Kayla Gerber has what many would consider a dream job: she gets paid $50 an hour to smoke weed.
Last fall Gerber, 27, responded to a posting from Toronto-based company AHLOT, which was seeking “expert-level connoisseurs” to smoke and review strains of weed and get paid $50 an hour doing it.
Gerber had been tagged in multiple Instagram posts about the job and initially thought “this is not a real thing.”
“But there’s no harm in trying,” Gerber told VICE. “So I applied and it wasn’t for months until I heard something.” The company had received more than 25,000 applications from people hoping to be a part of its Cannabis Curation Committee—a group tasked with reporting on the effects of cannabis products to help AHLOT put together sampler packs of legal bud.
They narrowed it down to 25 finalists, including Gerber, who had to plead their cases through video submissions.
Ultimately, eight people were selected to make up AHLOT’s Cannabis Curation Committee. Committee members can make up to $1,000 a month reviewing cannabis products, including dried flower and oil, as well as doing marketing and social media posts for AHLOT.
Gerber said she started smoking weed at age 15 and quickly found that it alleviated her fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome symptoms, including muscle and nerve pain, issues with food consumption, and sleeping problems. But it wasn’t until her 20s that she got more into the nuances of strains and later CBD.
VICE recently caught up with Gerber to ask how she landed the job and to find out if getting paid to smoke weed is as great as it sounds.
VICE: Why did so many people think you deserved this job?
Kayla Gerber: I think what it really came down to is: I’m not only educated in the cannabis space as a patient educator and very knowledgeable in the products, but I’m diverse. I come from a very artistic background, a very political background. Ten years ago you would have never seen a black woman sitting on some sort of cannabis creation team. This time four years ago I was arrested and they tried to charge me for cannabis use. And that’s happened to so many of my friends, too. We know that the coloured community has been stigmatized and put behind bars for just cannabis. So for [AHLOT] it was an opportunity to showcase how diverse Canada and the AHLOT team can be in terms of their committee members.
What was your video when you made the top 25?
What was important to me was showing off Guelph, so having a little shot of city hall in the background, something of me smoking and rolling papers, using the actual products, grinding it up, rolling it. And then just fun stuff. There’s one scene of me just kind of laughing and sucking on a random lollipop. And then it was just me talking about why should you choose me.
How did you react when they told you that you got it?
To be honest with you, I felt like it was about to be a ‘no.’ But they did tell me ‘yes’ and then I just lost my mind. I was screaming, jumping up and down, I’m pretty sure I shook my booty in front of the camera for them which is not necessarily the most appropriate way to respond to a job.
So what are your actual duties?
The role definitely consists of testing, evaluating the strains from a smell, from the density, the look, the taste, the flavour. They even sent us microscopes so that we can look in depth into the terpenes and the trichomes within the plant. That’s so cool. I feel like a little scientist at home. And then educating people on that. And that applies to the oils as well—getting the information, understanding microdosing, and making sure you know side effects and all these different things. I’m hoping once legalization comes around for concentrates and edibles we can also be looking at that. So far what have you actually reviewed?
Right now it’s our Discovery Series Volume 1, which is something that’s already out with AHLOT. It has five grams inside, one gram [each] of different types of strains. You get a little bit of everything, a hybrid, a sativa, an indica, a high CBD strain.
I know the ad said $50 an hour and that Cannabis Curation Committee members will make up to $1,000 a month. Do you have any idea of where you’re going to fall on that scale?
It really depends. It’s for sure 12 to 15 hours a month. But for example, this week I have three interviews. It’s definitely a part time situation.
Do you have a certain amount you’re going to consume for work on a weekly or daily basis?It’s kind of hard to say. For someone like myself it’s important to try everything on a weekly basis, at least that if not daily, which can become too much when you’re testing too many strains. So you definitely have to work around that. We are very intelligent cannabis connoisseurs so for us it’s really important to make sure that we do repeat and try again and see if there’s any differences in effect so that we’re giving a really well-rounded review.
Consuming cannabis is not necessarily something that takes much time, so I’m assuming the thing that’s time consuming is writing down your opinions.
Absolutely. Because it’s so descriptive in what we have to do, it gets all the way in depth. We’re talking what does it smell like, what does it feel like, what does it look like, and all those things in between that. It’s a very extensive review we’re giving of this one particular bud plant. And then also our social media.
So you’re partially testing and reviewing it but you’re also essentially doing marketing?
Yeah, we love to call ourselves evaluators. We’re constantly assessing the quality in the substance.
Are you testing strains that are already available on the market? Or is some of what you’re testing licensed producer product that has not hit the market?
Both. There are a lot of licensed producers that may not have released something yet but it’s still licensed. They want to see if the quality is good enough, they want all that opinion and now that we have this accessibility of these educators that can happen.
There are probably a lot of people who are thinking ‘wow, this is such a dream job. I want to get paid to smoke weed.’ Is it as cool as it sounds? Is it more work than what people realize?It’s definitely as cool as it sounds. This is a dream job. But on the other thing this job is not just sitting there and smoking weed. I know a lot of people go to their cannabis use for that relaxation but we’re not just sitting there smoking and relaxing, we have to think about every effect that’s happening on us from the minute we open that container and see it and feel it and smell it to the end of how our effects and maybe how our effects are an hour later. It’s pretty tedious diligent work, but for us it’s pretty fun. But it’s not as easy as lighting up your joint at home. Follow Manisha on Twitter.