As recently as last year, nobody who knew me would have believed I’d end up in the cannabis industry. I had spent 15 years working myself into the ground in the corporate world, trying to fulfill the aspirations my stereotypically controlling Asian parents had for me: to be a successful businessperson. It had been instilled in me from a very early age that life was about keeping your head down, working hard, making money, and staying out of trouble. When my older brother began to rebel as a teenager, his multiple run-ins with the law involved marijuana use and possession. Needless to say, my parents did not like having to deal with his juvenile delinquency and I, as the straight-laced child, was expected to make up for his shortcomings.
I had obediently worked to meet their expectations through my mid 30’s, when I realized my health and wellness were being compromised by my debilitating work schedule. I began to consume cannabis for relief from the health conditions I had developed from my work-related stress. Since California voters passed Proposition 64, it has been nearly impossible to ignore the cannabis business’ rapid growth. My obsession with the industry developed almost overnight, and I found that learning how to operate a cannabis business was surprisingly refreshing.
Anticipating my parents’ negative reaction to my announcement that I was quitting my corporate job to start my own business, I very delicately and strategically crafted my conversation with them. “Good for you” they said, “you don’t need to work. Just marry a doctor and we’ll be happy.” I was incredibly disappointed by their response.
I didn’t marry a doctor. Instead, I worked hard to grow my business, knowing that only after I had proven my success would my parents be supportive of my decision. Ignorance is bliss, I told myself, but how would I ever reveal to them that I was now working in the cannabis industry? I didn’t feel it was something I could hide (like my cannabis use), nor did I have any desire to keep it a secret.
I’ve found that talking about cannabis, its medical benefits and its powerful influence on our economy, government, and justice system, has helped others understand the tremendous need for this plant in our society. I believe education and awareness are how we will move forward and shift perceptions. I feel comfortable and confident speaking about the industry I now work in, despite my subconscious childhood fears of straying from rule-abiding perfection.
I have yet to overcome the biggest challenge in my career transition: how to speak to my mom and dad (who are huge opponents of the plant) about my involvement in the cannabis industry. It is still a delicate work-in-progress that I know will take some time. Shifting societal paradigms doesn’t happen overnight, but I am committed to making an impactful contribution to the success of this industry through my work and by challenging the perceptions of people like my parents. Speaking about cannabis, educating, advocating responsible use, and complying with laws and regulations are vital in maintaining the exponential growth and success of this industry. I look forward to continuing these conversations and eagerly anticipate the positive changes ahead.
Jennifer French is the Owner and Founder of Greentenders Accounting Solutions, a professional service offering comprehensive accounting solutions exclusively for the cannabis industry. Prior to entering the cannabis space, Jennifer spent 12 years working in the hospitality industry, holding positions such as Controller and Director of Finance at hotel and resort properties across Southern California and the Hawaiian Islands. She is San Diego native and a graduate of San Diego State University holding a bachelor’s degree in Economics.