By: Angela Viesti

Looking back on cannabis in California during the pre-Prop 64 era feels like reminiscing on childhood. So much has changed so quickly and it seems worlds away from where we are now.

Before the Green Rush began, when the cannabis industry was the cannabis community, prior to adult-use and CBD rescheduling, there was a small collective of pioneers willing to put their names and faces out in the public to stand up for cannabis patients and the victims of the war on drugs, many of them members of or loved ones of members belonging to one or both groups.

One of those trailblazers was Kush Queen’s founder and CEO, Olivia Alexander, someone whose influence and support continues to impact my life and career since meeting her in 2016.

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We met synchronistically one March evening in Venice, CA, at an open house of sorts for Elevate LA, an organization whose efforts were aimed at reforming cannabis laws in the city of Los Angeles.

We discussed what it was like being Millennial women in a space largely inhabited at the time by men and older generations. We agreed that change was required and would be inevitable. It was important to both of us that the mainstream understood, cannabis was medicine. That those whose suffering ignited the Compassionate Use Act and those behind bars for touching the plant were included and had a voice in the evolution of cannabis.

She had plans to grow her feminism-focused cannabis lifestyle brand, Kush Queen, and turn Crystal Cult, the business that catapulted her into entrepreneurship, into something bigger.

We exchanged contact information and soon after she reached out to see if I was interested in working Crystal Cult and Kush Queen’s booth at Compassesh, a gathering that allowed cannabis consumption under Prop 215, which was my first cannabis gig ever.

Over the next few months we worked together at events for Elevate LA, Crystal Cult, and Kush Queen, including Chalice Festival in 2016. By the end of that summer I was blogging for Olivia’s media channel, The Budd, which sparked my renewed interest in writing and was my first paid writing opportunity.

Over the next year and a half a lot changed in our lives and within the cannabis space. Shortly after Prop 64 was approved by California voters, Kush Queen became an official cannabis brand, launching their THC- and CBD-infused bath bombs into dispensaries across the state. I dove into working and navigating the grey area between the approval of Prop 64 and the official start of adult-use sales in California through various roles with cannabis brands and organizations.

After major shifts on both our ends, we found ourselves reconnected in the summer of 2018 when I reached out to her about bringing Kush Queen to a personal friend's foundation and the stars aligned for us to work together again.

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The brand was evolving and there were ample opportunities to collaborate. I got to know the Kush Queen team and felt at home in an environment where high vibes, creativity, innovation, and happy, healthy employees were paramount. I trusted the integrity of Kush Queen’s products because I was using them myself and always heard rave reviews from anyone I introduced to the brand. But it was the brand’s inclusive and socially responsible ethos that hit the high note for me. Kush Queen has supported cannabis patients, the LGBTQ community, victims of the devastating California wildfires, POC-run grassroots organizations and so many others. All of this, despite reluctance from many corporations to even receive donations from cannabis companies, and with no signs of slowing.

In the fall of 2018 I became a regular contributor to the Kush Queen blog, an affiliate of the brand, and a part-time brand ambassador.

With so many new celebrity-owned brands hitting the market, countless so-called-experts emerging, and established mainstream companies jumping on the CBD and cannabis bandwagons, it can be challenging to discern a quality product from effective marketing. The long standing history in the cannabis space and continued efforts to change the paradigm in cannabis from what was once a mostly male dominated industry to what is now becoming a corporate rat race is what sets Olivia, and the Kush Queen team, apart from the newcomers. It’s my personal policy to only promote brands I believe in and work with companies whose founders I align with and few are as fitting as Kush Queen and Olivia Alexander.

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