7 Questions: Shawna Vercher as an Influential Woman in Cannabis
Green Reine Executive Producer Shawna Vercher has long been known as a prominent figure in political media, but being named as an Influential Woman in Cannabis is new to many of her supporters and colleagues. Shawna sat down for an interview with a national publication on her newfound recognition and, for the first time, shared the story of her connection to this unique industry.
How would you describe yourself and what you do?
I’m a fixer who focuses on social justice issues and, as an Executive Producer, my team and I use media like film and writing as a way to change minds and change policy relating to those issues – including those that are connected to the cannabis community.
When did you get started working with cannabis and what is your vision and mission for your professional cannabis endeavors?
I first began work with cannabis when I was asked to travel to Europe and meet with Parliamentary representatives who were trying to launch cannabis growth and exports. It was something that not all citizens or community leaders were embracing and they wanted my help on implementing their vision.
At first, I was hesitant to take it on because the conversation seemed to be centered on making more money. That’s not enough of a driver for me. Then I realized that the story of cannabis was really about how it could change people’s lives – as a medicine, as a critical part of the economy, and as a platform to address justice reform. THAT is when I got excited. I am determined to change the conversation we are having about cannabis.
“I was introduced by a Colorado dispensary to a strain of cannabis to reduce my anxiety and response to triggers. It was life-changing.”
Every Superheroine has an Origin Story, how she got started on the path she is on. What is the Origin Story for your PERSONAL Cannabis journey?
I had a client who became a stalker. Not only was that traumatizing, but because he was a public figure the ordeal was public and the tabloid media often added to that trauma. I was diagnosed with PTSD, but for me the medicines that were recommended were either not effective or the side effects were disruptive to my life, especially as a mom.
A dear friend invited me to visit her in Colorado and I was introduced by a dispensary to a strain of cannabis to reduce my anxiety and response to triggers. It was life-changing. That momentary lack of pain pulled into focus the true weight of the burden I had been carrying. Then I traveled back to my home state of Florida and was left (at the time) without legal relief.
It was jarring to be able to find relief in one part of the country, and then realize I could be jailed or fired (or possibly worse if I was a person of color) just because I crossed state lines. I know that the laws had to change and I know that I have the background to be a small part of changing them.
Shawna Vercher (right) sitting with cannabis advocate, prior Presidential Candidate, and Former Governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson discussing necessary policy changes.
What is your Superpower?
I am a storyteller for change. I am committed to amplifying the stories of others in such a way that they connect us to each other. I want you to know that something is happening to someone else, for you to care that it is happening, and then to provide a way that you can make a positive impact instead of just turning away.
I’m a Texan who comes from a small blue-collar town. I work regularly in the most glamorous cities in the country like Miami, Los Angeles, and New York. I can promise you that everyone I come across cares about their families, their health, and their futures with the same deep set of core values. If I can meet people where they are and draw them into a story they relate to, suddenly the differences melt away and we all start making decisions from a place of empathy instead of a place of fear.
That’s my superpower: I turn fear into acts of compassion.
What has been your greatest obstacle in business to date – and how have you overcome it – or are you still working on tackling it?
As content creators and advocates, we have to be extremely clear in what our vision is and what it is not. Both media and politics tend to financially reward those people and organizations who pretty much say nothing of substance. It feels safer to not take a stand. I made the decision several years ago to be an unapologetic catalyst for change, even when that position means making certain potential sponsors or donors nervous.
What I realized is that there are people who share our vision and want to support it and we just have to connect with them and fearlessly ask for that support. You do NOT have to be poor and alone to be an effective advocate for others. Quite the opposite. There are so many amazing and accomplished leaders looking to mentor and back a business or project that has true impact.
What is your vision for women in this industry? What would you like women to know about entering the Cannabis industry or exploring Cannabis?
For women – and particularly women of color! – the story of the cannabis industry has not yet been fully written and for it to reach its full potential, we need your voice at the table.
This is not just some money-making venture that you should jump into. This is a community looking to transform our health, our economy, and our society. Don’t enter cannabis ready to wait your turn; help us all change the way the game is played.
Who are some women whom you admire in the industry?
There really are too many to name them all, but if I name the first few that come to mind I would say: Hope Wiseman a fresh face in the dispensary side of the business who is a strong voice for her peers, Gaynell Rogers who has been a champion in California for years and tirelessly works to bring other women and states to where she knows they can be, Beth Stavola who has such business acumen, intelligence, and strength that I am in awe of, and Gia Moran who I don’t know well but I know her work as a fierce activist and her influence is inspiring.
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Executive Producer, Green Reine (Reine Media)
Shawna Presley Vercher is an award-winning political media strategist and social justice advocate. She is a widely-acclaimed speaker, recognized for powerfully advancing the conversation on a number of humanitarian issues. Her Top 25 book, A Fearless Voice: How a National Scandal Made Me an Advocate for Building a Better America, has been renowned as an honest and heartbreaking look at our unjust institutions and how we can work together as Americans to improve them.
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