There is no dearth of women who are helping shape the world of legal cannabis. In fact, depending on who you ask, or what article you read, several names appear as the most prominent female executives in the cannabis industry. You may hear about Jana Perez, Jane West, Johanna Mortz, Shaleen Title, Lynne Lyman, and Laura Harris. Recently, CannaNews has awarded their Cannabis Industry Women of the Year Awards to Kary Radestock, who heads Hippo Premium Packaging, and to Genifer Murray, who founded CannLabs.
There is no question that women are making their mark in cannabis-related business. In fact, it would seem that the cannabis industry is currently dominated by women. According to a recent survey conducted by New Frontier Data and Women Grow, there are more women working in cannabis-related businesses than men, comprising close to 60 per cent of its work force. Zeroing in on just the owners, around half of cannabis businesses are owned by women. For three out of every ten companies, all their owners were women.
The new study pored over interviews from at least 1,700 people who are connected to the marijuana industry. Their replies were evaluated according to these main points: cannabis usage, how diverse upper management is, how different people were included in the formulation of the business strategy, and the benefits and compensation. Gender discrimination, racial discrimination and sexual harassment were also evaluated.
This is a very promising trend in that it shows that women were not being left out in the cannabis business world. In fact, it seems that the fairer sex more often than not controls the reins and the direction in which their respective companies would go.
Why women rule the cannabis industry
Women, the study shows, holds a majority ownership in around five to six out of every 10 cannabis company.
The cannabis industry is a rather young one, and women are able to enter without having to work doubly hard to earn the same amount of money as men do, doing the same amount of work. This has been the unfair conditions in more traditional businesses, where women are not paid as much as men for the same work. It also breaks the glass ceiling, or that invisible threshold that keeps women out of boardrooms and C-suites.
More minorities needed
However, some areas need to improve. New Frontier Data CEO Giadha Aguirre de Carcer remarked that while the mix of women and men holding important positions in these businesses is encouraging, racial minorities are still under-represented.
In September 2017, Howard University held a panel discussion with people of color who run marijuana businesses. The consensus is clear: there needs to be more minorities in ownership positions. This is important because the war on drugs has unfairly targeted minorities. Another roadblock is that some of the minorities who try to apply dispensary licenses have criminal records, which makes it more difficult for them to secure the license.
While the recent study shows around half of the executive and ownership positions in the industry are held by women, another report cite a much smaller figure.
The Marijuana Business Daily relates that 27 per cent of cannabis executives are women, down from 36 per cent just two years prior. This is because more men are entering the industry, and they might have better credentials on paper, with easy access to funding, and previous entrepreneurial experience.
The report also reveals that one in every four cannabis-related businesses are founded or owned by women.
Still, even with the decline in the number, that 27 per cent figure is still better than the national average of female executives, which is at 23 per cent. This means that compared to other industry, the cannabis space still has more female executives.
Women in the marijuana sector will continue to flourish. Even if they start now, they are still considered to be pioneers who have taken the risk in starting a business that may or may not be legal in the near future. What’s more, as female cannabis executives have shown, women are committed to helping push the growth of the industry along, helping build other businesses that they get in contact with.