Sanctuary Spotlight: Michelle Martinez
How did you break into the cannabis industry?
Previously, I worked as a stockroom manager for a large corporation and got to the point where I wanted more growth and something different for my life. I made a big decision to leave that job and hike the Appalachian Trail for 7 months. During this time, I felt more connected with nature and knew I wanted to do something around that. When I came back, I stumbled upon the [Danvers] opening, and I knew that helping heal people with something as natural as cannabis was the sort of work I wanted to help facilitate.
What drew you to this role and, by extension, Sanctuary?
I moved into an apartment close by and was driving by where the Danvers dispensary is now. There was a “Coming Soon” sign with the Sanctuary beaker logo. I was intrigued, looked it up and saw there was a dispensary popping up almost next door to me. I filled out an application and ended up getting the job.
When cannabis became legalized, I always thought it would be so cool to work in a dispensary. I’m not a drinker; I’ve always been more into cannabis. I’ve always thought it’d be great to work in the cannabis industry, but never thought I’d end up in it because I know it’s so difficult to get jobs.
I’m very happy I ended up at Sanctuary; it’s wonderful to work for a company that makes all their own products and is so geared toward the medical side [of the industry].
What were some of the early lessons learned in the cannabis industry? What’s stuck with you the most?
I noticed quickly in the industry that there’s always something new to learn, whether it be products, regulations or just new ways to keep my store organized! I think what stuck with me the most was that, if you’re in the right company, there is always room for growth. At my last job as a stock manager, I left because I felt stagnant. Here, I started as a budtender and proved to my store manager that I could handle more. I quickly began my journey into management, and now I run my own store with a wonderful staff that I enjoy helping improve everyday.
What makes working on the medicinal side of the industry unique, challenging or exciting?
To me, it’s more personable; you really get to talk to each patient about what sort of effects they’re looking to receive or what ailments they’re looking for help with. You’re really getting to know each patient, whereas with adult-use you don’t get those interactions quite as often.
How has working in cannabis impacted your professional development?
You have to really pay attention to detail, especially with all the regulations in this industry. I’m always tracking everything to make sure it’s correct, making sure you’re not going over anyone’s allotment, things like that. You just have to pay attention to the details.
I’d never really managed a group of people or ran a store before, so I feel like I’ve really grown into being better at guiding people on what to do rather than just doing it myself. After you move up to the GM position, you have to learn some new skills; I feel like I’ve gotten more professional as well, in a way.
In your mind, where does the industry have the most room to grow? What indicators of progress would you like to see?
I think it would be nice if health insurance companies would help people cover the costs of medicinal cannabis. So many people struggle with the prices when they have medical conditions and associated medications to pay for, and I think health insurance companies helping people there would be great.
As a woman in a male-dominated industry, how do you approach managing and leading others in the cannabis space?
I try to really understand everyone. I try to be their friend, but also still their manager. I let them know when they’ve made a mistake so that they can learn and grow from that. As a woman, I feel like I try to be more understanding and bring that friendly, feminine touch to everything that I do.
Favorite Sanctuary product(s)?
One of my favorite products that we have is the Extra-Strength Sativa Capsules. I enjoy how it’s like an edible minus all of the sugar and extra ingredients. I love kief when we have it; it’s a rare item, but when we have it, I tell everyone to get it. And then, of course, any sativa flower; my go-to’s are Mimosa and Lemon Haze.