Community engagement is a big part of making the cannabis industry more accessible for everyone. We chatted with Gabriela Ayee, one of the Community Engagement Specialists with Tweed, to see what she’s experienced in the short time since legalization. Having previously worked in the food, alcohol, and automotive industries, Gabriela definitely knows how to deal with big events. She’s also got a family history involving cannabis. Her passion for educating others about cannabis is infectious...but like, the good kind of infectious. Plus, she’s a bad-ass woman we’re proud to have on the team.
What was your background before coming to Tweed?
I’ve educated people on the different brands that I’m supporting, and I provide an experience for them so I can keep the brand top-of-mind for people. This was pretty much a natural transition for me, to go from pushing chocolate and liquor to being like, “Hey, I have a huge passion for cannabis, so let me share what I know about this with you so you can keep our brand top of mind as well.”
What made you decide to join the cannabis industry?
Both my parents are from Jamaica; my dad was a Rasta, so it’s just been part of my family culture forever. It’s something I enjoyed talking about, and never really thought about it as a job, because I never thought the end of prohibition would ever happen in my lifetime. I thought it was just something that was always going to be illegal, so once it happened I was like “I need to be part of this movement. I need to make the change.”
Working in community engagement, how do you find people discuss cannabis?
My conversations with people when I go to events are kind of mixed, but it’s more towards people secretly asking “Oh, I can talk about this now? This is something I can have a conversation about openly, without judgement?” Then there are also people who say “No, don’t want to talk about it.” But for the most part, people are interested. They’re like, “It’s legalized in my country now, I need to know what’s going on to keep my kids safe, to know what I’m allowed to do.”
This year’s International Women’s Day theme is “#BalanceForBetter.” What does that mean to you?
It’s a collective effort to work towards a future where there are no “female” leaders, it’s just going to be leaders. It’s a call to action for those in a leadership position to stand up, to shift mindsets, and to correct hidden biases. We’re here. We’ve been here, and we’re ready to take on anything.