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Medical Marijuana

This Mom Entrepreneur Is Developing Medicinal Cannabis to Treat Kids With Autism

Erica Daniels has dedicated her life to teaching families how cannabis can help their kids with autism.
This Mom Entrepreneur Is Developing Medicinal Cannabis to Treat Kids With Autism
Image credit: Erica Daniels
Erica Daniels
Guest Writer
Founder and CEO
4 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Erica Daniels was so inspired by how natural treatments improved her son's Autism that she wrote the book Cooking With Leo. She helped launched a line of medical marijuana products to help other individuals suffering symptoms to live a better quality life and founded a non-profit, Hope Grows for Autism, dedicated to Autism research and education.

Here is her Women in Green Interview:

What brought you into the cannabis industry? My 13 year old son suffers from autism. Medical cannabis has dramatically improved his quality of life. At first, I was afraid of the stigma, but then I began talking about it and eventually became an activist. Parents from all over the world send me messages asking for help with their autistic children. I am compelled to help as many families as I can knowing the hardships and benefits I have seen for my own child. There is also tremendous healing for me in helping others and knowing that my son’s hardships may not be in vain.

What obstacles and challenges have you experienced in operating within this industry? There are no precedents, so I had to completely create my own business models. The lack of clinical research in cannabis has been a challenge in helping families access medicine. That is where the mission of research for Hope Grows was born.

This work is very personal for me because of my son. This can be an advantage and disadvantage in all of my autism related work. I am in it for the long haul and the right reasons.

Related: We Have a Problem: The Cannabis Industry Is Losing Women Leaders

How have you overcome these obstacles? I made mistakes… I watched and I learned, made more mistakes…. Watched and learned. I have a plan and I followed it every single day. I found a way to help other families, beginning by helping my own family first. Because of that plan I am now in a position to help patients in every way and that feels great.

As a woman in cannabis, do you feel that you are at an advantage or a disadvantage (or both) and why? I think being a “mom” or “canna-mom” in this business has been more of an obstacle than just being a woman. I was taken advantage of by some, but others truly wanted to help me and continue to do so to this day. One of the reasons I wanted to partner with Ilera Healthcare is because of their unique value of women and minority employees and partners.

I am continually impressed by the women who have been able to succeed and pave the way. I seek out those women and try to collaborate anyway I can.

What is an accomplishment you have achieved in this industry that you are most proud of? I facilitated an international observational autism- cannabis research study that is taking place currently in my hometown of Philadelphia. I am (through Autism Advisors) launching a line of cannabis medicines for individuals with autism in Pennsylvania.

I have (through Hope Grows for Autism) launched a patient assistance program to help families affected by autism to afford treatments.

Related: Move Aside, CBD: New Data Finds THC Is the Real Medicine in Medical Marijuana

What was your greatest lesson learned? There will be more lessons!

What trait do you rely on most when making business decisions and why is this useful for you? My gut. If it doesn’t feel right, it likely isn’t right. I rely on humility. It’s not easy sharing so much about my family, but I see how it helps and inspires and that inspires me.

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