Lady Business: Susan Squibb the Cannabis Maven

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Feature Photo: ©Diane Fornbacher/Ladybud Magazine

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“My cannabis consumption is as a wellness herb for pain, stress management and social relaxant.”

Susan Squibb is one of the busiest women in the cannabis industry. She works for Steep Hill Halent Colorado, whose “primary mission was and is to protect the public health by providing infrastructure and analytical services to legally authorized distributors and producers of cannabis and to regulators tracking their operations.” In addition, she writes for several cannabis publications and freelances for conscientious blogs like Elephant Journal. She will be speaking at Ladybud Magazine’s 2nd Anniversary Party during 420 weekend on April 18th in Denver to talk about Mother’s High Tea, biannual celebration of women in cannabis that will be taking place on May 14th. She is the Founder and Chair of this beautiful event.

To me, she is a sister and a friend. We can share our journeys together in this new age of cannabis legalization or we can rock hunt for quartz in the Rocky Mountains. We speak philosophically while we do cannabis craft night and perhaps even have a beer or two. Susan Squibb is the best kind of activist, business person and dear friend. She is fashionable, funky, irreverent and aware. She is always up for adventure and much like the rest of us at Ladybud Magazine, she is totally Classin’ Up the Joint! Please enjoy this interview we recently did together and learn about this humble yet powerful trailblazer for cannabis.

Diane Fornbacher
Publisher, Ladybud Magazine

LB: What do you do at Steep Hill Halent in Denver, CO?

SUSAN: I am Operations Director at Steep Hill Halent of Colorado. Steep Hill Halent is a cannabis analytical testing company, founded in Oakland, California in 2008. I am enjoying the challenges in the science and service marketing business sectors. On a day to day basis, I organize the sample schedule, set priorities based on customer needs, communicate between clients and the science team, and answer regulatory testing and analytical chemistry questions.

LB: You are also working as a writer for Denver Post’s The Cannabist, and THC Magazine (The Hemp Connoisseur) as well as Ladybud and your site Cannabis Maven — how do you find the time? 

SUSAN: Time? There is never enough time! I balance the pressure of tackling task lists with meditation. Since January, most of my writing time is devoted to Ask The Cannabist, my weekly marijuana advice column. I love contributing to Ladybud when I can. This hot product review is one of my favorites so far!


Susan with activist and friend Sabrina Fendrick of Berkeley Patients Group (BPG) lunching in Denver.

I love writing The Cannabist Q&A. I’m interested in what people ask, what opinions they share, and what is considered important to know. Some readers want to know how marijuana legalization impacts their life or choices in Colorado and some readers are looking at this legal integration from afar with wide wonder. Writing the column entails being a reference librarian for cannabis. I utilize my knowledge and resources to best answer the questions. It’s a very exciting and dynamic time in history. I am explaining the new and changing reality of freshly legalized marijuana.

LB: You’ve been a fixture in the local Denver and Boulder cannabis scene for years, how have you seen the movement and industry change since you became involved?

SUSAN: To summarize in the most succinct way possible, I have seen the circles of people involved in marijuana expand from a cluster of outspoken and daring activists in Colorado to thousands of outspoken and determined advocates to the current groundswell of vocal public support for changing the laws. I’m amazed at the shift in attitude and the lessening of fear. I encourage the continued expansion of participation. There is a lot of work to be done, this is just the beginning!

LB: Your event company 4&20 Blackbirds produces the beautiful Mother’s High Tea — can you tell us why you think these kinds of events are important?

Mother's high tea

This year’s event will be on May 14, 2015 in Denver, CO. Click image to be taken to the Facebook page.

SUSAN: Mother’s High Tea is important because this event celebrates the accomplishments of women on the forefront of cannabis reform and business and creates speaking opportunities for accomplished women to share their perspective on our rapidly changing world.  Mother’s High Tea is a social event for the women and mothers in cannabis business and a place where children are welcome.  Well-dressed men are welcome too!

