Know your clients- research before you offer opinions! — For example, the way I learned this is when I first got back into the cannabis industry as a vocal activist and business person in 2014 when I was working with NORML I thought I already knew everything about cannabis but as I started hearing about patients with 200 or 300 plant count prescriptions initially I was skeptical, thinking “there’s no way they can smoke all THAT!” And then I learned it’s not about the smoking. I learned about how patients are juicing, making extracts, and that concentrates take a very large plant count to provide that medicine. So don’t assume you know everything
As a part of my series about strong women leaders in the cannabis industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kim Cooper.
Kim is the founder of NOCER, and has a long history in the Cannabis movement. Her first experience advocating for Cannabis was in 1978 on Yonge St. in Toronto, getting signatures for a petition for a marijuana initiative., after a doctor recommended cannabis for a seizure condition. Kim is a mother of 3 kids and a grandmother of 2. At a young age Kim was diagnosed with epilepsy and was put on several medications. Several years later, as a young teenager, she tried cannabis recreationally and noticed her seizures were reduced. She made the decision to stop taking her prescribed medication and committed to consuming cannabis daily instead. Kim became a cannabis patient advocate when she had a car accident and injured her back among other things in 2002. Released from hospital on 16 pills per day, life was never the same. After many years of that, Kim now uses Cannabis almost exclusively, no longer ingesting the harmful Pharmaceuticals she once took. Kim was diagnosed later in life with breast cancer, and she uses cannabis oil capsules as her treatment. Even though she is now located in a small town in Northern Ontario, she has been and remains very vocal in her community. She loves to share the daily cannabis news and presently operates several Social Media sites as well as her Web Page. Kim is also a reporter for The PACE Radio Network, hosting several shows including global news & personal interviews, before she advanced into the producer’s chair.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the cannabis industry?
I had cannabis recommended when I was 14 in 1978-, for seizures. I was on some heavy pharmaceuticals to control a seizure condition and the year before I had started using cannabis recreationally and when I was 14 I went to the doctor and my mother chose that time to tell on me to the doctor that I was using cannabis and to my surprise the doctor told us there was medical evidence that cannabis was helpful with seizures. It was an important thing for me my whole life and learning the medicinal value that cannabis had for me I felt it was something everyone should know and I was compelled to talk to everyone I could about this,because, quite frankly, I was shocked that it wasn’t common knowledge. Over the last 20 years I have volunteered for NORML Canada to push the movement forward and I launched NOCER (Northern Ontario Cannabis Education & Resources) , then embarked onto my radio broadcasting career with Al Graham and the PACE radio show (People Advocating For Cannabis Education).
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The first march I held in Kirkland Lake, in Northern Ontario with Dana Larsen. The Provincial Police had raided a bong shop, a headshop, taking away 35,000 worth of inventory — pipes, books, everything confiscated and the owner was charged under an obscure part of the criminal code never used and I reached out to help him, that was the first rally I held, I reached out to Dana Larsen who is a very prominent cannabis activist here in Canada, and asked him for some guidance on how to hold a protest — I had never done it before and he helped me. I learned that communication with the community as well as with the local police department is key to a successful protest.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Calling someone I met in the past the wrong name. Everyone is “Hun” now
Do you have a funny story about how someone you knew reacted when they first heard you were getting into the cannabis industry?
The only funny thing is, everyone said “well that figures!”
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Al Graham the co-host of my show on PACE.. He has been the most patient, supportive person I have had the pleasure of working with. He reached out because he saw I share a lot of news & we just clicked. We are into our 6th year working together with no end in sight. I have learned a lot from him, about business as well as about personal growth.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?
My Blog- Articles, & possible book. I decided to put down on paper my four decades of cannabis experience hoping that it would help people going through similar situations, cannabis has been a part of my life for a long time and I have extensive experience with the plant and I wanted to pass that information on to others out there who may benefit from it.
Ok. Thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. Despite great progress that has been made we still have a lot more work to do to achieve gender parity in this industry. According to this report in Entrepreneur, less than 25 percent of cannabis businesses are run by women. In your opinion or experience, what 3 things can be done by a)individuals b)companies and/or c) society to support greater gender parity moving forward?
