Women in the World of Weed – Part 1

As marijuana continues to climb the legalization ladder, more individuals are getting involved in this lucrative industry. Under the Controlled Substances Act marijuana is classified federally as a Schedule 1 drug alongside MDMA, heroin, LSD, and others. This classification is interesting because it is physically impossible to consume the lethal dose of marijuana, which also highlights the fact there has not been any recorded death by marijuana. Apart from it’s federal status, numerous states have begun to legalize cannabis in some way. In fact, 21 states allow cannabis for medical purposes and 9 states allow recreational marijuana consumption. This Wikipedia page is a good starting point for state-by-state information.

The state I live in, Arizona, legalized marijuana for medical purposes in 2010. A close friend of mine manages a medical marijuana dispensary and Part 2 to this post will be my interview with her and others. The managers, both female, are the only managers at this dispensary and have been involved in the industry for multiple years.

Recently we watched an episode of Viceland’s Weediquette titled “Mary Janes.” Side note – Weediquette series host Krishna Andavolu does a phenomenal job exploring the different aspects and people of this industry in an entertaining yet highly informative manner; I definitely recommend watching the show. Anyway, “Mary Janes” opened my eyes to the topic of gender equality in the cannabis industry. Throughout the episode I gathered women experience an interesting combination of opportunity and challenge.

The Emerald Triangle, located in the northwestern part of California, is a rural area sprinkled with small towns, and filled with dense forestry. Farms in this area are predominantly owned by men and it is common for them to prefer women trimmers. Enticed by the promise of a job, many women retreat to a farm with a (typically male) grower. This article from Huffington Post follows the stories of a few different women who experienced sexual abuse and a shockingly dismissive attitude from authority. I think it is important to shed light on these issues but, I want to highlight the fact this industry as a whole provides great opportunities for both men AND women so lets move on.

State-by-state the door inches open towards a federally legal marijuana industry; but for now the industry is still in it’s infancy. For women, this seems to hold numerous positives and negatives. On the positive end this is the time for women to plant their feet, to be a “first mover,” which lends significant advantage over those who move later. On the negative end, lack of regulation combined with an enthusiastic desire to enter the industry unfortunately handed those in power the opportunity to abuse. Fortunately, not all people in high positions abuse their power!

According Fortune, women account for 36% of leadership roles in the marijuana industry. Intriguing, especially in comparison to the 5% representation for CEO positions across all industries. Supporting the success of women in the cannabis industry is Women Grow, a membership organization offering resources for women professionals already and interested in the cannabis industry. The organization offers networking events in 14 states and Canada.

Any woman interested in the cannabis industry should strongly consider getting involved. 


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