Calan Ma’lyn is a Cannabis Wellness/Self-Care Practitioner and Creator of GreenThumb Education, an e-learning platform hosting beginner wellness classes – . Currently living in Philadelphia, PA, (a Medical Cannabis only state) she spends her days as an Experience Designer, leading communities, and consulting brands to incorporate Cannabis education into their branding. 

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the cannabis industry?

This plant changed my life. I went from becoming aware of it’s power, to advocating and helping others, then filling the educational need I noticed was completely lacking. 

I’ve suffered from childhood trauma for as long as I can remember and finding my voice has taken years. It wasn’t until a few years ago, when my mom had a catastrophic stroke, that a Jefferson Neurological Doctor whispered “try medical marijuana”. Until that point, I had never considered Cannabis to be medicine.  

To get into the Pennsylvania Medical program, you need at least one qualifying condition. I scanned the list for my mother and I noticed something for myself, PTSD. I gathered information, guided her into the program, then myself.  We all started to heal. 

I spread the word, guided others, and then noticed everyone around me was healing! The next logical step was to quit my secure day job as a Brand Strategist and dive right into a local dispensary, becoming a Patient Consultant (the medical version of a bud tender). I didn’t look back! I grew my way through, became a Community Outreach coordinator as I built my education company, GreenThumb Education, crafting educational flyers and teaching anyone that would listen about the plant. 

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?

Learning how to build your voice in a fairly conservative state comes with it’s own challenges. My adrenaline was building from speaking about Cannabis at 5ks, senior citizen facilities, libraries, and parades. It was time for me to take it to the big leagues, local politics. 

The community cafe was hosting an educational night to get to know the potential City Commissioner candidates and it was time for Q+A. I heard people ask questions about the housing market, where are the next opportunities for income? My blood silently boiled into passion and fire.“I have a question!” the panel ignored me and said “we were out of time”. I felt my voice erupt out, “please, it’s important”, “What about Cannabis becoming a multi-billion dollar industry?” The whole room went ghost at my disruption… “Ma’am, we’re done with questions and moving on to drinks.” I was mortified. 

I learned that my voice was only just beginning to break out of it’s silence and that it was important to speak up for others to hear, even if others aren’t ready to take action. 

Now, I carry that inner power with me wherever I go.

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?

When I first began, I was still working at a Marketing Agency but transitioning into the Cannabis Industry. Everyone knew I was leaving my job for the Cannabis industry and joked that I was ‘high’ while Designing, “No wonder your work is so good.” 

One tumultuous agency-life day, my battery stopped working for my pen and during my lunch break I went out to purchase a new one at the local headshop. Since I was knee deep in a panic attack, I frantically pulled on my new pen, not realizing I needed to adjust the heat setting. I WAS HIGH. 

I floated back to work, found peppercorns and chewed them hoping no one saw my unusual behavior, somehow got back to my desk, sat down, only to be greeted by the CEO of the company. He called over the C-Suite to check the work I was doing. Somehow, I survived, and praised for my great work.  

Moral of the story: Avoid extra panic, check your heat setting. 

Do you have a funny story about how someone you knew reacted when they first heard you were getting into the cannabis industry? 

My male colleague said it wasn’t a real industry, there’s no money in it, and Trump can take it away whenever he wanted to. I was making a big mistake, huge. 

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Anja Charbonneau, Founder of Broccoli Magazine has been wonderful in my aiding in my growth. As the previous Creative Director at Kinfolk; she started Broccoli, a free publication highlighting the elevated Cannabis lifestyle. I noticed her first issue had someone brown like me on the cover and I knew right away she was aware, so I reached out to her as I was getting started and asked her for her advice. 

Not only did she give it, she poured generous pages of information. It’s rare to find people that give, give, give, we’ve stayed in touch ever since. 

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people? 

