Fast Five Q&A: Sabrina Wheeler, COO of Stone Road
Cannabis is a space where dreams can come true—but it takes a lot of work. It’s an industry where you can start out as retail staff, rising through the ranks until you reach your career pinnacle.
Sabrina Wheeler is one of these people. The COO of cannabis brand Stone Road, she started her journey as a budtender before making her way to the C-suite. Wheeler’s rocket-ship ride to the executive chair is a journey of inspiration and hope.
Wheeler answered GreenState’s Fast Five questions, sharing how she navigated her unique path, what she does to weather the storm, and the advice she has for other women in cannabis.
GreenState: How did your career journey in cannabis begin?
Sabrina Wheeler: My journey into cannabis began in January of 2018 ~ as soon as cannabis went recreationally legal in California. At the time, I was living in Massachusetts and was already a big fan and consumer of cannabis.
I had been keeping a close eye on the industry for a few years and knew I had to be a part of it from day one. I moved myself from Massachusetts to California within two weeks of cannabis going recreational. I had come from both the start-up and health/wellness industries, which translated well into cannabis in many aspects.
GS: What is your favorite way to consume?
SW: Personally, I am a flower girl, so I enjoy smoking full flower. I know smoking isn’t great for you, but it’s always been my preferred method of consumption. I truly enjoy the ritual of smoking—grinding my flower, rolling a joint, and connecting with the plant in its most authentic form.
GS: You worked your way from budtender to C-suite. What do you attribute your success to?
SW: I attribute my success in cannabis to forcing myself to take a step back from where I was in my previous career, plus being willing to start from the bottom in a brand-new industry. In total, I worked in a dispensary for only about eight months, as my whole plan was to learn as much as I could from each sector of the supply chain with the goal of rising into an executive position.
I wanted to use all my skills, knowledge, and experience to make high-level decisions that would not only take an organization to new heights nationally but also positively impact consumers—and everything in between. No one sector of the supply chain will completely make or break a brand; it’s all interconnected and needs to be operated as one unit.
GS: Consumers may not realize this, but the cannabis business can be tough. How do you navigate this rocky road?
SW: A lot of yoga, meditation, cannabis consumption, and time in nature—half kidding! The cannabis business is extremely tough, so it requires people to be very nimble, tenacious, strategic, and willing to pivot. Navigating this rocky road of an industry is not for the faint-hearted but is extremely rewarding, even in the hard times.
We are paving the way for a new industry that will be here for the long run—having a long-term vision/goal and showing up to execute on it every day, even when it feels heavy and dark, is what’s going to drive this industry forward—and eventually result in positive change.
GS: It’s no secret that women in cannabis face barriers. How do overcome these, and what advice do you have for women who may want to get into the space?
SW: Personally, I don’t even think about that factor because it simply is an internal limiting belief for many women and subconsciously does us more harm than good, as it stops many women from even TRYING to enter the cannabis arena. While there are barriers for women in the workforce in general, I find that cannabis attracts a lot more open-minded, non-conventional folks who aren’t basing someone’s value, talents, and expertise on their gender. While the industry traditionally was more male-dominated, we have seen a drastic rise in positions held by women.
My advice would be that if a woman gets the sense that she is being unvalued by an organization simply because she is a woman, then it’s probably not the right place for her. It took me five years and countless hours networking, vetting organizations, and pitching my vision to executives before I met the Stone Road team, which ultimately checked off every single box of what I was looking for in a company. Never lose hope – it will take a lot of time, energy, and redirection to find an organization that you’re perfectly fit for, but good things take time—just like in life!
Sabrina Wheeler’s passion for spreading the healing powers of plant medicine has driven her success in the cannabis industry, culminating in her role as COO of Stone Road. This trailblazer brings a wealth of knowledge in the wellness and cannabis industries to the company. From her background in startup entrepreneurship to her experience in helping scale Old Pal into a nationally recognized brand – Sabrina is a key player in Stone Road’s robust growth with a focus on launching into new markets nationally and abroad.
The answers given by Q&A subjects do not necessarily reflect the opinions of GreenState. The subject is solely responsible for the views stated in this piece.