Trail Blazin’ Productions
Sometimes it feels like things move so slow. And then other times, it feels like it’s all so incredibly fast.
When we started Trail Blazin’ Productions in January 2014, one of the first things we did was join the Bellingham Regional Chamber of Commerce. That’s what “real” businesses do; they join the Chamber. About one-third of the people were really excited we were there. Another third emailed us and said, “I’m really glad you’re here, but I can’t say or show that in public.” The last third wouldn’t even look us in the eye. They’d look the other way when we shook their hands or introduced ourselves. Or we’d send emails saying, “It was great to meet you at the Chamber,” and they’d respond with “Please don’t ever contact me again.” I know it wasn’t personal, but sometimes it felt personal.
Fast-forward to 2019: Two local cannabis companies were finalists in separate categories at the Chamber of Commerce’s annual awards dinner: one for Small Business of the Year and me for CEO of the Year. That’s huge! In just five years we went from being outcasts in the business community to being recognized as some of the best.
I’ve also been spending some time with the Washington Farm Bureau. While I’ve been a card-carrying member of the Farm Bureau for years, it’s only recently that I became an active member. The environment reminds me a lot of the Chamber in 2014. There are a lot of preconceived notions about who we are and what we do in the cannabis industry. Let’s just say I never tell them what I do unless they ask. Initially, it was really uncomfortable, but after just two meetings people were coming up to me saying, “I know who you are. I know what you do. And we need more people like you as members and at these meetings.” Those little nuggets of support are what keep me going through the uncomfortable times.
Then there are times when you think you’ll be safe, only to be blindsided by propaganda and Reefer Madness. I was at the Democratic Winter Party, and the first person I introduced myself asked me what I do for a living. “I own Trail Blazin’ Productions, a cannabis company, and we are one of the only ones in Washington that are medically certified. Cannabis is medicine first and foremost.”
“Cannabis is a drug,” she responded.
“Oh, can you tell me the difference between medicine and a drug?” I asked politely.
Short version is that she couldn’t decipher the difference in a way that supported her position and followed that with “I don’t want to get into semantics.”
I didn’t win CEO of the Year (I lost to Ray Deck III, who was a foster child, became a foster parent and founded Skookum Kids, a 501(c)3 for foster families; he’s the embodiment of all that is good in the world and you’re probably going to hell if you didn’t vote for him), but 2020 Solutions, a local cannabis retail store, took home the trophy for Small Business of the Year.
It takes all of our cannabis companies to be out in the community, sharing our stories, and engaging in polite conversation.
We are changing hearts and minds, slowly but surely, and the world will follow suit.