*This interview was brought to you as part of Torrey Holistics’s month-long educational series on cannabis and women’s wellness. Transcript has been edited for clarity and readability.
SHELBY: Hi guys! It’s me, Shelby, Torrey Holistics’ Lead Cannabis Educator and I’m here today with Katie McWilliams of Jetty Extracts. Hi Katie!
KATIE: Hi! Thanks for having me.
SHELBY: Absolutely. Do you want to go ahead and tell us a little bit about yourself and your background and how you got involved with Jetty?
KATIE: Sure, sure. So I’ve been in the cannabis industry in one way or another for about eleven years now. Actually what brought me to California is working on some farms in southern Humboldt County. And year after year I kept telling myself I needed to get a “real” job [laughs] and I kept coming back to cannabis. I just couldn’t seem to get away from it. I love the people that I met in the industry, I love the plant, and over the years it just became more and more integrated as a part of my life. I finally stopped telling myself to get a real job, and I took a real job with Jetty about six years ago. You know, I’ve really done a little bit of everything for the company. I started out as a part time sales rep, and then became key account manager; the first year of legalization I was our compliance officer, I was a sales director of Northern California, and today I’m vice president of sales and I manage our top business and work with the executive team on sales and marketing strategy and brand strategy as well.
SHELBY: Wow, that’s interesting. So what motivated you to get into the cannabis industry in the first place, and how did you discover cannabis on a personal level?
KATIE: Well, cannabis has been a part of my life for basically my entire adult life, and admittedly some of my non-adult life. And, you know, I never thought of it as a potential career because back then it wasn’t legal. I’m from Georgia originally so it certainly wasn’t legal there. And in California, before Prop 64, we were all operating in a bit of a gray space. So, depending on how comfortable you were operating in that gray space, heavily affected your decision and how seriously you wanted to take cannabis as a potential career. I worked on 215 farms in all sorts of different ways over the years before working with Jetty, but I think what really made me want to become a part of Jetty is, for the first time seemed like there was the potential to become something real. And I loved the people, I loved what the brand stood for, I loved the philanthropic nature of the brand, and I saw that they were forging a way for the industry to operate in a very thoughtful manner. And it was just really an opportunity that I couldn’t say no to, and I’m glad I did[n’t].
SHELBY: Yeah, I love Jetty and all of those philanthropic initiatives you spoke of. We interviewed Nate Ferguson last year about the sustainability initiatives that Jetty has undertaken. I know the upcycled wooden tips, very cool. So I’ve got a lot of respect for you all.
KATIE: Thank you, thank you. And you know it really goes back to our cultivation practices. This year is the first year that Jetty’s had our own farm, and totally been in control of our cultivation practices. But, that’s been something that we’ve put at the forefront of our mind when purchasing all of our starting material in the past, is making sure that we’re working with cultivators that only use organic and sustainable cultivation practices. And we know those people—we know them by name, we know their children, we know their farms, we’ve seen it up close and personal, and we’ve always thought that it was very important to support these smaller farms because they’re really the people that have carried this industry on their shoulders for decades to bring us to the point of legalization.
SHELBY: Right. Yeah that’s so important in the industry, especially as it’s growing. So, during the month of February, Torrey Holistics, as you might know, is launching a campaign around cannabis and women’s wellness, motivated by the fact that even though cannabis is becoming more and more accepted in the mainstream, women still tend to be underrepresented among consumers. So, do you have any insights on that? Did you yourself have any hesitations first starting your journey with cannabis?
KATIE: Definitely. I mean, it’s just kind of ingrained in our society unfortunately. Thinking back to my days in college, I didn’t go buy my own weed—I had like one of my guy friends go buy my weed. And I think that a lot of women have kind of operated that way. And that’s unfortunate. When I first got into the industry I remember walking into my first dispensary and, despite the fact that I’d been in the industry and been on kind of the cultivation side for five, six years prior to even seeing my first dispensary, I walked in and my face got hot, I felt embarrassed, I was intimidated. Like, it was all these bros behind the counter. I didn’t really know what questions to ask. All of the different products were just intimidating to me. And so, if it was intimidating for me— someone that had been working in the industry for years—I imagine for someone that cannabis is completely new, I very much sympathize with how intimidating it might be to walk into a store and to ask questions. I understand how overwhelming it can be with the dialogue and the lexicon that we have in the industry. There’s a lot to know and I want to do whatever I can to help break down that wall and to help destigmatize cannabis so that anybody of age can come in and feel comfortable asking a question, and recognize that even those of us in the industry know how ludicrous the amount of information is and the choices that we have is. And that’s really why we’re here as brands and as retailers. It’s to help walk you through that process to find a product that truly helps you.
SHELBY: Yeah. It seems like that’s been one of the big benefits of Prop 64 in that it’s just made this information so much more accessible, and also the dispensary experience, I feel like just feels a lot safer and more legitimate. Torrey Holistics is really working to break down that stigma. So I think that some people would be surprised if they’d only gone to a dispensary before it went recreationally legal, going to one now is almost a completely different experience.
