Her Canna Q&A with Constantina “Mags” Karathanasis, Toast

Constantina said: “There’s a place for new members in the industry, so long as we are prepared to honor and acknowledge the struggles of the community that got the industry to this point.”

Describe yourself and what you do.

I am a sales account manager. I spend my days meeting with buyers at dispensaries and delivery services, talking them through our brand’s product line, and setting them up for success with their customer’s unique needs. I love this work because so much of it is rooted in relationships: I genuinely care for the wellbeing and success of the people I work with, and want to help them increase access in their community to the healing potential of the plant. My day job gives me a lot of flexibility to take speaking events and further my cannabis education as opportunities arise. I also have many opportunities to educate budtenders and staff at dispensaries, which I find personally fulfilling.

When did you get started working with cannabis? What is your vision for your professional cannabis endeavors?

I started working with cannabis a couple of years ago. It was an unexpected tangent from my previous career as a social worker, but the industry offers a fascinating intersection of medical advocacy, harm reduction, and opportunities to encourage healthier forms of relaxation. I personally believe the medical/recreational divide is a false dichotomy: there’s dignity in something with a little bit of an “edge” to it like flower or an edible when managing pain, instead of yet another pill and more doctors, and even patients reaching for a joint to unwind are using it to self-medicate anxiety as a healthier life choice than alcohol. I believe while 100% medical or 100% recreational patients exist, they are a rarity, with most users landing somewhere between as they relax and unwind, also treating nausea or tension.

I believe that cannabis has a place in many healthy life regimens, whether treating struggles of the body or of the mind. As I deepen my work in this industry, I am excited to have more opportunities for education, and eventually hope to participate in a digital platform combining my social work experience and cannabis industry knowledge to further dialogue on the topic and further reduce stigma.

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What is your personal cannabis origin story?

Several years ago, after turning 30 and between jobs, I left Chicago and spent a year traveling the country and finding myself. I put very little planning into the trip, which in hindsight made it both more stressful than it needed to be but also provided opportunities for exploration I never would have otherwise encountered. I was not a cannabis user at that point, but had my earliest experimentations with the healing flower in Colorado, while housesitting for a friend and spending some time with his partner, who was a budtender. She helped me understand the very basics of usage modalities, and I quickly realized I liked edibles for sleep and flower for anxiety management. While visiting California, I decided to stay for the summer and somewhat serendipitously found a job with my first preroll company as a brand ambassador. Within the year I was formalizing a long-term move to California, and several years later I am content and flourishing in the cannabis industry as a sales rep, brand advocate, and educator.

What is your Superpower?

I’d say my superpower is finding order in chaos: When systems are just a complete mess, I can usually spend a little time trying to understand them, then quickly develop a process and a system for tracking and optimizing the situation. This also applies to home organization, conveniently. However, upon asking a few people close to me in my life what my superpower is, they all had one unified answer: people. It’s true that I have an uncanny ability to quickly and genuinely connect with most people I work with. Even if somebody is a bit of a “tough cookie,” I usually am able to turn most interactions into positive ones that leave them feeling good. I have the personal ethos to do my best to treat everybody the way they would most like to be treated, and attempt to leave every interaction with my conversation partner feeling good about having had it. I suspect this is a way my social work training creeps into sales: individual-driven interactions and coming to understand somebody in their full complexity as best I can in a limited setting is the very definition of a clinical therapist’s job, and I can’t help but approach all people as complex, interesting humans with their own unique motivations. I believe in being genuine and authentic, and I get the feeling people I interact with can sense that on a deep level, and it inspires trust and honesty.

“I believe that cannabis has a place in many healthy life regimens, whether treating struggles of the body or of the mind.”

What has been your greatest obstacle in this industry or with your business to date?

My biggest initial hurdle was my absolute naivete to the topic. I was 31 years old entering a field full of people who had been smoking since they were teenagers, and had just had my first joint that summer. The world of strains and terpenes and microdosing and concentrates was completely new to me. I needed to get up to speed quickly if I was going to be able to flourish in an industry that was also undergoing massive changes in regulations. I started with an online course in cannabis, and asked as many questions as I could. I took experienced users shopping and bought them goodies in exchange for them explaining everything to me. I tried everything I could get my hands on, in small doses, and kept a usage log so I could see how it personally impacted me. I tried things that intimidated me, like dabs, in safe and controlled environments with experienced users standing by in case I needed help. I was a sponge for knowledge in that first year – both reading everything I could find on the science of cannabis, and trying small bits of assorted methods of ingestion to understand them. Today, I am a microdose user: a little edibles at night to sleep, some flower every now and then to unwind, a dab or two on the weekends.

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What is your advice for women in the cannabis industry?

My best piece of advice for women just thinking about joining the industry but new to it is this: If you’re a novice user wanting to join the industry, there’s a place for you. Recognize the value of other people’s time and experience, listen deeply, and self-educate on the basics as much as possible. This isn’t just an industry for seasoned users, but if you’re new to it it’s important to recognize the heritage and history of all the people who have come before us. I joined the industry during prop 215 era, but I recognize the sacrifices and struggles those in the industry since before any form of legalization faced, and how it impacts how we do business today. There’s a place for new members in the industry, so long as we are prepared to honor and acknowledge the struggles of the community that got the industry to this point.

This is an excellent field in which to be a woman. I’m not sure if it’s location or industry, but I have experienced less subtle or overt sexism in this industry than I have in any other career in my life. While of course the everyday struggles of being a strong professional woman still exist (who hasn’t had a man talk over them or explain their own field of expertise to them?), I’ve found in general the cannabis industry has less classic “old boy’s club” attitudes when compared to other industries. My dream for women in this industry is to see more women in positions of leadership and power, within brands and at dispensaries. I feel very fortunate to work at a company with many women in leadership roles, and would like to see more gender equality across the board with other brands.

Connect with Constantina Karathanasis:

Website: https://wetoast.com

Instagram: ckgetlit

Facebook: Constantina CK

Attend Ellementa Cannabis Wellness Gatherings for Women in Your City

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