A Conversation with Lisa Burgess

Director of Cultivation at Buckeye Relief

Joined Cannabis Industry: 2018

WomenCann reached out to Lisa Burgess for a quick discussion about her time in the cannabis industry – from gardener to director. 

How did you end up in the Cannabis industry?

Lisa Burgess: “My path to where I am now was not a straight or easy path. To be honest, cannabis was something I have actively avoided since I was a teenager. All it took was one bad experience with my older brother and a water bong. I’m not sure how many of you can relate, but that night when I was 15 ended with my face in a toilet while my brother told me about video games and his love life, because what every teenage girl wants to hear is the story of how her older brother lost his virginity right?

“But I’ve always been fascinated with science and with plants. My 6th grade science fair entry was an award-winning experiment on the effects of common household chemicals on plants. That experience, and the scientific process led to a lifelong interest in botany and science in general. However, I’ve been a lifelong gamer and tech nerd, so I first chose to go to school for computer technology.

“When it came down to it though, the reality of living a life chained to a desk was very unappealing to me so I went back to school in my 30’s for horticulture. It’s a hard decision to start your life over after you’ve worked so hard towards a goal, but after the loss of my older brother making a life altering decision wasn’t really that hard.

“I started out working in a local botanical garden and working on myself, and I found a peace there, in the quiet paths early in the morning. Plants don’t criticize, or judge. They grow and respond to your efforts without judgement and the value in that simple fact cannot be overstated. I’ve had a life full of dramatic and tragic experience, and I have a touchstone in the quiet progress of the growth of a plant. As much as I aid in the growth of a living thing, that living thing is to be credited for my personal progress and growth.

“Back to the Ohio medical marijuana industry though. How did I end up here? I can credit the first time I went to school for tech. When medical marijuana was legalized, cultivators began forming and the industry boomed into existence.

“In 2018, I applied for a job at my current employer, Buckeye Relief. The job was for a cultivation technology specialist, which to me seemed the perfect blend of my tech and data management skills and my skills as a horticulturist. I finally found a job that would let me grow plants and be a nerd, what a dream! In my time with this company, I have not only become a better grower, but a better person.

“I’ve struggled with PTSD, depression, and anxiety for the majority of my adult life, but I found a home at Buckeye, with people that were as much survivors as I was. Bonded by our weirdness, Buckeye managed to build a core team of people that drove the company to prolific success.

“Over the past three years, Buckeye Relief has come so far, in terms of the skill of our team and our ability to make medicine for the patients of Ohio. We began with a massive pheno hunt, looking for the best strains and the best phenotypes of those strains to provide patients with the best medicine we could. We admittedly made a lot of mistakes in the beginning, but we are always learning and collecting data and correcting our mistakes. This is one of my favorite things about this company, our humility and unwavering dedication to making a great product.”

What was it like working for a level 1 cultivator?

Lisa Burgess: “Candidly, it was and continues to be the best experience of my life.

“In the early days it was just myself and my boss, learning and growing and figuring out how to best produce cannabis on an industrial scale while the general cultivation team learned how to take care of those plants. My early experience at Buckeye Relief was a gift that cannot be understated. My boss at the time, and mentor, taught me how to be confident in myself and my ability and motivated me to be a better leader. The support of this company helped me to get to where I am now, and their support has shown in their confidence to promote me to positions of increasing responsibility.

“I first took over the technology sub-department within cultivation, to being promoted to the Director of Cultivation in September of 2021. Over the past three years my motivation to lead this department has stemmed from a love and respect for the people working in this department. I deeply care about every person on my team, and I work endlessly towards their success. It was a wonderful surprise to discover that the people that I work with are the real motivating factor to why I do what I do. Yes, I am a horticulturist, but in this industry at the end of the day, what we’re really about is people, and for that I will give everything I have and be a better person for it.”

Stories like Lisa’s inspire women everywhere to become leaders in the cannabis industry and their own. Empowered women, empower women. WomenCann believes Lisa is doing just that.

Buckeye Relief is a Medical Cannabis company in the state of Ohio and their medicine is consistent, patient driven and overall incredible. We believe companies everywhere can be like this, but only if they have amazing women leaders like Lisa.

We are grateful for Lisa for sharing her story.