest! I have PTSD from childhood trauma and began using cannabis with intention in 2002 to avoid a very debilitating pharmaceutical drug regime for my condition. I’ve been consuming cannabis everyday since then, and haven’t looked back!

Where and when were you introduced to cannabis for the first time?

Growing up in BC cannabis was everywhere, but I didn’t actually consume cannabis until I was 20 years old while on a road trip with some friends on-route to SummerJam. Right after my first few puffs, I felt I met myself for the first time, and saw the world through new eyes. I’ve been in love with cannabis ever since.

“Cannabis saved my life; and helps me live life to the fullest!”

What’s your favourite post-smoke activity? Workout? Food?

Playing basketball or munching out with Netflix

If you could sesh with one person dead or alive, who would it be?

Bob Marley for sure!

What music do you vibe to when using Cannabis?

Reggae and hip-hop. Some Marley, Nas or Gang Starr help get the vibe right!

“[We want] to engage with small-scale producers, processors and independent retailers to gather feedback to help evolve regulations to create an environment that will make cannabis businesses more sustainable, enjoyable and responsive to the needs of the communities they operate in. “

What are your favourite ways to consume cannabis (joints, vapes, edibles, beverages etc.) and why?

Joints, all day, everyday!

Is there anything interesting that you’d like to share with the Choklit Park community? (feel free to share any important projects or exciting news you’d like our community to know!)

The BC Craft Farmers Co-op will be hosting events and roundtables over the Spring, Summer and Fall to engage with small-scale producers, processors and independent retailers to gather feedback to help evolve regulations to create an environment that will make cannabis businesses more sustainable, enjoyable and responsive to the needs of the communities they operate in. Check out our website – bccraftfarmerscoop.com for all the latest dates and details!

Creator Spotlight: Cameo Wilson, Professional Skateboarder (Darkstar)

For this Creator Spotlight we get to sit down and chop it up with local pro skateboarder Cameo Wilson. He’s been an avid cannabis advocate for a long time and speaks on how the plant has positively helped him throughout his life.

Introduce yourself and what do you do?

Hi, I’m Cameo Wilson and I’m a Professional Skateboarder.

Can you share any turning points in your career or particular moments of success?

I’d say a turning point in my career was when Darkstar turned me Am (amateur). That’s when I realized I really had a chance at going pro.

Describe your cannabis use in 3 words.

Focus, Fun and Happiness.

Describe the impact Cannabis has had on your life?

One way it’s really impacted my life is with injuries. I don’t like taking pharmaceuticals, so being able to smoke and eat cannabis right after surgery was a huge plus.

Where and when were you introduced to cannabis for the first time?

Hahaha id rather not say, I was young though. It happend back where I’m from in Las Vegas 

“One way it’s really impacted my life is with injuries. I don’t like taking pharmaceuticals, so being able to smoke and eat cannabis right after surgery was a huge plus.”

What’s your favourite post-smoke activity? Workout? Food?

Gaming (PC), I like getting high and doing the row machine at the gym, and for food just a good home cooked meal baby. 

If you could sesh with one person dead or alive, who would it be?

Damn, my brothers.

What music do you vibe to when using Cannabis?

All types! But as of this moment Drakeo the Ruler slaps hard.

“Joints/blunts are usually my go-to but if I’m gaming or on the go, pen or pipe.”

What are your favourite ways to consume cannabis (joints, vapes, edibles, beverages etc.) and why?

Joints/blunts are usually my go-to but if I’m gaming or on the go, pen or pipe.

Is there anything interesting that you’d like to share with the Choklit Park community? (feel free to share any important projects or exciting news you’d like our community to know!)

I’m currently working on a video part for Darkstar, be on the lookout. Follow my insta @cameo_wilson and stay updated THANK YOU!

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