[dropcap class=”kp-dropcap”]J[/dropcap]amie Pearson is a cannabis executive who raised her children in a similar environment she herself lived in, and rebelled against, while growing up during the “War on Drugs” era. After being lifted up into the cannabis industry and becoming a mother herself, she is using her position, experience and knowledge to support others in the industry—especially other women who are in leadership roles.
“My belief is that the world is abundant,” said Pearson. “I believe there is enough for all of us; I believe that if we worked together, we lift each other up, and we make friends. We’re not competitors; we’re colleagues.”
Pearson is the chief operating officer of Bhang, which includes overseeing Cypress Hill’s venture Cypress Hill Bhang. She also owns a cultivation operation with DJ Muggs, her cousin. She is a member of the advisory board at Liberty Leaf Holdings Ltd. and most recently, she was asked to join the advisory board of the Herer Group.
“That just happened,” Pearson explained. “[Jack Herer] is the legend in cannabis. His son Dan is carrying on his legacy, and it was an absolutely unbelievable huge honor for me to be asked to help guide them.”
Pearson credits Leah Maurer—Oregon cannabis activist, consultant, editor of The Weed Blog and mother—as someone who really introduced her to cannabis and led her education when she was new to the industry. Maurer champions parents who consume cannabis, and Pearson echoes the belief that parents should have open conversations about it in order to continue breaking down the stigma.
“I’m with Leah. We need to start treating our kids like they can handle this information,” said Pearson. “We’re going to have a massive generational change.”
“The stigma already doesn’t exist the way it was in the ’80s when I was a kid,” she said.
Pearson herself had experience growing up around cannabis. Her father and uncle grew cannabis, and her cousin, DJ Muggs of the rap group Cypress Hill, drew massive attention for lighting up a joint on Saturday Night Live in 1993.
“We’ve got children, we’re creating life, we’re responsible for human beings, we’re powerful beyond measure. And if we see that in each other, and lift each other up, not in a super crunchy cliché way, but in a really deliberate way, magic happens. And I’m living proof of it.”
“When I tell you cannabis has been a part of my life, I wasn’t smoking it, but I couldn’t avoid it,” she said. Pearson reflected on how she bought into the anti-drug campaigns “hook, line and sinker” when she was growing up, but now recognizes her father’s wisdom about cannabis and wants to raise her own children with an open mind as well.
Open and Honest
Pearson was honest with her children about her work in the cannabis industry and the legal status of cannabis in their home state of Montana and federally, but she also asked them to be cautious with the information. She told them that some people in the community wouldn’t understand her business role and would view her, as she had once viewed her father, as a drug dealer.
“I always talk to my kids like they’re capable of understanding what I’m saying, and they always rise to the occasion,” said Pearson, whose children are now college-aged. “With them, it’s been fantastic.”
Bhang is going public, and Pearson is finding herself running a globally-distributing company and equipped with knowledge and connections—tools she wants to use to lift others up in the cannabis industry.
“My belief is that the world is abundant. I believe there is enough for all of us; I believe that if we worked together, we lift each other up, and we make friends. We’re not competitors; we’re colleagues.”
“I feel like that mentality and that model of doing business really fits in cannabis. It fits the industry,” said Pearson. “It’s what we should be doing anyway, in the world and in the universe, and it’s absolutely how I operate.”
Twenty-seven percent of cannabis executives are women, according to Marijuana Business Daily, compared to 23 percent for the national average. At Bhang, 90 percent of the executive team members are women—many of whom are mothers.
Parenthood is acknowledged as a priority at Bhang, and Pearson knows women who feel their employer takes their motherhood seriously will feel valued and be able to prioritize about both their families and their careers.
“Ultimately, your job’s important, but there’s room for both. It’s all going to balance itself out because I’ve hired a person who is passionate about their work and allowed to be passionate about being a mom,” said Pearson.
Along with Bhang CEO Scott J. Van Rixel, who has a young daughter, Pearson acknowledges the role that women and mothers should have in the cannabis movement and the collaborative approach women bring to the workplace. She referred to an advertisement Bhang released with an image of a cannabis leaf and the words, “Respect Her.”
“We’ve got children, we’re creating life, we’re responsible for human beings, we’re powerful beyond measure. And if we see that in each other, and lift each other up, not in a super crunchy cliché way, but in a really deliberate way, magic happens,” said Pearson. “And I’m living proof of it.”