Health Care

Medical Marijuana CEO & COVID Nurse for the Navajo Nation | Rachael Speegle

October 21, 2020  • Health Innovators Fellowship & Rachael Speegle

When the coronavirus took hold in the U.S., medical marijuana organizations got mixed messages. In many states, they were deemed essential businesses and needed to stay open, but, without federal legalization, these businesses were ineligible for federal aid. This left leaders in the cannabis industry with the dual challenge of supporting the needs of customers and employees while fighting for the very survival of their businesses. At the same time, the strengthening of the racial justice movement amplified questions about the industry’s history and racial divides between profit and punishment.  

In this episode, go behind the mask with Rachael Speegle, volunteer COVID nurse and CEO of the Verdes Foundation, an Albuquerque-based company that cultivates, processes, and distributes medical cannabis. 

We talk about the medical marijuana industry, her call to serve others affected by COVID-19, and how the unrest following the murder of George Floyd sparked her to reevaluate how she leads her organization.

About Behind the Mask

Go behind the masks leaders wear and explore the values and tensions at the heart of the decisions they make. Join Aspen Health Innovators Fellow Indu Subaiya as she speaks with U.S. health care leaders—all members of the Health Innovators Fellowship—to learn how they’re leading through these turbulent times.

Aspen Health Innovators: Behind the Mask is a collaboration between Deb Gordon, Indu Subaiya, and the Aspen Health Innovators Fellowship. Subscribe to us on your favorite podcast app and follow us @AspenInstitute to stay up to date with our work. For more information, visit

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