Kim Hawkes | Florida Women In Cannabis Winner 2020

Kim Hawkes - Florida Women In Cannabis 2020

1 – Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where you are from, where you went to school, where you live now? Are you a Florida Native?

I’m a full-blooded USAF brat! Mom was a Captain and Pops retired a Major General, so “change” was a religion. Brat stats are 13 different homes and 11 schools before I turned 18. I graduated a Department of Defense high school in Germany, shipped out to Florida State University in the dead of summer, and haven’t left Florida since! Definitely my longest “assignment” yet.  

2 – Do you support Medical Marijuana? How about Adult Use? Please explain why.

I support cannabis and every American’s access to it. 

3 – Why did you decide to start working in cannabis. Do you have a personal story of a family member or friend?

Expanding access to cannabis is the dream job I never knew I always wanted. I cut my teeth in Florida political communications and the Department of Health needed someone to establish external communications as the Office of Compassionate Use (now OMMU) brought the state’s medical cannabis program online in 2016. I thought I was familiar with cannabis but “drinking from a firehose” doesn’t quite describe that experience. I spent a full year helping severely ill Floridians navigate the new medical cannabis program, sometimes grieving with family members of terminally ill patients who didn’t live long enough to find relief with legal cannabis in their own home state. Something had to give. From then on, Florida’s health and well-being became a mission for me. 

4 – When did you begin working in Cannabis? What is your current job title and how did you get your start.

Beginning on the regulatory side, I’ve been working in cannabis almost 5 years now. I left the OMMU in the spring of 2017 and found an incredible advocacy opportunity with Florida pioneer, Surterra Wellness – now a multi-state retailer, cultivator and producer. To be real, I found a home in a very dynamic, mission-driven family of advocates. I started out as Surterra Wellness’ first Community Marketing Manager, established our community presence in Florida, helped coordinate our public relations efforts, and as we scaled, ignited and translated our government and community relations’ efforts across state markets. While Surterra Wellness remains Florida’s retail brand, the company has expanded under the corporate name of Parallel, and today I’m proud to serve as Parallel’s Director of Physician Management, delivering education and resources to our physician communities in Florida,  Massachusetts, Texas, Nevada and Pennsylvania.  

5 – How has working in the cannabis industry changed your perspective on marijuana and hemp.

Many people are quick to dismiss cannabis because of willful ignorance or sheer prejudice. I see an incredible disparity between the science-driven movers-and-shakers at the forefront of the U.S. cannabis industry and someone’s belief that an edible somehow helped her aunt’s arthritis. Bridging that educational gap is key to expanding access. 

6 – The cannabis industry is dominated by men, how has that affected you in pursuit of your current job. Has it limited your ability for you to be able to what you do. Has your being a woman given you the ability to approach cannabis from a different perspective.

Thanks to women like Ruth Bader Ginsberg, my professional pursuits are far less affected by the male species today than my mother’s were. I would recognize my limits if I accepted them at the gate, however, I have made no such arrangement. Yes, the glass ceiling can feel like a steel silo at times, but I fiercely operate as if I have no limits and continue to crush it.

7 – As a Florida Women in Cannabis what do you believe needs to happen (change) to help mainstream the cannabis message.

To quote RBG, “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” 

8 – Do you use Medical Marijuana, do you have a MMJ card. Do you use CBD, or have hemp clothing?

Medical cannabis is one of the most effective tools I have in my wellness belt. It took me some soul-searching to get into a place where I felt safe enough, and fed-up enough, to join Florida’s program and start taking charge of my well-being. I’m a better parent, a better spouse, and a better me when my Endocannabinoid System is in balance and am here to talk with anyone curious about achieving that balance.

9 – Women tend to make most of the healthcare decisions in the home yet we keep marketing to men. I call it the Mannabis Syndrome. In your opinion what does the cannabis industry need to do to better market cannabis to women.

Make it fresh. Our eye makeup might not be fresh, and maybe we used the kids’ baby powder in our hair this morning, but we’re making all the things work. Make it direct. We don’t have time for messaging overload while we’re making all the things work. Cannabis is empowerment and I’m surrounded by ladies who aren’t sitting around waiting to be empowered. I would start by hiring them.