Stormy Simon knows what it takes to change minds and build a brand. As VP of Branding for Overstock.com, where she started as a temp, Simon oversaw the company growth from 250 million dollars in revenue to 500 million at a time when most Americans were too afraid to shop online.
After a successful, highly influential career in e-commerce Simon decided not to rest on past accomplishments but enter the world of legal cannabis, where she spent the past few years learning all she could about the plant while sharing what she knows about how to convince people to try something new.
She’s currently on the board of both High Times Magazine, one of the oldest brands in weed, as well as CannaKids, a relatively new organization out of California that aims to provide medicine and support to parents who choose cannabis for their children’s medical needs.
The Splimm Team caught up with Simon to talk about what she feels are the biggest challenges for cannabis consumers at the moment, the increasingly available research, and why cannabis offers a chance for empowerment.
Why were you drawn to High Times?
Stormy Simon: Well I’m on the board of High Times. You know it’s interesting, because they were just purchased in March of 2017, so you’ve got new management, a great plan, a booming industry, and it’s like how to protect what’s been built when you’ve got a 45-year-old company. And they’re moving it from New York to LA, so a lot’s happened. They have real dreams for this company. It’s exciting to be apart of it. It’s a 45-year-old brand in cannabis, and that’s so special.
“And when you talk about it with children, you break a lot of barriers quick. Does high mean healing?”
You’re also on the Board of CannaKids. Was it helping children that first attracted you to cannabis or was it something else?
SS: It was something else. Once I decided I was leaving Overstock, I had a lot of opportunities in e-commerce, some great opportunities in e-commerce. But Overstock is a good opportunity in E-Commerce. So why would I leave something that I was doing to go do it somewhere else?
But I was following Colorado, and so when they went rec [allowed for adults over 21 to legally purchase cannabis], having come from e-commerce [at a time when] the industry was booming and evolving and we were developing things that stuck forever, cannabis became more and more appealing to me. I appreciate the plant, I use it for my own medical benefits, and I was using it before I even understood why I was using it.
So when I came in and thought I’m really going to get intimate with his plant, and build a big brand maybe, what I learned was about real illness. And real science that has been applied and already been done, but you had to search for it. And to think even two years ago how much more buried that information was! Colorado’s really helped bring this thing to light with the recreational use.
What do you feel is the biggest obstacle facing parents who want to use cannabis right now?
SS: As I learned and met these mothers, learned about these children, it became a passion and a conversation that I realized people were a little shaky to have. They were shaky on it. I feel like it’s a conversation that has to be started, and we’ve got to break down this fear.
Really what are we afraid of? When you think of what we’re doing already, we’ll take our kid right into the dentist, we’ll shoot them up with Novocain, we’ll knock them out. Then we’ll video tape them waking up, saying the funniest things. And when we talk about cannabis we say, “but will your child get high!” I think of those videos, and I think, well okay, maybe they do, maybe they have to. What science is proving about this plant, it’s not exclusive to adults. And we easily adopt morphine and things that are already proven to cause bad addiction and death and really heavy harm to the body. But we are afraid of plant that grows out of God’s green earth. The conversation stops short because of this preconceived belief system we’ve had about marijuana. And when you talk about it with children, you break a lot of barriers quick. [You start to ask] does high mean healing?
“‘I need sleeping pills, the stress is too much.’ And that’s fine. But don’t judge me if I choose a plant.”
Why do you think a parent might choose cannabis over a more traditional treatment method, like prescription drugs?
SS: A lot of these medicines, for ADHD or anything else, they’re highly addictive. But because it’s a prescription, we accept that instead of empowering ourselves. And that’s what this cannabis and children [movement] is. Their parents empowering themselves and saying: I’ll take this into my own hands, I’ll educate myself and I’ll administer my own medicine to my child. I’m not sure what the fear is, if it’s judgment. But the people I talk to who question it, their child’s not sick. When your child’s sick I think you do desperate measures.
And I don’t find this to be desperate. I find it to be accessible and something we should do, openly, and without condemnation.
Even for adults: ‘I need sleeping pills, the stress is too much.’ And that’s fine. But don’t judge me if I choose a plant.
If an adult is considering cannabis, either for their own health or the health of their child, what’s the most important thing they can do?
SS: If the government said tomorrow you can get this now, people would blindly go do it. And they’re waiting for the government to educate them as well. But you don’t need the government to educate you. The information is out there. There is already science. You don’t have to wait for that 10 billion dollars in research so that you can get your medication at 5,000 dollars a month. There is a way to explore this for a lot less money.
I think when it comes to being that parent, I don’t think you have to do that anymore. You can reach out to an organization like CannaKids. You can have a conversation with a nurse.
Educate yourself. That’s the key. That’s the message. Did I join this for the money rush? No. I’m a very big advocate and believer, and if I can get 10 people to change their minds – or at least open it a little bit – then it was worth leaving Overstock.