A Manifesto for Accidental Cannabis Industry Leaders

Date: May 22, 2024
From the desk of Evan Erickson

Green CulturED is a community for cannabis industry leaders, entrepreneurs, founders, and CEOs who have no idea what they’re doing and are willing to admit it.

We call ourselves “Accidental Industry Leaders.”

In the very beginning of our industry, most “cannabis thought-leaders” never had any type of formal business training (frankly it didn’t even exist due to illegality).

Due to that, it never crossed our minds that we’d find ourselves being a leader in the cannabis industry. We simply saw a need and filled it. We scratched our own itch. And we were as shocked as anyone when our little “side interest” turned into a “real industry.”

But that’s when everything went horribly wrong…

We’ve Launched Our Community For Cannabis Industry Entrepreneurs & Team Leaders Who Have No Idea What They’re Doing... And Are Willing To Admit It.

Why Accidental Cannabis Leaders Fail

As we transitioned from our humble beginnings into legitimate players in the cannabis industry, everything underwent a profound transformation.

The once seemingly effortless success became elusive.

For the first time, uncertainty loomed. Before we realized it, we found ourselves in uncharted territory. We were no longer merely responsible for ourselves, but for:

We didn’t want to let them down, so we pressed on. We did our best.

But the emperor had no clothes. We were naked, and we knew it.

Believe me. I get it…

"In the face of this uncertainty & adversity in the newly-created cannabis industry, I did what any first-time founder would do... I panicked..."

Recalling My Failure As A Cannabis Industry Leader

“I have a confession to make…

I faced a critical turning point that nearly bankrupted my first cannabis venture.

At the outset, my co-founder and I launched a cannabis delivery-based operation, operating under the Caregiver model, made possible by Colorado’s Amendment 20. This groundbreaking legislation legalized medical cannabis in the state and allowed us to serve over 100+ patients. We even enlisted friends and family from my home town in Kansas to join our team. The initial success was promising.

However, as Colorado’s cannabis laws evolved, allowing for the emergence of medical cannabis dispensary storefronts, our landscape transformed dramatically. The change was prompted by a shift in the law that permitted medical cannabis dispensaries to operate alongside the existing ‘Caregiver’ model.

After several years of experiencing rapid growth and enjoying healthy profits, we hit an unexpected roadblock. Sales plateaued, and it felt as though our profits vanished overnight. We weren’t yet incurring losses, but the previous trajectory of our business had come to a grinding halt.

It was evident that something had gone awry, but I found myself unable to pinpoint the problem, let alone devise a solution. We continued to offer the same products to the same market, adhering to the same playbook that had consistently yielded success.

Yet, paradoxically, everything had changed.

Confronted with this uncertainty and adversity, I reacted in a manner that many first-time founders and CEOs might relate to…

…I panicked.

Countless sleepless nights were spent grappling with the fear that I was the cause of this unexpected growth stall. After all, it was my company, and I held the leadership position. The responsibility weighed heavily on my shoulders.”

I Walked Away From My 1st Cannabis Startup

Clearly, I didn’t have what it took to be a successful start-up in the cannabis industry…

So, I swallowed my pride, and “doubled down on cannabis” by moving to Northern California (NorCal) “Emerald Triangle” and to learn by growing side-by-side with the cannabis industry’s original pioneers…

Walking away from my 1st cannabis start-up was a very expensive experience as my co-founder ended up stealing grow equipment, inventory, and money and even tried to take over an online school we co-founded together (…by changing administrator passwords, resetting email addresses, etc.).

I left everything behind in Colorado to move into a cabin in my new place in NorCal’s Mendocino County and started managing cannabis cultivation from there up to Humboldt County’s infamous Alder Point (aka “AP,” “Murder Mountain,” etc.) outside of Garberville, California.

I drove up supplies to growers living on-site weekly, managed some smaller-scale grows myself, etc. but my efforts to “Double Down” by moving to gain this knowledge/experience working alongside cannabis industry leaders was VERY focused on drafting the initial “cultivation curriculum” for Green CulturED.

