Founder of White Buffalo Spirit Courtney Freeman is a cannabis advocate with a family history in the industry.
A graduate of Columbia University, where she majored in political science and computer science, her career has taken her from Wall Street to roles in marketing technology. She has worked for a global cannabis medical manufacturer as Director of Product and Compliance, managing product development for the cannabis industry including compliant packaging for California and at the federal level. Now, she consults for businesses and often speaks publicly on the benefits of medicinal cannabis and mindful consumption.
She is also creator of Oracle of the Green Rose, the first ever oracle card deck featuring cannabis inspiring messages, nods to pioneers in the industry and efforts to legalize.
We caught up with Courtney to get her take on what motivates her, working as a woman in cannabis and advice for those trying to make it in the industry.
Why did you get involved in the cannabis industry? What motivates you?
I’m inspired to work in the cannabis industry by the healing powers of the cannabis plant and the effort of uncovering the value that has been hidden from us for so long. There is so much passion in this industry, and I see this passion especially with my fellow female entrepreneurs.
I started my journey in the cannabis space back in 2015. My parents started White Buffalo rolling papers in the seventies with the intention that cannabis would be legal in five years. That didn’t happen, but White Buffalo became a national, trusted brand. I now have ownership of the federal trademark and with the help of my team, am in the process of expanding the product line to include full spectrum CBD health and wellness products, cannabis products, trendy athleisure fashion, and educational products for enthusiasts or “canna nerds” as I call us.
Many pioneers paved the way for me to be here in this industry today, so I honor that with gratitude and pay homage to those who sacrificed everything to peel back prohibition with our project the "Oracle of the Green Rose”. People are really excited about the most recent card that we launched sharing the story of Steve DeAngelo’s contribution. He’s been such an immense revolutionary leader for our industry.
I find the stamina to overcome the often-intense obstacles that we still face in cannabis commerce by looking at the triumphs of these individuals. It is my intention in sharing these stories that others will find the spark of fire to succeed in their dreams as well no matter how challenging the road may be. Oh, and we can all enjoy learning about cannabis heirloom strains, terpenes, and strain attributes in the process, which is included in the deck.
What was the impetus to create White Buffalo Cannabis and what is your mission?
The company name was inspired by the prophecy of White Buffalo Calf Woman of the Lakota people, a belief held by many indigenous peoples of North America. The prophecy states that this deity who taught the Lakota the seven sacred rites such as the sweat and the vision quest, will return when Earth is in dire need of healing. She will bring healing to the planet and unity to the people.
Our mission is to honor this legacy and lead by example with sustainable packaging solutions, organic ingredients, socially and eco-responsible business operations. We try to source post-consumer materials for packaging and marketing and offer low-waste recyclable refills.
We also support non-profit organizations who act as watch groups to protect sacred lands and safeguard our vibrant natural environment.
What is it like being a woman in the cannabis space?
It feels amazing to be part of such a dynamic, industry that is growing exponentially on a global scale with women leading the way. Before focusing solely on White Buffalo, I worked with a international cannabis medicinal brand and research group, also female-owned, and it was such a pleasure to feel that I was actually helping to save lives by making safe medicine available to critically-ill patients. Women in this industry bring compassion and conviction on many levels, which helps us to maintain integrity for our industry. As we build out the framework for legalization, it is the women who will keep us grounded and connected to this very important medicine.
I see women spearheading innovation in this industry, more so than in any other time in history or in any other business. I can’t wait to see what we accomplish.
My hope is to create or support an accelerator program for women specifically focused on launching innovative products and solutions that shape the industry to come.
Can you tell us about your products, designs, and where you draw your inspiration?
We JUST finalized our brand identity pattern! We’ll be updating our packaging to reflect the design in the coming months. Amber June Cross is the fabulous artist creating the Oracle of the Green Rose designs, and we are fortunate to have her execute these new branding elements as well.
The pattern that we came up with was inspired by the peacock feather - a symbol of enlightenment in the esoteric realm. Within that shape we included a crescent moon, a cannabis flower, and what looks like an oil drop for the cannabis products (gold tones) and a water drop (silver tones) for the CBD products.
We care about cultivation practices, how cultivation affects streams and wildlife, and how the energetic of cultivation affects the final product that we consume. Many cannabis farmers and farmers in general incorporate the lunar cycles to grow the healthiest plants with the greatest output and healing properties. The crescent moon and flower represent that ethos.
As a product development expert, I think it’s crucial to make the selection process easy for consumers when they are choosing between psychoactive or non-psychoactive products for their lifestyle needs. We chose distinct colors schemes to make this process easy and to foster great safety for our audience.
In terms of product development, I was inspired to create the PEACE Massage Primer (with the aid of an expert formulator) as a solution to a health issue that I experience. I often suffer from a stiff neck and tension in my shoulders from the stress of #StartUpLife and from working on a computer. This was a passion project for me, and fortunately, we were able to bring to market a beautiful formula that relieves moderate pain and discomfort, smells amazing, and greatly improves the efficacy of a massage. "Necessity is the mother of invention" as they say.
What advice do you have for women in the cannabis space?
Let’s join forces! Any way that we can keep this momentum of female leadership going, let’s make it happen. Refer women to other women for jobs, leadership roles, consulting, expert guidance, and emotional support. It is through our community of strong, dedicated women that we will rise together!