As a young couple in 2009, the Rosellisons—Juddy, a bike and ski shop owner, and Danielle, a mortgage professional—started growing medical marijuana with four plants in the garage. That eventually developed into a cooperative with 60 plants in a warehouse. As parents of a young child and a new baby on the way back in 2013, they applied for their adult-use permit and formed Trail Blazin’ Productions – an all LED, pesticide-free, hand-trim farm in Bellingham, Washington.
While Trail Blazin’ does not condone underage recreational cannabis use, Juddy has been a cannabis entrepreneur since high school and runs multiple aspects of the operation, overseeing the growing, packaging and logistics. Danielle does outreach and networking to help shape policy and regulation, in part as president of the Cannabis Alliance, a nonprofit that advocates for a sustainable and ethical cannabis industry. Together the Rosellisons are helping to lay the foundation for a cannabis economy where small family farms can thrive.
We recently visited Danielle and Juddy at Trail Blazin’ to talk about who they are, why they do what they do and how they balance work and family life.
DOPE Magazine: You’re so much in the spotlight with your business and advocacy. What else would you like people to know about you?
A: Danielle Rosellison: We’ve been really business focused and trying to show that professional side, which is important in this industry—but that’s not where our personalities come from. Cannabis has been part of who we are for a very long time. For me, I was twenty-two when I finally figured out what the room in my parents’ basement was—with the lights and the plants, and I wasn’t allowed in there. Cannabis has always been in our family, but until then, even though I’d been consuming for a long time, I didn’t know what my dad had been growing in there. Looking back, he was manic bipolar and had PTSD. A lot of that cannabis consumption was a coping mechanism.
Q: As a young couple growing medical, how did you feel about I-502?
A: Juddy Rosellison: I voted No. I was doing just fine. I didn’t see any need to mess with the system as it was. And I didn’t like the way I-502 was written. But when it passed, I was like, “Well, it is what it is. Let’s jump on this roller coaster and hold on.”
A: DR: I think the toughest part is not selling your soul.
Q: Is that what the advocacy is all about?
A: DR: Absolutely. There are a lot of people in Washington who grow cannabis, and have since before it was legal. They aren’t criminals. These are good people with good morals and values, and it’s brutal out there. They might grow great cannabis but not have any business experience. Or they might not have enough money. Knowing how much we’ve had to struggle, having all the components you need—good support structure, business experience, good business partners—we asked ourselves, “What can we do to help people who don’t have a fighting chance with the current regulations?”
A: JR: These are people with families.
Q: What kind of support do you guys have?
A: JR: Grammy-Nanny. She’s a lifesaver!
Q: Who’s mom is Grammy-Nanny?
A: DR: [Laughing] Mine. Our son is still in pre-school, so he has half-days. And there are snow days and sick days. Grammy does it all—she makes dinner for us, and we stay at her house sometimes. When she takes vacations, Juddy’s mom flies up and stays at my mom’s house. It’s a combined effort, and we thank them every single day.
Q: How do you balance business ownership with parenting?
A: DR: As a business owner, you have to find balance. How do you take care of yourselves, your kids and everything else? We’ve found we can escape to Mount Baker every weekend. We get no cell service. We don’t get any emails. We’re in the car for three hours, and then we’re on the mountain for six hours doing fun athletic stuff. It’s the best day, and the kids love it!
Q: What’s your big-picture vision for this industry?
A: JR: We need to maintain this model of Tier-II/Tier-III-sized businesses. And I’d like to see an open market for retail and growers. Full competition. Survival of the fittest. But keep it from being run by multinational pharmaceutical companies. Keep it for the people and let us work it—and work it out.
A: DR: I’d like to see a socially conscious industry. An industry that sets standards and says “Let’s fight for social justice, let’s have living wages, let’s do what’s best for the environment, and for our neighbors—for everybody.” And I think because of where we came from, we can do that—but the window is small, and it’s getting smaller.