To even discuss the stigma associated with cannabis seems so archaic given the progressive legislation and widespread medicinal use gaining traction around the world. There was a time when the cannabis industry was awash with the stereotype of teenage stoners and lethargic middle-aged men smoking marijuana to pass the time.
Thankfully the industry is starting to move past this sweeping generalization. Now, we are met with a diverse group of men and women championing for a more accepting society.
THE CANNABIS INDUSTRY IS CHANGING FOR THE BETTER
Who better to back mother nature and her feminized plants then pioneering women from across the globe in a variety of different fields and job roles. Despite their unique achievements in the cannabis industry, they all have something in common: a desire to dismantle the once widespread infamy associated with cannabis, and instead showing that this naturally occurring plant can benefit women in numerous ways.
No longer reserved for teenage boys; mums, daughters, sisters, and girlfriends are using cannabis for their well-being, both mentally and physically. In 2017, Marijuana Business Daily published figures showing that 26% of all executives across the cannabis market are women, 6% higher than the average among all US businesses. Although 26% still points to a lack of equitable representation, it signals a growing shift in power and influence. With the US cannabis industry set to grow over 500% by 2021, this suggests great potential for female entrepreneurs, scientists, and advocates looking to break into the business.
THE IMPORTANCE OF ORGANIZATIONS LIKE “WOMEN GROW”
To that end, one for-profit organization that is leading the charge is “Women Grow”. Founded by two incredibly influential women in 2014, Women Grow was created with the goal of supporting the legal cannabis industry in being the first female-led billion-dollar business sector. Achieved through educating, inspiring, and connecting like-minded women, the organization has over 1,500 women signed up in over 35 cities.
Through this network of empowered female leaders, many are now CEOs, campaigners, advocates, and successful business owners within the cannabis sector. And, as research continues to grow, the health benefits for women appear to be increasingly significant.
WHY CANNABIS IS JUST AS IMPORTANT FOR WOMEN AS IT IS MEN
Using cannabis to improve sex life, manage menstrual pain and cramping, even taking CBD during pregnancy; several research papers have published results supporting cannabis for a wide range of conditions. Alongside what we already know about marijuana being effective for anxiety and stress-relief, it will come as no surprise that of more than 1,000 women surveyed by BDS Analytics, over half stated they used cannabis at least once a week.
With the market for cannabis edibles, topicals, and tinctures growing, these products offer a simple, effective, and transparent approach to incorporating cannabis into daily routines. Inclusive of CBD-rich, non-psychoactive substances and high-THC products, these methods allow for discreet and more exact dosing.
INFLUENTIAL FEMALE FIGUREHEADS
Such a rapidly expanding market has given rise to some incredible female figureheads, all of whom advocate for the widespread legalization of marijuana. There is rarely a time when they aren’t seen striving for change, leading groundbreaking research, or heading some of the largest dispensary networks across the US and Canada. Here are eight awe-inspiring women making a difference in the cannabis industry.
Striving to change the way we perceive cannabis, Ophelia Chong took it upon herself to start “StockPotImages.com”. Marijuana is a naturally majestic organism throughout its lifecycle, and Chong’s stock photo agency wanted to capture that. Presenting cannabis in such an endearing light is helping to break down the stigma associated with the industry.
Regarded by Inc. Magazine as “The Queen of Legal Weed”, Whiteman owns a business creating edibles, extracts, and medicinals. Founding Wana Brands in 2010, her company has become the number one edibles producer in the highly competitive market of Colorado. Besides, Wana Brands is already in four states- Colorado, Arizona, Oregon and Nevada. With massive success under her belt already, the Wana Brand empire continues to grow, with further expansions planned for Illinois, Michigan and Florida this year.
At the forefront of the world’s medical marijuana stage, Dr Cristina Sanchez has become known for being ahead of her time regarding cannabis research. In the 1990s, Sanchez discussed the potential effectiveness of CBD as an antioxidant, something we now know to be true. Proving her scientific capability was far more progressive than others at the time, Sanchez now sits on the board of the Spanish Observatory for Medical Cannabis (OEDCM), alongside her work as a prominent speaker at conferences around the world.
While both Jazmin Hupp and Jane West are innovative female figureheads in their own right, they both have something in common. Together they founded the Women Grow organization, a result of their combined advocacy for cannabis as a replacement for prescription medication. Hupp has been featured in The Economist, Fortune, and Forbes for being one of the most influential women in the cannabis industry. She possesses an unparalleled drive and determination to educate and empower the public about cannabis.
Jane West is a genuinely influential figurehead who didn’t let adversity stop her from leading the charge. Appearing in Leafly, HERB, and Playboy, West is breaking down stereotypes one step at a time. As a former corporate event planner, incredible strength and resilience were required when she was fired after her employer saw her vaping on CNBC. Rather than letting that keep her down, West took the hits and pushed forward. Her partnership with Hupp has been groundbreaking for women in the marijuana industry.
Co-founder of “Supernova Women”, Amber E. Senter wants to support people of color aiming to join the legal weed business sector. As well as being a co-founder, she is also a successful business owner. Her company Leisure Life provides cannabis-infused popcorn and is proving incredibly popular in the Bay Area where she now lives. Recognizing a distinct lack of POC throughout the industry, her organization operates in much the same way as Women Grow—through education, advocacy, and networking.
Famous for her advocacy work in Canada, her passion runs deep. Emery and her husband have been involved in cannabis activism, business, and politics for over 14 years. The Emery empire continues to grow, with Cannabis Culture weed magazine, Pot TV, and a franchise of dispensaries and head shops proving just how prominent Jodie is in the Canadian cannabis scene. Her advocacy stems from a disdain for the current legal system and her personal experiences. Her mantra “You need to have strength in your belief, and you need to be confident in what you believe” serves as an empowering statement for upcoming cannabis industry leaders of all genders.
Amanda Reiman has been instrumental in influencing significant drug policy changes across the US. As the Manager of Marijuana Law and Policy for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), few roles come close to the level of influence Reiman possesses. She continues to conduct studies in support of cannabis, aiming to disprove several archaic stereotypes. Recently, Reiman researched cannabis as a potential treatment for addiction.