- When it comes to individuals, women have strong voices, we have to have the courage to apply those voices to the cannabis industry.
- Gender equity in companies is a huge thing, I don’t know how you tackle that. I don’t have an answer, I wish I did.
- Society is coming around — but it’s not reflected in the boardrooms yet. I think society supports women in business, now we need to get the boardrooms to reflect that so it’s reflected in the industry.
You are a “Cannabis Insider”. If you had to advise someone about 5 non intuitive things one should know to succeed in the cannabis industry, what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each.
1) Know your clients- research before you offer opinions! — For example, the way I learned this is when I first got back into the cannabis industry as a vocal activist and business person in 2014 when I was working with NORML I thought I already knew everything about cannabis but as I started hearing about patients with 200 or 300 plant count prescriptions initially I was skeptical, thinking “there’s no way they can smoke all THAT!” And then I learned it’s not about the smoking. I learned about how patients are juicing, making extracts, and that concentrates take a very large plant count to provide that medicine. So don’t assume you know everything
2) Know the products- do more research! This comes back to knowing your clients as well, What works for one client will not work for all, you have to have information in your tool belt about a wide variety of products so that you can direct your clients to the right medicine.
3) Be compassionate- A little compassion goes a long way. They are looking for someone who is going to give them some direction and some understanding about what they are going through, It can be a scary thing transitioning to cannabis as medicine when you come from the pharmaceutical world so compassion can go a long way towards alleviating those fears.
4.) Cannabis is not just for the young! You have to have an expanded mindset to be able to deal with all age demographics. We are seeing a large majority of patients who are actually seniors, so having the mindset of speaking to a twenty something is not the same as what you need when speaking to someone in their sixties, so you have to be versatile.
5.) Don’t assume you will automatically get rich in cannabis. Nobody in legal cannabis is getting rich quick, it’s an industry that is evolving, it takes time and work, it’s going to take time till you see profits in your bottom line, It’s an industry that takes hard work like any other. It’s not a get rich quick scheme for anyone to get into. The regulatory system in Canada is very expensive to get into and is costing people a lot of money to get the doors open so it takes awhile before you turn a profit.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the cannabis industry?
Growth in the industry, seeing stores opening up across the country and people going to them, its exciting times, I didn’t think I would ever see it in my life so it is great that I can.
Evolution of acceptance — seeing how many people are using the legal system now, the explosion of acceptance with even senior citizens looking at cannabis medicine as an option for them when they would never have before — legalization did that.
Medical studies — It’s been really lacking in the medical community after 20 years of medical cannabis in this country we didn’t really have any studies, but now after 2 years of legalization the licensed producers are now embarking on medical studies, advancing our knowledge.
Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?
1-Corporatization- deregulate it so the average person can participate.
2 In Canada, the government is trying to eliminate medical cannabis — there is an attack on the current legal medical cannabis system and now municipalities and provinces are asking the government to change our medical system because recreational stores exist but they can’t do that — patients’ court mandated rights must be protected.
3- Dosage limits- right now recreational cannabis has put a 10 mg cap on edible products and patients who use these products do not have access to higher dose medication that they require for their prescription — a variety is required rather than standardized amount.
What are your thoughts about federal legalization of cannabis? If you could speak to your Senator, what would be your most persuasive argument regarding why they should or should not pursue federal legalization?
Here in Canada we are two years into federally legalized cannabis and experiencing a corporate takeover of0 the industry, Legalization nationally in the United States should attempt to avoid going in the same direction. In terms of persuasive political arguments — the facts are zero deaths, documented medicinal benefit throughout history, an important dietary supplement, and a lifesaving medicine.
Today, cigarettes are legal, but they are heavily regulated, highly taxed, and they are somewhat socially marginalized. Would you like cannabis to have a similar status to cigarettes or different? Can you explain?
For recreational or nonprescription use it should be taxed & regulated like any other euphoric product. For medicinal use it should be treated as a prescription and not taxed.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Live and Let Live! I have had to fight for the right to live the way I choose since I was 14 years old, so that resonates with me.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
It’s already happening ! It’s the cannabis movement and I am happy to have been a part of it for the last four decades!
Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you only continued success!