Coming Out of the Cannabis Closet
This Bay Area trailblazer is on a mission to rebuild Marin County’s cannabis culture one customer at a time
Elise McRoberts, Chief of Communications and Curation for California Wellness, knows her cannabis. She also knows a thing or two about rock and roll, fashion, hula hooping, and what it takes to be a successful woman in one the fastest growing industries in America.
On a sunny, warm day in May, we had the pleasure of visiting Elise McRoberts at her office, which is home to California Wellness. Based in Marin County, California Wellness is a cannabis delivery company that has completed over 25,000 deliveries throughout the Bay Area since 2015. Joining the team in January 2018, McRoberts is on a mission to continue to grow the company’s reach and reestablish the cannabis culture that once helped shape Marin County as a leader in the medical marijuana movement. To do this, McRoberts has been carefully curating the California Wellness menu to accommodate a variety of her customer’s needs from medical, to wellness, to leisure. Her lineup includes a full spectrum selection of products including the finest sun-grown cannabis cultivated in the Emerald Triangle, edibles, vapes, extracts, topicals, beverages, and more.
McRoberts has also been working on adding brands that are beneficial for women’s health, with a focus on sustainably packaged goods with organic ingredients. For example, customers can find Bosm’s Breast Health Oil, Om Edibles Lavender Bath Soak, Garden Society’s low-dose edibles, and Quim Rock’s Intimate Oil on the menu.
McRoberts notes, “After moving to Marin, I noticed how many incredible women live in this area, but don’t have access to female-focused cannabis products or know what to order. As a woman cannabis buyer, I made it a priority to add items that benefit women’s health. Above all, I want to provide the best medicine that is available to help others. Curating for women is an honor, privilege, and responsibility that I take very seriously.”
Receiving their delivery license just a week before this year’s annual 4/20 festivities, McRoberts has been busy adding other top brands to the California Wellness menu that appeal to both men and women. Chemistry’s Full Spectrum Vaporizers, Somatik’s Cold Brew Coffee and Sparks, and Honeypot Supply’s CBD honey are among some of the most popular items ordered.
“As a cannabis buyer, you have to have an open mind when it comes to trying new products,” McRoberts explains. “You have to think big picture and purchase for a greater audience, not just for yourself.”
What else goes into becoming a cannabis buyer? McRoberts says that there are a handful of critical tasks that must be accomplished to get the job done. First, you must have a clear vision of how to curate a full spectrum menu that includes both affordable and top-shelf products. Next, you must build relationships with brands that you think will be a great fit and try the products. Then comes the terms negotiation. If all things align, the final step is to look at distribution, marketing, and a communications plan to help sell the product. All in all, it is an incredibly complex role, in which McRoberts handles by herself.
Born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota and then Chicago from elementary school on, Elise McRoberts was never one to settle for an average career or ordinary life. After graduating high school, she attended Boston University (BU), her “dream school,” and majored in Communications. She admits, “I was always desperate to get out the midwest. I never felt like I belonged there, which made Boston such an appealing choice for education.”
As a full-time student, she ended up leaving BU early due to battling depression and mental health issues. Her focus was to heal herself, so she returned to Chicago. Fresh out of rehab, McRoberts was ready to focus on building her career. She decided to join Nordstrom and quickly became a leading stylist and sales agent for the company, hence her impeccable sense of style and taste for bold fashion. At this same time, she also put herself through business classes at the University of Illinois, with a focus on finance and marketing, the latter revealing itself to be one of her greatest strengths.
After successfully working in the fast-paced high-fashion industry, McRoberts was beginning to feel burnt out and was exhausted from customer service. She suddenly had an epiphany. “I just had to follow my passion to a career in the music industry. That’s really what I thought I was MEANT to do. I aspired to be a music manager, promoter, or agent. Looking back, it is funny how music ultimately lead me here (to the cannabis business).”
Elise McRoberts landed her “first real music industry paycheck,” with the boutique firm NoVo Management. She assisted the founder, artist manager, and entertainment attorney Hillel Frankel, on all day-to-day needs for artists such as Poi Dog Pondering and Jeremiah. This experience helped her carve out her expertise in marketing. She notes, “Social media was just becoming popular, and none of the older people in the music business knew how to use it, so I was able to come in and offer a strategy that helped sell albums, merchandise, and tickets. It was really about building a community. I think anyone doing great marketing knows how to establish and maintain a strong community.”
