To honor and celebrate Women’s History Month in March, our Field Marketing Manager Georgia Asmar, interviewed our Indoor Cultivation Supervisor Maggie McBain to highlight her contributions to CULTA as women in medical cannabis. Read more to learn about her education, day-to-day responsibilities and outlook on adult-use cannabis in Maryland.
Hello Maggie! Where are you from and what brought you to Maryland?
I grew up in Howell, Michigan, which is about one hour from Detroit. When I graduated from high school, I moved to Maryland to attend Salisbury University.
Maryland is lucky to have you! Do you have a background in science?
I do not have a background in science. I studied philosophy at Salisbury University.
Is this your first job in cannabis, or did you work somewhere else prior?
This is my first job in cannabis. I worked hospitality jobs before this. However, I did work in the lab at CULTA before moving to cultivation.
That’s exciting that you have experience in both lab and cultivation! Can you tell me about your experience in the lab? How did you end up as indoor cultivation supervisor?
I started in the lab at the start of 2020 working as a packager to portion out concentrates and then box up orders to go out to the dispensaries each week. It was about six months before I started working in cultivation. After about six more months I was promoted to Team Lead and a year after that I was made supervisor. I have been in that role for a little over a year now.
Do you plan on sticking with this role, or do you aspire to be a head grower, maybe even start your own farm?
It is hard for me to speculate about the future. I do see myself continuing to further my knowledge of growing cannabis and farming in general. Running a grow is not easy and I think it is something I would grow into.
What is your typical day-to-day routine at CULTA?
There really is no day-to-day routine in the grow. We have six flower rooms and two veg rooms running all at once, this makes for a schedule that repeats roughly every three weeks for each side of our facility. Each day I will start by checking each grow room to make sure everything is running smoothly and from there I get the crew going on the tasks that are to be completed that day.
We are hiring for cultivation positions. What character traits are common in successful cultivators?
There are so many traits that make a successful cultivator. If I had to pick a few, I would say patience, discipline, and passion for the trade. Working with a living organism can be frustrating and mother nature does not like to be rushed. It takes time with the plants and facility to learn what is necessary to bring down quality flower at harvest.
According to an MJBizDaily report, women hold 43% of positions in your average vertically integrated cannabis business. CULTA is at 39%. How do we increase that number?
Before joining cultivation, I was intimidated by the job and those who did it. I did not think I was going to be strong enough or be able to keep up with the rest of the crew. I learned very quickly that this job can be done by anyone who has a passion for it. If women working in this trade had more exposure then I think we would see more women applying.
What do you love about working with the plants?
I have always loved gardening, so it is no surprise that I love working with these plants as well. However, cannabis is a magical plant and unlike anything I have ever grown in my garden. With a cannabis plant what I do to it today will affect its health tomorrow. They are also very resilient, making it a very fun plant to watch grow. It is very rewarding come harvest day when you see a plant that flourished and know that you had a hand in making that happen.
What is your favorite plant to work with at CULTA?
I have a hard time picking favorites. It's nice to have a low maintenance plant when you have so many at a time to take care of like Hot Mint Sundae or Amnesia OG. I like working with plants that challenge me though. Strains like Red Delicious, Big Thai or Guava Lava, need a bit more attention than others but if you care for them right the quantity and quality of flower they produce is incredible.
What type of special care and attention do you give for strains that need it?
Each strain is unique, some are a set and forget it type, while others are more high maintenance. I mentioned before that we have several flower rooms running at once. This allows us to get to know each strain over time as each room is harvested and refilled. As we spend time with a strain we develop a relationship with them, learning how each one grows and what they need to flourish.
Do you prefer working with LED or HPS lights? For those that don't know the difference between the two, can you shed some light on both?
HPS lights are High Pressure Sodium lights. They produce a different spectrum of light from LED's. We use HPS lights in our single tier flower rooms. They also put off quite a bit of heat making them less efficient from LED's. We have LED lights in our veg rooms and in our double tier flower rooms. Different strains respond differently to both kinds of light; some like HPS, some like LED, others like both. We have the luxury of being able to try each strain out under both kinds of light and then determine where it will flourish. I honestly do not have a preference. I think both have their benefits.
What is your favorite CULTA strain?
Like I said I have a hard time picking favorites. I never want to be without Poochie Love or Big Thai though.
Why is that strain so special? Why does it continue to win awards?
I think Poochie Love is so sought after because there is nothing else really like it on the market, It is hard to find a strain that gives you the same experience as Poochie Love.
What is your favorite terpene?
I can't say that I have a favorite terpene either. I personally think that it is the combination of cannabinoids and terpenes that makes each strain different. I love the way all cannabis smells. From sweet and fruity, to rotten and gassy. Each one has its place in my personal stash.
What type of products would you recommend to newbies?
For anyone starting out I think it is all about taking it slow and building your tolerance while you figure out which different strains or products work best for you. I would also recommend asking people you know and trust that are already cannabis users what they recommend. If you do not know anyone there are always people at our dispensary who are happy to help get you started and answer any questions you may have. Lower testing strains like our Mango would be great for someone wanting to dip their toes in.
Are you excited for legalization? What are you and the team doing to prepare?
I am so happy legalization is finally happening in Maryland! I love cannabis and I think legalization is going to bring many positive changes. Our team has already started growing plants that will be sold as recreational flower which is very exciting.
Do you have any tips for patients looking to start growing from home when recreational adult-use comes around?
Make sure you have the proper equipment, keep it clean, do your research, and have fun. I would also recommend finding others who grow to discuss and share in the experience with.
Is there anyone on the team you would like to shoutout?
I think Deja Johnson deserves a shoutout. We started in cultivation the same day and she is now our ERP supervisor. She has always been a dependable member of the crew and work ethics like hers do not come along often. It makes all the difference working with people like her.
Thank you so much for your time, and for playing such a pivotal role in the cultivation process Maggie! We’re lucky to have you!
Thanks Georgia! I enjoyed the interview!