My time spent “growing with the best” for a season in NorCal was simultaneously resetting my future in the cannabis industry, but still heartbreaking while relieving the past.

And That’s When the Wheels Came Off

Back in the early 2010s, we embarked on a journey that was filled with valuable lessons learned from our years of cannabis experience. Much like many of you, we started with little more than a passion and a vision.

As the years rolled by, our path was marked by constant adaptation to the ever-shifting tides of change in the cannabis industry, for example, becoming the “most accredited” Responsible Vendor Training (RVT) provider.

For every year of our existence, we have navigated the turbulent waters of evolving laws, cannabis compliance, the dynamic landscape of educational technologies, emerging learning platforms, shifts in societal trends, and the occasional storm of economic upheaval.

These forces demanded that we evolve continuously to remain relevant and effective.

What sets us apart is our unwavering commitment to connecting with the most eminent Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and industry professionals across every cannabis niche.

We understood the importance of learning from the best to teach the best. This commitment allowed us to deliver the most effective and up-to-date strategies available.

Moreover, we invested our time wisely, channeling it into the development of the most comprehensive and cohesive training solutions within the cannabis industry. Our aim has always been to equip you with the knowledge and skills necessary to thrive in this ever-evolving landscape.

In essence, we’ve weathered the same storms, faced the same challenges, and met the same uncertainties that many of you encounter today.

Our experience is not just about survival; it’s about growth, evolution, and becoming a resilient force within the cannabis industry.



But I knew there had to be an answer, and I was determined to find it. Green CulturED is the result of that decade-long search for answers.

Introducing: An Operating System For Accidental Industry Leaders

If you’ve worked in any capacity with the cannabis industry, you know how overwhelming management can be… I’ve learned quite a bit from our years of experience with cannabis legalization since founding Green CulturED in the early 2010s.

For every year of our existence, we’ve dealt with wild changes in cannabis, platforms, societal trends, and regulatory changes, requiring us to evolve constantly.

Unlike most, I’ve spent much of that time working with the top professionals in every niche in the cannabis industry to ensure that we teach the most effective and up-to-date strategies available.

We’ve also used that time to develop the most comprehensive and cohesive eLearning solution available… what we call the Headquarters Enterprise (HQ+).

I wouldn’t say we’ve “figured it out,” but I would say we have survived long enough and failed often enough to know more than most.

And now we’re open-sourcing all our knowledge… our “Operating System (OS)”… for all the other industry leaders out there to learn.

Wanna join us for the ride?

If you’re an cannabis industry leader, I invite you to join us.

If you feel stuck, or trapped in “no man’s land,” I invite you to join us… the first thing you can do is subscribe to our newsletter.

I know… Boring, right? Nope. Not this one. At the simplest level, Green CulturED helps you find all the best cannabis knowledge in one (1) place, so you can scale “up-level teams” and get more work done faster.

Our newsletter gets you access to the very same ideas and insights we share with our cannabis community of owner-operators, industry leaders, and internal management teams. It’s timely, tactical, and always seems to have the answer to that question you were just about to ask. Oh yeah, and best of all, it’s free.

If you like our newsletter, you may choose to join Headquarters (HQ). You’ll find that “HQ” provides a total eLearning solution for our private community of industry leaders, committed to their professional growth through community, willing to do the work to “Train-the-Trainer” that’ll support team members to predictably scale their team’s knowledge.

This is where serious industry leaders come to truly scale their knowledge and it’s where they stay to discover new strategies, continue to grow their team members and themselves, form lasting relationships built on trust, and reach their full potential.

Inside “HQ” you’ll see your mission come to life through four (4) core pillars:

At the simplest level, we help industry leaders gather all the best cannabis training in one place, so they can scale their teams and get more work done faster.

At a deeper level, Green CulturED is helping power the new skills-based cannabis economy. What does that mean?