Mother’s High Tea is an important event to me personally because my original motivation for this event was to pay a unique tribute to my mother, who passed away from ovarian cancer in 2010, and carry on her legacy of community involvement. This year’s Mother’s High Tea is Thursday May 14 from 2-5 at History Colorado Center. We have a Facebook Community page with additional details.

While Mother’s High Tea is a professional event, I also want to produce social events. Social use is the next frontier for normalcy and integration. I want the city to create licensing for cannabis smoking, and as a society, we need to define appropriate use. In clubs and bars where cannabis use was previously tolerated or even celebrated, businesses are being threatened with revoking liquor licenses if found to be violating the smoking laws. Private clubs are modern day speakeasies operating in uncertain legality and getting unwelcome visits from local police.

LB: You’ve accomplished a great deal in the time you’ve been involved with the ever-evolving cannabis movement and industry. What stands out as one of your greatest accomplishments?

SUSAN: I have occasionally housed Drug War refugees needing solace and support.  That’s how I became caregiver to the first patient on the Colorado Medical Marijuana Registry in 2001.  The paperwork was turned in on the first possible day.  We didn’t know he would be the first officially recognized medical patient. The state issued registry card was hand delivered at the State Health Department (CDPHE) and we were shocked at the historic numbers and happy to be part of a new and significant chapter in marijuana legalization.  As caregiver, I made infused butters, oils and edibles for his healthcare.  

LB: You are not only involved with cannabis reform and culture but help with other non-profit and humanitarian causes. Can you tell our readers what else you do? 

SUSAN: My Mom ingrained in me a sense of civic responsibility and care for the community. I honor her memory by continuing to contribute to causes important to her, addressing at-home violence and child abuse prevention. I also donate blood regularly. I continue her philanthropic example, feel closer to her memory and feel good about being helpful to humanity.

LB: Incredibly, you are also going to school! What are you studying and how do you hope to incorporate your furthered education into your future? 

SUSAN: I started a paralegal certification program to sharpen some skills for a legal profession. The new cannabis reality is being created by legal changes and new regulations. Marijuana law is an emerging field and I want to be prepared for team opportunities in marijuana law.

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Squibb is a great fan and supporter of Hemp Hoodlamb. Here she is shown wearing one of their shirts.
Photo: Diane Fornbacher

I won the networking prize for being the top scoring student. I picked a legal event, a fundraiser for  The Rose Andom Center, a center of domestic violence resources. My professor introduced me to her colleagues and I met several people of influence.

LB: At the famed Red Rocks Park with the Friends of Red Rock, you volunteer to garden each month – what kind of plants do you attend and with whom do you work when you are up there?

SUSAN: The 8 years I spent managing the Hemp I Scream! booth on the Plaza and those were some of the best times in my life. At this point, it’s second nature for me to spend as much time as possible there in the summer. As part of my Red Rocks retirement, I volunteer with the group, Friends of Red Rocks. In the summertime, I garden in the native plant garden near the Trading Post under the guidance of natural historian and herbalist, Sally White.

LB: Are you a cannabis consumer, patient or both?

SUSAN: My cannabis consumption is as a wellness herb for pain, stress management, and social relaxant.

LB: You are a biking enthusiast and I find it fascinating that you went car-free for a time — what kind of lessons did you learn from being without a vehicle?

SUSAN: I went without a car for three years. I just transitioned back into driving again this summer. I learned a bike and transit commute is significantly less stressful. It’s certainly less expensive than maintaining a car. It’s an opportunity to use my time more enjoyably than driving to work. In walking or biking, I feel more connected to nature, I’m aware of the seasons, the changes in weather. I’m able to enjoy my surroundings and neighborhood as I get plenty of exercise. Not having to concentrate on the roads or be concerned with traffic is liberating. Even though it takes longer, and sometimes waiting on the side of the road can be unpleasant, the slower pace feels refreshing. That feeling is priceless. Working on marijuana law reform and cannabis business development is priceless too!

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