August 13, 2020
Kayla Shaw started with Stigma Grow as one of the facility’s OGs (original growers) and, in addition to working in Quality Assurance, holds the title of Alternative Master Grower.
After starting in the grow rooms surrounded by a plant she describes as “life-changing” her interests evolved naturally into learning the ins and outs of legal compliance and felt that QA was the best lane in which to gain the most experience.
We managed to catch her during one of the rare five minutes of availability she could offer and sat down to talk about her passion for cannabis, and experiences working for Stigma Grow.
Kayla, you’ve been at this facility since the beginning, and have been an intricate part of the company’s story to-date – how has it been?
Kayla: (takes a deep breath and smiles) “It’s been an adventure; and that doesn’t quite feel like to covers the complex, consuming nature of this industry. Given the right opportunities and passion for cannabis, this industry offers a lifestyle that’s certainly rewarding, but altogether life-consuming.
Is that a statement about Stigma Grow specifically, or the industry in general?
Kayla: It’s certainly a statement about the industry, but more than that, there’s a community of passionate cannabis doers – those who are invested in sharing its beauty professionally, voluntarily, any way they choose – but when you know what I know about cannabis and its benefits, it’s difficult to remain casual about it. And certainly, if you want to make a career out of it, you have to go all-in.
What have been some of the challenges that have come with your cannabis career?
Kayla: How much time do we have?
Cannabis as a plant is complex – it goes without saying – but taking that complexity and trying to create legalities, policies and standards around it, managed by a government that has showed time and again that they just don’t understand cannabis and what the legal industry needs to succeed, has led to countless deadlines, revisions, adjustments, learning experiences and straight-up gut punches. There were a lot of people that were unprepared, but crucial to the industry’s success.
What are you comparing this career to? Where did you work prior to Stigma Grow?
Kayla: I started in the dental industry – but wanted a better quality of life for myself and saw a path forward to that through the rising legal cannabis industry. I have a need to share my truth about cannabis with the world. I guess you can say I saw more chances to improve people’s smiles with cannabis.
Speaking of spreading the good word about cannabis, are there any specific stigmas that you feel need to be further squashed?
Kayla: All of them!
I think the idea that a plant that’s been proven to help people get away from a dependence on hard, harmful drugs is somehow the gateway drug to them is absolutely ridiculous. 300 million people proudly profess their love for cannabis – the numbers on those with hard drug dependencies are nowhere near those; less than a percent. That’s not a pattern worth noting.
I also don’t like the idea that people who enjoy cannabis are unproductive, or unintelligent. I have met some of the smartest, most hardworking people I have ever met over the past couple years, and I used to hang with doctors.
Legal cannabis – can it compete with a thriving black market?
Kayla: Honestly, it’s there for the taking, but the legal market just can’t get it right.
The regulations and restrictions around cannabis are ridiculously redundant and narrow-sighted. A lot of them do more harm than good, or simply act to delay and frustrate good-ideas and consumer-focused suggestions. As a result, prices are high, and availability is often stalled or unreliable.
If the intention, as stated by Canada’s governments, is to eliminate the black market, then a lot of these frustrations need to be addressed and adjusted to favour the long-term plan over the short-term, fear and greed-based policies.
Is there light at the end of the tunnel?
Kayla: In five years we will likely see a lot of improvements – more availability, higher quality, more logical policies and practice. My hope is that we are all open to learning and evolving to truly capture and make available to the world, the wonder that is cannabis.
What’s your favourite cannabis product?
Kayla: Full-spectrum CBDs – I still like my THC (where my dabbers at?) but CBD has changed my life. First as a prescription pre-Stigma , I was always hunched over at work with chronic back pain – no sleep – I found CBD and can’t begin to describe how this herbal plant changed my whole life. From a medical standpoint CBD is still overlooked and is anything but overrated.
Like yin to its yang, CBD and THC are lock and key for me – insomuch as I require it to balance the THC I consume – but I relied on it long before I understood its value as a balancer.
How do you consume your CBD?
Kayla: I like the eyedropper, but I also keep a spray on me at all times for whenever I need a little somethin’ somethin’ – it keeps me more focused, calm, relaxed – a better human.
What excites you about the future?
Kayla: There’s a lot of tissue culture advancements that are paving the way from a medical standpoint how to grow plants specific to needs – the ultimate medicine. This is something the black market simply doesn’t offer.
Extracts are exciting to be a part of – the team I’m learning from at Stigma are unmatched – Justin’s (Justin Wild, Stigma Concentrates Lead) experience and tutelage is something you just can’t get anywhere else. From badder to diamonds, I am blown away by the science and ingenuity that goes into our concentrates.
As a grower – the amount of cannabis community that I’ve benefited from – the culture and education, its endless and so inspiring- so much to learn – it’s one of those things – we get to spread peace and love and gene=tics to the world.
Breeding programs and new strains for Canada – it’s unreal. Life would not be the same without it.
Favourite quote or saying about cannabis?
Kayla: Cannabis provides more fuel fibre and medicine than any other plant in the world.
What did we miss:
Kayla: We gotta push for a positive cannabis movement – be okay with who we are as cannabis consumers and not be ‘judge-y’ towards others – education is power – people don’t need to believe what they hear – the research is out there if you want it.
The fact is that someone that is immersed in the culture and community of cannabis isn’t a ‘pothead’, or at least not in the do-nothing sense of the term. Those who know more, can do more; offer more; help more.
If you are lucky enough to be in the industry, then you already know how much there is to learn – but I encourage anyone to seek out podcasts, blogs, white papers, etc – the information is out there, and it will change your life!