Women in the Industry – Amanda Bertone

by Kayla Johnson

Since medical cannabis legalization passed here in Oklahoma, change has come in a big way to the Sooner State.  As people begin to see the positive impacts that cannabis is having on the health and lives of their friends and loved ones, the ripple effect continues to spread, and more people are trying cannabis for themselves. Those who were once adamantly against the use of cannabis, whether recreational or medical, are now some of the staunchest supporters of the industry and cannabis patients. 

Amanda Bertone, one of the owners of Peace out Processing in Edmond, is one of those opponents-turned-supporters. Born in Connecticut and raised in Arizona, she moved to Oklahoma in 1994 when she started high school, and says that she was against cannabis when she was young. “My brother was into drugs growing up, obviously a lot more stuff than just cannabis, but he spent time in jail, both here and in Arizona, and I saw how it just tore my parents apart.” Like many of us, Bertone grew up in the era with a heavy, dark stigma lingering around drug use, and that included cannabis. “I remember my brother used to tell me all the time, ‘don’t be like me’, and that really stuck with me.”

It wasn’t until just a few years ago that Bertone began to change her perspective, when she “began to research CBD, and cannabinoids. “I had been through my third major shoulder surgery, and I was also going through a divorce at that time. After trying it, I was using CBD for my pain, rather than painpills, during the recovery from that surgery.” She says that after that, she began using CBD when she worked out. “I tied it in for my personal workouts, but I also began using it at the gym I owned, for clients and athletes for recovery. I saw the need, and CBD showed me the true medicinal side of cannabis, and how it could help so many.”  

Bertone says that CBD is the doorway that led her to the medical cannabis industry. “I started my career in the industry with just CBD distribution. Now I’m one of the owners of Peace Out Processing, we opened our lab about eight months ago, and we’ve just launched our first products.”  What continued to push her into the industry, however, was the way cannabis continued to change her life as a patient. “I have Crohn’s and IBS, and I’m 100% pharmaceutical free, thanks to CBD and cannabis. Seeing how it helped me, and how it helps other patients, how it touches their life, that really inspired me.” As if her own medical relief and benefits weren’t enough, Bertone says cannabis has impacted the life of her mother as well. “My mom has stage 4 lung cancer, she got her card, and only used infused chocolates  and RSO along with a CBD regiment, and her tumor decreased in size tremendously.” 

For Bertone, like many in the industry, it’s not just about how it helps her loved ones, or even herself,” I’m a firm believer in helping with the body and the mind, and knowing that I’m providing some kind of help and relief to these patients, and being able to hear their stories, it makes me feel validated in what I’m doing, and talking to the patients is by far my favorite part of my job.” Being able to help families create more memories, she says, is a priceless feeling, especially when the patient was starting to give up on life. “I love knowing that the medicine I’m making helps give patients a little more time.”

As passionate as she is for the industry, Bertone admits that it hasn’t always been the easiest road to travel, especially as a woman in cannabis. “I feel at times that people don’t take me seriously because I am a woman, but at the same time, once I prove myself, I think it helps.” The disadvantages facing women in the cannabis industry, she says, are more common than we’d like to think. “I believe that being a woman in any industry has its disadvantages. I saw it in the fitness industry before I entered the cannabis world.” Bertone credits her ability to hold her own with helping her succeed to this point. “I’m a person who is very outspoken and willing to stand my ground, and I think if you’re soft spoken, male or female, you’ll struggle anywhere in life.”

For Bertone, another key component of the industry’s success relies on people learning about cannabis. “There is a lot of education that still needs to be done, and I think that industry standards need to be set. There are so many rules and regulations that change, and a lot is based on how you interpret it, so I think there need to be some solid standards created, because there are a lot of questions, and not a lot of answers.” 

A big part of continuing to educate people about cannabis is being willing to speak about it and discuss it openly, something Bertone thinks women especially could help with. “I think it’s important for women to succeed in any industry, not just cannabis, but especially in this industry, it’s so important for women to stand up and speak out. We tend to see things differently than men, and we need to find our voice.”  Bertone also commented on the importance of women supporting women,” I believe women need to network and work together. Lifting each other up is important, and can help us be at the forefront of this industry.” Like other patients and industry members, Bertone has seen herself grow within the industry, and encourages those who are considering getting involved, especially women, to do so,” Follow your heart. Put the stigma aside, and believe in what you’re doing, while educating yourself and networking with anyone you can.” 

Bertone’s drive to continue learning is one shared by other business owners, industry members and patients across the state, and is easily summed up in her own words:” It’s given me life. It’s given my mom life. The patients are why I get out of bed every day, why I research everyday, because I want to continue to help them in every way I can.”

 

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