The United States cannabis industry is booming. Exploding, rather. Despite federal roadblocks and protests, business is expanding and flourishing in many states. One of the most fascinating developments in the cannabis industry is the rise of women in the workplace, most notably in positions of power at the head of cannabis companies. Like other sectors, cannabis needs varying roles: there are cultivators, dispensary operators, branding specialists, and financial folks who collectively deliver a product you want to consume.
According to a 2015 survey from Marijuana Business Daily, women held 36% of leadership positions in the industry, including 50% of leadership roles in processing and infused product companies, and 63% of executive roles at testing labs.
When MJBiz conducted an updated survey on the topic in August 2017, the number of women in leadership roles had fallen to 27% of executive-level roles, although the presence of women in leadership roles in ancillary sectors of the industry holds strong: 42% of women held executive roles in supplemental cannabis services companies, and women still own and operate 35% of medical and retail cannabis shops.
There are some amazing ladies in the cannabis industry who are working tirelessly to end prohibition, create top-tier products, advocate for change, spearhead groundbreaking research, and shape the sector for the better. From lawmakers to lawyers to entrepreneurs, every woman here has helped pave the way for a brighter future of cannabis.
Hupp is the Founder and Executive Director of Women Grow, an enterprise that “connects, educates, and empowers” women & men in the cannabis industry. She is passionate about women’s equality; before starting Women Grow, she served as Director of Digital Media for Women 2.0, to help women start their own high-growth ventures. Women Grow now has events and local branches in more than 30 cities across the country, as well as a national leadership summit.
She is one of the most influential women in the cannabis industry. Founder and Chairwoman of the Board at Women Grow, Jane West is a leader in the cannabis industry. Also CEO of Jane West, she creates fabulous and stylish smoking accessories made by women for women. Moreover, she makes it her personal duty to educate, inspire, and empower women in the industry as well as those interested in joining.
Hilary Bricken is an attorney at Harris Bricken, a West Coast-based law firm. Bricken was a fierce advocate for cannabis legalization in Seattle, Washington before becoming a lawyer in 2010. She founded and chairs her law firm’s Canna Law Group, one of the first groups in the nation to provide legal representation for cannabis business clients. She also runs and edits the Canna Law Blog, a reliable source for insightful commentary on the various rules and regulations affecting the cannabis industry worldwide. A fearless advocate and attorney, she has earned a reputation as the leading authority on cannabis legal issues at a national level, having been named “Deal Maker of the Year” by the Puget Sound Business Journal and “Industry Attorney of the Year” by Dope Magazine. Bricken regularly speaks about legal topics affecting the cannabis industry at various conferences- you can even watch her TEDx talk here focusing on whether we’re unintentionally creating “big marijuana”.
Pamela Hadfield, a user-experience designer for software companies, found out how life-changing medical marijuana can be when she discovered that low-THC products could end the debilitating migraines she’d been suffering her entire adult life. Her next epiphany came when she realized the telehealth app she’d been designing with her husband would be better suited for weed than for regular consultations. The result, HelloMD, has become an invaluable resource for patients looking to try medical weed – from consultations with doctors to precise product recommendations. “We found that people like the convenience,” she says. “And obviously, the privacy.”
Mary Jane Gibson
Mary Jane is the Culture Editor for High Times, the iconic cannabis publication founded in 1974. Gibson oversees the entertainment, lifestyle, and reviews sections of the magazine, as well as contributing feature articles and interviews. Originally from Newfoundland, Canada, Gibson moved to the U.S. in 2000. Currently residing in Los Angeles, where she moved last summer to help open the publication’s West Coast office. Gibson’s advice to young women looking to break into the industry is to “Learn everything you can by getting involved with a local collective or organization. Be informed, and be on time. Be better prepared than everyone else, work your ass off, and be kind to those around you. Honor those who have gone before you, and teach those who come after you. And kick some serious ass.”
Women hold important positions, help pass pro-marijuana laws and are the leaders of successful companies. As participation in leadership positions among women in the cannabis industry drops, the industry needs to focus on harnessing women’s power and actively promote the successes of women in the industry. The ladies above serve as an inspiration to both men and women who want to make a difference in the cannabis world.
Who is your favorite lady in the industry? Leave the comment below!