Tammy Pettigrew is The Cannabis Cutie. She is a TV and podcast host, educator, athlete, mom and cannabis advocate with a voracious following on social media. After receiving her MBA in Miami, Pettigrew built a cannabis empire in California through educational, business-minded content that speaks to the industry as well as to the masses. The Cannabis Cutie’s offerings include Cannabis 101, a comprehensive Cannabinoids E-Book, and the Higher Learning Book Club.
Pettigrew brings a fresh breath of normalization to the industry. So beloved is her following, she caught the eye of Snoop Dogg. He’s become a mentor. The Cannabis Cutie will be hosting two shows—one on sports and one on cannabis education—both produced by Snoop’s entertainment team. They will be premiering in podcast and video form to platforms later this year.
We spoke with Pettigrew on earning an MBA before academia knew anything about cannabis, navigating landmines on social media for weed brands and creators, what the ideal equity situation is, and some actionable advice to entrepreneurs on how to catch the eye of social media influencers.
Tell me a bit about your work in getting your MBA. What does the academic world know/teach about cannabis business?
Tammy Pettigrew: They taught absolutely nothing about cannabis business. That’s what made me unique in my grad school program, was the fact that I was pretty open while I was there that I wanted to be in the cannabis industry. I was a pioneer in making every project I could about cannabis business. In entrepreneurship, if I had to pick a topic, it would be cannabis. I was educating my professors, even.
Is cannabis similar to other industries, or is it its own beast?
I would say there are similarities to other industries. I come from sports, the sports industry is a very complex industry. But cannabis is the most complex industry in the world right now.
Congrats on your shows produced by Snoop: how was the experience working with such a legend?
Working with Snoop has been a dream come true. Everybody and every brand in cannabis wants to work with Snoop, have him try their product. It’s surreal, he’s the best mentor you could have. We start filming in March for the first show. I don’t have my premier date yet for my cannabis education show. My sports show will be the first show out of the gate. I’m getting ready. It’s a dream come true.
Equity is in the news often lately, and a lot of the state’s regulations aren’t really doing what they intended as far as creating an even playing field for entrepreneurs to enter. What does the ideal equity situation looks like, if you could write the law?
The ideal equity situation looks like taking the people who are in prison, and if the state legalized cannabis, they’re out. They are free. The punishment is gone, and we take away the status that relegates them to a caste system in this nation. Which is, if you’ve gotten in trouble for drug laws, you are a second rate citizen for life. You get discriminated against in housing, in education, in travel, in voting. You lose your rights.
The other would be making sure people who were most harmed have first access. The lawmakers who made the laws that harmed the Americans, the people who put them in prison, basically forcing slave labor, I don’t think they should be allowed to profit off this industry. We need to be equitable and allow people who were relegated to second class to enter the industry. Honestly, this is a form of reparations for them.
Are there any states/markets that are getting close?
Oklahoma, when they came out of the gate, their program was super equitable. Licenses were not capped. As long as you’re able to check all the boxes, you’re able to get a license. The licenses were only $2,500, so there was no barrier to entry. In California, you need to buy a license, you needed to have property, a lease, it was close to a million dollars to enter. In Oklahoma, you didn’t need to have a property. You just needed a business plan, you needed to be an Oklahoma resident, and you needed to have $2,500. They were the closest to getting it right, but as far as equity goes, I do think there are still issues that need to be addressed.
New York has the opportunity to be the ones to get it right. California got it extremely wrong, only 23% of the state is even legal in California. I’m hoping New York is paying attention. I know that the advocates in New York don’t play around. I’m hoping they create a really equitable system there.
What are your favorite strains to smoke lately?
I am a creature of habit, but recently I have been smoking Source. They have this Lemon Pound Cake and this Rainbow Runtz that are both incredible. I am typically a fan of Originals’ Gelato and Oaksterdam. Oaksterdam is my number one favorite, but Gelato is a close number two.
If companies want to really stand out to influencers, what should they do?
Be as authentic as possible. I’m so tired of hearing “we grow the best weed in California”— everybody grows the best weed in California. What makes you different? Show me you know how to differentiate and prove it. Source stood out to me because they took a spiritual approach to cannabis. Tell me something unique. I don’t care about the highest THC percentage. I want to know what makes your product stand out from the rest.
Speaking on social media, I know your account has faced some trouble with the exhausting rules on Instagram/Meta regarding cannabis. What is the solution?
We need to have a conversation and find out what’s really going on. We get in trouble for violating terms and conditions but we don’t know what that means. My team has had conversations with Facebook support and they can’t even tell me why. We are at the mercy of the algorithm, and the downside is that Meta is also at the mercy of its own algorithm. Conversations need to be had. Honestly, now that Amazon and Apple are taking a stand on cannabis, it could bring changes. I would love it if we could have a sit down and talk about how these platforms are negatively impacting our businesses.
Does the cannabis industry need a new app/tool altogether?
I don’t know if a new app is going to solve the problem but I would say, get ready for the metaverse. That seems to be the best path forward. Web2 censorship is getting worse. Instagram is getting worse, Tiktok, the censorship is intense. They don’t like cannabis creatives. The metaverse is the answer.
What does the cannabis industry in the U.S. look like in 5 years?
5 years, gosh. Corporations are probably going to be dominating, especially in California. There will be a big gap. There will be corporate cannabis, and then you’ll have your craft, mom and pop cannabis. Similar to what we’re seeing in alcohol today. There are so many craft brands that have popped up and there’s real value there. Then you have those big brands, people don’t care, it’s already there. I also see the education and information about cannabis being understood at an entirely new level, probably in a way that it hasn’t been understood since pre-prohibition.