On November 2, 2014, Promesa LLC founder Jessica Arent was one of the top brand and marketing executives in the tequila industry. She was a sought-after expert, writing articles for Fortune Magazine and speaking at major industry events, and on that fateful day had just completed “the deal of a century” for two major brands, a deal she expected would change her life forever. Fate had other plans for her.
Those who know Jessica will tell you that overcoming adversity is a recurring theme in her life. Born in San Francisco to a family defined by advantage yet burdened with largely absent parents, Jessica spent her childhood rotated between three sisters from San Salvador hired as caregivers and a grandmother who happened to be a Holocaust survivor. As a result, she became deeply rooted by survival, resilience and cultural diversity, with these women largely responsible for guiding Jessica into the woman she is today.
Jessica found love and learned work ethic in the heavily Hispanic culture of her Latin American caregivers, and they instilled an unshakeable, sustaining faith. She absorbed and adopted their teachings, and in the process overcame the toxic combination of isolation and abandonment she felt from her parents. She explains, “The circumstances of my upbringing – these women who nurtured me and taught me their culture and language – made me distinctly unique. It is where I feel most at home, where I belong, to this day.”
To her parents, Jessica was rebellious, difficult and “too much to handle.” As a result, she found herself shipped off to a boarding school in Arizona for her senior year of high school. The expectation was that the institution would “straighten her out,” but in reality it only furthered her independence. Among her many liberating experiences – cannabis.
Never one to accept “because I said so” for an answer, Jessica eventually dropped out of school and never went back, instead obtaining a GED years later, at age 28. What she never dropped though, was her affection for cannabis. Still, she spent the better part of her adult life concerned that the historical stigma of a “dumb drug user” who lacks ambition, drive, motivation and focus, not to mention cognizant if not critical thinking, would derail her career and life.
Ironically, it was Jessica’s belief in the plant that would eventually save her, when on that November day in 2014, she found her life forever changed at a stop sign. Having just signed her biggest contract in the tequila industry, she was struck from behind by a texting driver doing 70 mph. The accident left her, and her tequila career, broken.
Physical healing eventually came, but Jessica was directionless and floundering emotionally. Her husband of 20 years, Garret, was worried she might self-pity herself into a lasting depression, and he all but pushed her out the door and back into the world. Jessica took a temp position as an admin to keep busy until she figured out her next move, and that job turned out to be very fortuitous, when the company she walked into happened to expose Jessica to the cultivation, extraction and production of finished goods in the hemp industry. That coincidence changed her life and direction.
Looking back, Jessica explains, “I didn't quite understand the language or what was going on around me for a couple of months, and then sometime in month three, I had an epiphany and realized not only could I do this, but I could do it better by applying what I knew in chain supply and execution of another product from agriculture – tequila – to this new, unregulated and male dominated world of hemp.”
Falling back on the drive to succeed that has always defined her, Jessica has taken the world of hemp by storm. She sought out the best education she could find, learning from the scientists who pioneered the study of cannabis in Israel nearly 50 years ago as well as from the most reputable up and coming professionals in America’s fast-growing cannabis and hemp industry.
In that first year or so, she deepened her knowledge to an expert level. As the science changes daily along with the laws, rules and regulations both domestically and internationally, her daily mission is staying on top of it all and helping others do the same. She prides herself on professionalism and becoming the best she can possibly be, saying, “My ambition lies in the ‘why’ and the belief that I can make a positive difference in the quality of life for so many people, every single day.”
Five years later, just as she once had in tequila, Jessica has solidified a reputation as one of the most influential, trusted voices in cannabis, hemp and CBD. She co-founded the Denver-based Cannabis Diversity Council and Alliances in May of 2016, which advocates for women and minorities in the industry and provides mentorship programs across the industry’s various sectors, legal counsel, employment opportunities, start-up coaching and outlets to learn and grow careers within the industry. The organization, now boasting chapters in several cities, also offers diversity training to employers and exposes and pursues industry discrimination.
As an advocate for plant science medicine, Jessica is immersed in the science of cannabis and CBD, which she believes will not only change the world but how we view healthcare. She is waging a global fight for everyone to have the right to choose alternative, natural wellness over pharmaceuticals, while building the most impactful, research-led product program in the U.S. and Mexico, from seed to sale. “I am motivated by the idea that people shouldn’t be forced to take pharmaceutical product that will likely make them worse in other areas,” she said. “I am excited by the idea that my choice in medicine is no longer stigmatized, but instead is recognized as an innovative medicine we never fully understood. I am committed to proving all of the skeptics wrong.”
Jessica has written articles for Hemp Connoisseur Magazine, including ‘#MJTOO Sexual Harassment in the Cannabis World” (Dec 2018) and ‘The 2018 Farm Bill’ (January 2019). As a writer, she’s also been published in Forbes, Modern Gladiator Magazine, and Lifestyles Magazine. She’s spoken at multiple high-profile cannabis industry events, including Cannabisalud in Mexico City in June of 2018, the Osaka Conference in Japan in August of 2018, and served as a panelist at the MidWest CBD Expo Panel in April of 2019. Upcoming appearances are planned at the CBD Expo in Miami in August 2019, The National Wellness Expo in May of 2019, and the WavExpo also in May 2019, with many other opportunities and requests on the table for the rest of this year and into next.
Jessica knows her success will be measured by the lives she’ll change and save, and her message is clear: “I have never in my life felt so at home, in my element or as fulfilled as I do today. My goal is to reveal truths, dispel lies and help the public discern and understand the potential of cannabis and CBD.”
It’s clear that fate was on her side. And so is the science!