KATIE: It’s a totally different experience. I mean, the products that were on shelves in 2013 when Jetty started, they’re probably worse than what you find at trap shops or illegal shops today. The industry has come such a long way in testing, and making sure that products are safe, and making sure that the dosage is reliable, and really breaking down the cannabinoid profiles, and making sure that you have a repeatable experience every time you purchase your cannabis. And I think having a positive, repeatable experience is what gives us the confidence that cannabis can be our medicine and cannabis can help us in so many different facets of our life.
SHELBY: Couldn’t agree more. So in terms of the cannabis industry, how do you think the cannabis industry compares with others in terms of women’s ability to grow and succeed?
KATIE: That’s a really good question and I think my honest answer would be that it’s a moving target. At the beginning of cannabis legalization, I think that women had a bigger leg up compared to other industries towards senior positions, because if you were willing to take the risk of a gray market industry, you were already in. So, those of us that started in the beginning have had the potential for upward mobility. Now that cannabis—and it’s like I said, it’s always changing—but now that cannabis is taking money from big corporations and we’re continuing to see consolidation, I don’t know that that’s necessarily still the truth. It seems to mirror the corporate makeup of other industries. You know I’m the only woman that sits on our executive team and I would love to see more women in executive positions. Half of our sales team is led by strong, smart women. And one thing’s for certain, if it wasn’t for the women managers at our production facility in Oakland, I don’t know where we’d be! But you know, I don’t truly know how it compares to other industries because I’ve been in this industry for so long. I don’t think that it’s good enough until we’re represented by at least 50 percent.
SHELBY: That’s a good point. So in terms of Jetty’s products, how can women in particular benefit?
KATIE: I think one of the nice things about concentrate companies is we are distilling down specific cannabinoids, and I spoke to this earlier, I think the thing that builds confidence in cannabis is having a repeatable experience. And the nice thing about concentrate companies like Jetty is that we break down these cannabinoids in very specific amounts. So if you’re new to cannabis and you want to kind of tip-toe in and not get very high and have not so much of a heady experience, probably our Sessions cartridge would be really good. It’s low THC and high in CBD. We also have a line called the Special Reserve line that, Delta-8 and THCV are two of my favorite minor cannabinoids and both of those products have very light psychotic effects so if you’re somebody that maybe gets a little bit paranoid, both of those products would be very good for you because there’s little-to-no paranoia. But both of them offer very distinct and opposite medicinal effects. So, I think just a concentrate company’s ability to isolate these cannabinoids can give you a very predictable and repeatable experience. Vape in general is a great place to start because it’s very discrete and convenient. The smell is minimal and you can vape on the go!
SHELBY: And especially with THCV I think one of the added benefits there is, some research is suggesting it can help with weight loss. Is that correct?
KATIE: Yeah, yeah research is suggesting that it helps with weight loss, it’s being studied to replace narcolepsy medication, ADHD medication. So I like to describe it to people that, you know, if I need to get my house clean, if I need to get a bunch of stuff done, if I need to “go go go,” that’s definitely the cartridge that you want. It also doesn’t have an extreme comedown like a THC Delta-9 product does so you don’t get that sudden rush of munchies where you like, gotta run to the kitchen and grab something to eat. You just don’t have that comedown. So it’s actually being studied to help people with diabetes because of that quality, and I’m looking forward to seeing more research come out to support that cannabinoid and so many more. I mean, THC Delta-9 is the cannabinoid that we talk about the most but there’s a whole slew of other minor cannabinoids that have unknown and potentially limitless benefits to our health.
SHELBY: Yeah, it’s a treasure trove. And I think we’ll see a lot of these minor cannabinoids—especially in the coming year—start to gain some attention as more research comes out.
KATIE: Yeah, absolutely.
SHELBY: So, I guess to wrap things up, if you could convey one thing to consumers—particularly women—who are nervous about trying cannabis, what would you like to get across?
KATIE: I would just like for them to know that walking into a cannabis store is today a very very welcoming experience and Torrey Holistics specifically goes above and beyond to give their customers privacy to have one-on-one conversations. All of the consultants are highly knowledgeable, a lot of them have been there for many years. They have a depth of knowledge about the products that are on your shelves. There’s so many different products to try, I would want them to know that everything in a cannabis dispensary is not just something that’s going to knock you off your feet and get you really really high. There is a whole scale of different products that are made for very different needs, and just having a one-on-one conversation with your cannabis consultant can get you the right product and provide you with relief that you’ll wish that you had reached out and done it so much sooner.
SHELBY: Well thank you Katie, that’s some great advice. But I appreciate you taking the time to chat with us today. I’m Shelby and we’ll see you next time.
KATIE: Thank you so much, thanks for having me, Shelby.
These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Nothing said, done, typed, printed or reproduced by Torrey Holistics is intended to diagnose, prescribe, treat or take the place of a licensed physician.