Spotlight Series: Hannah O'Brien of Confident Cannabis
In the cannabis industry there are many, many ways to make a living and these options are not all about cultivation. In this installment of the Spotlight Series, we chat with Hannah O’Brien, Operations Director at Confident Cannabis. Confident Cannabis works with over 40% of labs nationwide in 16 markets (including Puerto Rico & Canada) to create a central marketplace connecting dispensaries with the best growers.
The company’s goal? To solve the biggest problem in the cannabis industry: making wholesale transparent, trustworthy and accessible.
How did you get involved in the cannabis industry?
At around the same time I was doing my own personal research project on cannabis consumption, I was also searching for my next role. I’d been focusing on wellness companies and environmental nonprofits when it dawned on me one day to look into cannabis companies. I’m very fortunate to have found Confident Cannabis. It’s a mission-driven software company where I thrive.
Tell us a little bit about your product or service
Confident Cannabis enables everyone in the legal wholesale supply chain to trade with trust and accuracy. It does this by backing up all of its listings with third-party lab test data. Today, it’s the largest B2B marketplace built on test data. It adds a lot of efficiency and transparency to the buyers and sellers.
What time does your day typically start and what does a normal day look like to you?
As long as I get my work done, I’m lucky enough to start and end my day when I’d like. Although, it’s helpful to be available during traditional working hours. My role has narrowed recently where before I was more client facing and now I’m working behind the scenes to grow revenue via experimentation — a lot of data and project management.
What is your vision for your company going forward?
It’s never boring in the cannabis industry. The landscape changes weekly and I’m excited to see how our platform Wholesale can help operators brave the storm. I want to be there for everyone’s ethical buying and selling needs.
What would an ideal post prohibition society look like to you?
Educated legal entities. Protections for the production process. Quality preservation. Build society up, not tear it down. Respect for the plant.
What was your first experience with cannabis like?
I didn’t have any intentionality behind my decision other than thinking I was being a rebellious teenager. I hit a bong, drank some beers and felt light, loopy, and giggly. Nowadays, cannabis is there through it all!
Tell us about some of the challenges you face working in the cannabis industry
Since there’s no formal historical industry to reference, there isn't always a tried and true way of approaching a problem.
What are some solutions you've found?
With a lack of a formal industry playbook, I have found curiosity and experimentation incredibly rewarding. Even in our Confident Cannabis ecosystem, everyone’s diverse background contributes to the creative ways we approach problems.
What is one thing you wish everyone knew about cannabis?
I wish everyone knew that they don’t know everything and to stay open minded. We have plenty to learn and shouldn’t pass judgement on those still learning.
What is one thing you wish everyone knew about your product or service?
I wish people knew how important test results were beyond just THC and CBD. I’m not saying test data is the silver bullet when it comes to predicting economics or experiences, but I would like to see the market leverage all the information, not only THC/dollar.
If you could go back in time and do it all over again, what (if anything) would you do differently?
I'd like to think I’ve kept pushing forward regardless of my past, but I think sometimes it would have been cool to have started even earlier in the space than I did.
What is your favorite way to consume cannabis?
It ebbs and flows. Right now topicals and tinctures are my favorite— they tend to be fast acting, localized, and potent. I’m also trying to combust as infrequently as possible, but I do love me a good bong rip.
Concentrate or flower? Why?
If I had to choose I would say flower, but only if you had access to a vape. I tend to think it’s currently the least expensive and most diverse form to consume in a way that allows you to really enjoy and appreciate the plant.
Do you think cannabis legalization will change the world for the better? Why?
How could it not?! My hope is that society continues to open up to cannabis and to all the ways it can provide.
What advice would you offer to another woman who is looking to get into the industry?
I wish I knew more about the number of women in cannabis or the number of female founders in the cannabis space. I'm sure it should be higher than whatever it is. I spend a lot of time thinking about women in the workplace and nothing about the conversation seems straightforward. We need to arrive at the answer together. Active work and progress towards equality needs to happen from all angles. My advice would be to ask questions, take risks, be determined and persistent, and pave the way for others to follow. It's about supporting ALL women — keep talking, encouraging, helping, and nurturing.