I recently launched the ‘Cannabis Basics’ class. It’s a free virtual orientation to help us all have a better understanding of the plant that we’ve utilized to build, heal, and grow for over 10,000 years. It’s only been shamed and misinformed for the last 100 years due to capitalism and racism, now’s the time to start fresh and build bridges for those most effected. The future of change can start today and this class is where to begin.  

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?

Educate, activate, and support. It’s imperative that we knock down the competitive walls that surround us as women. I’ve found the best way to do that is to make ourselves more aware that it’s happening. When we strengthen our knowledge together there’s nothing we can’t do. I also believe getting influential role models and celebrities like Chelsea Handler who support the plant to help in that initiative so we can get there faster. I’d love to strategize with Chelsea someday. 

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. 

  • Be careful how much of yourself you give. This is a continuous journey; if you keep going without checking in, you can exhaust yourself. 
  • Allow yourself time to heal and recover, this piggybacks off of the last point, but finding a source that gives you higher energy to pull from. I pray to Goddesses and ask for water energy to keep me in flow and pass things that don’t serve me. 
  • This industry is better served with passion, the money will follow. A lot of people ask me how to get into the industry to make money, be aware that thought is unrealistic. What Is your why? Hold onto it tightly. Why are you here, who are you helping, what’s your relationship with the plant, what are you passionate about? At the end of the day that’s what will keep you in this space. 
  • Learn everything you can and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Also, if you don’t know, say you don’t know. Cannabis has a magical way of revealing the truth. I attend many workshops, events, and conferences; I ask questions and talk to many different people. A lot of times, I feel distrust when a representative lies to sell me something. Or when they give misinformation instead of saying they aren’t sure, I immediately check out of the conversation. 
  • Reach out to people you admire and want to learn from. I find email contacts, direct message on Instagram introducing myself and what I stand for, how I see us being similar. Once we’re connected, I ask a question honoring their time or if we can chat to get to know each other. Other women have been there done that and I know I can get closer to my professional goals and learning if I ask for help. 

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the cannabis industry?

  • We have the power to change lives with a plant, wether emotionally, physically, spiritually, or financially there’s something here for everyone. 
  • Our research is only scraping the surface. Once it’s rescheduled at the federal level and opened up to scientists, we’ll find so much more that we can utilize. 
  • It’s new! A whole new industry being built right before our eyes, we get to set the standards and rules. It’s all so fascinating. 

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? 

Like any industry, there are liars and people that only want to make a profit. 

The FDA doesn’t have enough resources to come down on everyone so anything goes with product right now. 

We’ve re-introduced a lifestyle drug without proper education. 

  • I would suggest having an appointed review team that approves products, businesses, and brands to set the standard where people can view and utilize. 
  • Implement an orientation video that goes with every purchase and an agreement that you’ve seen it. It would be updated frequently to incorporate new state rules and updates. 
  • Have Big Pharma start a fund towards freeing, expunging records, and re-integrating Cannabis petty crime criminals. 

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?

The reason why it’s federally illegal was based off of misinformation during a time where our nation was afraid of the future. The criteria alone illustrates that point, to be a Schedule I drug is that it doesn’t have any medical value and has a high potential for abuse. 

We know this to be untrue as states have been dispensing it as medicine for over 30 years with significant anecdotal responses to it’s medical benefits. We need this to be legal for access to research and an education program should coincide with it’s release to the public. 

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?

Cigarettes are toxic and harmful to our bodies. It makes sense that we’ve put these restrictions on them and still people purchase, Cannabis would have no need to be restricted and highly taxed, it’s medicine to our individual Endocannabinoid Systems. It should be covered by our healthcare system and allow for discounts and price reduction. 

Can you please give us your favorite  “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life? 

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” 

-Maya Angelou 

Ms. Angelou spoke about her injustices and experiences through her poems. I’m learning how to find my voice while also helping others feel comfortable in the spaces that they’re in. That quote has guided me for the last 10 years through my journey in self-wellness. 

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. 🙂

Starting an orientation program for wellness and care in all aspects. Teach how to best incorporate Cannabis as a lifestyle tool for our future development. 

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