Lessons Learned From O'Cannabiz's Women in Weed Panel

The HerB Life was fortunate to attend the O’Cannabiz Conference and Expo last week in Toronto, attending various panels and presentations on the legal cannabis industry. One event shone brightly above the rest (and not just because our co-Founder Gill Polard was a panelist!). The Women in Weed Breakfast panel discussion provided a platform for boss women to share their stories, advice, and emphasize the importance of cooperation.


Cooperatition vs Competition

Lisa Campbell, CEO of Lifford Cannabis Solutions, said that in 2019 she was focusing on “cooperatition instead of competition”. This sentiment was the resounding message from the Women in Weed panel, which featured several of the industries prominent female leaders.

Women are taught at a young age that we must compete to achieve our goals, internal and external pressures to be ‘the best’ mount over the years. We waste focus on trying to be different than ‘most girls’. Whether it be competing for relationships or careers, we often succumb to the notion that women can only be successful by beating out other women. The Women in Weed event was one that provided a refreshing alternative to the old rhetoric.

Let’s face it, the deck is stacked.

Despite the PR saying otherwise, there is a definite diversity issue in the cannabis industry. As with many industries, start up capital allocated to women is far less than for our male counterparts. It was noted that in pitch competitions and investor presentations females were more likely to be asked questions around setbacks and troubleshooting, while men were asked growth and potential style questions and example of this is “How will you continue to grow?” vs “ How will you retain customers?”

So while it would certainly be easier to compete over what’s left of the pie, women are challenging themselves to share their successes and failures to help elevate each other. “Someone did it for you somewhere along the way. Now it's your turn, even when it's more time consuming” says Reena Rampersad of High Society Supper Club.

Be Critical of Pink-Washing

Beyond giving us permission to work together, the panel encouraged us to be conscious consumers, reminding us of a recent April Fools prank called High Heel for Her (by Him) campaign. Gill Polard spoke about being critical of whether women are involved in the storytelling process, or are just being sold to. There is a difference between using science to make a product beneficial and simply pink-washing it, essentially the equivalent of slapping a pink bow on it. As consumers it is our responsibility to vote with our wallets, demanding authentic and transparent companies and marketing campaigns.

The cannabis industry is still in the budding stages, and a great deal of how it turns out depends on us - both as consumers and as professionals. Sometimes it feels like swimming upstream, but these women advocate for collaboration, inclusion, perseverance, authenticity, cautious optimism, and of course, quality cannabis!

Being exceptional is hard work, but damn do these amazing women make it look easy.