It’s simple: In the past, credentials were all that mattered. You got the degree, then you got the job.

Today, smart companies are recognizing that skills, not merely credentials, are what matters, causing a shift to on-the-job training and apprenticeship. And we think that’s a good thing!

Our mission is to encourage and empower the shift from the “credentials-based economy” back into a “skills-based economy” where it belongs. Because we believe it’s good for business (and good for humans) when merit… not pedigree… rules the day.

But mostly, we want to create a community…

…a community of industry leaders who aren’t afraid to admit that they don’t know it all.

…a community of team leaders who are committed to growing themselves and their teams.

…a community where ego is banished, and sharing is celebrated.

…a community of owner-operators ready, willing, and able to support other “accidental industry leaders.”

And above all else…

…a community where you can be respected for who you are, but not left where you are.

It should be fun.

And if you’ve read this far, I sincerely hope you’ll join us. 🙂

Picture of Evan


Evan Erickson is a globally recognized cannabis industry leader as the founder and Chief Training Officer at Green CulturED. It’s a total eLearning solution where you can learn how to be compliant like a professional, connect with Subject Matter Experts, and get the training to grow and scale people’s expertise to new heights. Green CulturED is the premier training destination for cannabis industry professionals, and they’re on a mission to train people to support their growth. He started as a patient, became a caregiver, started a “delivery dispensary” in Colorado, and grew outdoors in Northern California’s “Emerald Triangle,” continuing his never-ending uphill battle for legalization the entire time. His trailblazing work with eLearning solutions that set best practices for the entire industry has made him one of the world's top cannabis innovators, foremost thought leaders, and recognized entrepreneurs. With over two decades of using Educational-Technology (Ed-Tech) through individual learning experiences and professionally that’s been purely focused on the cannabis industry, Evan has trained and certified workers, team leaders, and business owners in industry compliance programs. He has built custom eLearning solutions to meet complex regulatory requirements commonly found in the cannabis industry from Instructional Design to custom Learning Management Systems (LMS’s) and all the Ed-Tech solutions needed to make knowledge “stick” for anyone. Evan has worked with numerous regulatory bodies and government entities - ex. Alaska AMCO, Colorado MED, Illinois IDFPR, Massachusetts CCC, Mississippi DOR-ABC, Utah UDAF, Washington D.C ABCA, Washington DOH, West Virginia OMC, etc., and many more - to design “Responsible Vendor” compliance programs that have become a “standard” that’s commonly required as legal frameworks have matured. As an Authorized Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Outreach Trainer, he continues to support many cannabis businesses that have grown rapidly and mostly unchecked, so compliance with OSHA is critical to surviving in the cannabis industry. In addition, he’s continuously designing new curricula by working with Subject Matter Experts and his Instructional Design team to publish new training that’s largely “crowd-sourced” from his learner community or based on pre-existing compliance frameworks. As Evan creates total eLearning solutions with a global reach, non-traditional training approaches, and exceptional Ed-Tech, he has since developed into one of the most distinguished and internationally recognized thought leaders in the industry. He does it because he believes that the cannabis industry can change the world. He does it because he thinks the cannabis industry is the most challenging, interesting, and rewarding field there is. And finally, he does it to support the industry’s growth. Outside of the cannabis industry, Evan has served as a consultant to Fortune 500 companies (ex. Oracle, Virgin Group, General Electric, Texas Instruments, Emerson, etc.) in the development of their compliance programs to work with learning technologies, from his depth of experience, he’s dealt with some of the most complex Ed-Tech platforms and compliance training programs found. At this point in his professional journey, the only thing more complex than he hasn’t accomplished regarding “all-things eLearning” would essentially be a “military-grade” type of consultancy (ex. due to "no security clearance"). Green CulturED has been a proud member of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), Better Business Bureau (BBB), and many other organizations that are committed to excellence, professionalism, and safety. Evan and the team that he leads at Green CulturED is a powerful partner to individuals, communities, regulators, governments, and businesses in the cannabis industry.