Women are helping lead the growing cannabis industry worldwide
With cannabis still being a nascent industry, there haven’t been many studies done on diversity in the legal cannabis industry. One such study focusing on women in executive positions shows that while the cannabis industry used to employ a much higher percentage of women in executive leadership positions compared to all U.S. businesses, that disparity is quickly disappearing. Between 2015 and 2017, there was about a 10% drop in the percentage of women executives in the cannabis industry. This year, women made up less than 27% of the executive-level workforce in the cannabis industry. With these numbers dropping every day, it’s important to highlight the successes of women in the cannabis industry and to champion their accomplishments so that more women will feel empowered to step into leadership roles. Let’s take a look at some more of the burgeoning legal cannabis industry’s powerful female influencers that you should be paying attention to.
Cat Packer was appointed by the Mayor of L.A. to head up the city’s new department of cannabis regulation as executive director. After the city council and the cannabis commission finalize the new cannabis rules and regulations, Packer and her office will be in charge of implementing and enforcing them. Prior to her new role, Packer was the California coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance. She’s now charged with ensuring compliance with state law in what will soon be the biggest city with legal recreational cannabis in the nation. Packer is especially proud of the fact that California’s evolving drug policy and cannabis laws are currently the most social-justice-oriented in the nation.
Hilary Bricken is an attorney at Harris Bricken, a West Coast-based law firm. Bricken was a fierce advocate for cannabis legalization in Seattle, Washington before becoming a lawyer in 2010. She founded and chairs her law firm’s Canna Law Group, one of the first groups in the nation to provide legal representation for cannabis business clients. She also runs and edits the Canna Law Blog, a reliable source for insightful commentary on the various rules and regulations affecting the cannabis industry worldwide. DOPE Magazine even named Bricken their Marijuana Industry Attorney of the Year at their inaugural DOPE Industry Awards. Bricken regularly speaks about legal topics affecting the cannabis industry at various conferences- you can even watch her TEDx talk here focusing on whether we’re unintentionally creating “big marijuana”.
Dr. Chanda Macias
Not only did Dr. Chanda Macias develop her own cannabinoid therapy methodology, she owns the #1 dispensary in Washington, D.C.! As the CEO of the award-winning National Holistic Healing Center and with over $4.5 million in revenue last year, Macias has inspired women nationwide to take on leadership roles and start their own licensed cannabusinesses. Macias was a pioneer when it came to developing best practices and industry-wide standard procedures for the emerging legal cannabis industry. Harnessing her background as a biomedical research scientist, Macias created an innovative new treatment methodology to aid medical marijuana patients. She believes that her unique position as “the only African American woman or woman of color in the United States that has experience” with historically black colleges/universities and the legal medical marijuana market means it is her duty to serve and educate her community.
Jaime Lewis is the founder and owner of Mountain Medicine, a Colorado-based edibles brand. With more than ten years of experience in the edibles industry, she is an accomplished chef and cannabis connoisseur who creates some of the tastiest edible products available on the market today. Lewis puts special influence on supporting local farmers and businesses to ensure that every ingredient going into her edibles is high-quality. Lewis expounds that eating cannabis is actually the healthiest way to medicate. Her line features sweet treats such as THC-infused chocolate fudge and salty snacks like medicated cheese nibbles. A champion of women, Lewis has stated that she wouldn’t mind if some of the women she hires eventually leave her to become her direct competitors. Lewis hires the best and the brightest women whom she considers to be her sisters, and enjoys mentoring them so that one day she might “have some real fucking competition in all this”.
Amanda Reiman is currently the Californian manager of marijuana law and policy for the Drug Policy Alliance. Her next big project is going to be very research-intensive and focus on cannabis as a substitute for other substances, such as opiates. Prior to state-level cannabis legalization efforts, the nation-wide War on Drugs meant that there was no funding available to medical researchers wishing to study the medicinal benefits of cannabis- such as pain management. Today, states with cannabis regulatory regimes generate tax revenue from cannabis sales that they can then allocate towards more advanced research. Reiman believes that women are integral to the cannabis industry, but especially to cannabis research. She says, “the cannabis plant is female, so much of the ways in which the plants interact with the environment and with the people has to do with nurturing and balance”. She thinks cannabis research is women’s industry to claim.
Cultivate the Role of Women in Cannabis
As participation in leadership positions among women in the cannabis industry drops, the industry needs to focus on harnessing women’s power and actively promote the successes of women in the industry. Women like those mentioned above deserve more recognition for all that they do to positively influence the growing cannabis industry worldwide.