Interview with Lizi Trautman
KELLEY KIDD
Lizi Trautman

In this issue, as we consider movements that are alive at this moment in our society, the movement to legalize cannabis immediately comes to mind. In order to get more insight into how this movement has looked from the inside, we interviewed Liz Trautman, founder of the Future is Flower. We’re so grateful for her abundance of insight that she’s shared with us here!

Hi Lizi, thanks for making the time to do this interview!

Can you share a bit about yourself, where you come from, and what brought you to the cannabis industry?

Lizi Trautman

Of course! My name is Lizi Trautman and my roots are in Davis, CA — a sweet little “hippie” college town about an hour north of San Francisco. I think my first encounter with weed was in junior high when a friend of mine showed me how to carve a pipe out of an apple and smoke out of it. But long before this, I had been introduced to the plant at Davis’ yearly Whole Earth Festival, where many vendors shared the miracle of hemp via clothing, textiles, food, etc.

Cannabis was always around and a part of my upbringing. I smoked a lot of it in college to help me with my insomnia, anxiety, stomach pains, and recreationally when watching shows like Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey. Then in 2015, I met my husband. On our first date he brought me “flowers,” three types actually: 2 grams of OG Kush, 150mg of gummy edibles, and a Bloom Farms Indica vape pen. This was a whole new world of cannabis for me, and I fell in LOVE.

Marijuana Flower

A Cannabis Bloom, or ‘Flower’

My background is in Experiential Marketing, and at the time I was working for a tech company that was creating “digital drugs” that kept the user from having to put anything harmful in their body, but could elicit a response from either your sympathetic or parasympathetic nervous system to give you the feeling as if you had taken something. It was fascinating. But little by little, I was being won over by the cannabis plant. It just felt more natural, had a better response rate, and was also being pushed forward with technology. By 2016, Bloom Farms was growing and after sitting down with the CEO and my husband (employee number 2), the answer was clear. Cannabis was the place for me.

I would spend nearly two years at Bloom Farms before creating FiF (the Future is Flower).

Source: the Future is Flower/Instagram

You mentioned you just started your own business FiF, inspired by the realization that the cannabis flower is female, with the goal of empowering women to cultivate community around cannabis.

What does your vision for the company look like, and what are you working on now?

Lizi Trautman

In the wake of the Trump Administration, there have been strong waves of women coming together, uniting on our difference, and pushing the female agenda forward to a place of equality. Around the time of the 2017 Women’s March, I was wearing my “THE FUTURE IS FEMALE” shirt nearly everyday. I had my marketing team over at my house and we were building out our 2017 marketing plan.

One of the girls on my team pointed out how cool it is that the only plants that produce flower are the females — a piece of knowledge that every cannabis grower knows, but it’s not talked about that often outside of grower’s circles. It struck something deep within me that day, deep within all of us really. But it wasn’t the focus of what we were working on. I jotted it down in my notebook as a “side project” and put it away for the next 6 months.

The day I left Bloom Farms, I bought the rights to the Future is Flower trademark, website domain, and created an educational Instagram account that has grown to 8k+ followers in less than 8 months.

A bit about FiF: We are a collective of mostly women coming from a variety of backgrounds in the cannabis industry. We all share one goal: to empower one another and this plant we love so dearly. We are based in Oakland but our team ranges throughout California. We host a variety of events — from cannabis dinner parties to yoga get-togethers; small soirée’s to larger sponsored events — all within the health and wellness world. Our immediate goal is to continue to align ourselves with like-minded brands and individuals, while simultaneously creating our unique platform to share progressive visions and foster positive change.

Source: the Future is Flower/Instagram

We have some big plans up our sleeves that I can’t share too much about now, but will perhaps on the next interview 😉

What are the risks of marijuana legalization?

Lizi Trautman

I think the biggest risks at the moment are: unprotected farmers, cannabis reform (how to do it right), and Big Business taking over an industry they don’t know enough about.

Additionally, I noticed the term “marijuana” in this question, and I want to share this article on why that word should not be thrown around so lightly. It’s actually an extremely offensive racist word — but history hasn’t taught us that. In fact, up until not that long ago, I thought it was okay to use as well! I now only use it when I’m educating others on the truth behind it.

