It’s easy to see what matters to Jen Mitchell. The Secret Squirrel Snacks and Secret Squirrel CBD founder wants to help people help others in their community.
“A lot of times, you can’t speak out about certain issues in the [cannabis] industry because you’re afraid of losing your job. A lot of times these issues concern the patient[s] or quality for the patient[s],” Mitchell, who’s been using cannabis to help curb epilepsy for nearly a decade, notes. “Providing protections for the workers will provide a better experience for the patient[s]. I’m all about it.”
Jen Mitchell has worked for cannabis companies in nearly every capacity, from budtender to cultivation and hiring director to infusion kitchens. She has long been outspoken about what she has learned is best for patients. “I really don’t think we should be telling people that THC will save their lives and then offering [them] gummy bears,” she says.
The issue is personal for Mitchell, who believes an instance of speaking out after requesting reduced hours for health reasons lead to her being let go of a previous position in the industry. Shortly before her being let go Mitchell had been recognized as Employee of the Month.
Mitchell first contacted the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) labor union during a pay dispute with a former cannabis industry employer in 2018. She’s tired of seeing how little power workers have. Her UFCW Local 99 contact, Hanna Rubin, assisted her in getting paid for work she’d done. For Mitchell, this is where the battle began.
“Lots of people have given up careers … quit what they were doing in life, to work in the cannabis industry because they believe in the healing properties of the plant and they want to help others,” Mitchell says. “But you get people with licenses that have more money and influence politically that get all the benefits. I don’t think that’s fair, so I’m trying to do what I can on my end to do what’s [right].”