As a part of my series about strong women leaders in the cannabis industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Emily Kyle. Emily is an award-winning, nationally recognized media dietitian, nutrition spokesperson, speaker, two-time published author, and certified Holistic Cannabis Practitioner. Her company, Emily Kyle Nutrition, is a Nutrition & Cannabis Consulting Company and Private Practice specializing in holistic healthcare for anxiety, autoimmune, and inflammatory conditions.

Thank you so much for doing this with us. Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the cannabis industry?
As a young adult I battled with anxiety and depression. I struggled to find a conventional solution that worked for me and ultimately ended up dropping out of college my first year because my symptoms were so bad. At my lowest point, I was introduced to cannabis, which turned out to be the most helpful intervention for managing my anxiety and depression.
After discovering how cannabis could help me feel better, I began to develop a newfound sense of motivation and determination. I returned to college and ultimately obtained my master’s degree in Nutrition and passed my boards to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. As a cannabis consumer for the past ten years, I ultimately shared my personal story of cannabis use in order to help other women like myself.

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?
Since I started my business, the most interesting thing that has happened to me was being featured on my local news station in a story as a progressive cannabis consumer and advocate. Recreational cannabis is still not legal here in New York, but I am proud and humbled everyday by the kindness and acceptance that I have found from my community.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I have made so many mistakes, or learning lessons, since first starting. One of the funniest mistakes I had made was not doing my research before beginning to build my website and ultimately having to rebuild the entire thing from scratch. While it was a learning lesson for sure, I also learned that it is important to really take your time and do the research before jumping into a project full force.

Do you have a funny story about how someone you knew reached with they first heard you were getting into the cannabis industry?
I will never forget the reaction from my father-in-law, who has a conviction for the cultivation of cannabis. While he is incredibly supportive of my work in the cannabis industry, I remember him joking that I am making a career out of the same thing that ruined his. While it is funny to joke about between us, it is also a very real reality for many people who have been negatively impacted on the war on drugs.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there are particular parson who you are grateful towards who helped you get where you are today? Can you share a story.
There are two amazing women who gave me the inspiration and encouragement I needed to get started in the cannabis industry, Janice Newell Bissex and Bonnie Johnson. Both are well-respected leaders as a registered dietitian nutritionists, and both of them had the courage to be the few to pursue cannabis first. I will never forget being at FNCE, the Food Nutrition Conference and Expo in 2018 watching Bonnie help Janice prepare for a huge presentation on CBD and cannabis to hundreds of dietitians. I admired their bravery, and from then on I knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my career.

Are you working on any new exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I am really exciting to be expanding my cannabis coaching offers into my Well With Cannabis Group Coaching Program. The women I work with are busy moms who don’t have much time to take care of themselves, so group coaching programs are perfect because they are flexible and not time-consuming.
Many of my past group coaching students say they not only were able to get control over their anxiety and improve their quality of life, but ultimately made long-lasting friendships and relationships with other women in the program. By building a sense of community and safety, my Group Coaching Programs allow more women to get the nutrition and cannabis education they need with the support they deserve.

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?
I believe the following three things can be done by society as a whole to support greater gender parity moving forward.
1. Individuals: Stop Judging — In my experience, most women will not admit to their cannabis use, let alone step into a cannabis business ownership role, because they are afraid of being judged as a mother. There is a constant negative stigma that cannabis users cannot also be good mothers, and while that couldn’t be further from the truth, the stigma is still very real.
2. Society: Change the Laws — We need federal cannabis reform laws that will guarantee the safety of women who enter the cannabis industry. With current state and federal laws, mothers have to seriously consider what they share publicly. Beyond just judgement, women and mothers have to worry about losing their jobs, or even their children, due to backwards laws surrounding cannabis use, cultivation, and sale.
3. Companies: Think Outside the Box — With the current rat race to get any and every product to market, I believe companies are missing out on a huge opportunity to think outside the box in both the product and the experience they are giving their customers. Women have so many valuable skill sets that may not directly be tied to the cannabis industry but could be. From marketing and PR, communications and sales, design and web development, product packaging and product education, there are so many touch points where women could and should be able to enter the marketplace.