Source: the Future is Flower/Instagram

Oh wow, thanks for sharing this! You learn something new every day.

Don’t worry, I’m not judging you! It’s just truly crazy how we do not know this history behind the words we use sometimes; hoping to change that 🙂

You mentioned that legalization of recreational use has created somewhat of a divide in the industry.

What do you think it means to be a socially responsible company in the midst of this transition?

Lizi Trautman

This is hard. Just by writing this I am sure to upset many people I love… But here it goes.

Prop 64 [California’s recreational pot law] is not good for everyone, but in my opinion, it is the only way to move the needle forward and create actual change.

New Weed Laws: What You Need To Know | Source: © The Young Turks/YouTube

We had a lot of things figured out with MMRSA [Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act], but there were also a lot of kinks. There are/were hundreds of dispensaries operating legally under MMRSA, but there were also hundreds of unlicensed dispensaries operating throughout CA. Sometimes you would go to a dispensary one day, and they would be closed down and boarded up the next day. The same owners would pop up with a new dispensary and new “licensing” and do this over and over again without paying their taxes or money owed to vendors. It was like the wild west.

At some point, things were going to have to change.

On the other side. Prop 64 is destroying small farmers. Big businesses are coming in and they just want to make a profit. For hundreds of years, this industry has been kept alive by the disenfranchised; by people willing to risk everything to grow this beautiful plant and fight for its rights. And unfortunately, they are the ones getting the worst of it right now.

This is upsetting and I will not deny that Prop 64 could not have been written more poorly. However, I have to stand by my own vote. California is a leader in this nation, and therefore a leader of the free world. We are tipping the needle on making cannabis normalized and legalized in all states, as well as opening up the doors for medical research and so much more. On election day [November 8, 2016], when Prop 64 was on the ballet, I had only one thought in my mind: my unborn children’s future. I want them to grow up in a world where when they are sick, no matter what state or country we are in, they are prescribed CBD (non-psychoactive cannabis) before harmful chemicals. If you have any doubt in your mind, take a look at this video telling the story of Jayden, a young boy who was lucky enough to live in a state that allowed medical cannabis:

Jayden’s Story | Source: Objective Look/YouTube

Many children are not so lucky, like 12-year-old Alexis, who is currently suing [U.S. Attorney General] Jeff Sessions.

What do you think have been the largest factors in making the movement to legalize so successful?

Lizi Trautman

I want to believe that it’s the stories of people like Jayden. That the world is changing and people are waking up to benefits of this plant. And to some degree, that is true. However, I think the movement is money motivated as well. Big business (especially the tobacco industry), see cannabis as a cash crop. They have put a lot of money into pushing the needle forward for their own pockets. [That said] if, at the end of the day, citizens benefit, then in my mind it is still successful — regardless of who is reaping the profits.

What do you think are the most significant benefits of legalization, both on an individual and social level?

Lizi Trautman

The doors are just opening on the variety in which we are exploring cannabis, [and] what I am most excited about is hemp. You may wonder why we haven’t explored this plant more in the past, and it all comes down to money.But to explore this topic I would need a lot more time. I will suggest watching this video on how cannabis is the most powerful plant on Earth, and how hemp has the power to change the world. From medicine, to paper, textiles, oil and more — hemp has thousand of uses.

The Most Powerful Plant on Earth? The Hemp Conspiracy | Source: © Top5s/YouTube

While watching this video or in your own research, look out for these terms and the meaning behind them: reefer madness, marijuana, cotton, radiation, oil, paper, plastic, chemical-free, medicine, cannabinoids, THC, CBD, CBN, prohibition, alcohol, tobacco, sugar, Harry Anslinger, Mexican immigration, racism, mandatory minimum sentencing, nylon, propaganda, Marijuana Tax Law.

You may wonder why we haven’t explored this plant more in the past, and it all comes down to money.

What are your thoughts on the distinction between medicinal and recreational use moving forward?

