Julia Lee

40 Under 40

For the past five years, the Marijuana Venture staff has compiled an annual list of some of the brightest young leaders and influencers in the cannabis industry. As in past years, we have narrowed the list from hundreds of worthy candidates to present 40 individuals from the vast and ever-changing business in the United States and Canada.

It is our honor to share their stories.

Julia Lee

Age: 28

Company: Uncle Ike’s

Title: Operations Manager

Julia Lee took a roundabout path into the cannabis business. The daughter of two Korean immigrants, Lee attended the New Mexico Military Institute for two years before deciding military life was not for her. She then studied petroleum engineering for another two years but realized that was not what she wanted to do either.

A “mixture of boredom, curiosity and a sense of rebellion” led her to apply for a job at the front desk of a pot shop in Denver in 2014.

“As they say, ‘The rest is history.’”

Lee has since held numerous positions in the cannabis space, in both Colorado and Washington. Today, she’s the operations manager of Uncle Ike’s, one of the top-selling cannabis retail chains in Washington.

“As many people in the industry will understand, my duties vary drastically day-by-day and often extend beyond the outlines of my printed job description,” she says. “But being in operations, my goal is always to standardize and optimize. I seek to find areas of deficiency in our operations and implement systems to increase productivity. I spend most of my time analyzing data and facilitating communications between departments.”

While Lee uses sales data and a hands-on approach to streamline Uncle Ike’s operations, she also says cannabis businesses need to take an active role in shaping legislation at the state and local levels.

“I also cannot stress how important it is for people to follow groups like Cannabis Observer or to join a trade organization like the Craft Cannabis Coalition,” she says, pointing out that many agencies making rules for cannabis businesses know little about the actual industry. “We must get involved and start controlling the narrative to ensure sound policy and equitability.”

And for those working in the industry or considering a career in cannabis, she offers a piece of advice: “The world, and even more so, the cannabis industry is so, SO small,” she says. “Be honest, be loyal and don’t burn bridges. Opportunities are everywhere.”

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