Im­mi­nent Trends

Break­ing the Glass Ceil­ing in Cannabis In­dus­try

Industry Leaders - - Content Features -

Women make up about 36 per­cent of ex­ec­u­tives in the le­gal-mar­i­juana in­dus­try, com­pared to around 22 per­cent of se­nior man­agers in other in­dus­tries. Now, com­pare this num­ber to the 4.2 per­cent of CEO po­si­tions at S&P 500 com­pa­nies. Let’s not even men­tion tech com­pa­nies where there are dis­pro­por­tion­ately few fe­male ex­ec­u­tives and en­gi­neers.

“It’s a new op­por­tu­nity for many women who have been side­lined by men in the cor­po­rate world,” said Anna Hop­kins, a con­sul­tant at a cannabis busi­ness in Houston. A young mother for two, Hop­kins worked as a busi­ness an­a­lyst at Jpmor­gan Chase be­fore cre­at­ing an op­por­tu­nity for her­self in the cannabis in­dus­try. “My ca­reer at the bank was stalled,” she said of her fi­nan­cial ca­reer, “there was no way I was ever go­ing to be able to be­come a top dog with­out sac­ri­fic­ing fam­ily.”

In the cannabis in­dus­try, busi­ness mod­els aren’t

set yet. Speak­ing of trends set­ting up, the mar­i­juana in­dus­try is also free of gen­der dis­par­ity. Tra­di­tion­ally, smok­ing pot has been por­trayed in pop cul­ture as a male pas­time. Yet it seems it is men and women who are equally in­flu­en­tial in mak­ing the mar­i­juana in­dus­try a tril­lion dol­lar a year busi­ness. Since the le­gal­iza­tion of mar­i­juana, mem­ber­ships in or­ga­ni­za­tions such as Women Grow has nearly tripled across 30 chap­ters in the United States.

At Women Grow, dozens of women across all ages and back­grounds gather to talk about pot. A lot of this events are out­lined on how to launch a mar­i­juana busi­ness or how to grow a client list. Over the years, pot le­gal­iza­tion has gained sup­port from women and fe­male en­trepreneurs for more than ad­vo­cacy and con­sump­tion in the mar­ket. A lot of th­ese women comes from male dom­i­nated in­dus­tries where the rules are al­ready es­tab­lished – and piled up against them. Cannabis in­dus­try is more than just a clean start for th­ese women.

There are also women en­ter­ing the cannabis in­dus­try be­cause they see tremen­dous mar­ket po­ten­tial. Take a look at Pri­mal Ther­a­peu­tics, a mar­i­juana-in­fused mas­sage-ther­apy com­pany started by Jor­dan Per­son, a for­mer nurse. Over the past few months, the busi­ness has grown so fast, no one thought a com­pany like hers would sur­vive past a few months. When her busi­ness took off, peo­ple came to her look­ing for guid­ance on how to start a mar­i­juana busi­ness. To this day, Per­son gets daily phone calls from peo­ple around the coun­try ask­ing her how to launch their

own mar­i­juana busi­ness.

Mar­i­juana le­gal­iza­tion has al­lowed a new set of busi­nesses where men and women gov­ern how and where peo­ple spend their leisure time. Keidi Keyes runs Puff, Pass, and Paint, a com­pany that spe­cial­izes in cannabis-friendly art classes. Over the years, her ven­ture has proved to be pop­u­lar, es­pe­cially amongst tourists who smoke or­gan­i­cally grown by L’ea­gle. You may also re­mem­ber Charlo Greene who went vi­ral for quit­ting her job as a reporter on live tele­vi­sion while out­ing her­self as the founder of Alaska Cannabis Club. She is also the founder of New­cannabis­times. com and Go Greene, a mar­i­juana di­ver­sity sum­mit se­ries.

Moxie Meds, is an­other lu­cra­tive busi­ness spun out of the mar­i­juana le­gal­iza­tion across the United States. It’s a CBD­line of cannabis tinc­tures, medicines avail­able to heal ev­ery­thing – from pe­riod cramps and pain to PTSD. Like Jes­sica Peters, the pres­i­dent of Moxie Meds, the fa­vorite part of the job is meet­ing ail­ing pa­tients who re­turns as hap­pier and health­ier peo­ple with­out chronic pain. Peters be­lieves women have al­ways been at the helm of the heal­ing in­dus­try. It is in times like this that women may help bring cannabis medicine to the main­stream. Tahira Rehmat­ul­lah is a con­sul­tant help­ing mar­i­juana busi­ness own­ers and early stage en­trepreneurs bring their ideas to life. Jamie Lewis, is the owner and founder of Coloradobased mar­i­juana ed­i­bles Moun­tain Medicine. Her prod­ucts in­clude choco­late fudge, caramel pret­zel bites, and cheese nib­bles.

And then there’s Mary

Jane, the cul­ture editor of High Times, one of the most iconic cannabis pub­li­ca­tion founded in 1974. There’s also Treat Your­self, co­founded by child­hood best friends Cindy and Leone. Treat Your­self is a well­ness com­pany sell­ing fe­male-friendly mar­i­juana prod­ucts such as guilt-free snacks and hand­crafted top­i­cals.

Who doesn’t re­mem­ber Jane West, the CEO of cannabis-fo­cused life­style brand Jane West. She also co-founded Women Grow, and is one of the most in­flu­en­tial voices in the bud­ding in­dus­try. For many, she has been the face of a broader so­cial change and turn­ing the tables on a male­dom­i­nated cor­po­rate cul­ture. West along with co-founder Jazmin Hupp has held net­work­ing events across 45 cities in the United States and Canada. Last on the list is MJ Free­way, a cannabis­soft­ware cre­ated by Amy Poin­sett. For en­trepreneurs in the cannabis in­dus­try, MJ Free­way is the gold stan­dard for track­ing in­ven­tory. Poin­sett and her part­ner founded the tech com­pany in 2010 to pro­vide tools for grow­ing le­gal mar­i­juana busi­ness and gov­ern­ments to reg­u­late to the grow­ing in­dus­try. When she had started the com­pany there were very few women in the in­dus­try. To­day, the cannabis in­dus­try has be­come the poster child of gen­der parity.

Alessia Colombo works at a cannabis con­sult­ing form. “I come from a male dom­i­nated in­dus­try and it was quite dif­fi­cult to know where I was go­ing ca­reer wise.” In the past when she used to en­ter a meet­ing room, she would of­ten be mis­taken for an as­sis­tant. To­day, when she

en­ters a meet­ing room, she is rec­og­nized as a mar­i­juana en­tre­pre­neur.

This is a turn­ing point for en­trepreneurs, who don’t want to be dic­tated by the rules in an al­ready-es­tab­lished in­dus­try. It’s a thrilling time for the mar­i­juana in­dus­try. The ca­ma­raderie in the cannabis in­dus­try is as­tound­ing. It has def­i­nitely be­come a bench­mark for bet­ter ex­pe­ri­ence for women in the cor­po­rate world. Women face less re­sis­tance, and if there is at all, it isn’t be­cause they’re women, but be­cause their work is not pulling any punches. It’s the right time for not just women, but also peo­ple who are dis­crim­i­nated against to make it hap­pen in the ever-grow­ing in­dus­try. Some ex­press con­cern that as the in­dus­try ma­tures and the rules are set, there could be a shift back to male dom­i­nated play­ers. This is not the time to mull over what might hap­pen. Let’s cel­e­brate the suc­cess of th­ese women who are break­ing the glass ceil­ing and chang­ing the look of the C-suites.

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