By: Bianka Anguiano|April 24, 2020
I had the pleasure of interviewing, Pam Chotiswatdi, who used her education and experience to help teach the public and break social stigmas surrounding cannabis.
Pam is currently the Administrator and Community Education Director at the Long Beach Cannabis Association (thelbca.com), but also serves as HR operations for a few cannabis businesses. Earning a master’s degree in public health and specializes in health education, Pam uses her cannabis blog, CannabisCloset.org to provide curated links to articles and websites as a way to educate and inform the public.
During our time together we talked about her career in cannabis, how she leveraged her current skill set combined with her passion for marijuana and extensive industry knowledge and what it takes for a queen like you to follow in her footsteps.
What made you want to jump into the cannabis industry professionally?
I earned a master’s degree in Public Health – Community Education because I missed the health education of my “first career,” and wanted to do more for the community. During my studies, I had access to studies and research data. I concentrated on tobacco use and how public health communicates to communities. Cannabis studies often came up in my research searches and I was naturally curious, gravitating toward them: and I read. I read so much. I found an excess of bias. Bias that ruined the findings. I thought, if I had an opportunity to use this degree in the cannabis space, I would, I just had no idea how that would happen. I kind of just let the universe know what was on my mind.
When did you decide to start your blog, CannabisCloset.org and to advocate for the city of Long Beach?
I was laid off due to funding from a non-profit. Most non-profits run on grants and sometimes it just does not work out in their favor. However, that lay off pushed me into starting a cannabis blog, CannabisCloset.org and advocating for community education in the city. I was the first staff hired (Admin/Community Education Director) at Long Beach Cannabis Association (thelbca.com) part time as I also work as HR operations for a few cannabis businesses. Working both in advocacy and industry helps ensure that industry participates in community engagement.
What was the hardest/most difficult aspect about being an advocate for cannabis?
For me, it’s the uncomfortable conversations. At my core, I’m an introvert. Public speaking is not my greatest asset. I have to really work on it and they still see me sweat. However, my passion pushes me and I have those conversations as often as I can to be a broken record. At volunteer orientations, I teach volunteers that knowing the facts gives the confidence to have the uncomfortable conversations. It’s true, it really does, but for us introverts, any confrontation is a struggle! The more uncomfortable conversations I have, the easier it gets. It is satisfying getting the facts across and watching the lightbulbs go off in people’s heads.
How/do you think your involvement in this industry going to positively impact your community?
Public safety. I think the work I do with the city’s health department and LBCA directly effects public safety. The presentations offer information about the current laws to prevent consumers from fines as well as educate about clean, tested product only found at legal dispensaries and legal supply chain, as well as benefits of cannabis.
As a woman, what challenges did you encounter (if any) building your business in a male-dominated industry and how do you plan to create change and inclusiveness for future women and WOC joining the industry?
This industry is male dominated clearly. While I do not own my own business, I have aligned myself with a group that understands the importance of inclusiveness. As a bi-racial woman, my work sets an example by creating a path accessible to all.
What would be your best piece of advice for women looking to pursue a career or start a business in the cannabis industry?
Do your homework, educate yourself, take courses, go to workshops. Not “how to get into the industry,” type of education, but real cannabis content – science, history, policy. Understand why we are where we are today in this space. Be comfortable having uncomfortable conversations.
Then whatever area you want to get into — do extra homework and network.
Name 4 women in the weed world that you want to give a shout out to.
Dr. Michele Ross
Key Takeaways from Pam:
- Do your homework, educate yourself if you want to work in this industry.
- Be comfortable having uncomfortable conversations.
- Then whatever area you want to get into — do extra homework and network.
You can learn more about the work Pam does and how you can support this industry through her page, CannabisCloset.
Weed Queens wants to thank Pam Chotiswatdi, for taking the time to inspire us and for sharing her experiences and advice.
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