How Women Can and Will Flourish in The Cannabis Industry
We’re now at the end of Women’s History Month. Each March we honor outstanding women who are trailblazers in civil rights, public health, education and business. Today, Refined Bud wants to do something else — highlight how women can make an impact and blaze their own trails in the cannabis industry.
As a relatively new industry, women are flocking to cannabis for a variety of reasons. Whether it’s to use their creative skill sets and unique perspective to take on stereotypes of women in the industry, or to change the health narrative in the United States, or any number of other reasons we’ve heard, women are everywhere in cannabis. Why? Because there is an opportunity for women to shape this industry and change the business.
Compared to other sectors, where women face significant obstacles to attaining leadership roles, the cannabis industry is unique. For instance, CNN reported in 2014 that only 14.2% of the top five leadership positions at companies in the S&P 500 are held by women. If that’s not alarming enough, it gets worse. Out of 500 companies, there are only 24 female CEOs. So, why are women flocking to the cannabis industry? Giadha DeCarcer, CEO and founder of New Frontier, thinks she knows. She told CNN Money “The cannabis industry is so new that there are very few barriers to get in, especially for women.”
While Giadha has a point, it’s not that simple. There are significant obstacles and barriers for women, especially women of color. Recently, Buzzfeed’s Amanda Chicago Lewis wrote a scathing essay about how white the cannabis industry is and why. She found that Black Americans were disproportionately targeted by the war on drugs, and because of the regulated market, there are steep regulatory costs for entry.
That’s not to say women should stay away from the industry, but not all women will have the same experience trying to break in, regardless of what skills or expertise they bring to the table. But this industry isn’t just about finding your way in the industry; it’s how women change industries where they hold significant roles.
Women in the cannabis industry seem to be natural leaders. Many women are encouraging other women to join the industry for the opportunities and education. Genifer Murray, the founder of CannLabs, tells Newsweek that she recruits and hire women with advanced science degrees. She explains, “In a typical science, like environmental or medical, it would take [women] 20 to 30 years to become something. We’re in the infancy. My scientists are going to be cannabis experts – some already are.” Women encouraging other women to capitalize on the fast-growing industry is just one of the many benefits of this business.”
Simply put, women are making history in this industry. Currently, women hold 36% of executive positions compared to the national average of 22% across all businesses. Marijuana Business Daily broke it down even further showing the opportunities women have for promotion or to start their own business in this industry.
As one of the fastest growing industries in the United States, cannabis can serve as ground zero for women to take hold of the opportunities they always wanted in other industries. Owning their own business, becoming a self-sufficient woman, or making a difference in your community. The New York Times reported that sales of legal cannabis grew to $5.4 billion in 2015, with a projection of $6.7 billion in 2016 and by 2020 to reach an incredible $21.8 billion. In Colorado alone, $135 million in taxes and fees were collected in 2015, which thanks to the voter-approved recreational marijuana tax program, $35 million will go directly to Colorado schools. This revelation of doing well and doing good is another strong point of this women-lead industry.
Women are getting their hands dirty in this industry. You don’t have to be a grower, dispensary owner, or distributor either to get in on the action. As in any industry, ancillary businesses pop up to hone their niche in the market. The cannabis industry is no different. Areas of finance, marketing (Refined Bud), security, management, and packaging experts are attracted to the industry to gain a competitive edge to specialize in cannabis. They, like us, see the advantage in concentrating a major business function towards the marijuana industry.
As the stigma surrounding cannabis use changes so does the industry. No longer is cannabis viewed just for the stereotypical stoners or hippies. This industry is interested in legalizing cannabis for the greater social good. Genifer Murray shares her thoughts on why she thinks women are dominating the industry.
“This is a compassionate industry, for the most part, especially if you’re dealing with the medical side. The medical patients need time and consideration, and women are usually the better gender for that. The industry is flat-out geared for women.”
So, in honor of Women’s History Month, at Refined Bud, we celebrate the women who are shaping this budding industry. If you’re interested in how we got our start or opportunities for you to find your fit, reach out to us using the contact form below. We’ll do our best to connect you to folks in the industry who are making waves. There’s a place for all of us; you just have to find your fit. As Newsweek’s Isaac Brekken wrote, “It seems fitting that a plant called Mary Jane could smash the patriarchy.”