Morgan Kropkowski has become an expert at quarantining.
Prior to a worldwide pandemic restricting travel, Kropkowski spent much of 2018 confined to her room following a botched surgical procedure on her tailbone. The Maryland native underwent an emergency operation to remove a pilonidal cyst that threatened to rupture at the base of her spine. Recovery time for such an operation normally takes three to five weeks, but due to an oversized incision, the wound on her back took six months to close.
“I couldn’t really stand up or go down stairs; anything I did with my legs would irritate [the wound],” the 27-year-old recalled. “It was a four-inch incision that was in an awkward spot. I just had to lay down and heal.”
Summer passed in a slow slog, forcing the adventurous collegian to skip summer break. With outdoor excursions out of the picture, she chose to expedite her education at the University of Maryland Global Campus.
“The internet can be extremely useful or extremely toxic,” said Kropkowski, who received a bachelor’s degree in marketing and human resources. “I was taking classes, watching YouTube videos to improve my hobbies, and trying to stay away from social media. During that time, I found myself comparing myself to others because I was unable to exercise and gaining weight.”
Allergens to a variety of painkillers made it more difficult to treat inflammation.
In the absence of pain relief, Kropkowski turned her recreational use of Cannabis into a medical trial, receiving approval from the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission. She found comfort in a mix of THC and CBD, by way of vape, edibles, and topical treatment.
“I like to mix them together, so I can feel the full impact of the medicine,” she said.
Kropkowski’s educational curiosity quickly expanded to the plant – as did her appreciation of the local dispensary, Kannavis. As her recovery stretched into the fall, it became evident that a return to long days standing as a cosmetologist, her occupation for the previous six years, wasn’t optimal. That winter, Kropkowski made her foray into the Cannabis industry, serving as a budtender at the Frederick-based dispensary.
“They literally were the best part of my day,” she said. “It wasn’t like going to a regular pharmacy. I felt a lot more comfortable and I felt better when I left. I wanted to keep having that good feeling and give it to others [as well].”
The following summer, she put her education to use, joining Grassroots as a sales and marketing coordinator. A year and a half in Taneytown opened up doors to become a brand ambassador for Curio Wellness, representing the Lutherville-based operation across the state.
“In a two-week span, I put over 1,100 miles on my mini-SUV,” said Kropkowski, who manages relationships with 36 dispensaries in the state of Maryland. “I call it the Bermuda Triangle of Maryland. I go from Allegany [County] to Aberdeen to Silver Spring.”
To accommodate for long days on her tailbone, Kropkowski needs a thickly-padded pillow to absorb the bumps of the road – and the surgical complications have left her with inflammation that she treats with a daily regimen of Cannabis. She has refrained from kayaking, biking and skiing, frightened that a fall would impact her ability to work. But Kropkowski has undoubtedly found a home at Curio, attributing a smooth on-boarding process to the assistance of field marketing manager Deanna Reed and team leader Karen Pumphrey.
After two-and-a-half years in the industry, she’s grateful to have found like-minded people that share the common goal of helping others.
“Everything happens for a reason,” she said. “Although the experience was traumatizing, I grew from it, especially once I found this industry. Here, I got a lot of support. It’s nice to be able to bond with other people who have been through similar instances and used Cannabis to improve their health.”
Educating people in regards to the plant is an opportunity Kropkowski cherishes.
“When I was in high school, Westminster High School was called Heroin High,” said the South Carroll graduate. “There are a lot of people there who are addicted to opiates as well. One of the reasons I love this industry is when I’m speaking to someone at a pop-up event, there’s always one person every time who comes up to me and says, ‘Your products got me off morphine’ or ‘I used heavy prescription drugs for 30 years because of a car accident, and now I only use your chews.’”
“It feels good to know we’re improving lives instead of destroying them.”