The cannabis industry is full of those who aren’t afraid to let their true colors show, whether that means gender or sexual identity, personal style or business ethics. Tony Barlow, the sales and marketing director at Colorado Product services, is a driven account manager who wants to rise to the top and push the limits of legal weed, all while celebrating himself for who he is.
How did you get started in the cannabis industry and what do you do?
I worked for Cintas as a sales manager and one of my customers was in the marijuana industry. They approached me saying that I sell them services they don’t need or want and I always close the deal. They offered me a territory sales position. Within a month, I was promoted to director of sales. I was with that company for a year before I fell upon greener pastures with Colorado Product Services. I took a sales position with them and was promoted to director of sales within three weeks.
When did you first come out as an LGBTQ individual, and how did that manifest?
I grew up in Kansas within an ultra-conservative Christian family. At 19, I came out to my family, and that was poorly received. I moved to California two weeks after I turned 21 to find myself and to make sense of who I wanted to be in life. I worked for the government with the Flood Control District. Finally, eight years later, my parents and I grew a strong, loving relationship, which prompted me to move to Colorado to be near my folks and the people I hold dearest to my heart.
Reflecting on this has me in tears seeing how the progression of love I feel from my family everyday has made me the man I am today.
How LGBTQ-friendly do you think the industry is?
The LGBTQ community, in my opinion, has always been full of trendsetters. We work together as a coalition to push each other to do the best we can no matter the occupation or industry. Our community has always fought together for what is right and equal.
The marijuana industry is very LGBTQ-driven and occupied because we, alongside our straight allies, understand that cannabis is not just used for recreational purposes but for medical use as well, which especially gives me the drive to meet those needs for patients who don’t want to get stuck on addictive opioids pushed by huge pharmaceutical companies driven by sales and making their CEOs’ pockets deeper.
What have been your biggest challenges in the industry so far?
My biggest and only challenge in the industry is worrying every day if the presidential administration is going to shut down this ever-growing, billion-dollar-tax-revenue industry that is here to help patients diagnosed with PTSD, epilepsy, and cancer, just to name a few conditions. It falls on all Americans to research the benefits of cannabis and keep up the fight for what is humane and just.
What do you hope for the future of the industry?
I hope the future holds federal acceptance of cannabis and that it is accessible for all Americans and hopefully worldwide following that.
How do you think the cannabis scene and LGBTQ culture can help each other?
It already has and is a work in progress. Acceptance on both sides has brought communities of all walks of life to help understand individuality and that you are the person you make yourself. Race, sexual orientation, religion, and so on all come together. We are on the forefront of breaking boundaries and teaching acceptance.
What do you want people to know about yourself or your company?
I feel blessed and fortunate to work not only in the industry but for a company that is loving and caring, where we all know we have each others’ back no matter what.
Colorado Product Services is the fastest growing company in the industry. We closed on 86 new dispensaries to carry our products in new locations in March alone. The whole company works as one cohesive unit to ensure we put the safest, most compliant, top-of-the-line product on all of our customers’ shelves.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
I see myself alongside the Colorado Product Services team nationally within 10 years, with government approval of course. There is a ceiling that hasn’t even been broken yet, but I know our company will be the one to break that ceiling first. Cocky? No. Confident that our company is on our way to the top? Abso-fucking-lutely!