Digital Extras

Interview with Christina Marie Johnson

Christina Marie Johnson

Christina Marie is a 37-year-old Denver, Colo. native who's passionate about cannabis and speaks openly about her personal mental health. Christina worked in the cannabis industry for four years and is now building Rose Buds, her cannabis apparel and lifestyle brand, as well as her YouTube series, Smoke 'n Chat.

How did you get into the cannabis business?

I entered the cannabis industry in 2017. At the time, I was working in insurance verification at an ophthalmologist office and it was at this job where my life as I knew it began to head down a path that would forever change me. The job and working environment had gone to absolute shit; a lot of my past childhood traumas had begun to surface and, sadly, I didn't realize that I was going through depression and showed signs of other mental health issues. I bounced between doctors trying to get answers on my mental health and the rapid weight loss my body was going through at the time.

I started to do my own research on different cannabis strain types that were good and could be recommended for someone like me. I headed to my nearest dispensary to try the indica strain out. I had found my relief and joy in that strain and in this plant. I knew that I wanted to be a part of the cannabis community and space. I had a shop a few blocks away from me and I was a regular there and didn't realize that I had shopped with the shop manager a few times and had built a rapport with him. When I went in to apply for a job, he gave me an interview right away and called me when I got home to offer me the job as a Budtender. I haven't looked back since.

What are some highlights you've experienced in the cannabis industry?

I have a few highlights that stand out for me in this space. The first being that I had the chance to not once, but on three separate occasions sell cannabis to an influential rapper: Rakim of Eric B. & Rakim which was a cool experience each time. The last time that he shopped with me, he invited me and my co-workers backstage to a show he had that night in Denver. The first time he came in, I legit had listened to ‘I Ain't No Joke’ as I was getting ready for work that day, and it's so funny because that was my theme song in sixth grade. (Yes, I had a theme song, which I thought was necessary after seeing the movie I'm Gonna Get You Sucka.) I was so hyped when Rakim came in and I had to tell him that I listened to his music to get me pumped up for work and I had to take a pic before he left. Thank you, Rakim: if you ever see this, I greatly appreciate your art and kindness.

My other highlights would be when I first crossed over to selling more than a million dollars worth of cannabis in my state; it was pretty cool seeing those numbers. The real question is: how much of that money did I or my community get back? In March 2018, I won a scholarship from the Minority Cannabis Business Association to attend the first annual Opportunity Summit.

What issues have you faced as a person of colour in this industry?

Just like in many other spaces, I sadly have had many issues being a Black woman in this industry. I've faced challenges, both within workplaces and while interacting with customers and other staff members. I've had to over-explain myself or check harmful behaviours. Sadly, many companies have created hostile work spaces and I haven't always felt comfortable advocating for myself. In these situations, I've left a lot unsaid and suffered in silence while helping to sell millions of dollars of product.

How can the cannabis industry promote and celebrate diversity?

I think that the cannabis industry can help promote and celebrate diversity by being more intentional and genuine with their business practices, rather than being performative. I want to see these big companies putting BIPoC, 2SLGBTQ+ people, and people from other oppressed groups into real positions of power. We need to be in the boardrooms where decisions are being made, and on companies’ creative and marketing teams. I hope that we start to see this change ASAP, because it's overdue.

Find out more about Christina Marie Johnson

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