The women looking to change the male-dominated weed industry: 'We're not interested in the largest bong ever built'

Activists like Danielle Schumacher are setting up networking groups for women who arelooking to get into the profitable cannabis industry in the US

When Danielle Schumacher attended her first convention of marijuana activists about 15 years ago, she could count on one hand all the women in a room of older men.

The lack of diversity struck the then-college student, who remembers feeling out of place but also determined to make her mark - writes independent.co.uk

“That feeling just really stuck with me that this isn't going to last. This is going to shift in my lifetime, and I want to be part of that,” said the San Francisco-based Ms Schumacher, who in 2014 co-founded THC Staffing Group, a recruitment firm that encourages a more diverse cannabis industry workforce.

As marijuana has become more mainstream, Ms Schumacher has seen a gradual shift, with more women working in the industry. Women-centric groups focused on networking or providing a space for women curious about cannabis have proliferated, too.

But cannabis remains a male-dominated industry. How much so is unclear because the legal marijuana industry is so new. Since just nine states have broad legalisation, there isn't much data on the so-called grass ceiling for women or minorities in leadership roles.

One of those states, Massachusetts, plans a study breaking down license holders by race and gender and looking at possible barriers to getting into the industry. Licensing in that state is expected to start this summer.

The trade publication Marijuana Business Daily surveyed 567 senior executives, company founders and those with ownership stakes in marijuana businesses, and found the percentage of women in executive roles fell from 36 per cent in 2015 to 27 per cent in 2017. One possible reason: the executive structure of more mainstream businesses, where men hold most senior-level positions, is seeping into the industry, said Eli McVey, an analyst with the publication.

One way to boost investment in women- and minority-owned businesses is through more laws like the ones in some communities that reserve a certain number of marijuana licenses for those populations and by expunging criminal records for pot-related offences, said Windy Borman, a Colorado-based filmmaker whose movie “Mary Janes: The Women of Weed” documents her evolution from sceptic to self-proclaimed “puffragette.”

She also advocates training for skills like business-plan writing for those wanting to shift from the black market to legal market, and increased mentorship.

The industry must attract new consumers to expand, she said. Women generally make family decisions on health and wellness, and women have an opportunity to design products that fit with their lifestyle, she said.

“We're not necessarily interested in the largest bong ever built,” she said. “We need products that fit into our lifestyle that are more discreet and they're not going to be covered in Jamaican flags and big pot leaves and things like that.”

Jane Stinson, a self-described hippy during her 20s, worked for 20 years for an Alaska pipeline company. Her interest in cannabis was reignited when her mother was diagnosed with cancer and the family sought ways to help ease the side effects.

At roughly the same time, Ms Stinson was ready to retire, her son learned how to grow marijuana in California, and voters legalised adult marijuana use in Alaska.

“The stars were aligned,” said Ms Stinson, who opened one of Alaska's first retail shops in Anchorage with her son and daughter.

It hasn't been easy getting into the industry: Ms Stinson works up to 14 hours a day. But she now has 15 employees and is looking to expand. There is less of a stigma around marijuana in Alaska than there was five years ago, she said.

Ms Stinson's shop has hosted meetings of Ellementa, an organisation that promotes cannabis to women, focusing on wellness. Recent meeting topics have touched on insomnia and sex .

Meeting participants range from their 20s to 70s, said Aliza Sherman, a web entrepreneur and Ellementa CEO, who began using cannabis to ease neck pain and insomnia. Her company holds meetings in 30 cities nationally and is expanding into Canada and Europe.

Ms Sherman, who lives in Anchorage, said women-owned businesses know what appeals to women.

​Gia Morón, daughter of a New York City police detective and child of the Just Say No-era, saw great potential in expanding her PR business to include cannabis.

She was apprehensive at first but made the leap, believing she could bring value to the industry. In doing so, she pointed out instances where female representation was lacking, such as in the speaking lineup for Women Grow, a national networking group she now represents.

“Now you're seeing more successful, leading women in this space that are not only making serious inroads, but they're going well beyond the ceiling that's been placed over our heads and saying, 'We're more than this, and we deserve to be at the table,”' she said.

Read more news of London on our site.

cannabisindustry
If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
4 views in november
I recommend
No recommendations yet

Comments

Post your comment to communicate and discuss this article.

Society
London City Airport is going to fine airlines for breaching noise limits after a surge in complaints from residents.  The airport, based in the Royal Docks, has launched a “penalty and incentive” scheme for planes breaching its rules, and will name and shame them online. Bosses revealed the airport had seen a spike in complaints since launching concentrated flight paths in February 2016. The paths were changed after new air traffic control technology was b...
Society
The Crossrail delay will cost Transport for London almost £200 million next year in lost revenue, the Standard has learned. Latest calculations suggest the expected nine-month delay to the completion of the Elizabeth Line, first revealed in August, will cost the cash-strapped body almost £550,000-a-day.  TfL, which has a deficit of around £1bn, has told the London Assembly it will miss out on £170million income from passenger fares and up to £20million in...
Society
Motorists who park in cycle lanes in one of London’s “Mini Holland” boroughs could have their residents’ parking permits revoked, council chiefs warned today. A crackdown on illegal parking has been launched by Waltham Forest council amid growing anger at the way some drivers are blocking the new routes.  They are being introduced under a £30 million initiative to encourage walking and cycling by building Dutch-style segregated routes, including a three-mi...
Society
‘Only a bloody stark raving alcoholic is bloody drunk at 1.30pm in the afternoon,’ says Air India pilot. A senior Air India pilot was grounded after he failed breathalyser tests shortly before a flight from New Delhi to London on Sunday. Arvind Kathpalia, who is responsible for safety at the airline as operations director, denied drinking on the job and said he would contest the results of the alcohol checks. “It was 1.30pm in the afternoon, only a bloody...
Society
‘It was painful for me – it made me feel like I shouldn’t really be living’. Nearly half of school pupils have heard friends use language that is discriminatory or negative towards LGBT+ students, research finds.   More than one in three (35 per cent) young people have been called gay or lesbian as an insult, according to the new survey from The Diana Award charity. The poll, of children aged between 11 and 16, found that nearly half of young people (43 pe...
Society
A 15-year-old girl has been critically injured and 19 other people hurt as a double-decker London bus collided with two vehicles and hit a bus shelter. The bus collided with a car, a single-decker bus and hit a shelter at West Croydon bus station at about 12:20 GMT. The driver of the 198 Arriva double-decker bus was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs. London Ambulance Service said 18 people were taken to hospital. A Metropolitan...
Society
Britain fell silent at 11am on Sunday to mark 100 years since the end of World War One. The Prince of Wales lead the tributes, laying a wreath at the Cenotaph on behalf of his mother for the second year in a row, while an equerry laid a wreath on behalf of the Duke of Edinburgh. Ten thousand people took part in a procession past the Cenotaph following the wreath laying. Events took place across the UK and Europe to mark the centenary of the Armistice, when...
Society
A couple are using the money they earn selling Christmas trees to celebrities to fund their humanitarian work abroad. Eilidh McRae and Séan Mclaughlin, both 38, work at Pines & Needles, the favoured Christmas tree shop of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle , football manager José Mourinho, actor Russell Tovey and One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson . The couple are back working in London this week after volunteering in Indonesia following the Sulawesi tsunami whic...
Society
A planned 24-hour strike on London Underground's Piccadilly Line on Wednesday has been called off. But Tube passengers will still suffer disruption because of a walkout on the Central Line. Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union on the Piccadilly Line, which links central London to Heathrow Airport, were due to strike from noon on Wednesday. The union said it was suspending the action after progress was made in talks in a dispute over indu...