One 2015 survey of 630 marijuana professionals found that women held leadership roles in 36 percent of those businesses, compared with 22 percent of U.S. companies according to the trade publication Marijuana Business Daily, an Inc. 500 company that was co-founded by two women, Cassandra Farrington and Anne Holland.
“I hit that glass ceiling at 100 miles an hour,” Farrington, a former Citigroup employee, says. “There’s no question this is a huge area for entrepreneurship, and there are so many women fed up with the corporate arena” who find marijuana more appealing.
Women Grow is a networking group founded by the “Martha Stewart of Pot” Jane West that boasts 1,500 monthly attendees many of whom own their businesses. Priscilla Vilchis is the first minority female CEO awarded two licenses to cultivate and produce cannabis products in the Nevada desert. Mother-daughter team Kathy and Andi Bixel founded high-end edible company Drip in Oregon.
Andi says, “I created Drip as a free pass to chill out, to use your imagination, to play and share with friends, or to dive into a solo project. I want to add new facets to people’s experience of cannabis. Ultimately it exists to remind you that it’s good to feel good. I’m just one girl who is wishing that every bite of the sweets we make translates into something that will move someone, or us all, toward a new way of life where we feel and appreciate the present, and can creatively inspire a beautiful future.”
A family of doctors, spearheaded by two black sisters, has helped reinvent medical marijuana. Matriarch Janice Knox led the family’s move into medical marijuana in 2012, when she retired from a decades-long career in anesthesiology. One of 15 children, she grew up in the San Francisco Bay area and went north for medical school in the 1970s.
“There were not very many black women or men, at least not at the University of Washington,” she said. “It felt like a cultural shock when I went there.”
The family’s Oregan practice strives to truly practice medicine with cannabis, doing more than just writing a blind prescription and instead, helping their patient best utilize the endocannabinoid system.
Pamela Hadfield was first introduced to the benefits of low-THC products when she found they could end her struggles with debilitating migraines. A user experience software designer, Hadfield created HelloMD, a user-friendly resource for patients looking to use medicinal cannabis. HelloMD facilitates consultations with doctors, precise product recommendations and access to supportive communities.
Brittney Carbone is the founder and CEO of TONIC, a wellness company that develops CBD based topicals and orals from organically grown, hemp. Before starting TONIC, Carbone was a professional personal trainer, a devotee to natural wellness remedies, and someone who battled anxiety. Incorporating Ashwagandha for its natural anxiety relieving qualities was in and out of Carbone’s wellness routine. However, cannabis was the only thing that ultimately helped her anxiety.
Noelle Livas co-owner of Meowy Jane in Maine started growing medical cannabis for patients more than six years ago. Meowy Jane cannabis is now regarded as some of the best on the east coast with strains boasting 35% THC levels, more than twice what was considered “potent” 20 years ago. Striving to pioneer a more ethical way to farm, Johanna Motz is the co-founder of
PolyKulture Cannyard. She oversees marijuana plant growth operations using only regenerative farming practices. Johanna believes in responsible cultivation practices with no harmful chemicals, soil degradation or water waste. She encourages the public to ask where its cannabis comes from, warning that not all of it is a result of ethical farming.
Dr. Lakisha Jenkins is a member of the American Herbalist Guild, Dr. Lakisha Jenkins is a registered master herbalist and traditional naturopath. Dr. Jenkins has helped write legalization laws for the state of California as a founding member of the California Cannabis Industry Association. Internationally recognized management consultant Shanita Penny has helped companies improve their business performance for over a decade. Founder and CEO of the consultancy Budding Solutions, Penny’s a proud cannabis activist who lobbies on behalf of the industry on Capitol Hill. Lynne Lyman has worked as the California state director for the Drug Policy Alliance since 2012. Using her experience that includes working with government and civil rights organizations in California and Massachusetts, Lyman manages statewide work and advocacy to create an inclusive cannabis community that also represents people who supported the weed industry before it was legalized.
Tahira Rehmatullah is the Managing Director at Hypur Ventures, and Chief Financial Officer of MTech Acquisition Corp. MTech is an exclusively cannabis related venture capital fund. For more than three years, Noa Kahner has been helping cannabis businesses get the funds they need to get off the ground and thrive. Her company, Kahner Global, hosts Cannabis Private Investment Summits in cities across the US and Canada. Here, investors, hedge funds, high-net-worth individuals and family offices have an opportunity to connect with entrepreneurs. Cannabis businesses often have trouble getting financing, so these conferences are vital to the industry.
A cannabis clinician, Jessica Peters is the founder of Moxie Meds, which offers medicinal cannabis for women, by women. Its therapeutic cannabis tinctures are used to lessen the symptoms of menstruation, menopause, hormone-related stress and reproductive issues. After first working primarily with HIV/AIDS patients at Market St Cooperative (formerly ACT UP) in San Francisco, Jessica became an advocate of the medicinal properties of cannabis.
Amy Poinsett has provided software to cannabis businesses since she cofounded MJ Freeway Business Solutions in 2010. Her software tracks inventory for growers and provides tools for growing legal cannabis businesses and governments to regulate the industry. In 2014, Susan Bunce noticed that although medical cannabis was legal in Nevada, there wasn’t any way to make sure consumers were getting a safe product. So, she cofounded DB Labs, the first cannabis testing lab certified by the state.
Women are the face, the brains, the money, and the experience behind many of the brightest companies in cannabis. It’s an industry born into a society that offers more equal opportunity for women than ever before, and the female gender is capitalizing. Spotlighting these women brings attention to both the benefits of cannabis and female entrepreneurship.
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