by Kayla Johnson
There are some people who simply embody some of the best things about the cannabis community and industry: passion, empathy, and a drive to see things change for the better for those who need it most. Arcillia Miller is one of those people, and since the passage of State Question 788, she has worked tirelessly to ensure some of the people who need it most have access to legal, natural medicine.
Miller was born at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, to parents who worked for the military and traveled quite a bit with them. Her father served in the United States Navy and her family mainly lived on the coast of California near Oxnard until 1994, when her father left the service and Oklahoma officially became home.
Like so many of us, Miller says she was raised in the remnants of “reefer madness”, “I fell into that era where cannabis was drilled into you as ‘the gateway drug,’ and my first exposure to cannabis as a medicine didn’t come until much later when a good friend was suffering from the effects of chemo.” With the seed planted in her mind, Miller credits her daughter with helping it grow, “It was my daughter who really educated and inspired me, as I saw the results of how it affected her depression.” Miller knew, at that moment, that her path would take her down the cannabis brick road.
In 2017, Miller had the opportunity to attend her first cannabis conference. She shared that doubters there helped encourage her to get involved, ”I met a number of vendors who said to me ‘don’t hold your breath, it’s the Bible Belt’, about our state passing any kind of cannabis law.” That doubt is something most of us had heard more than once while S.Q. 788 was still being campaigned for, and even when it was just a whispered thought. Undeterred, Miller made a point to attend the first cannabis conference held in the state in February 2018, just a few short months before the state would vote on 788, and says that being there fully opened her eyes to the reality, “At that time, I realized there are still so many people who looked at cannabis as a drug instead of as herbal alternative medicine, and that is what finally inspired me to really get involved.”
Despite her motivation to get involved, Miller says that like many, she felt a bit lost at first, “Like the others who had envisioned Oklahoma passing medical marijuana, I wanted to find my niche within the industry, and I really struggled to find my place.” That all changed, however, when she was asked to become a part of the Oklahoma Women Cann Association, “When they asked me to become a part of that organization, I never imagined the sense of completeness I would feel.”
Now, Miller serves on the Board of Directors for the OWCA, working closely with cannabis business women, patients and doctors, and wearing whatever hat needed to get things done. In addition to her work on the board, Miller is also heavily involved in the OWCA’s two charity organizations, Sweet Sisters and Little Buds. Both organizations help connect potential patients, either women in need or pediatric patients, with low or no-cost recommendations for their medical cannabis licenses. Miller conducts a follow-up meeting with them to ensure their needs are truly being met by their cannabis products. Sharing information is a vital part of helping medical cannabis succeed, and Miller’s work makes great strides in ensuring patients are not just legal, but they are also informed. For her, it’s not just the work that makes the day go by easier, “My favorite part of this job is by far meeting all of these amazing Oklahoma women. I have immensely enjoyed traveling around the state and bringing them together.”
Cannabis hasn’t just impacted Miller’s work life, and for her family, it is something that has changed each of their lives in its own way, “Cannabis has become a normal part of our family. My husband, our children, and other family members use it to treat a number of different conditions.” Miller claims that topical cannabis cream does wonders for her fibromyalgia, as does simply having a choice in the matter, “I appreciate the value of choice, and the importance of chemical-free, alternative medicines.”
Despite her obvious passion for the industry and her empathy for patients, Miller, like many women in the industry across the country, has found obstacles in one way or another: “As a woman in the cannabis industry, I don’t believe many men take us seriously, nor do they believe we can run a successful business. This is why it is important to have an organization that not only supports women businesses but also offers an outlet to bring them together. There is strength in numbers, and those voices become louder and have more of an impact.”
When 788 passed by a 57% vote, Miller says her first thought was of those who had been doubting Oklahoma just a year before at that cannabis conference: “My first thought was, ‘how do you like us now?’ That had to be my favorite moment when the law passed, and I just wish I could have seen their faces.” Her thought was one likely echoed by many who were just as pleased to see the naysayers proved wrong, and that doubt turned into motivation for many to get involved.
Oklahoma overcame that doubt, as have so many women who have jumped into the industry thus far, and Miller encourages others to do the same, after taking a bit of time to do research: “I encourage women who want to get into the cannabis industry to do their homework and look at the vast opportunities in the whole industry. Cannabis has evolved to include many different ancillary components. Look at one of the needs in your local community, get some ideas, and think outside of the box.” In addition to creative thinking, Miller also stressed the importance of networking with others, “Connect with other women in the industry through one of the many events, meetings or groups, and see how you can market your idea. There are always opportunists looking to take advantage, so if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, but most women want to see other women succeed.”
Miller believes in the importance of women succeeding in the cannabis industry and that it goes far beyond just keeping it from becoming another ‘boy’s club’ situation, “It is important for women to succeed in this industry because it’s evolving fast, and we can end up forty years behind if we’re not careful. We’ve come so far and made such an impact already, and we can’t lose that now.”
Like all things worth working towards, a career in cannabis isn’t always an easy path, but for Miller, those rough patches are an important aspect of the journey, “The challenges we face help to forge our character and our integrity. The cannabis industry is no exception to that rule.”