The cannabis industry is filled with passionate, forward-thinking people who have devoted their life's work to changing people's perceptions. But the question remains - how do people become involved in the cannabis industry in the first place? It turns out everyone has a unique personal journey that has brought them to the world of cannabis. Each week cannabis professionals, activists, and others will tell their stories in their own words. This essay comes from Todd Mitchem, a "Cannapreneur" who has aided or founded companies in the cannabis space. With successes such as O.penVAPE, CannaSearch, Mindful and the dating app High There!

When I was 18, if my mother so much as thought for a moment, that I was choosing cannabis for use, she would have disowned me, albeit temporarily. So you can imagine the irony of the moment when I first learned that my own mother was choosing cannabis for herself. But don't get the wrong idea. Mom was not using cannabis for pure recreation, although that would have been okay by me. She was consuming for the purpose of making her cancer less painful, as she neared her imminent death.

Before I go too far, I should explain that my mother had battled cancer prior to the latest diagnosis. The first time my mother had breast cancer. She beat that one, with the help of painful radiation and chemotherapy. Then, came the second diagnosis years later.

The second cancer was far more deadly: Adenocarcinoma of the chest wall and pleura. This time, the cancer in her chest cavity had set in and cancerous tumors had spread throughout her body, the outcome was to be fatal. My mother's doctors thought that her second cancer had been caused by the radiation from the first cancer treatments and that this time she had four perhaps six months to live.

A nurse suggested my mother use cannabis to ease her pain

While my mother was at the hospital, a nurse told her to get her hands on some cannabis to ease her pain as she dies. Having no other choice but to face death, mom along with my stepfather went to work, discovering exactly what would be required to get her the medicine she needed the most: weed.

Each night for six months my mom would have a homemade cannabis muffin she made and slept beautifully even with the stress of her nearing death. Since her diagnosis was terminal, there was no treatment that she could undergo or anything that the medical community could offer to help alleviate the physical and mental pains of terminal cancer. The only option that she had was cannabis muffins.

In her mind she was going to die anyway, so why not give it a try. The cannabis muffins were the only things that she consumed as medicine while waiting for her death. That diagnosis was almost seven years ago and my mother is STILL ALIVE today. Her cancer is completely eradicated. I believe she is still alive and has beaten terminal cancer because of her choice to consume cannabis.

My mother inspired me to become a cannapreneur

With my mother as the main catalyst, I set out to leave my lucrative career in the corporate world and join the ranks of the cannabis industry. In 2012, I decided to make a huge change in my life. Starting at a dispensary and grow company where I consulted, taught leadership, and became more familiar with the industry, I gained knowledge and insights that I applied what I already knew from the corporate business world into the cannabis business environment.

After my first role, I moved into the world of becoming a full-fledged "cannaentrepreneur." I began a journey of finding great companies that I could help build their brand, build their structure, or simply join them and become their spokesperson. The results were nothing short of astounding.

During the last three years that I have been in the cannabis industry, I have truly had some of the most amazing experiences of my career. From building the brand O.penVAPE to "LARGEST BRAND IN CANNABIS" to changing dispensary brands like Mindful. And then, to my latest project as the Co-Founder and CEO of High There! - the world's first global social network for weed folks. I built High There! from zero users to well over 100,000 in less than seven months, and I am proud to say that the team I put in place is continuing the work today.

As I look forward to my next projects revolving around clean technology, a home for disabled adults that work in the cannabis industry, and working on the Coalition for Responsible Cannabis Production, I am beyond thrilled to be building a positive future in the industry for all types of consumers, businesses, and the industry while building quality standards.