How the cannabis community welcomed me in and asked me to lead a movement for education!
My name is Shanon Jaramillo and I'm from Albuquerque, New Mexico. My background is in recruitment, business development, and strategic planning. Prior to working in the cannabis field, I had a small one-man-band called Hiring Team, LLC, creating and managing recruitment systems for life insurance managers and corporate recruiters. In January of 2017 I was expanding my operation from the Southwest to the West Coast triggering me to make some decisions. It was then that I decided to put feelers out into the local medical cannabis industry.
In April of that year, amidst my market research into the staffing and HR side of the marijuana business, I was invited to bring my weeks-old, new business, Cannabis NM Staffing, LLC, to a local annual conference by The Verdes Foundation. At that conference I met some amazing activists and set up meetings with some of them. Every meeting left me with the same feeling, that I am not alone in noticing that there was a gap in information about requirements and qualifications for people looking to work in cannabis, and moreover an educational gap in the industry. During those meetings I was asked and prompted in many ways to consider organizing education and training for the employees of the cannabis industry. I always left feeling a bit hopeful and totally bogged down with ideas about it all. But I was still missing something… my own education.
So with a solid few months of learning that education and training are what the cannabis community needed most, I set out to find what the closest “brick n mortar” school would be for me to connect with fellow activists and learn about the business of the industry. At the time, I found Oaksterdam University in Oakland, CA. My program through OU was around $1200 by the time I bought some of the books. After the flight and other travel expenses I estimate an investment of $3000 for that trip. That four day seminar was like a burst of information about California's laws and how both Medical and Legal markets had been accepted there plus an aerial point of view of the marketplace.
I came home rejuvenated, but still knew nothing about New Mexico’s program, or of any available outlets here providing ongoing professional development like OU was in California. I remember thinking, “okay why can’t we have this kind of classroom experience in New Mexico?” Then it hit me, “we can and I think they are asking me to do it and I know that I can!!” From there it was game on and a mission to provide an educational and advocacy platform for the experts in New Mexico. Noting that this advocacy for education was just starting to become a big subject and that I was still on various learning curves myself.
See, I had also figured out by then that the market did not see a validation in my recruitment-staffing business model until I was able to train and educate people. So I had to adjust things and be the leader the people needed at the time. So, I started to brand my company, and our events around this educational movement of the people, a grassroots effort.
Support and A Vision
When I got back from OU and California, I wrote up the proposal for the first Medical Cannabis Symposium, scheduled August of 2017, and took it by a new contact that I had met at the above said conference, Gina Lucero of Bliss Massage Studios and The CBD Boutique. I barely knew her, let alone I was going to ask her for support? She was not only nice but very honest about the need for education from a patient's perspective which gave me all the validation and support I needed to own this. I mean I am a patient, I have relatives who have been and are, so that was key for me, the connection about the patients and getting their medicine from a safe, reliable, educated source.
I felt like, let’s be proactive and gain recognition for our people's talents and create an even playing field for all to qualify and work confidently with cannabis! Let’s empower people and small businesses! Gina loved it and told me she’d help to lead me to the right people because at that time I was literally 2 months into things! I'm so thankful for her patience and time back then. Through the past year and a half Gina and I have gone on to work on multiple projects together and have formed a friendship of trusted like- minds.
From there, with the support of more community leaders, we were able to bring together over 12 Speakers, 15 companies, and 150 students who obtained their Certificate of Completion at our first ever professional development and career networking event, the Medical Cannabis Symposium. It was a total success, and just 4 months after my company's state license and tax ID went active!
We've had to move at lightning speed in order to validate my business model to small businesses, professionals, and patients through education. Since then my group has hosted two more successful symposium events and awarded more than 450 certificates to professionals for cannabis education in New Mexico!! That is not counting 150 and counting people who’ve completed our Core Compliance Training, which consists of 7 Certificates of Completion including NMMCP, HIPAA, ETHIC, LECUA, SAFETY/SECURITY, RESEARCH AND CANNABIS, FOOD HANDLER SAFETY. All of this was accomplished in just under 15 months of the completion of my first proposal for education!!
Leaving a Legacy
So much more has happened because when you work in the cannabis industry, you age in dog years for sure, another fact of this story for another article topic next month.
We've come so far in the past two years as a community. It's so cool to watch and be a part of! Thanks to the hard work of my team at Cannabis NM Staffing and your support for more education, we will make sure that New México is set up to expand its medical cannabis program and that we all feel supported as we try to implement a legal marketplace under Adult Social Use HB312, when the time is right.
With each phase of class and business development comes new victories for the larger movement and our community! For example, our Cannabis Training Center will be launching as an online platform, starting with the Core Compliance Training on November 1, 2018. Businesses and employees all over the state will have access to our training and 5 STAR programs. We are also on pace to add up to six more professional Certificate of Completion programs in 2019!
I'm determined to set precedence with our work so that 1) professionals in the field are supported and have access to education, 2) we continue to lessen the stigma by promoting and applying consumer education to our medical cannabis program, 3) those professionals and consumers wishing to gain information and education around cannabis and hemp can do so locally, with state-specific-cannabis-relevant information, and finally 4) so that New Mexico can have a model of education for others to study and learn from. Access to professional development will give the people of the Southwest a place to study and attract out-of-state professionals into the marketplace.
I am honored to be of service and to have "appeared" right when the community needed. Thank you for your support of this monumental work that will greatly improve the landscape of the cannabis industry for New Mexico.