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What Tomorrow Brings

Monica Donovan, with the real power behind the throne...
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Monica Donovan 21 Jun 2019

Reflections from Heady Vermont CEO Monica Donovan

Recently, Heady Vermont cofounder Eli Harrington stepped down from his role at the company. It’s bittersweet and a little chaotic, but it also means new beginnings. In between all of the day-to-day stuff – whether it’s interviewing new hires, getting logistics rolling for the Summer Farm Jam and Vermont Hemp Fest, or putting together all the pieces of our upcoming New England Cannabis Guide – I’ve been mulling over some very broad and hard-to-answer questions. What is Heady Vermont? Where did we start and where are we going? Why do we do this and why does it matter?

When Eli and I launched this company, we did so on the understanding of a shared vision. We saw that there was a clear interest and enthusiasm in making an adult use market happen in Vermont, and doing it in a way that benefited the average Vermonter. We also saw that there was a lack of dedicated events and media, and that the cannabis community needed a platform around which people could gather.

The beginning was a modest five-page blog and a free panel event at Skinny Pancake. We worked our asses off and when we organized our first Hemp Fest at Burke Mountain a year later, we really didn’t know if people were going to show up or not. To be honest, it was pretty nerve-wracking. But you did. And it was awesome. (Thanks!)

When we organized our first Hemp Fest at Burke Mountain a year later, we really didn’t know if people were going to show up or not. To be honest, it was pretty nerve-wracking.

Ironically, I never wanted to be a ‘weed person.’ In fact, even after launching Heady Vermont, it took me a long time to start connecting the dots and understanding that cannabis had been an integral part of my life without even realizing it. In high school, a bust that landed me under house arrest, and then in juvenile drug court, was a direct result of the Bush administration’s drug war policies. Though to be fair, I was also a naughty teenager.

Throughout most of my adult life, I’ve used cannabis for anxiety relief. I also use it to treat pain, and yes – to have fun. But most importantly, cannabis forces me to be honest with myself in ways that many other experiences do not. It quells an often vicious cycle of repeating thoughts, and amplifies the tiny inner voice that’s trying to tell me something important. This understanding crept up on me over time, until last year I finally put it to words and realized what an incredible tool it had been for my own self-realization and personal transformation.

But most importantly, cannabis forces me to be honest with myself in ways that many other experiences do not.

In the course of my work as a founder of Heady Vermont, I’ve met incredible people with stories of pain, transformation, injustice and healing. I’ve watched people grow their businesses, like we did, from a whispered dream into a full-fledged reality. And over the last three years, those people have become my friends.

Heady Vermont is not a single product, event, or person. It is the culmination of the joy (and sometimes, righteous anger) of a community of people who work hard, play hard and truly believe in this plant.

Heady Vermont is not a single product, event, or person; it is the culmination of the joy (and sometimes, righteous anger) of a community of people who work hard, play hard, and truly believe this plant has the capacity to heal, uplift and improve the lives of multitudes. Heady Vermont is an agreement to go forward, together, and to fight for a cannabis industry that is thoughtful, just, sustainable and supports the community as a whole.

Ultimately, the mission of Heady Vermont hasn’t changed. We are a community and digital platform dedicated to Vermont’s growing cannabis culture and policy reform. We will continue to hold decision-makers accountable, and to call people out when necessary. We will continue to highlight stories of transformation and injustice. And we will fight to make this thing happen in a way that benefits the needs of the many, not just the few.

Will there be changes? Absolutely. We are bringing some incredible people onto our team in the coming weeks. I’m promoting Kathy Blume to Communications Director because she’s totally killing it. We’re introducing a Women in Cannabis Summit next year. We’re also expanding our reach in New England because we understand the importance of building a cohesive regional coalition, and of promoting Vermont products to a larger demographic.

Will I be able to get in front of a microphone at our events without having a heart attack? That might take a bit more doing – and a lot more weed. Whether I get there or not, I’m eternally grateful to this plant and this community for helping us to build Heady Vermont to where it is today. And don’t forget, in a decade we’re going to look back on these first few years and laugh. This is just the beginning.

A heartfelt thank you – to ALL of you.

Monica

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