After teaching in the Denver Public Schools system for eighteen years, B.J. Stoyer decided it was time to start learning. Instead of enrolling in courses or traveling after she left DPS in 2012, however, she wanted to explore a new frontier: the legal cannabis industry.

Stoyer worked as a trimmer and dispensary employee during most of her seven years among the weeds. You can see a lot of things from the back of the house, and Stoyer started taking notes about her spicy work experiences almost immediately. Upon retiring from commercial cannabis earlier this year, she turned the most interesting notes into The Teacher Who Grew Marijuana: A Colorado Cannabis Story, a fictional book based on her time in dispensaries and growing operations. We caught up with Stoyer to learn more about her decision to switch careers; The Teacher Who Grew Marijuana, which is available for sale online now; and why she still supports recreational marijuana.

Westword:How was cannabis viewed or talked about in the teachers’ lounge or among your co-workers during your time as an educator? B.J. Stoyer: Cannabis was a taboo subject and was not discussed, as far as I can recall. It wasn’t socially acceptable for teachers to use cannabis, although drinking was the norm.

As legalization was introduced and eventually successful, did you notice any change in the way educators approached cannabis conversations with students? I was not teaching at the time Amendment 64 passed, although I was a teacher when medical cannabis was legalized. However, it was still discouraged among educators, because it remained a taboo subject.

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On top of teacher and cannabis worker jobs, B.J. Stoyer can add “author” to her r?sum?.

B.J. Stoyer

At what point did you decide it was time to change careers and enter the cannabis industry? What pushed you toward it?The politics became worse and class sizes grew out of control, so I lost passion for teaching. Additionally, I commuted an hour to Denver for ten years and struggled to pay a mortgage. After cannabis legalization, I saw the opportunity that any house in Colorado could become a growhouse. When the real estate came back to life, I was able to sell my house and make a profit. In fact, it took only two days before it was under contract. Cannabis legalization also meant an opportunity to work in that industry, and I was attracted to that idea because I used it medically and recreationally, and supported legalization of cannabis throughout my adult life.

What did you envision a cannabis job being like? What sort of role did you see yourself having in the trade? At first I had no idea what a cannabis job would be like. The people who referred me to trim with them had no insight to give, so I was going in blind. I visualized myself trimming or budtending, and set my standards low because I didn’t have any experience in the cannabis industry.

How did reality differ from those expectations?Without giving too much away, Paige, my fictional character, was promoted to a grower position over a man. She was shocked because he was younger and had more experience with cannabis plants. It was a male-dominated industry, and women were not usually taken seriously, especially Paige, who was in her late forties. Paige’s promotion showed that hard work and skill could still pay off, regardless of gender. The Teacher Who Grew Marijuana: A Colorado Cannabis Story will give you the full scoop!

Did working in the industry change your perception of legal cannabis? Yes! My perception of who would buy legal cannabis changed. People from all walks of life purchased cannabis, and they felt more comfortable discussing it. It was no longer a taboo subject; the shame and stigma seemed to vanish almost overnight. As an industry worker, I was able to have candid conversations with customers and co-workers without anyone feeling paranoid or uncomfortable. In the book, Paige learned to communicate with the plants, which came quite naturally. She also educated people about cannabis and felt as if she belonged to a cannabis family.

What made you want to leave the industry and write a book about it? Was sharing your time in the field always the plan?I started writing my book while working in the cannabis industry, over a span of six years. It started in a tiny notebook and eventually turned into a self-published book. I always knew I would finish writing it after leaving the industry, because I needed time to reflect on my experiences. This book was inspired and written in memory of a former industry co-worker, who guided me along my cannabis journey. I hope that readers enjoy my “weed novella” and are inspired to share their own cannabis stories!

 “It started in a tiny notebook and eventually turned into a self-published book.”  Read More