“I am unabashedly unapologetic in my cannabis use and my love for this plant” - Luna Stower
Insights into what it is like to be an influential woman in the world of Cannabis.
Luna Stower is the Chief Impact Officer at Ispire Vape Technology (previously VP of Bus. Dev.). With over a decade of experience in the Cannabiz, she was a key member in building CA legacy brands like Jetty Extracts, Steep Hill Lab, and Blue River Terpenes.
Her impact on drug policy has been instrumental to local decriminalization measures and first-of-its-kind Social Equity initiatives. An internationally-recognized industry expert, Luna is featured on B2B panels, podcasts, summits, and consumer expos as a renowned thought leader. She is a moderator at the Emerald Cup Harvest Ball Speaker Series, and sits as a judge for the esteemed awards competitions "The Emerald Cup," as well as Mila The Hash Queen's "Dab-a-Doo," and HQ Barcelona's "Masters of Rosin" in Spain's Spannabis Fair.
1. What kind of responsibility comes with being a Cannabis Influencer?
The responsibility of being an influential person in cannabis is a huge one. Not only being a woman but also being from Northern California and from the legacy market carries a large weight when talking to folks in emerging markets in other places in the United States and across the world. It is our responsibility to share all of the hardships and landmines that we have come across in the process of regulation, to help others avoid the same pitfalls and does a better job than we did ourselves as a woman in this male-dominated business, I find it really important to remain strong, professional, and positive in all ways, staying in my power, to effect change by being a positive role model.
Many people are looking to California for a model of how to roll out legalization in their areas; how we present ourselves is key, including the ways that we acknowledge the war on drugs, racism, and sexism, sustainability across all categories, and the energetic health and safety of working in a stressful, breakneck environment.
The word influencer has become a dirty word in our space because the connotation is that it is a pay-to-play space where the advice given is usually by people that are motivated more by the payout than by actually loving or supporting the product or the brand. Although I do acknowledge that I am influential, I avoid using that word because The association is with people who do not have much experience in the industry, but just have a large following on social media or have another celebrity status. Every bit of influence that I have gained I have earned through hard work, education, showing up in the space, and professional expertise, not because of the way I look or because of my popularity online.
2. What is your favourite kind of Cannabis Drink/Beverage?
I love the sparkly low-dose options from CANN, Artet, Malus (Sands LANE), Pabst Labs, HiFi Hops (CannaCraft), Heavy Hitters (Mammoth Distro) -- usually anything Vertosa helps to infuse.
3. What do you think of trade shows in the Cannabis Industry?
Trade shows are an incredible opportunity to meet with people that are active in the industry, focusing on networking, and a great place to connect during the after-events in a more personal way. I absolutely love traveling to different cities and seeing how brands present themselves at their booths and after-show activations. It is a very exciting environment where people can experience a brand or product in the way that the operator wants them to, in a controlled manner where they can engage with decision-makers from the brands instead of just online or in other less personal formats. It is a beautiful way to collect leads in an organic way, and when you're following up with the business cards you remember meeting them face to face, sharing a joint, connecting over plant medicine, and our common goal to decriminalize and legalize this plant.
4. What stereotypes of the industry do you absolutely fit into?
I fit into the productive stoner stereotype in the sense that I am a fully functioning cannabis user who takes dabs multiple times a day and has run large sales organizations and marketing teams within the space without it impacting my productivity or focus. I am unabashedly unapologetic in my cannabis use and my love for this plant, I do not avoid consumption in public or online because it is a big part of my identity and who I am in my private life and part of normalizing is showing successful professional adults who use cannabis in a positive light.
5. Which ones do you not fit into?
The lazy Stoner stereotype really bothers me, despite knowing that it can be a demotivating force for some because it is a scapegoat for underlying issues that people may have that they blame cannabis for. There have been marketing campaigns by some major brands trying to separate themselves from the stoner stereotype and I find it really damaging because when you demonize or demoralize an entire sector of the consumer market, it does not help to normalize it and continues with the stigma associated with using this plant.
The idea that it is a criminal or trashy activity to use cannabis Is one of the biggest lies of prohibition and is a remnant of the racist war on drugs that utilizes this plant to further criminalize marginalized folks.
6. What do you wish more people knew about your work?
I have a master's in teaching and an undergrad in feminist studies, which informs a lot of the education and advocacy work that I do. Some people only know me for helping start Jetty extracts and Ispire Vape, But not many know about my history in organizing and activism around the Bay Area including my work with developing the early equity program to help ensure that the folks hardest hit by the war on drugs were first in line for licenses and access to the regulated market when we passed prop 64 in California.
7. How are you currently changing the game?
As I travel the world and speak on panels and podcasts, I notice that I'm usually the only female on stage. This is changing more and more as time goes on, but I feel like my presence as an intelligent woman in the space in and of itself is making an impact. Representation is a powerful thing, and to be able to share my successes in the space is a radical act At a time when more and more women are leaving the industry due to the corporate culture and good old boys club that alienates them.
Also, coming from the regulated vape space on the brand side and moving into the hardware side, I have been incredibly surprised by the emotional impact that providing good hardware to small brands has on small businesses. Being able to offer flexible terms, and a really hands-on team that does everything from marketing and branding to customize hardware and packaging has provided solutions for folks that otherwise would not be able to afford to venture into the vape space. This has been revolutionary for a lot of the legacy brands that have not felt like they could break into this category.
8. What are you most excited about in the industry right now?
I am most excited by the expansion of legalization efforts across the world, I am speaking in Spain, Portugal, Germany, and Brazil, all places that I would never have thought would be looking at legalization this early in the game. I am also really excited to see that equity programs have become popular across the United States, allowing people of color and marginalized people who otherwise may not have had access to becoming business owners a leg up in this new emerging market.
9. Why should people follow you?
People should follow me if they want inspirational content around building cannabis culture. I have been blessed with incredible friends in this space who are super inspirational and having them included in my content is a way that I can support and cheerlead for their causes as well.
10. What do you offer that other influencers don't?
Very few influencers actually hold positions in the B2B market space and have run cannabis businesses that hold licenses. Many of them are tasked with promoting a brand without any real connection to them. For me, I am living, eating, and breathing this life and have been for the better part of a decade, which gives me more legitimacy and validity than a lot of folks who are just hired to sell a product using their following. I do not use my personal Instagram to sell anything, I am trying to uplift the narrative about plant medicines, not just cannabis but all entheogenic plants.
11. What is on your career bucket list?
I honestly feel like I'm living my bucket list right now, I get to travel the world and meet incredible people in the name of liberating plant medicine, I am the chief impact officer which is a title and role that I helped craft myself, I have helped build multiple successful brands from the ground up, so really I feel extraordinarily blessed and complete in my career as of right now! But if I had a genie come out of a bottle and I had a couple of wishes, I'd love to take a dab on the floor of the New York stock exchange, sponsor a daab bar at EDC, share a stage with my hero, mycologist Paul Stamets, and smoke with Maynard James Keenan of Tool!
Interviewed by Stuti Khetan, Beverage Trade Network