You can create your own lane. The industry is still in its infancy and there are many opportunities available to innovative within the industry.
As a part of my series about strong women leaders in the cannabis industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lolita Korneagay, RN. In 2017, Lolita Korneagay, RN founded Cansoom and developed the most comprehensive, in-person Medical Cannabis Consultant training program for licensed medical professionals. Cansoom’s mission is to connect consumers with Medical Cannabis Consultants to make cannabis consumption easy and acceptable for everyone. To date, Lolita has personally trained doctors, nurses, and therapists from over 20 states who now have the ability to pass on their cannabis knowledge to their communities nationwide. In addition, Lolita created the Cansoom platform to contain an online searchable directory of licensed medical professionals, which makes it easy for consumers to find and connect with the right consultant. As a Registered Nurse with over 15 years of experience, Lolita was the first person to write a cannabis educational book especially for nurses, “The Medical Cannabis Consultant’s Handbook”, she is also the author of “The Medical Cannabis Consultant Explained”, and “Your Cannabis Consumption Journal”. In 2018, Lolita launched a YouTube and IGTV channel, under the moniker Nurse Lolita, to expand her reach and teach as many people as possible about cannabis consumption while removing negative stigmas. Through her hard work and research, Lolita has made cannabis consumption safe for those who need it to cope with medical issues while also giving medical professionals the opportunity to learn about healthy cannabis consumption, own their own business, and become cannabis advocates.
Thank you so much for doing this with us, Lolita! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the cannabis industry?
Ibecame a cannabis consumer and advocate when I was diagnosed with multiple painful medical conditions that affected my quality of life. Faced with taking large amounts of pharmaceutical drugs, I turned to cannabis which was the only thing that relieved my pain and provided relief.
However, even as a Registered Nurse, it was hard for me to know which type of cannabis to use, how much to use, and how to use it safely. After much research, I was able to create a cannabis treatment plan that worked for me. Knowing that there are millions of people who need help with learning how to safely use cannabis to improve their lives, I decided to use my personal experience and medical background to help people who are in the same place as I was in so many years ago. I created Cansoom to make cannabis education easy and accessible to everyone.
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?
I attended a cannabis conference in Illinois to be a speaker on a cannabis health panel. Shortly after I walked into the expo area of the conference, I was stopped by a woman who said that she was inspired by my work and she was happy to meet me. I was completely caught off guard and I asked her if she mistook me from someone else. She replied that she knew who I was and she started to talk about some of the things that I had done.
This interaction taught me that “you never know who is watching”. I try my best to keep a strong social media presence and maintain a large email subscription list. Many times I wonder if anyone is actually watching or reading my content. But now I know that my followers are paying attention to me and that my hard work is being noticed.
Do you have a funny story about how someone you knew reacted when they first heard you were getting into the cannabis industry?
Almost immediately after I made it public knowledge that I was entering the cannabis industry, I started to get messages from family and friends asking me to send them cannabis. I had to explain to everyone that I would be providing cannabis education, not selling cannabis products.
Before I launched Cansoom, most people only thought that the cannabis industry consisted of the people who grew cannabis and the people who sold cannabis. It took me a while to get people to understand that there are many jobs and opportunities within the cannabis industry and I’ve created my own niche.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I’m a creative person so I’m always working on something new! My mind never rests and my imagination is constantly providing the inspiration that I need.
Currently, my core customers are licensed medical professionals but I’ve identified other populations that need cannabis education for various reasons. Therefore, I’m expanding Cansoom in 2020 by offering new classes, experiences, and products to reach new customers in an effort to provide them with cannabis knowledge that could positively affect their quality of life. My first product, the Relax candle, is a cannabis essential oil infused candle that was just released on Thanksgiving and is now available for purchase online!
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?
- Individuals should try to be conscious consumers and pay attention to who they do business with and give their money to. Women, for instance, are the fastest-growing consumer demographic within the cannabis space. If women consumers are cognizant of which cannabis businesses are women-owned or women-led, they could have a huge impact on supporting those types of businesses.
- Company executives simply need to understand the power of employing and partnering with women. It’s sad that we need to still prove our worth but multiple studies have concluded that women in leadership roles bring measurable value to a company’s bottom line.
- Society can play a role in the progress toward gender parity through women-friendly laws, policies, regulations, financial incentives, and the creation of economic opportunities.
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.
- To get media exposure, you need media exposure. I had to do a lot of interviews with very small publications and podcasts before I got the attention of bigger media outlets. It’s as though, bigger media outlets wouldn’t pay attention to me until the smaller media channels “discovered” me.
- To get investors, you need to make money first. For a very small group of people, it’s easy to secure funding with just an idea. But for the majority of founders, you need to prove that you have a viable product or service that makes actual money before you can get someone to invest in your business.
- Give information away for free and people will pay for your product/service. When you have a new product or service, you may have to do a lot of education that explains why your business is necessary. But once people understand your purpose, they’ll pay for your product or service if it solves their problem.
- Do everything yourself until you can’t do everything yourself. This is huge! Don’t hire a bunch of people to do everything for you without first trying to it the tasks yourself. This is beneficial because you’ll learn every aspect of your business first-hand and you’ll understand the value that someone will bring when you are ready to hire staff.
- Results are more important than credentials. Everyone of your customers has a problem that you should be able to solve. Depending on the problem, the customer may be more interested in how you are going to solve their problem, rather than checking to see how many certifications you have or what school you went.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the cannabis industry?
- New research that will discover new things about the cannabis plant and its ability to interact with the endocannabinoid system.
- Cannabis has the opportunity to change people’s quality of life instead of potentially harming them like some pharmaceuticals could.
- You can create your own lane. The industry is still in its infancy and there are many opportunities available to innovative within the industry.
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?
- The monopolies that are being created by large companies companies which are funded by venture capitalist and other investment groups.
- The anti-cannabis regulations and laws that have been enacted by various small municipalities, cities, and towns.
- There’s not enough ethnic diversity within the cannabis industry.
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?
Federal legalization is important for a few reasons, but I’ll outline two. First, federal legalization increases access for people who need to use cannabis for medical reasons to improve their health outcomes and quality of life. Secondly, federal legalization would help to create product standards and regulation. This would increase consumer safety by eliminating distribution of cannabis products that have not been properly lab tested.
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?
I would like for cannabis to have a different status from cigarette. Cannabis is a medicine that causes no harm and should have the same status as over-the-counter medications and supplements. In fact, in 1850, cannabis was a patent medicine used by 2/3rds of the world’s population and was prescribed by doctors. I would like for it to return that status.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Your effort equals your success. It’s pretty simple, you’ll only get out of life what you put into it. Nothing more and nothing less.
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. 🙂
I would inspire a cannabis educational movement. I would love to see cannabis as a plant being taught in schools across the globe. It would be awesome if the next generation of people didn’t know it as a bad thing but rather as a natural herb that has great value!
Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you only continued success!