Is The Cannabis Industry Still Welcoming To Females? Was It Ever?

In celebration of International Women’s Day and to kick off Women’s History Month, Higher Standards in partnership with Flower by Edie Parker, hosted a “Women In Weed” panel discussion at Higher Standards Chelsea Market in New York City.

“The panel of Women In Weed — outlaws, pioneers, entrepreneurs and advocates – told stories about heading out into uncharted territory with superhuman dedication,” Elana Frankel, founding editor of Woman and Weed, told Benzinga. “These women don’t mind working in high-risk, uncharted territory and it was clear the audience was ready to follow.”

Panelists, in addition to Frankel, included Margaret Hancock, director of sales for Edie Parker; Mary Pryor, founder of Cannaclusive; Lulu Tsui, founder of On The Revel; and Sophie Saint Thomas, a published author. They talked about raising capital, sex and cannabis, and how to get started in the industry

“The evening had an energy, and it was the power of personal narratives that brought a better understanding to complex issues,” added Frankel, who authored the book Women and Weed: How the Green Rush Is Changing Our Lives.

Where Have All The Women Gone?

It’s no secret that as the legal cannabis industry grows, the rate at which women are entering the industry has declined of late.

When Marijuana Business Daily released its “Women & Minorities in the Marijuana Industry” report in 2017, women held 37% of executive-level roles. That percentage has dropped to 22%.

Although, another report from The Arcview Group and National Cannabis Industry Association confirmed that companies led by women are more profitable and produce more than twice the revenue per dollar invested than those without them.

RELATED: Women And Minorities Still Very Much Underrepresented In Cannabis Industry

A Women in Cannabis Study (WICS), founded and led by Jennifer Whetzel of Ladyjane Branding, began compiling data in 2019 from more than 1,500 women and nonbinary participants. The study noted that women are deeply interested in bringing their skills, knowledge and wisdom into the newly legal industry but face barriers to entry including common challenges such as sexism, harassment, lack of support and benefits, difficulty obtaining funding, low pay and stigma.

marijuana dispenary
Photo by Zummolo/Getty Images

Despite an impressive number of female founders and owners, only 11% of respondents said they believe the cannabis industry is equitable.

Rosie Mattio, founder and CEO of Mattio Communications, says that 2022 will be a defining year for female leadership in cannabis.

RELATED: Setting Equal Standards For Women In The Cannabis Industry

“The cannabis industry cannot reach its full potential without women leading the charge as well,” Mattio said, noting that while female leaders are currently at the helm of some of the most influential cannabis companies, there is still a huge imbalance.

“Low rates of female and minority participation is a pervasive issue within cannabis, and female leaders are tackling these glaring disparities through their own businesses,” Mattio wrote in Rolling Stone.

 This article originally appeared on Benzinga and has been reposted with permission.


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