While working at a music festival with JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound in upstate New York, McRoberts first met Jen Bernstein, who was the managing editor of High Times magazine. The two became fast friends, bonding over their shared passion for music and cannabis. Shortly afterward, McRoberts moved to Berlin, Germany for two months and visited Amsterdam during her travels. It was during this time that she fell in love with the cannabis culture after attending her first High Times Cannabis Cup, where she was invited to participate as a judge. “It was almost like the cannabis industry found me,” she recalls. “I was always passionate about cannabis, but after meeting the High Times team, and sharing their enthusiasm, I was hooked. They taught me the ins and outs of marijuana including how to identify premium cannabis, which has greatly helped me as a buyer. I am beyond grateful to have learned from cannabis legends including Jen Bernstein, Danny Danko, Elise McDonough, and so many others. They helped me see the possibilities and find my voice.”
While McRoberts was excited about her newfound knowledge and appreciation for cannabis, her family was still in the dark. “I had to come out of the cannabis closet,” she says. “I wanted to educate my family on everything I had learned and share how cannabis can help so many others, much like it helped me. When I first announced that I was a passionate cannabis user, my family and friends were surprised, especially since I was a successful, educated woman who seemed to have endless energy. Not the stereotype stoner that our society has led us to believe is the only type of cannabis consumer out there. I realized that by hiding how much cannabis I consumed, I was actually not allowing anyone to see the truth, which was that cannabis was why I was feeling better and more balanced than ever.”
After educating her family and establishing herself as a woman using cannabis, McRoberts knew she had to live in a legal state. She explains, “Cannabis completely changed my life, and I needed to live in a world where it was accepted. I also wanted access to quality products that I could use daily.”
In 2013, she moved to Santa Monica after returning to the US from her travels in Berlin, Amsterdam, and Costa Rica. She eventually relocated to the Bay Area where she currently resides today, continuing to judge the High Times Cannabis Cups, spreading knowledge, and expanding her network in the cannabis industry.
While cannabis was always her passion, it wasn’t until 2016 that she decided to go all in, dedicating her life to this healing herb. She landed her first canna-career with San Francisco delivery startup, Kind Courier, as a Branding and Marketing Consultant where she helped direct the company’s launch strategy, marketing, and public relations efforts as well as assisting with their menu curation, vendor relationships, and business development.
Continuing her career, in 2017, McRoberts conceptualized and produced the first-ever NorCal CannaCuisine Gala held in Sonoma County that celebrated Northern California’s bounty, honoring activism and entrepreneurship. McRoberts notes, “This was the largest and first event of its kind. I wanted to bring industry leaders together and celebrate a new era of cannabis where consumers don’t have to hide anymore. Dubbed a “smashing success” by industry guru and guest of honor, Steve DeAngelo, and featured on ABC News, it was an empowering night for our industry and for all cannabis enthusiasts.”
As a self-proclaimed “passion-preneur,” Elise McRoberts has put her heart and soul into breaking the stigma that surrounds cannabis. When asked what her favorite part of the industry is, she proudly states, “Women supporting women. I love the energy and sisterhood this industry provides. There is something truly authentic, where we have each other’s backs. It’s all about making those connections and growing the circle to empower each other, which is rare in any other industry, let alone the world.”
McRoberts’ dedication to the cannabis continues with California Wellness, in which she hopes will become Marin County’s most dependable delivery service, especially since Marin County currently does not allow dispensaries or cannabis storefronts.
With California Wellness’ all-star menu and Elise McRoberts’ drive for excellence, there is no doubt that they will succeed with this mission. By being a champion of the small producer and true healers who respect the plant, it is their honor and privilege to serve the Bay Area community.
On June 14th, we are thrilled to partner with Elise McRoberts and California Wellness at Thursday Infused, a gourmet event series for the canna-curious. We will be “Breaking the “Grass” Ceiling” this time around, celebrating successful female-run businesses in the cannabis industry.
To learn more about Elise McRoberts, please visit www.EliseMcroberts.com or follow @EliseMcRoberts. For more information about California Wellness or to place an order, please visit www.California-Wellness.org or follow @California__Wellness.
For Thursday Infused event information, please visit www.ThursdayInfused.com.
Peace, Love & Cannabis,
The Herb Somm
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