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.
1. Don’t try to be like the competition — Because the industry is so new, it is easy to want to put out a product as fast as possible because that is what’s working. Unfortunately, the cannabis marketplace is already saturated with look-a-like products. While there is room for great growth and opportunity, I think it is important to focus on what makes your product, service, and brand truly different than the competition, otherwise you will never stand out.
2. Focus on the experience — In the rush to get products onto shelves, I believe we have missed out on the most important part, the customer experience. Because cannabis and CBD is so new to the marketplace, most consumers are uneducated or ignorant as to how or why to use these products. By focusing on the experiencing and providing the education needed to understand why they are using the product, we can improve the consumer base as a whole.
3. Be prepared for change — There is no other industry that is changing as rapidly or as much as the cannabis industry right now. Between federal and state laws, product packing requirements, limits on claims and labels, and the lack of standardized cannabis education paired with the overwhelming support of the American people for Federal legalization, it is only a matter of time before everything as we know it now changes.
4. Expect to hit roadblocks — Entering an industry that is not yet developed and has very little regulations is an invitation for disaster. Anyone entering the cannabis industry should know it is not easy and you will hit roadblock after roadblock as you continue to build your business.
5. Own what makes you passionate — Most people who enter the cannabis industry do so because they initially used cannabis at some point in their life with positive results. While not everyone is comfortable coming out of the Green Closet, I believe it is important that more and more people do and own what makes them personally passionate about being involved with the cannabis industry.

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the cannabis industry?
1. Bringing herbal remedies back to modern reality.
2. Making plant-based medicine more accessible to the people who need it most.
3. Widespread acceptance for those who use cannabis to improve their health and wellbeing.

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?
1. Lack of Regulation — While I am not confident that the FDA will get the regulations right for the CBD marketplace, I believe that we do need some form of regulation in place period. It is unfortunate that there are so many people and companies producing low-quality products and there needs to be safeguards in place to ensure their products are not readily available on market shelves.
2. Lack of Education — My #1 biggest concern about the cannabis industry is the lack of education on how to responsibly use cannabis. Without education, patients will no doubt struggle with how to use cannabis safely and effectively. I believe that we should start cannabis education at a young age, just as we do tobacco and also education. While I would hate to see cannabis grouped together with alcohol or tobacco, some type of formal education should be considered as we approach probable federal legalization.
3. Lack of Respect — I worry that many people do not resect the plant itself and all of the amazing properties it provides. I worry that people expect the plant to be a magical cure all, without addressing other lifestyle factors.

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?
I am disappointed that cannabis is not already Federally legal. If I were speaking with my Senator, I would use multiple different touch points to build a persuasive argument: health improvements, tax revenue, satisfaction of the constituents. We know it will happen soon, we all need to prepare now.

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?
No. Cigarettes have no health promoting properties. Cannabis has multiple health promoting properties and I believe it should be a crime to heavily regulate and highly tax cannabis in a way similar to cigarettes. Just as I advocate for people to grow their own fruits and vegetables to home whenever possible, I would like to encourage people to grow their own cannabis at home whenever possible. This would not be possible if cannabis has a similar status to cigarettes.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“If you never go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.” — Nora Roberts
This is my favorite quote and it is completely relevant to anyone entering the cannabis space. If you want to be a part of the cannabis industry, you need to enter and be a part of the cannabis industry, no one is going to open the door and wait for you to enter.

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 truly believe that education is the key to the success of anyone entering the cannabis industry or choosing to become a cannabis consumer. I would love to inspire a movement of sound, evidence-based education to the masses by getting my Online CBD Education Class into the hands of the American people.

Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you only continued success!