The Rise Of Female Leadership In Cannabis: Top Executives Share Their Insights

On International Women's Day, the cannabis industry stands as a testament to the significant strides made towards gender inclusivity and leadership diversity. This dynamic sector, known for its rapid growth and evolving landscape, has become a platform for women leaders to innovate, inspire and advocate for a more equitable space.

Influential women across the cannabis spectrum share their insights and experiences, highlighting the progress achieved and the challenges that persist. Their voices, pivotal in shaping the industry's future, emphasize the importance of female representation, empowerment and the ongoing efforts required to ensure women, particularly those of color, are no longer underrepresented or overlooked.

As the industry continues to flourish, these leaders call for a collective push toward refining hiring practices, enhancing retention and amplifying the voices of women in leadership positions, making it clear that the journey to gender parity in cannabis is far from over.

Rosie Mattio, Founder and CEO of Mattio Communications

I feel very fortunate to have created space for women in communications and cannabis to learn, develop and reach their full potential. When I look at several of our clients, I also see many inspiring instances in which women built thriving businesses from scratch and then, laid the groundwork for other women to flourish as well.

Still, there is much more that can be done to empower women in an industry in which they, particularly those of color, are underrepresented and too often overlooked. While progress has been made in several areas, companies should continue to refine their hiring practices and evaluate their retention efforts to ensure they are not only hiring a diverse group of individuals, but also offering the tools needed for them to grow. More broadly, as an industry and a society, we need to continue amplifying the voices of women leaders and normalizing women in leadership positions.

Emily Paxhia, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Poseidon Investment Management

I love being a woman in cannabis, the bourgeoning industry is a fertile ground for people to manifest a path that may not be possible in other spaces.

We are still in a frontier moment and pioneers are comprised of a gritty and passionate mix of people who value those who lean in to drive to the future. Some of the greatest leaders I know throughout these businesses are women and most take the responsibility to bring other women along very seriously. We have a real opportunity to continue to build this industry to be inclusive and to be optimized by a range of life experiences and perspectives.

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Deborah Saneman, CEO of Würk

As one of the female leaders in the cannabis industry, I still see a massive opportunity to redefine norms and pave the way for diversity and inclusivity. It's about breaking barriers, challenging stereotypes, and demonstrating strength. At Würk, I strive to empower not only myself but also those around me, proving that success in this field is not limited by gender but by dedication, innovation and resilience.

Phoebe DePree, CEO of Goddess Growers:

There has never been a better time for women to join the cannabis industry. Women make up over half of cannabis consumers. That number is likely higher, as women make 80% of health and wellness purchase decisions for their households. Further, they disproportionately care for their aging parents. If a woman likes a product, she tells all her friends about it.

This powerhouse of a consumer is not one to miss, and yet the cannabis industry is seriously lacking in female leadership. By participating early in the cannabis industry, women have the opportunity to challenge traditional gender norms and redefine societal perceptions of the traditional cannabis consumer. They can also promote wellness advocacy. Women's health is constantly put on the back burner - by joining the cannabis industry, we can prioritize the development of products specifically designed with our well-being in mind.

Last but not least, being part of the cannabis industry is personally rewarding - it provides a sense of purpose and passion in life! Run, don't walk, to find your place in this special industry that is poised for explosive growth over the next decade.

Patricia Rosi, Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer of Acreage

With cannabis use among adult women reaching its highest levels ever reported in the U.S., it’s clear that we need more female representation in the industry and crucial that we challenge historical barriers by continually advocating to inspire other women to embrace the cannabis community. I have forged my path building companies that support this mindset, and I am incredibly proud to be part of an organization with over half of the executive team comprised of women.

Wendy Bronfein, Co-Founder and Director of Public Policy of Curio Wellness

As a woman leader in the cannabis industry, I've witnessed the profound impact we can make. As of 2024, women account for 39% of cannabis executives, significantly increasing from previously 23% women.

In an increasingly dynamic industry, the avenues for women to thrive are boundless, from retail to cultivation, to product development, to marketing and more. Being part of this burgeoning field means being part of something rapidly evolving, where one's career can soar at an accelerated pace. Working in cannabis isn't just about seizing opportunities; it's about shaping the future of an industry that's not only growing but growing fast.

Now read: International Women's Day, Native American Leader Reclaims Her Tribe's Cannabis Legacy

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