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Published
March 08, 2023

Breaking the Grass Ceiling: Women Paving the Way in the Cannabis Industry

Cannabis has a long and complex history, dating back centuries to its first recorded use in ancient civilizations.

Throughout this history, women have played an important role in the plant's use, but they have also faced significant challenges in advocating for its legalization and participating in the cannabis industry.

History of Women in Cannabis

In many early societies, women were the primary users and cultivators of cannabis. In Ancient Egypt, for example, women used cannabis to treat a variety of ailments, from headaches to hemorrhoids. In India, women traditionally prepared cannabis-infused dishes for religious and medicinal purposes. In China, women were known for cultivating high-quality strains of cannabis.

However, in the 20th century, the image of women and cannabis began to change. As anti-marijuana propaganda campaigns gained popularity in the 1930s, cannabis became increasingly demonized and associated with immoral behavior and sexual promiscuity. Women were often portrayed as the victims of marijuana use, and the drug was linked to a range of social ills, from crime to insanity.

Despite these negative stereotypes, women continued to advocate for the legalization of cannabis and played a critical role in shaping the industry. In the 1960s and 70s, women were at the forefront of the counterculture movement, and many became involved in the cannabis trade. Women were particularly influential in the development of cannabis breeding and cultivation techniques, as well as in the creation of new cannabis strains.

Breaking Barriers in the Growing Cannabis Industry

As the cannabis industry has grown, women have started to take on leadership roles in cannabis businesses, from cultivating and processing to marketing and advocacy. In recent years, there has been a concerted effort to promote gender equity and diversity in the industry. Organizations such as Women Grow and the National Cannabis Industry Association's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee are working to support and promote women and people of color in the cannabis industry.
Despite these efforts, women continue to face unique challenges in the cannabis industry. Gender bias and discrimination remain prevalent, and women are often underrepresented in leadership roles. Additionally, women of color face even greater obstacles in entering and advancing in the industry.

However, women in cannabis are making important contributions and pushing for change. Women-owned cannabis businesses are on the rise, and more women are advocating for equitable policies and representation. By recognizing and addressing these challenges, the cannabis industry has the potential to become a more inclusive and diverse space, one that values and supports the contributions of women and other underrepresented groups.

Who are Making Waves in the Cannabis Industry?

Jane West is a cannabis entrepreneur and founder of Women Grow, a networking organization for women in the cannabis industry. She is also the CEO of Jane West, a lifestyle brand that sells cannabis accessories and hosts cannabis-themed events. Amanda Reiman is a cannabis activist and entrepreneur who has been working in the industry for over a decade. She is the  Chief Knowledge Officer for New Frontier Data, a cannabis distribution company, and is on the Board of the National Cannabis Roundtable and the Industrial Advisory Committee for Excelsior College’s Cannabis Program. Wanda James is a cannabis entrepreneur and the founder of Simply Pure, a dispensary and edible company in Colorado. She is also the first African-American woman to own a cannabis dispensary in the US. Dr. Chanda Macias is a cannabis entrepreneur and the Chief Executive Officer at Ilera Holistic Healthcare, a medical cannabis company. Together with Jazmin Hupp she founded the Women Grow organization in Denver.

These women are just a few examples of the many women who are making a name for themselves in the cannabis industry. They are paving the way for future generations of women to break the grass ceiling and achieve success in this rapidly growing industry.

Opportunities and Challenges

Despite the fact that women make up over 50% of the US population, they are underrepresented in leadership positions in most industries, including the cannabis industry. However, the cannabis industry is unique in that it is still in its early stages of development, which presents an opportunity to create a more equitable and inclusive industry. By actively promoting diversity and supporting the contributions of women and other underrepresented groups, the cannabis industry has the potential to become a leader in promoting gender equity and social justice.

As more states and countries legalize cannabis, it is crucial to ensure that the industry does not perpetuate the gender and racial inequalities of the past. By learning from the history of women and cannabis, we can create a more just and equitable future for all. Women have been integral to the cannabis industry for centuries, and their contributions will continue to shape the industry for years to come. It is up to us to support and empower them in their efforts to break down barriers and achieve success in this dynamic and exciting field.

Shaping the Future of the Cannabis Industry

Women have always been an essential part of the cannabis industry, and they are now taking on leadership roles and making significant contributions to its growth and development. While there are still challenges to overcome, the future looks bright for women in weed. With their unique perspectives and innovative ideas, women will undoubtedly continue to shape the industry's future for years to come.

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