Lizi Trautman

Well, now the lines are pretty blurry, but in California, a big difference is going to be the tax breaks you get with a medical card. You can also purchase more cannabis per day, carry more on you at all times, and have access to a larger variety by being able to go into every dispensary with a card — [while] recreational dispensaries are limited. I should note that taxes and regulations change per county.

Is the question of compulsive or addictive use of cannabis one that comes up in your work a lot? What are the opinions that exist on that subject within the field?

Lizi Trautman

Cannabis itself is not an addictive drug. Physically addictive drugs are things like heroin, alcohol, and methamphetamines. That being said, you can become dependent and addicted to anything: TV, sugar, sex, etc.

Do I think that sometimes people over-indulge? Of course. But is it my job to regulate how much individuals consume? Not exactly.

What is our job is to educate people on dosages and regulate how much companies can put in each edible. For many years, the industry was about creating products that are “high-potency” — that get you “the most fucked up.” But that is dying out. Some of the most successful edible companies coming out of the woodworks are the ones that offer low-dose edibles. Brands like Kiva, Kin Slips, and Valhalla, are creating small confections that have enough [cannabis] to knock the edge off without getting you “stoned.” There are also brands like Kikoko that make a tea that has a very low amount of THC, but puts you in the deepest sleep by combining it with CBN (non-psychoactive and very sedative effects).

Marijuana Drink

If someone came to me and said, “I think I’m addicted to weed,” I would ask them: “What are you running from?” Because chances are, that’s where the addiction is stemming from. Cannabis may just be the mask.

What does it look like to participate in this industry — can you tell me a little about a day and a month in the life, what the considerations are? What do you have to take into account that you wouldn’t have imagined until you got into this work?

Lizi Trautman

Things change constantly. You have to stay on top of the headlines. You have to attend talks and conferences, surround yourself with people that are also putting in the extra effort to stay in the know, and fight legislation when you don’t agree with it. CCIA [California Cannabis Industry Association] and NCIA [National Cannabis Industry Association] are organizations that do just this. We pay them to stay on top of it, and elect members to the board that we believe will make the best decisions for the industry as a whole — and the individuals that make it up.

My first time attending a CCIA conference, I was blown away. It felt so professional to be doing something that, at the time — and today — still felt very illegal. I had cannabis products on me, like I always do, and I was there representing Bloom Farms, showing my badge and setting up our sponsorship table. I remember thinking, “Wow, this is so weird to be surrounded by so many men (and women) in suits, talking about something that my mother would scold me for using.” It was exhilarating.

Now, my days are busier than ever. You can’t afford to take a break — at least not right now. These next two years are going to be wild ride. But we’ve been preparing for it for years. We watched Washington and Colorado go through it already. We’ve seen a bit into what works and what hasn’t, and now we just have to try and do it a little bit better — learn from their mistakes and grow on their strengths.

What’s your favorite part of the work you do?

Hands down it’s education, and empowerment.

There is so much rich history about this plant, and it has so many uses. My ultimate goal is to drive others to feel as passionate about cannabis as I do in the hopes that some of those people we touch will go on to becomes the doctors and researchers that explore and build on its thousands of uses.

Marijuana Plant

If, along the way, we are empowering individuals to navigate through this crazy thing called life and feel more connected to each other through it — then we are doing something right. Every time someone in our community reaches out and tell us a piece of their story, my heart melts all over again and I’m inspired to work even harder.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Lizi Trautman

I will say that I have never felt more at home in any other industry than I do now. The people care about each other. There’s this feeling of support wherever you go, because everyone is seemingly working towards the same goal: a better future for all. I am endlessly grateful to those that have brought me into this world, that have told me their stories, and are willing to hear mine — so together, we can change the world.

Thank you so much for your time!

 


Lizi Trautman

is the founder of cannabis education company Future is Flower and a talented Experiential Producer and Creative Director from San Francisco, California. Lizi’s vibrant personality and expert attention to detail shine through in every space and event she curates. Inspired by the feminist symbolism of the female cannabis flower, Lizi pours her heart and soul into her greatest passion — redefining the culture and reframing stigmas currently surrounding the cannabis industry.

 





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