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The Most Important Things I've Learned Working at a Cannabis Startup

Stephen Campbell April 11, 2018

I am a 20 year old university student and I started working as an intern at Grobo in May.

For those who aren’t familiar with Grobo, it is a ‘plug and play’ hydroponic grow box that enables people to grow edible plants and cannabis with their smartphone!

Steven next to a Grobo One 
Me next to the Grobo at a tech show

Prior to working at Grobomy knowledge of cannabis was limited at best. Most of my cannabis “knowledge” came from my high school health class, which taught me that cannabis is bad, that it is a gateway drug, and that ultimately, only bad things will come from it’s consumption.

Over the past couple of months however, I’ve learned a great deal about cannabis, the cannabis industry, and startups. My personal opinions on cannabis have changed a great deal as my education has evolved.

Here is a list of the top 10 things I’ve learned while working at Grobo:

1. Cannabis consumers aren’t who you think they are

Stereotypically, people think of cannabis consumers as unkempt and lazy. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

In fact, from talking to our customers and the general cannabis community, I’ve found that cannabis users come from all walks of life. They are professionals, parents, business owners, medical patients… I could go on and on.

The important takeaway is that cannabis consumers are everyday people just like you and me. They could be your aunt, your boss, your teacher, your accountant, your next door neighbour… there really is no stereotypical cannabis user.


2. There are strains of cannabis that don’t get you high.

Confused? I was too, and so are most of the people I tell this to.

Cannabis consists of two main compounds: Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD). These two compounds affect humans in completely different ways. THC gets you high but CBD doesn’t, as it has non-psychoactive ingredients.

Therefore, it is important to know a strain’s CBD:THC ratio, as strains that are high in CBD and low in THC can provide medicinal benefits like pain management and seizure reduction without imparting the euphoric high that cannabis is known for.


3. When I tell people what Grobo does, I usually get a response like this: “So… uh… do you guys just sit around and get high all day?”

Are you allowed to smoke cannabis when you’re at work? Neither are we. In fact, I would venture to guess that less than half of our staff has tried cannabis in their lifetime.

However, it is important to note that in Canada, employers have a duty to accommodate medical cannabis patients. The details of this can be found here.


4. In business, people don’t refer to the plant as weed, pot, or marijuana — we call it cannabis.

In our society there is a negative association with words like weed or pot, but cannabis doesn’t have these same associations.

When you hear the word “cannabis”, you more likely think about the medical plant and not a group of teenagers sitting in a basement smoking weed and playing video games.


5. There are actually SO many different types of cannabis.

I used to think Girl Scout cookies came in a box, and Pineapple Express was just a movie. But in fact, these are both different types (called strains) of cannabis.

Seriously though, there are 779 official strains of cannabis, and that doesn’t include proprietary strains that people create on their own.

Leafly has collected a mind blowing 2340 strains of cannabis in their database, and it is constantly growing as individual breeders create new strains.


6. Growing cannabis isn’t as simple as planting a seed and giving it some light.

“Cannabis is called weed, so it must grow like a weed!”

No, growing cannabis is a complex process. It takes time, care, and effort.

You must feed your plant nutrients appropriately to ensure they have the right amounts of food at the right times.

You must control the pH and EC of your growing medium, testing these levels regularly to ensure they are within the appropriate range.

You must also adjust the light you provide them to ensure they receive enough to stimulate growth, but not so much that they dry out or burn. The proper amount and timing of light is also imperative to successfully transition your cannabis plant from its vegetative (upward growth) state to its flowering state.

Not quite as simple as planting a seed in some soil and occasionally watering it, eh?

7. The medical power of cannabis is truly remarkable

Medical cannabis is not a hoax or an excuse to consume cannabis, it works. I didn’t fully believe it either until I saw it firsthand.

Imagine seeing someone limp past you, barely able to walk.

10 minutes later, that same person strolls past you, completely fine thanks to medical cannabis.

That in a nutshell is the power of cannabis.

From significantly reducing the occurrence of seizures in epilepsy patience, to helping military veterans struggling with PTSD sleep soundly at night, it can change people’s lives.

Unfortunately, not enough research is being conducted on the medical properties of cannabis, as federal laws make it difficult for researchers to access the plant.

It will be years before the red tape is lifted and the medical capabilities of cannabis are better understood, but I believe the world will benefit greatly once medical cannabis research is able to advance.


8. Despite the changing environment around cannabis, some people, companies, and corporations refuse to work with us and other businesses like us because of our association with cannabis.

We’ve been barred from using the services of several large and small businesses because of our association with cannabis.

Cannabis presents risk, and given the changing legal landscape of cannabis in North America, many of these businesses are unwilling to take this risk until cannabis becomes legalized.

It can be extremely frustrating when we’ve found the perfect service to suit our customer’s needs, only to hear from their sales rep that they aren’t looking to take on businesses in our “line of work”.


9. Cannabis is misunderstood by the general public

Many people have it ingrained in their mind that cannabis is a bad thing.

Even medical patients, who require cannabis to live their daily lives, are often looked at as phonies. This is in large part due to the lack of education and research regarding cannabis.

Our school system tells us cannabis is bad, our governments tell us cannabis is bad, and our workplaces tell us cannabis is bad. People don’t truly understand what cannabis is or what it does to the body, they just accept what they are told as fact.

Recreational cannabis legalization is coming and now is the time to talk about it openly, engage in discussion and educate ourselves on what cannabis really is and it’s affects.

I’m not going to tell you that there are no negatives associated with consuming cannabis, but consider this:

There are arguably more dangers and risks associated with alcohol consumption than there are with cannabis consumption, and yet we look at the two in completely different ways.

I had previous made up my mind about cannabis because of things I was told, without doing any research myself.

My recommendation is to do your own research, make your own conclusions and don’t believe something to be true just because it’s what you have been told for your whole life.


10. It’s an extremely exciting time to be involved in the cannabis industry

The cannabis industry is the fastest growing industry since the internet.

It’s legal market value this past year was 6.7 billion dollars in North America alone. It’s a fast-paced industry that changes daily, and it will be exciting to see what new innovations and discoveries continue to come from it.

Cool innovations are coming like Grobo and the Levo oil diffuser

What do you want to know about working in a cannabis business? Tell us below.

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