The Flow State: Christina DiPaci on How to Navigate Cannabis and the Industry
By Taylor Engle
The Flow State is a special video series presented by The Bluntness, featuring thought-provoking conversations with leaders and innovators throughout the cannabis industry.
In this episode, we were joined by Christina DiPaci, founder and CEO of one of the largest independent craft cannabis farms in California, Paradiso Gardens. With over ten years of experience in the cannabis trade, DiPaci does it all from compliance to finance, while having an influential hand in strain selection, packaging design, and brand development.
We discussed cannabis marketing and how to set your brand apart, Paradiso’s plans for the coming year, and DiPaci’s first time smoking weed out of an aluminum can at age 12.
The Bluntness Sits Down With Cannabis CEO Christina DiPaci
Like many people in today’s industry, DiPaci began her love affair with cannabis when she was in high school. A casual habit transitioned into something more about ten years ago, when she first got interested in the cultivation side of things.
“Personally, I love plants. I think it’s the most interesting and fun part of the industry. Every crop is slightly different, and it’s just this really beautiful learning process,” Dipaci told The Bluntness.
It was her passion for cultivation that first influenced how Paradiso Gardens would be run. The team harvests every two weeks, constantly creating products that cater to consumer needs and allow the plant’s natural elements to shine through.
Beyond her focus on quality cultivation and product, DiPaci is also incredibly dedicated to providing her employees with a workplace environment they can enjoy: fun, creative, productive, happy, and open-minded.
DiPaci’s staff is made up of lifelong friends and like-minded passionate cannabis experts who are intent on building a brand that serves community, and Paradiso Gardens is definitely a brand that reflects that ethos.
“I like to have a hand in everything, but also let the team do what they do best,” DiPaci said.
Getting Creative with Cannabis Marketing
When asked about her thoughts on cannabis marketing, DiPaci has some very unorthodox yet well-thought-out advice: come prepared without cannabis.
“Be creative, and be prepared to have a lot of non-cannabis merchandise,” DiPaci said.
“It’s often really challenging to find spaces where you can either sample or consume cannabis and get it into the hands of consumers. But if you have these non-cannabis items, they’re often much easier to bring to events and other collaborations.”
While this may not be a cannabis entrepreneur’s first instinct when trying to market their product – especially if that product includes THC – it makes a lot of sense.
Cannabis still isn’t federally legal, and it’s nowhere near globally legal, which limits a brand’s marketable reach by a considerable amount.
However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to get the word out about your brand without bringing along any actual flower. It just requires innovation, and sometimes jumping through the legislative hoops that continue to hold the industry back.
Embracing Government Relations
As DiPaci reflects on her first moments in the industry, she recalls how surprised she was when she realized the legislative confusion from state to state was far greater than she had previously assumed.
“I thought governments had it together, but then I realized that no one knows anything,” DiPaci said with a laugh. “It’s been an educational process, for both operators and government, on learning each other’s industries, how they work, and how to communicate and get things done.”
This is definitely an important distinction to establish because the cannabis industry is so new, and it will take time to tackle stigma and address knowledge gaps after so many years of prohibition.
Cannabis During Work Hours?
While government employees are prohibited from consuming cannabis under federal law, many cannabis companies not only allow their employees to consume the plant – they also don’t mind if their employees consume during work hours.
“As long as you’re at a certain level of professionalism and productivity and you’re getting your job done, I don’t have any problems with that at all,” DiPaci said.
“But some people can’t do it – especially depending on your job. For accountants, I think it’s hard to be stoned because you’re working with numbers and calculations and that’s a little bit too much, but there are certain jobs it really lends itself to, like for our brand ambassadors.”
This is where employer-employee trust and respect comes into play: if you can consume cannabis throughout the day without it negatively affecting your work – or, in some cases even improving it – then why shouldn’t you?
However, if you have a lower tolerance or are consuming too much cannabis for what you’re working on, it may be a good idea to refrain during work hours.
Keeping an Open Mind in Cannabis Job Hunting
In fact, it’s what drives many people to pursue weed as a career, which can be daunting if you don’t know what to expect.
To anyone just starting out in the industry, DiPaci believes it’s important to stay open-minded and as adaptable as possible.
“I think people have this idea that a certain job would be really fun, but because of the complexity in dealing with regulations and production and supply chain, you often find these new jobs popping up, and we’re always moving people around,” DiPaci said.
“There’s all these other jobs that aren’t necessarily apparent that are super interesting and fulfilling. So keep an open mind, and choose a good company.”
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