Women Execs React To Cannabis Trends Report Highlighting The Rise Of Females In The Marijuana Industry

AxisWire, a Cannabis-focused PR tech-suite provider, and Green Market Report on Monday issued their 2018 Cannabis Trend Report, highlighting the most relevant tendencies in the marijuana industry.

This year has seen major news items in the sector, ranging from the FDA’s approval of GW Pharmaceuticals GWPH’s Epidiolex, the first cannabis-based drug to be accepted by the agency; to Vermont’s and Canada’s legalization of recreational cannabis; and to the launch of adult-use sales in California.

There also seemed to be some underlying movements going on in the cannabis industry, notably, the continued rise of women in cannabis.

Related Link: Canada Legalizes Recreational Marijuana Nationwide Beginning Oct. 17: Experts React

‘Wonder Women Of Weed’

Roughly 27 percent of C-Suite level positions in the cannabis industry are occupied by women, according to Marijuana Business Daily; This beats the national average of 23 percent.

It should be noted men are slowly taking over, as the figure for women in C-Suite level positions in cannabis stood at 36 percent in 2015. Nonetheless, women are putting out a fight, and finding common grounds to do so as a community.

“For women in cannabis, it has become a badge of honor to know that within their new burgeoning industry ready to take the globe by storm, they hold the largest percentage of ownership, management and control of any industry in the world for their gender. Therefore upon recognition of the possibility of losing that title, the women have begun to band together and work toward the goal of making cannabis the first industry in the world to achieve 50% female control,” the report says.

The report goes on to highlight the main women’s organizations leading this battle, namely: WomenGrow, Ellementa, Industry Power Women (IPW), Supernova Women and Women Abuv Ground.

Benzinga's own Wonder Women of Weed series was also highlighted: “This series highlights the most accomplished
and exceptional women in the cannabis industry, and has been featured on Yahoo Finance, Entrepreneur, CNN Money and other mass media outlets."

Cynthia Salarizadeh, CEO of AxisWire and Managing Partner at KCSA Strategic Communications, told Benzinga, “The cannabis industry has taken the world by storm. It is an industry that will continue to expand and improve medicine, lifestyle and limitless alternative options for a sustainable future with industrial hemp. Historically, women are always directly connected to the advancement of agriculture. It is of no surprise that this industry would be where we have the most advantage. I believe women will reach 50% control in the next couple years.”

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Industry Power Women React

Interested in what the leading women in the cannabis industry had to say about this, we reached out to several of them.

Lindy Snider – CEO and Founder of Lindiskin

“The fact that this is still a nascent industry provides unique opportunity for women entrepreneurs. Factually, many of the early businesses in the industry were women founded. Unfortunately, women were dramatically less funded than startups founded by men... People are finally paying attention!"

“The appetite is there on both sides; by funders as well as investors... and not just women investors. This is a not only a uniquely inclusive industry, but an industry that is socially aware and cares about corporate culture. It lends itself to looking closely at trends in its own backyard.”

Cyo Ray Nystrom – CEO and Founder of Quim Rock

“I don't think we have a stronghold yet… The majority of investors, CEOs, landlords, and license holders are white men. We're working to change that but it takes work on both sides. It takes women leaning in and supporting each other and it takes men holding other men accountable and making room at the table for more diverse perspectives.

“Women are usually the ones making purchasing decisions for the household so when it comes to household medicine, I think more and more women are looking to alternatives to pharmaceuticals with painful side effects like opiates or ADD/ADHD medications. Also, the traditional ‘stoner aesthetic’ doesn't appeal to many women, especially many women who are looking for more discrete ways to consume.  

Emily Paxhia – Founding Partner of Poseidon Asset Management

“Unification of women is necessary in seeking and establishing leadership positions in the cannabis industry. Every woman of substance who is in an executive or upper level management position is thinking about how to get more women and more diversity into their companies. This is the critical moment of expansion for the industry and if women can help bring other women into the space, it will result in stronger and more diverse teams and will help to prevent the 'male-washing' that can easily occur as we have seen in the tech industry.

“It will do women no good to push each other under or layer on additional friction points. We must have a mindset of plenty instead of a mindset of scarcity -- there is sufficient space in the boardroom, C-suite and in leadership roles for multiple women, not just one… I have found multiple powerful women in this space who have learned that supporting one another only leads to acceleration and growth, compassion is a form of strength, as is generosity and it is true that what a person puts out there comes back to them in multiples.”

Erin Gore - CEO & Founder of The Garden Society

“Women have had the opportunity to gain a stronghold in cannabis over any other industry because the emerging regulated market is so new - the ‘good old boy’ system is not engrained into the culture of the industry like it is in most other areas. The cannabis culture is more open and supportive of women in leadership rolls, and women are taking that open lane to pursue entrepreneurship in a way they haven't in other areas.

“There is a natural camaraderie that has formed among female cannabis leaders. There are groups that support women in these advances and open the door for opportunity, fostering collaboration and partnerships that are less competitive and more supportive than ever. I find that women have a stronger sense of confidence than I've noticed in other industries. We know this is our time to build an industry that can foster diversity.”

Kyra Reed - CEO of Kadin Academy

“Because it is an emerging industry, the playing field is level by nature of its lack of infrastructure and defined protocols. Women are recognizing this, wherever you find the industry emerging. I even had a woman from France reach out to me last week and say they are inspired by what we are doing in the U.S.

“Women are recognizing that we have an opportunity to create a working environment that is more friendly to the way we want to do business. We prefer to collaborate, share resources and create community as we build companies. Rather than viewing one another as competition, we are working together to support one another and build companies together. A vast majority of the women in cannabis are driven by a passion to heal and change the world and can be found in every part of the industry. This passion fuels some of the most hardworking women I’ve ever met.

“In every other industry we’ve had to enter into a system already built, by men. It supports their version of how the business world operates. And it has worked for over 100 years. But we’re tired of those rules, they don’t always apply to us as women. We are the arbiters of relationships in our lives and that is how we want to do business as well. This is evident in groups like Women Entrepreneurs in Cannabis where every day you see women sharing their resources, giving advice freely and welcoming new women to the fold. We aren’t in fear of losing the one spot at the table. We don’t have to fight for the scraps here. We can pave our own path, together.”

Jacqueline Carly – Founder of Maria & Jane and GetPlanty

“More than in any industry, cannabis seems primed for women because it centers around building healing and nurturing experiences for people with legitimate medical challenges. Women who have strong creative skills and have a talent for details find themselves in a wide-open creative environment. 

“There is still so much opportunity in cannabis for women of all skill sets. Whatever your area of expertise - biz dev, cooking, coding, writing, HR, accounting, farming, design, consulting, marketing, teaching, security, etc. - bring it over into cannabis and get started. You don't have to reinvent the wheel. For as fast as the industry is growing, it's still very new and needs all of that infrastructure. I believe we can make this a strong female led industry if we choose to make it so. It'll take commitment, ongoing conversation and the mutual support of all women. We have to lift each other up. There’s room for EVERY woman to be successful.”

Lori Ferrara – Co-Founder of Treehouse Global Ventures

“I believe that women not only recognize the financial opportunities of this industry, but we also understand this is more than just about money. Women in general tend to be more nurturing and realize the medicinal benefits that cannabis can provide for those who are suffering.”

Photo by Javier Hasse.

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