This is what it’s really like to be a hugely successful ganjapreneur

If you think the cannabis industry is just getting a lot of attention today because the date is 4/20, you would be quite wrong. The number of people employed by the cannabis industry is expected to triple from 200,000 to 630,000 by the year 2025, according to New Frontier Data. And with sales expected to reach $50 billion in the next 10 years, it is clear that this industry is not slowing down and being a ganjapreneur is a smart and lucrative career path. We spoke with Krista Whitley, one of the cannabis industry’s leading female entrepreneurs as CEO of the conglomerate, Altitude Products, about her career. The Altitude Products family includes an interesting mix of businesses, including a canna-brand marketing & sales agency, a line of cannabis products designed by and tailored to women, and a monthly variety box of the top products in cannabis.

Say yes to (some) drugs

“I spent the first 30 years of my life as a staunch prohibitionist who had never tried cannabis. If anything, I believed everything that DARE taught me. My career had been as an award-winning fast growth entrepreneur and shortly after my 30th birthday I was in a terrible car accident that left me with a medicine cabinet filled with opioids and muscle relaxants. A good friend commented that he’d never seen me so stoned in my life, so he handed me a pre roll and encouraged me to try smoking it before bed. Smoking that joint by my pool led to the best night’s sleep of my life and became the catalyst for a transformation in my personal and professional life. I began researching the benefits of plant medicine and discovered how powerful cannabis can be for pain, anxiety, and so much more.”

Back in September 2015 I created Altitude Products on my couch, never thinking it would take off like the rocket ship it is today. I lead a team of socially responsible women who are on a mission to arrest drug addiction in America by replacing dangerous opioids with THC and CBD wellness products.”

“Back in those early days of advocacy (2010) as I was discovering cannabis for my own pain management I had no way of knowing how big and powerful the cannabis industry was going to be. Opioid addiction was something we rarely heard about in the news, but it was building in so many communities.”

“Today there isn’t a media outlet that isn’t covering America’s opioid crisis. When mainstream Americans begin to understand that cannabis is not a gateway drug, but a bridge off opioid addiction and a preventative drug to avoid opioid use altogether, our communities will be so much better off.”

On fearless female leaders

“The cannabis plant is female, so it makes sense that the energy of the cannabis industry would provide so many opportunities for fearless female leaders. I am passionate about helping women succeed in the cannabis industry because I am the mother of two young girls who are growing up in a world where it is hard for them to fathom why we need #MeToo. It is my responsibility as a mother and a business leader to blaze a trail for future generations of women that is so bright that they never experience what women in my generation and in previous generations have experienced.”

“I had one pillar of the cannabis community tell me that it was “cute” that I wanted to grow my business. Maybe that’s his feedback to all the pitches he sees, but I find that doubtful. Women are natural healers who have a high tendency to be flexible problem solvers- all of those skills lend themselves well to the ever evolving, fast growing cannabis industry. I encourage every woman who wants to make a positive impact in their community to seek out cannabis career opportunities.”

“Altitude Products is poised to be the home of the industry’s premier cannabis brands within five years. Our innovative pain management formulations and weight management cannabis technology are game changers. Five years from now I want to be able to look back and see all of the lives that we have improved in our community. It’s optimistic, but wouldn’t it be incredible to see a change in how consumers manage their pain and achieve a healthy weight? We are shaping the future today.”

On how you can get into the cannabis biz

“My best advice for someone looking to get into the cannabis industry with an existing company or with a new company is to figure out what you do best- better than anyone else- and apply that to the cannabis industry. I believe that the world is a better place when we are all doing what we are meant to do. The fast growing cannabis industry offers endless opportunity to leaders looking to combine passion with talent.”

On celebrating 4/20

I will be celebrating 4/20 with my cannabis community at the Acres Underground event. Las Vegas has a thriving cannabis community with diversity that makes me proud to be a member. We have enthusiastic patients who are active in advocacy, patient consultants who are experts in their field, and so much top talent that I learn something new with every event. Acres Dispensary is hosting the first cannabis marketplace in Las Vegas on Friday, April 20th and Saturday, April 21st from 11AM-11PM, offering huge discounts from the top brands in the Vegas cannabis community.

I’m so excited to be supporting them with my entire team. When it’s all said and done, I’ll probably finish the evening with a joint by my pool before I fall asleep. Kind of funny how things come full circle, eh?