Catherine Montgomery, Cannabis & Hemp Educator & Advocate
Californians for Cannabis
and Co-Founder, Titan Smokescreen
“You can be an intelligent educated person and STILL consume cannabis.”
Describe yourself and what you do.
You can be an intelligent educated person and STILL consume cannabis. My function in the cannabis community is an educator and advocate; to provide the most current news and information about California cannabis, cannabis politics, business, culture, history health and wellness.
To encourage discussion about the benefits of cannabis not only in respect to medical application, but also how it can change the world in a very positive way. It is my desire to be the change I want to see in the world and inspire others to use their voice and their actions to do the same.
What inspired you to start your company and when and how did you get started?
Californians For Cannabis was started as result of wanting to provide reliable current information about the cannabis business, culture, health and wellness and medical value of cannabis. Titan Smokescreen was brought about by the observation that cannabis should be consumed in a healthy responsible way. Both businesses were established with personal income and a small but dedicated following of like-minded individuals, and continues to grow.
MY VISION for cannabis is for it to be de-scheduled, for the government to remove the obstacles for legally owned businesses so they can operate like any other retail business, for cannabis to mature into a respected and precedent-setting industry that provides a comfortable living for its employees, public consumption and cannabis gardening will become a normal activity.
MY VISIONS for Californians For Cannabis & Titan Smokescreen: To continue to provide reliable current information about the cannabis business, promote global cannabis legalization, health and wellness and medical value of cannabis.
What is your vision and mission for your Canna business?
If you would have told me in high school that first, cannabis would be legal, and second, I would be a voice for it I may have laughed at that! Although I have several college degrees, my true education was obtained from the school of hard knocks.
My strongest influence was my mother, who encouraged me to be who I am no matter what the circumstances, strong, fight for what I believe in and to have realistic goals and a plan. No matter what cause I embrace or personal or professional endeavors I pursue, I bring to it passion, dedication and relentless pursuit. You could say I go all in!
I began using cannabis recreationally in 1970s in Baton Rouge, LA where I dared to dream that one day, twisting one up and then smoking a joint would not be illegal. Cannabis joints would be sold in packs just like cigarettes. In 1995, I moved to California. I was aware of reports to legalize cannabis for medical use, but cannabis was not the sole reason for this move. I began smoking cannabis again as I was able to acquire it.
Around 2010, I became involved in the Los Angeles medical cannabis community by joining a passionate grassroots organization of mothers who believed in medical cannabis. I joined several other local and national cannabis groups, whose focus and vision over time ended up not being the same as mine.
After doing a few television segments, gathering signatures for cannabis initiatives, traveling to cannabis business conferences, dabbling in California cannabis politics and then working at a legal medical cannabis dispensary, I felt my voice and my efforts would be better served being an educator and advocate.
The focus of cannabis legalization should be education – that cannabis is a plant not a drug for one thing – of its medical applications. NOT promoting a brand or lifestyle that is unrealistic and unattainable for most people.
What is your Superpower?
I am a jack of all trades. My super power is the ability to take what you give me and run with it. Some of my other powers include being an analytical thinker, problem-solver and a great listener. I get a lot of compliments on my smile.
What has been your greatest obstacle in this industry or with your business to date – and how have you overcome it – or are you still working on tackling it?
Cannabis is a male-dominated business with some chauvinism. Because I have had careers in other industries where this has been the norm, the only way to deal with it is to know yourself, your strengths and weaknesses and play on your strong suits. Do not stoop down to the level of a chauvinist.
Rise above their bad behavior with professionalism; kill them with kindness if you have to but don’t ever cry, get emotional or behave irrationally. Be direct and assertive without being overly aggressive. And remember that any bad behavior towards you IS NEVER about you; it is always rooted in ego/insecurity or some other past negative experience.
What is your vision for women in this industry? What would you like women to know about entering the Cannabis industry?
I would like to see women unite and be role models/inspiration for women of all ages.
ADVICE for those entering the business. First and very important: you will be lead to believe that you can get rich in the cannabis business if you “Buy my book”, “invest in this” or similar concept. MANY existing markets are saturated by people looking to market their product or service. The best opportunities are in markets that have just begun.
To find your place in those markets you must network. Sometimes your best way in is by a recommendation from someone who is already working with a company or dispensary. Their recommendation does not guarantee acceptance, but it MAY get you a meeting sooner than usual and customary client development techniques.
Research your potential clients. If possible, visit the shop or vendor once before making an appointment. A good way to make a decision about a business is to look at the staff and how you are treated. Generally it is a reflection of the team you will be working with.
Be persistent and respectful. Patience, diligence, professionalism always. Know the names of key people in industry and a little bit about them. Packaging is important. It does not have to be designed by an expensive agency, it should be attractive, practical, easy to open, visually engaging, have all the required disclaimers for medical cannabis (each state different).
Be ready to navigate through a lot of hoops. The industry is in a state of constant flux, so do not get discouraged or sucked into the latest trend.
Be aware of the trends and stay informed or even better, try to stay ahead of them.
My experiences with the Los Angeles community is that while a lot of cannabis business owners and managers of those businesses KNOW cannabis quite well, there is a percentage of that group that are not experienced business people. Be patient with them; educate them if need be. Sometimes they can be short-sided in their thinking, catering to a young demographic only interested in the latest fad, what is considered “dope”.
As most of us know, cannabis is not just for young people or recreational use. There is another large demographic that is being ignored in some markets – baby boomers, seniors and educated professionals.