LADY BUSINESS: Meg Sanders of Gaia Plant-Based Medicines

“I put it all on the line every single second of every single day. And it’s worth it every single day.”

Every person invests a different amount of self into whatever they do, and cannabis reform is no different. No sacrifice is unappreciated by the greater good, but there are some persons for whom an elevated degree of respect is owed; persons who literally put their names, faces, careers, everything on the line for cannabis every day.

You should know Meg Sanders; she puts it all on the line every second of every day.

Drug warriors nowadays come in all different shapes and sizes, backgrounds and with personal stories. They come from different generations, from unique educational and professional backgrounds. Yes, the support for cannabis law reform is so vast that there are virtually no demographics that lack a champion. Still, Meg Sanders, CEO of Denver-based Gaia Plant-Based Medicine, stands out on many fronts and makes a striking and lasting impression.

Meg Sanders is a lot to handle. She is a Texas-born, Colorado-raised, tall, blue-eyed, blonde adventurer who either completely lacks a filter or who only speaks the truth; the call is yours. She has her credentials, knows her numbers, and has her connections. She’s as at home at the insane after-parties of Boston’s Freedom Rally as she is being interviewed by the Chicago Tribune or at a meeting with Governors and legislative leadership.

She was also the only industry appointee to Colorado Governor Hickenloper’s Amendment 64 Task Force, charged with drafting recommendations for implementing adult use of marijuana as passed by the Colorado citizens in 2012. That alone puts her in an incredibly unique position and has made this otherwise private woman a hot commodity for national media covering all things weed.

The first impression you get from Meg Sanders is generally whatever she wants you to get: an industry-leading medical marijuana CEO; an active suburban mother of two; a daft leader; a legislative and political ninja; a beer drinking, football talking good ‘ol boy; or any number of other things. She is all of these things and so much more. Meg relates to people, she really listens and assures people they are being heard; she makes them comfortable.

Meg Sanders is in her third year as CEO of Gaia Plant-Based Medicine, a Colorado medical marijuana company with an indoor industrial grow and three dispensaries throughout Colorado. Among her four locations, she is responsible for 45 full-time employees and has contracts with dozens of other professionals at any given time, from lawyers and accountants to electricians, engineers, HVAC technicians and trimmers.

These days, she splits her time between managing the day-to-day operations of a thriving medical marijuana company and traveling the country fighting for medical marijuana law reform. She is helping hundreds of thousands of patients and building a strong, socially responsible and profitable company in the meantime.

“I truly believe in the amazing powers of this plant – I’ve seen it with my own eyes,” 47-year-old Megan Sanders (“Call me ‘Meg’!”) of Boulder, Colorado passionately states. “Across the country people are really getting it. Most Americans – a huge majority- know of marijuana ‘s preventative, palliative and curative powers already, but there are so many more reasons for providing safe access to reliable medicine for patients.”

“I truly believe in the amazing powers of this plant – I’ve seen it with my own eyes.”

And Meg is versed in every single one of them. She has to be, having a spot at the table of many of the important reform and legislative discussions being had today in states like New York, Illinois, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Colorado.

Meg, doing what she loves.

Meg, doing what she loves.

In between riveting fishing stories (Meg founded and ran a fishing apparel company) and discussions about kids (Meg’s daughter is a dancer and son is a recent college graduate (CU, Engineering), she makes a well-structured, clear, concise argument as to why the economic benefits, the social benefits, or the medical benefits alone would each be enough of a reason to vote for the pending legislation.

She leans in, focuses her gaze and asks a profoundly apt question of the state legislator she is talking with, “Why can’t we recognize all of the benefits and accept this for what it is, a win-win-win and on and on. Patients, communities, the State, jobs, families – they all win with this. You know the poll numbers show your constituents overwhelmingly support this. It makes so much sense, so what else can I help you with – what fears can I alleviate so you can vote for this bill?”

A woman on a mission and comfortable in her skin, she wishes there were more people like her. “I relish my company’s position when we are the the only one at the table, but goddammit I wish there were more people here with us. I would love to see more women standing up for cannabis; it makes sense that we should. Women have been making most of the nutritional and medical decisions for their families for generations; our passion, knowledge and credentials give us a powerful voice.”

“Before I fully appreciated or understood [the cannabis movement], I was deep into the foods we were putting into our bodies and the movement behind that. I got heavily involved with changing the foods our schools were serving our children and have had a longstanding appreciation for sustainable and more natural living.” Ms. Sanders explains “The connections are strong between those things. In this point of history, our planet’s history, I believe cannabis will prove to be a distinctly powerful tool for humanity. It has medicinal and therapeutic properties, it’s a fossil fuel alternative, it’s a food source, it’s so much. It’s the ring!”

“We are doing the research today for the food sources for tomorrow. Wanna know how to grow food crops on Manhattan? Ask a marijuana farmer.” Sanders continued, then cautioned “But it is more than just an honest conversation about cannabis, it is about protecting it from evil.”

And Meg Sanders can rattle off a long list of opponents that motivate her to fight long hours every day including big pharma, tobacco, the private prison industry, GMO and chemical companies, cartels and organized crime.

Meg Sanders has picked some pretty big fights and taken on some massive battles. “The weed business kicks your ass every single day; and weed time is like dog years” Meg begins one day in her office after recently returning from a whirlwind lobbying trip to Springfield and Chicago, IL. She looks down at a text from one of her lobbyists before continuing with a child-like smile on her face “But it’s all worth it. The Illinois Senate just passed the medical marijuana bill, 35-21. Onto the Governor…and the next state.”