Women of Cannabis: Elle Yung, Regional Account Manager, SC Labs
The history of cannabis in California is based on activism and compassion - compassion for patients with medical needs, and activism to fight prohibition and bring justice to those affected by the drug war. When you look at the timeline of when cannabis became an ‘industry’, it is easily identified as a new industry, an industry in its infancy.
We are amidst a shift away from the culturally embedded black market, to a safe, respected and important industry that has a potential like no other when it comes to boosting the economy and creating tax revenue.
It takes a lot of passion, patience and grace to have a career in the cannabis industry. This is why women are not only necessary in the making of a successful industry, but also why businesses with women on the team have shown to be more successful than those that do not.
When I think of activism and compassion in the cannabis industry, I think of Elle Yung, Regional Account Manager at SC Laboratories, here in Santa Rosa. Elle is not only behind-the-scenes building this industry into a professional, respectable one, she is also on the frontline.
Elle Yung grew up in Los Angeles and relocated to Mendocino County in 2001 where she began cultivating. After 10 years of being in the shadows, she began working for a local tech firm. In 2012, she found herself back in the industry she knew and loved, and landed at Mercy Wellness of Cotati.
After extensively re-branding and marketing Mercy Wellness to become one of the largest and well-known dispensaries in Northern California, Elle helped produce Elevated Cannabis Compliance Conference. With the cannabis industry quickly coming out of the shadows, she saw a great need to educate cultivators and canna-businesses on California compliance and new regulation. With the help of other industry pioneers and the staff at Mercy Wellness, Elevated has become one of the industry’s most highly anticipated conferences, gathering speakers from all over California.
Elle is currently working as the Regional Account Manager for SC Laboratories office here in Santa Rosa.
How and why did you get into the cannabis industry?
“At the age of 17, like many other young people, I loved marijuana! I moved to an area of Northern California where cultivation was a large part of the community, even though it was still very hush hush back then. Cultivating cannabis literally put food on my table for many years before I was given the opportunity to work in the legal market. Working at Mercy Wellness allowed me to see a different side of the industry. Helping patients and seeing what a difference this plant made in so many lives was incredible. Up until that point, I had not truly understood how many people were utilizing cannabis to improve their quality of life and how many people relied on it. This was when it became about much more than just paying the bills. I fell in love with my job and was finally able to speak proudly and openly about what I did for a living.”
You were one of the producers of the local Elevated Cannabis Compliance Conference last spring working with Mercy Wellness. What was the best takeaway from your experience creating an unprecedented event?
“There were so many things that I took away from that experience! I had never done anything like it before and honestly had no idea whether or not we could pull it off. I was approaching potential speakers like Lynnette Shaw and Jim Woods. There were an overwhelming number of prominent figures willing to give their time and share their knowledge with our community. I made a lot of friends throughout the process and was blown away by the dedication of everyone involved. Witnessing our community come together to help one another through the process of understanding legalization and forming a legitimate industry was possibly the most gratifying and rewarding experiences I have ever had.”
Now that Prop 64 Adult Use has passed, what insight do you have for people entering the industry professionally?
“I’m sure there will be many people not currently working within this industry eager to jump in with dollar signs in their eyes and plenty of excitement about selling cannabis. I am certainly not discouraging these folks by any means but I will say this: Please learn about this plant! Educate yourself about safe and natural growing practices, learn about lab testing, talk to sick patients, and visit dispensaries and gardens. Don't just throw a bunch of money at a company based around a plant you don't have a solid understanding of how it grows, how it is processed and how it is consumed. Anyone representing this industry should do so responsibly.”
What is one of your favorite parts about being in the cannabis industry?
“The opportunity to work hands on with patients and help them find relief with cannabis was so rewarding. On days at the dispensary when I was stuck behind my desk, stepping out on the floor and help a sick patient find relief was everything! It reminded me why I was so passionate about what I was doing. Also, educating other industry professionals about branding, marketing, vending & lab testing is extremely gratifying. I’m happy to provide information that is going to further their progression in the industry. Working with SC Laboratories has been so amazing and I have gained so much knowledge around lab testing. It’s really exciting stuff to share with cultivators and manufacturers.”
How do you feel about being one of the many women taking part in ending prohibition and what would you say to the next generation of women who will come after you?
“It’s something I wasn’t expecting to be a part of at first, and it’s been an amazing thing to watch unfold and experience first-hand. I am seeing more and more women enter this industry and become extremely successful at it. It was largely a male-dominated field years ago and I see a huge place for women now. My advice for the next generation of women is to simply continue setting a good example for the industry, stay diligent in keeping our industry respectable and professional, stay involved in the community and educate yourself and others. Don’t be afraid to speak up and have a voice. This is an industry where women can absolutely thrive and be very powerful. Let’s not forget that the cannabis plant itself is female!”
Written by: Sugar Laytart
IN LOVING MEMORY OF ELLE YUNG