Nina Fern is a Cannabis Sommelier

Perhaps the only thing trendier than celery juice right now is that other green leafy product: marijuana. Once a taboo gateway drug, pot seems to have, almost overnight, become the latest craze in health and wellness — and quite a profitable one at that! So much so, that it’s basically available in every form possible, from edibles to patches to oil. 

I recently had an opportunity to sit and chat with Nina Fern, founder of The Highly, the ultimate (and highly vetted) guide to the best green on the planet whether you’re searching for THC, CBD, or a combo. 

Fern launched The Highly in November of 2017 after years of struggling with personal health problems and a seemingly neverending battle to find the best cannabis products to help. Doctors were failing to properly diagnose the cause of her chronic pain, which was what ultimately led her to seek an alternative means of handling it — however, she was quick to discover that the search for good-quality and effective weed was a difficult one. “You never knew what you were getting,” she remembers.

Realizing there was a void that needed to be filled, Fern began traveling, experimenting, and documenting the best weed in all the major cities she visited. This gathered personal collection would ultimately serve as the platform from which The Highly would debut.

The site has gone through much iteration since its start, yet it has always relied on client networking, or what Fern refers to as “cannabis culture.” She describes this as people genuinely helping with true sincerity rather than the “pay-to-play” mentality that is often seen in the wellness industry. For Fern, it isn’t about helping only those who can pay her, but rather anyone who reaches out to her. 

“The plant wants us to come together,” she shares. This mindset is what makes Fern different than other vendors promoting cannabis products. She has no bottom line. No investors to answer to. No greedy board of directors looking for the next big sell. What she does have is conviction and integrity. 

She built the business entirely on her own, based on her own life struggle, and when you have skin in the game you can’t help but make moves altruistically.

It’s a natural segue to a bigger conversation about connections, human nature, and the toxicity of social media. Shortly after joining Instagram, Fern started to experience high levels of anxiety and insecurity. She became glued to her phone, terrified that one missed opportunity to post an Insta-story or a photo would destroy her entire business. Suddenly, she was a teenager again playing the comparison game and feeling insecure about not having enough likes. In describing her opinion on social media, she says honestly, “It’s 5% pleasure and 95% pain.”

Afraid of falling further into group thinking, she decided to halt both the website and her usual amount of posting. The platform became solely about DM’s (direct messaging) and, quite magically, the engagement continued to grow and maintain itself. 

Indeed, the continued and uninterrupted flow of customers seeking guidance further proved Fern’s belief in the altruistic mindset behind cannabis culture — with weed you don’t need witty posts or an endless array of hashtags to build a successful business… you just need friends, knowledge, and a positive mind.

Which is what she’s gathering with each post on The Highly. For Fern and her readers, cannabis is truly an opportunity for self-empowerment.

Julia Piantini is a writer who also tries to avoid social media as much as possible and prefers to spend her time interacting with humans in the flesh. What a novel concept, we know!

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