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A Journal of Cannabis and Culture

Women in Cannabis: Irena Raskin and Irena Hauser, Founders, My Best Bud

Women in Cannabis: Irena Raskin and Irena Hauser, Founders, My Best Bud

In our series on Women in Cannabis, we speak to women who are company or cultural leaders who have taken a winding road to the positions they are in now. Many are fueled by compassion and a desire to initiate change, and they have the gusto to do it.

Follow along this month as we present women in leadership positions both internally at MedMen and at popular brands that make cannabis products for enjoyment, wellness, and even for our furry friends.

The co-founders of My Best Bud, Irena Raskin and Irena Hauser, are powerhouse serial entrepreneurs with backgrounds in aerospace engineering, law, and medical fields. They hope that the science they used to develop wellness products for pets, will one day be able to treat humans as well. And they see a lot of opportunity for women in cannabis.

Where are you from? Tell us about yourself.
Irena Raskin: I came to the U.S. with my parents as a child from St. Petersburg, Russia and have lived in Los Angeles most of my life. I went to UCLA as a Biomedical and Biochemistry Major hoping to become a doctor; I later changed directions and got my law degree instead of going on to medical school.
Irena Hauser: I came to the U.S. as a four-year-old with my parents from Moscow, Russia to Portland, OR, where Irena and I met. I came to Los Angeles at the age of 16 to go to UCLA, majoring in Aerospace Engineering. In addition to several other projects, I was part of a handful of people who worked on and tested the very first docking of the Space Shuttle with the MIR Space Station. Later, I co-founded a clothing manufacturing business and a distribution center, employing hundreds of people.

How did your career in cannabis get started?
IR: The cannabis industry was at once the most unlikely and yet the most natural place for me to find my true calling. After the devastating loss of my husband from pancreatic cancer a couple of years ago, I could not let go of the thought that there was no medicine out there to help him and the only medicine which does exist, does far more harm than good. My husband was an orthopedic surgeon and believed the promise of cannabis and medical research. With him in mind and with the hope of developing cannabis-based medicines and therapies, I wanted to be part of the solution and dove into years of research and development.
IH: When my husband was fighting two different cancers, I was introduced to the science of cannabis. Working with animals both domestic and wild, I developed strong relationships with veterinarians who not only treat animals on a daily basis, but also advocate for legislation to protect the well-being of animals. There were countless animals that were suffering and the medication that was available to them was often more harmful than helpful.

What led you to start My Best Bud?
IR: I have found that many people who enter the space are driven by a passion to help their loved ones or someone they know who can benefit from the healing properties of cannabis. In my case, I had witnessed the limitations of existing therapies and medicines and became determined to find a solution. My Best Bud started as a solution to the gap we face in our treatment options. More often than not, medicines used to treat pets do as much if not more harm than the solution they offer. Creating a medicine to solve problems and ailments our furry family members are facing without the negative side effects of the traditional medicines on the market currently, will one day help us all. This is our mission and this is what we continue to accomplish with our products.
IH: As we were developing My Best Bud, my Doberman was diagnosed with DCM (Dilated Cardiomyopathy) and given only months to live. Subsequently, he suffered an acute condition which caused him to lose the use of his rear legs. Due to his heart condition, he was unable to use steroidal medication, and the medication that was prescribed, not only offered no relief but also hurt his kidneys. The only thing that ended up helping his rear leg issue was the 4:1 formula that we developed, and he was soon able to use his rear legs without any negative changes in his liver and kidney blood tests. In addition to prescription heart medication, it has continued to be part of his daily regiment and it has been well over 2 1/2 years since his DCM diagnosis.

What has your professional experience been like as a woman in cannabis?
IR: Having worked both in the medical and legal professions, I can say that in my experience, no other field offers as much opportunity to women. I believe this to be the case both because this is a very exciting fast-paced industry and because I have met incredibly capable and supportive women along the way. Perhaps because there are still fewer women in this industry as compared to men or perhaps the industry attracts a certain type of woman, there is a lot of camaraderie and respect among women in the field. 

This space is riddled with fluctuating guidelines, extraordinary discrepancies from one jurisdiction to the next, and little to no narration to build on. Your intuition is often your best guide to making decisions in an industry where the playbook is being written as the game is being played!
IH: Due to my previous experience, I have learned to overcome being a woman in male-dominated fields. Because our product has helped so many furry members of the family, we have felt a great deal of support from both men and women within the cannabis industry.

Do you feel that opportunities for men and women are equal in the cannabis space?
IR: I don’t know that opportunities for men and women are ever truly equal. But, I believe that the cannabis industry offers incredible opportunities to women. I suspect that what I find to be so gratifying about the cannabis industry is also what attracts other women to it. We care; we want to create positive change; we want to nurture and to solve problems... and to kick butt and break down barriers when required. The cannabis industry offers professional women a totally unique and exciting way to apply their knowledge and skill to create businesses which make a significant and meaningful impact.

And where I can, I will always help another woman in the cannabis industry because that’s my nature and because I have been the beneficiary of a lot of incredible people who believed in me and supported what I wanted to accomplish.

What have been your biggest challenges in your professional career? Do you feel that you face these issues in the cannabis space?
IR: As a mother of two sons, much like most women, I went through a period of time when I found it very difficult to balance my career with raising children. This, of course, became even more difficult after my husband passed away. The fact that running a cannabis company is less structured in its day-to-day operations than say, working in a law office or a medical practice, has been very helpful. But, make no mistake, there’s no shortage of work. The hours are as long if not longer, but they are more flexible, which is a tremendous help; and I have met many professional women who are leaders and working mothers who thrive in this industry.

Are you a cannabis user? What is your favorite product and/or strain?
IR: There are a number of good products which I use for a variety of needs from vape pens to topicals to Utopia macaroons! Cannabis was something I never even considered until my own years of research in developing My Best Bud ratios and formulations revealed the phenomenal therapeutic and healing power of cannabis. Nowadays, it sounds almost ridiculous to me when I hear people express an incredibly uninformed and antiquated view of cannabis.

What are your hopes for the cannabis industry?
IR: My hope is that the normalization and full federal legalization of cannabis will lead to the development of more and more therapies to help animals and people. I hope that quality and innovation remain at the forefront and all of us in the industry work to advance science and research.

What advice would you give women who are trying to enter or are in the cannabis space?
IR: I would encourage you to move quickly and to be flexible, as the industry moves at the speed of light and you’ll need to adapt to survive. However, it is equally important to stay true to your core values and your mission—that which you really want to achieve in this industry. For My Best Bud, we want nothing less than to revolutionize pet wellness and with our three ratios, six SKUs and an exciting line of new products on the horizon, we are on our way.

You can find My Best Bud products at all MedMen locations in California. 

A Journal of Cannabis and Culture
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