How Women Are Thriving in the Cannabis Industry

With many states already having legalized at least medical marijuana and eight states plus the District of Columbia having legalized recreational marijuana, the marijuana business in America is booming. But it’s not just booming financially.

In a nation where women are typically underrepresented in executive roles, the cannabis industry is changing that fact. Marijuana Business Daily revealed that women hold 36% of executive positions in the cannabis industry. If you expand to testing labs, that number jumps to a staggering 63% of executive positions being held by women around the country.

Women in Weed are Winning

Comparing that to other industries, women only hold 14.6% of the executive officers. Only 8.1% of women are top earners and a lowly 4.6% for Fortune 500 CEOs are women. Even in health care, where women make up a staggering 78.4% of the total labor force, only 14.6% of executive positions are held by women.

Yet, in the cannabis industry, unlike the vapor pen industry or other recreational cannabis companies, female CEO’s are not only prevalent but extremely visible. Meg Saunders of Mindful; Patricia Rosi-Santucci of Wellness Connection of Maine; Ah Warner of Cannabis Basics; and Toni Savage Fox are all highly successful as producers, processors, and retailers, or PPRs for short.

Leadership Roles and Mentorships

Not only are women holding leadership positions, but women are also working to elevate future leaders in a growing industry. WomenGrow, founded by Jane West and Jasmine Hupp in 2014, is a non-profit organization that connects aspiring professionals with the women who are running cannabis businesses. Not only are they connecting professionals, they are working to educate women about the impact that cannabis can have on their lives. They show women that cannabis can help to regulate monthly hormones, impacting PMS and other menstrual symptoms, but can also increase their sex drives.

Hupp said that one of the reasons that she got into the industry was the fact that while attending the Cannabis Cup in Denver, she came to the realization that the cannabis industry was severely lacking in knowledge about women and their herbal needs. While searching for a jar to store her product, she was offered only a simple glass jar. After asking a nearby vendor for something different, the vendor offered to develop something that was more elegant and pink. These unfortunate incidents were what pushed Hupp into creating WomanGrow.

Another important female demographic that is killing it in the legal cannabis business are older females. These women enter the industry after years of personal experience with the plant – either as medical patients or as enthusiasts. These older women are more easily able to tap into a demographic of baby boomers – who are actually a growing population of cannabis users. One study indicated that during the years 2006 to 2013, cannabis use increased 71 percent in people over the age of fifty.

Baby boomers who have made careers in marketing, business management, finance and consulting can transfer these skills into a rapidly growing industry. This is allowing female seniors to start their own businesses that allow them to supplement their retirement incomes. Some are forgoing retirement entirely and forging entirely new careers.

Women are Consumers Too

All of that said, cannabis is also an industry with many female consumers – Bloomberg reports that women make up about half of occasional cannabis consumers and one third of heavy and moderate users – and not every female consumer wants a pink container. Cannabrand co-founders Olivia Mannix and Jennifer DeFalco have a rich background in marketing that they used to push the industry to go beyond the stereotypes. They understand that rebranding and repacking cannabis products to appeal to women is generating a market share that will continue to grow as more states legalize.

Women are, above all, changing an industry that is continually evolving by taking leading roles as entrepreneurs. They are taking new approaches and stepping out of their comfort zone to encourage collaboration, variations on product and dosage, and innovations that will grow the industry as a whole while catering to the specific needs of women. The cannabis industry is a new one without a culture of men in charge. Indeed, women are leading the way in an industry that Forbes is predicting will create more jobs than manufacturing by 2020.


Michael is a marketing and creative content specialist at with a primary focus on customer satisfaction. Technology and fitness combined with a healthy lifestyle obsession are his main talking points



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