The future of cannabis is female! December is DOPE Magazine’s Women’s Issue, and we wanted to continue to highlight women across the industry on all of our platforms. We sent a questionnaire to outstanding women in cannabis — some familiar to us, some new — and will be showcasing their answers in individual blogs this month. Today’s story highlights Katie Stem, CEO of Peak Extracts.
DOPE Magazine: Who are some of your greatest role models?
Katie Stem: Christina Rossetti, Elizabeth I, my parents, and my amazing girlfriend.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your career?
Juggling my career and my chronic illness — Crohn’s disease — has been very difficult at times. When I was doing scientific research many years ago, I discovered that my research had been stolen and published under someone else’s name. Although very common in that field, it taught me a fine lesson about standing up for myself and what’s right. Lately, the biggest challenge has been to navigate the regulatory environment without being constantly fearful that it’s all going to crash down around us.
What’s something someone would never guess about you?
I do ridiculously good animal impressions.
What’s your go-to self-care routine?
A walk with my dog, 20 minutes of yoga a day and gardening. I also have a killer recipe for chicken soup.
Favorite “guilty pleasure”?
Trashy romance novels (historical and high-quality, of course).
Where do you see your career/business headed in five years? Twenty?
We’re planning to expand Peak into other states, and into the CBD/Hemp sphere. In five years, it’s possible that cannabis will be legal nationwide, and we can distribute to all 50 states. In twenty years, I would love to be part of a consulting firm to help female entrepreneurs and go back to my first career of medical research. There is so much still to be learned about the medical benefits of cannabis.
How do you feel about the industry-wide assertion that cannabis is a female-friendly space?
I mostly disagree. I think women have been more successful in this industry because it is new and has been less entrenched through generations of preferential treatment. Although there are more female CEOs in cannabis, such as me, the trend towards consolidation almost invariably results in a male being in charge of the parent company. If we’re not careful, all of the inroads made in the first several years of the industry will be lost. Extraction is a particularly hostile facet of the industry for women, I have hours of entertaining stories. However, there is boundless opportunity for making meaningful connections with like-minded women, and I now have many strong and capable friends that I never would have met if I didn’t pursue a career in this industry.
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A forensic pathologist for the FBI.
If you could talk to yourself five years ago, what advice would you give?
Trust your gut, trust your friends, and eat more CBD.
What advice do you have for other women looking to get into the cannabis space?
Find women in the industry who are willing to mentor you and communicate with you about strategy — share information, but make sure you’re not asking for them to spill their industry secrets without offering something in return.
Recommend a book, album, and movie you think everyone should read/listen to/watch while stoned!
Book: “The Girl Who Knew Too Much” by Amanda Quick. Album: “An Awesome Wave” by Alt-J. Movie: I had to stop the all-female version of “Ghostbusters” multiple times because I was laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe.
Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
A wise person learns more from their mistakes than their victories.
What’s your favorite cannabis product?
Lite Me Up flower from Bull Run Craft Cannabis — it helps my morning Crohn’s symptoms more than any other strain.
What’s the one thing you would bring if you were stranded on a desert island?
What do you hope for the future of the cannabis industry?
I would love to see some sort of reparations for cannabis convictions — preferential licensing, reduced rates for loans, there’s so many things we could do. Beyond that, it would be lovely to see gender equity, and a diverse group of people in leadership positions.
Fill in the blank: I could never live without ________
What do you think needs to happen before we achieve federal legalization of cannabis?
Probably a blue senate and a blue white house. But, Mitch McConnell surprised me, and it would mean a lot of jobs and an economy boost … It could happen soon.
What’s your smoking/cannabis consumption ritual, if you do partake in cannabis?
When I have a full day off, my favorite thing to do is eat a half-square of our bright indica or sativa chocolate and play with my plants in the garden. It feels like a hard reset.