As more states hop on the legalization bandwagon, the cannabis industry is becoming one of the fastest growing industries out there. And, along with the exceptional growth, we’re seeing the role of women leaders explode at a rate higher than almost any other industry. In fact, there is a higher percentage of women executives within the cannabis industry than in U.S. businesses overall, and that number is rising!
Women are taking the lead in so many diverse arenas of the cannabis industry, from company CEO’s to growers, dispensary owners, activists, chefs, consultants, and more. Many are involved from the ground up, and have been a driving force in helping legal cannabis bloom throughout the U.S. And, much of this change is happening in California!
When it comes to top women in the cannabis industry, Beverly Hills’ Cheryl Shuman is queen. Known as the “Martha Stewart of Marijuana,” Shuman is involved in all aspects of the business, sitting atop a veritable cannabis empire. Along with her daughter Aimee, she founded the Beverly Hills Cannabis Club, helped to build up Kush Magazine to become one of the largest cannabis media sources in the world, and continues to help push the branding of cannabis to a stigma-free space. In addition to all the events she helps produce and the talks that she gives, Shuman works hard to help elevate other women in the field.
And, for many, that’s what being a part of the cannabis industry is all about: women helping women. Women Grow is one organization doing exactly that. The organization emerged in Colorado in 2014, the brainchild of a collective of women that wanted something that connects, educates, and empowers the next generation of cannabis industry leaders. Only two years later, Women Grow has spread throughout the country, and has a vibrant presence in California, with chapters in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Sacramento and more.
Yet, even within the push to support women working with weed there is work to be done. The cannabis industry is heavily dominated by white people, a combination of a variety of factors (including the fact that when it comes to the history of law enforcement and marijuana, a disproportionate focus has been on people of color), and extra effort needs to be made to ensure the inclusion of Women of Color in all aspects of the industry. Supernova Women is a California organization doing just that.
Created by Sunshine Lencho, Amber Senter and Nina Parks, Supernova Women seeks to eliminate the barriers that prevent women and people of color from entering the cannabis industry. Parks, Senter, and Lencho use Supernova to create events that differ greatly from typical marijuana industry events. Instead of costing a lot to attend, they’re free, opening up the information and education they provide to a larger and much more diverse audience. The work these women are doing with Supernova Women needs to be amplified and replicated if the cannabis industry wants to become as inclusive as possible.
Because then California (and the country) can enjoy the fruits of so many women — and sometimes we’re talking about actual fruit! Women are also leading the way when it comes to the edible side of the marijuana industry. LA’s Andrea Drummer of Elevation VIP Cooperative and San Francisco based Monica Lo of Sous Weed are two chefs blazing the trail that is cannabis cuisine. With unique preparations using classical techniques, both women are ones to watch as canna-chefs begin to make names for themselves within the larger food community.
From chefs to entrepreneurs to dispensary owners and more, women across California and the US are leading the way when it comes to cannabis. They’re breaking out of the stereotypes surrounding women when it comes to weed and proving that they’re capable business women, ready and able to reach new heights within this industry.
Bio: Avital Norman Nathman is a freelance writer whose work has been featured in Bitch Magazine, Cosmopolitan, The New York Times, The Daily Dot, Rolling Stone, SheKnows, CNN, and more. Follow her online at @TheMamafesto.