Oov: First, tell us about Herba Buena!
Alicia: Herba Buena is a vertically integrated cannabis brand, we’re on a mission to define a modern (cannabis) culture where health-conscious adults have access to informed health consultations, refined experiences, and products which offer the same quality, purity and sophistication as we’ve come to expect in our organic food and fine wine.
Since our inception, we’ve been humbled by the opportunity to support the healing journeys of thousands of patients and consumers, and are grateful for sharing first-hand experiences about the therapeutic value that cannabis can provide.
In addition to providing a thoughtfully curated catalog of best-in-class, purity tested, award-winning products through our virtual dispensary, we’re the proud stewards of an extraordinary piece of land in Mendocino County were we cultivate our own permitted garden of organically sun grown cannabis plants.
We also work with a number of Biodynamic farms and in 2015, released the country’s first-ever Demeter Certified Biodynamic Cannabis – as a way to ensure absolute purity and quality of our products from seed to sale and beyond.
Oov: What did you do before you got involved in the cannabis industry?
Alicia: I’ve enjoyed a long and wonderful career helping exceptional wineries around the world reach their full potential. I specialize in new brand launches and turnaround projects with a focus on holistic business practices. Although I now run my cannabis company full-time, I reserve a few hours each week to offer support and consultation to some of my long-term wine clients. The synergies between wine and cannabis are endless as they’re both highly prized and highly regulated agricultural products with the ability to tell story of place and time.
Oov: How did you get into cannabis? Where did it all start?
Alicia: I’ve used cannabis for many years, and have always had both an interest and a strong intuition when it comes to plant medicine. In 2014 I began taking stock; thinking about all the wonderful legacies I’ve helped other people build through their wine brands, and decided that it was time to focus on my own passion.
I got my medical card and started visiting dispensaries around the Bay Area. Organically sun-grown cannabis was hard to find, and often that which was considered “top shelf” smelled more of petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides than it did of cannabis. The products were focused on high levels of THC, rather than options I could safely incorporate into my daily life, and the overall consumer experience was lacking in almost every regard – from information to sophistication. As someone who’s passionate about the plant, human health, and the art of living well, I knew I could do better.
I incorporated in February of 2015 and held our first social club event with a full portfolio of branded products in April 2015. Talk about being in the flow.
Oov: What would you say has been the most difficult aspect of being in this industry? What are some roadblocks?
Alicia: Everything? I’ve funded this endeavor all on my own to date, and put nearly everything I hold sacred on the line. I’ve taken significant financial and legal risks, not to mention my reputation in a traditionally provincial industry – long before the end of prohibition was near. Banking, loans, onerous regulations in constant flux, local ordinances that prevent us from getting permits, sheriffs… it’s all been one very wild ride straight through many roadblocks.
Oov: What motivates you to be a leader?
Alicia: I believe cannabis to be a powerful vehicle for global transformation, and a potent force to help redefine the dialogue around how we heal and nourish ourselves and the planet.
Oov: What advice would you give to a friend wanting to break into the industry?
Alicia: Do not get into this industry with a mindset of just making money… the only people who will thrive are those with a real passion for the plant and all that it has to offer.
I’ve launched both tech and wine start-ups, and as hard as those projects have been to get off the ground, they pale in comparison to the difficulty, complexity, and level of risk associated with a cannabis start-up. It is not for the faint of heart, or those with anything less than pure conviction to share the wonders of this plant medicine.
Oov: You’re a parent, how do talk to your daughter about cannabis?
Alicia: I do my absolute best to be honest and transparent with my daughter. A tenet that was seriously challenged when I first founded HerbaBuena. She had just turned five and was endlessly curious about my new job. I found myself shying away from her questions and feeling my blood run cold when people would ask her what her mommy did for work. Today, conversations about cannabis and mommy’s job are as open and honest as they are about anything else in our lives. She knows it’s medicine and that it should be used with respect and treated with reverence.
That’s not to say that when it comes up at her school, or when she feels the need to point out anything with a cannabis leaf on it, that I don’t still feel a little awkward. This industry forces you to develop a high tolerance for discomfort, and that discomfort just becomes part of the new norm – around kids, and everyone else.
Oov: Tell us about your first experience with cannabis.
Alicia: I was 16. It was Mexican ditch weed, brown and seedy. I loved it even then for its feel-good, heart-connected, joyful offerings.
Oov: Favorite strain/product on the market right now?
Alicia: I love the Wellness Formula from Treatwell and KinSlips.