Women in Cannabis: Featuring Jessica Quezada
March is Women's History Month, a time to recognize and celebrate the achievements and contributions of women throughout history. We will be highlighting a few of the women that have helped grow March and Ash, sharing their unique experiences and stories working in the cannabis industry. Allow us to introduce you to Jessica Quezada, Head of Apparel & Merchandising for March and Ash. Written by Randy Villarba
March is Women's History Month, a time to recognize and celebrate the achievements and contributions of women throughout history. In the world of legal cannabis, women are making significant strides by breaking down barriers, changing the face of the market and paving the way for others to follow. As the cannabis industry continues to grow, women are taking on leadership roles, starting their own businesses, and advocating for equal representation and social equity in the industry among men and women.
In this feature series, we will be highlighting a few of the women that have helped grow March and Ash, sharing their unique experiences and stories working in the cannabis industry. Allow us to introduce you to Jessica Quezada, Head of Apparel & Merchandising for March and Ash.
What inspired you to pursue a career in the cannabis industry, and how did you get started in this field?
When I moved to San Diego in 2017, it was my first time stepping foot into a dispensary. That visit peaked my interest. In 2018 I saw that March and Ash was opening and decided to apply for a part time position.
When covid hit in 2020, I decided to leave the restaurant industry and commit to the cannabis industry full time. After working as a concierge for 2 years I was promoted to the Head of Merchandising and Apparel. The combination of things I love: fashion, cannabis, and organization.
How do you think being a woman has influenced your experience working in the cannabis industry?
Truthfully this industry can be really intimidating, especially in California. You encounter people who have been in the industry for what feels like a lifetime. Even though I have been in the cannabis industry for five years, I have barely scratched the surface compared to some.
I know that I like surrounding myself with people who are knowledgeable. I ask a lot of questions. I find that this is an industry that is expanding so broadly that you can find “your people” and interest. It may take some time, but there is something for everyone.
What products are you currently using and smoking?
I am currently smoking Cali Bubblegum by Cali Lotus. It’s a super chill strain that allows you to either take a stroll or watch a movie. The only down side is I do get the munchies. The Camino Watermelon Lemonade Bliss gummies and Cann drinks are always fully stocked in my household.
How do you balance the regulatory requirements of working in a highly-regulated industry with the creative and entrepreneurial aspects of your job?
For me personally this hasn’t been too much of a challenge. March and Ash has always had a clear vision of being a discreet brand. Being within the requirements has always been a priority. When regulations change we just pivot as fast as possible to stay in line with regulations.
What advice would you give to other women who are interested in pursuing a career in the cannabis industry, and how can they best prepare themselves for success?
If you want to pursue a career in the cannabis industry, I would recommend doing your research and finding the company that you think aligns with your own interests and goals. Like I said, this is an industry that has expanded so much over the years that there is something available for everyone.
Can you describe your typical workday in the cannabis industry, and what are some of the most important tasks and responsibilities that you have?
My position comes with a lot of ebbs and flows and is far from linear. My day to day is never the same. My most important task is making sure that our stores are always looking aesthetically pleasing. To ensure our products are merchandised to showcase the products we carry and that I build relationships with our vendors.
How do you stay up-to-date on the latest developments in the cannabis industry, and what resources or publications do you rely on for information?
Social media is a great tool to see what's on trend or coming into the market. I also talk to our owners about the projections and trends they see. High Times and Vice are resources I enjoy. Networking at events like Hall of Flowers is always a great way to see the latest developments as well.
What do you think are some of the biggest misconceptions or stereotypes about women who work in the cannabis industry, and how do you challenge or overcome these perceptions?
I think like a lot of industries, the hypersexualization of women is an era that is coming to an end. Women are showing up and proving that they are equals. They are also helping expand the industry with products that would have essentially been overlooked by men. Suppositories for period pain, Bath bombs for relaxation, light microdosing candies, the list goes on.
How do you think recreational cannabis has changed people’s perception of cannabis, and what new opportunities and challenges do you see emerging in the near future?
Recreational Cannabis has changed people's perception because at the end of the day it's a comfortability level. The more you make something appear and feel streamlined to the masses, the easier the stigma goes away.
The opportunities and challenges are one in the same. The opportunities will be endless if we could have a market as large as the alcohol industry. But getting there presents challenge after challenge.
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