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 september
I recommend
No recommendations yet

Comments

Comments are designed to communicate and discuss the features of an enterprise or event, as well as to find out the interesting questions on it.

Society
Homeowners whose properties were devastated by the Christmas flooding of 2013 may feel a little safer at the news their town is set for a new £15 million barrier thanks to the latest round of funding. Flood defences for Tonbridge and the surrounding area are to be improved following a decision to award more than £2 million of government cash. It will go towards improvements to the Leigh Flood Storage area and local embankments in the Hildenborough area. Th...
Society
The Government is to crack down on people smugglers advertising their services to people in developing countries via Facebook in a bid to stem the flow of undocumented migrants to the UK at its source. The UK has identified 539 social media pages – the vast majority on Facebook – which it says are used by people illegally offering others transit to Europe - writes independent.co.uk “We must now match our pursuit of people smugglers and traffickers with a r...
Incidents
A schoolboy died from the effects of a suspected allergic reaction after allegedly being chased and having cheese thrown down his T-shirt, an inquest heard today. Karanbir Cheema, 13, was “gasping for air” when emergency crews arrived at William Perkin CofE High School in Greenford . Kieran Oppatt, the first paramedic to arrive at the scene on June 28 last year, today told St Pancras coroner’s court that the unconscious teenager’s condition deteriorated dr...
Society
Around 120 people were affected by a flood in West Drayton when a burst water main filled a residential street. The road, Falling Lane, was covered in a metre of water in an incident which prompted six fire engines and 40 firefighters into action on Sunday. Some 80 properties were impacted, some of which were evacuated . In an update, a spokesperson for the London Fire Brigade , which was called at 8.39pm, said: “Firefighters used sand bags and pumped wate...
Society
Council sidestepped a loaded decision about ending city hall regulation of the number of taxi licences in London, punting the controversial proposal back to staff on Tuesday night. The direction to city staff? Talk to the taxi industry. Again. It’s the latest chapter in the never-ending saga over London’s bylaw governing taxis, limousines and private ride-hailing companies like Uber. VEHICLE FOR HIRE BYLAW Staff will bring a bylaw back to the community and...
Incidents
A dog owner claims her pet was kicked to death by a teenager in a “disgusting” attack at an east London park. Pomeranian puppy Scout was set upon by thugs while being walked in Raphael Park in Romford , owner Samantha Winfield said - writes standard.co.uk She has launched a Facebook campaign to track down the culprit and police are investigating the incident, which happened at about 3pm on Sunday. “My partner walked my two Pomeranian puppies in Raphael Par...
Society
A teenage girl was raped in broad daylight in an east London park, police have said. The Met's child abuse and sexual offences command is investigating the attack, which happened in West Ham Park on Tuesday. The female victim was attacked by a man close to the entrance opposite FairlandRoad, Scotland Yard said. It happened at about 4pm. No arrests have yet been made. West Ham Park, which dates back to the 16th century,is run by the City of London Corporati...
Society
Armed police would have needed “luck” to be in the right place to tackle an intruder at Parliament, the Westminster terror attack inquest heard today. Khalid Masood, 52, rushed into the Parliamentary grounds and stabbed Pc Keith Palmer to death having mown down and killed four pedestrians with his car on Westminster Bridge. The inquest has heard armed police patrolling Parliament had been in-structed to prioritise the safety of ministers and MPs over polic...
Society
A car thief who was filmed deliberately driving at a group of cyclists has admitted a string of offences. Shane Seymour, 25, of Southwark, south London, drove at the cyclists on Clapham Road, Clapham, during the morning rush hour of 1 August. Footage on social media showed a black Audi with fake number plates repeatedly accelerating towards the cyclists. Seymour pleaded guilty to the theft of a car, driving while disqualified and dangerous driving. He appe...