Women in the Industry – Chelle Cook

by Kayla Johnson

Since the state passed 788 last summer, there have been a large number of people who have changed their minds about cannabis’ use as medicine, whether it’s because they’ve tried it for themselves, they witnessed how it helps a loved one, or they’ve simply done some research for themselves. Others took the step to research the plant on their own long before medical legalization was ever a real possibility here in Oklahoma, determined to know the truth instead of just the same old propaganda. Chelle Cook, one of the latter, first researched cannabis on her own in 2005, and says she hasn’t looked back,” I realized I had no reason to be against it, other than the propaganda I heard growing up.”

Cook, a born-and-raised Oklahoman adopted by a family from New York, says that what she learned completely changed her perspective of the plant and the people who use it. “I decided to form my own opinion and study it, and I discovered a whole world of medical benefits.” Once her eyes had been opened, she says there was no going back. “I even had dreams of being a part of the Cannabis Cup in my younger years, but it was only a dream back then.”

Like so many others, Cook found that dream one step closer to becoming reality when June 2018 rolled around. “When it came time to vote on 788, I told my previous coworkers that I would leave to be a part of the cannabis industry if it passed.” She says that when the 57% made their decision, she followed through, encouraged by the bravery of her fellow Oklahomans in supporting the bill. “In November after 788, I made a plan to take the leap and chase my dreams, no matter how wild, and here I am.” Now, Cook is firmly rooted in the cannabis industry; she’s a team member at the Bong Boutique in the Flower District in Tulsa, and in addition to the experience she’s acquired in budtending, processing and growing, she also co-hosts a cannabis talk show, High Maintenance Productions, with five other women in the industry. “The Bong Boutique has been open since the first week of April, and High Maintenance began filming and editing in June. I have several jobs within the industry, and love being a part of it.”

One of the biggest opportunities that came along with 788 was the option for Oklahomans to not only explore cannabis as a medicine, but to do so while being honest with their family and friends about both their usage and their place in the industry, and for Cook, it just came with the territory,” I’m very open with my family about my cannabis use as well as my work in the industry. I had to be open from the start with my parents, as I was leaving the same company they worked for.” She says that the rest of her family has reacted with a mix of pride and of questions. “My siblings are very proud of their big sister, and my in-laws have CBD stores in Arkansas, so I have become a good source of information for them in their journey.”

Cook acknowledged that women play a vital role in the cannabis industry, but commented that in a way, they’re still underrepresented in crucial ways. “I’ve been lucky enough to find myself in strong tribes of other women in the cannabis industry. However, where women are represented in the cannabis industry, we are grossly oversexualized and objectified.” She encouraged other women in the industry to join her in working to overcome that stigma,” It’s important for women to be shown as the powerful, dignified professionals that we are.” She further urged women to help push other women to succeed. “Women should be empowering other women. We should be supporting each other’s businesses and endeavors. Never stop encouraging each other!”

For Cook, the highlight of seeing 788 become law is two fold,” My absolute favorite thing has been seeing firsthand the positive changes in not only myself and my life, but the lives of the patients that I’ve interacted with so far in my own journey. It brings me so much joy to hear things like ‘I finally smiled again, I feel a light inside, the cancer is gone.’ Patients should be able to use plant medicine without fear, and now they finally can.”

 

One thought on “Women in the Industry – Chelle Cook

  • I think this is absolutely wonderful!!! Women Should be recognized for the efforts that they have put forth to bring this industry to light. I personally have a friend, Tracy Campbell, that sat on the corners every weekend, in a tent, in the middle of summer heat trying to get 788 passed. Every time I’d see her tent I would stop and sign my name. I think Cannabis becoming legal has given more women the confidence and recognition they deserve. I remember in the early 90s, when my kids were little, I would go into the closet to smoke, then light incense to try and hide the smell, just in case somebody stop by because I would be looked at less of a mother if anybody knew I smoke marijuana because it was considered “a Drug”. Thank goodness the times have changed! Peace be with you me friends ✌️??

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