Cannabis Companies Thriving Under Female Leadership

As the cannabis space experiences a boom across the globe, it’s clear by just visiting any convention or industry event; the space is dominated by men, specifically the blazer-wearing types that often chuckle in unison.


Cannabis Business Sees An Infusion of Alcohol, Tobacco and Pharma Execs

It’s a product of extended interest into this industry, as big players in the alcohol, tobacco, and pharmaceutical realm enter into this space, expect to see more hands dipping into the corporate cannabis batter.  

Executive boards and leaders in the cannabis industry remain largely comprised of men, leveraging experience yet failing to acknowledge the changing audiences of these products: women.  

There is one chain of medical cannabis clinics in the United States experiencing great success with a leadership team comprised entirely of women. Canna Care Docs boasts that their success is largely because of the women leading the company into the green, providing clinical evaluations and education services to those seeking to medicate with cannabis.

Located on the east coast of the United States, Canna Care Docs is proud to leverage the minds of an all-female leadership team. They assert that their team is stronger because of the women who run their show.

“Find me a man that can work right alongside us, I'll be glad to work with them,” says Kathleen McKinnon, Vice President of Operations at Canna Care Docs. “We haven't found that yet.”

“We have hired men,” she says honestly. “And although we have some small stars leading our regional teams, it is difficult to find any to keep up.”

Citing 35 years of marijuana experience, along with five years of professional cannabis experience, she states that CCD has set a new standard for cannabis evaluations in the U.S. because of the women who work for the company.

“The women of Canna Care are unbelievable,” she says. “We’ve outpaced many men in this industry.”

“I don’t think it’s a matter of whether or not you’re male or female, it’s whether or not you can keep up with the pace and pressure, and pivot on a dime. This industry changes from minute to minute, be prepared to turn around and go the opposite way at a moment's notice.”

Speaking to a Female Audience 

Emerging in the topical space is a female-focused company called Vertly, offering lip butters and lotions infused with CBD. The California-based company was inspired by founder Claudia Mata’s experiences shopping for cannabis products, noticing that many of the available products in dispensaries were marketed towards men.

“Although all our products are unisex, my goal was to cater to people like me who preferred organic and clean ingredients. I want my products to have a refreshing scent, as opposed to the predominantly huskier scents I found on the market.”

“Vertly is the embodiment of my family's lifestyle of clean and green living,” says Mata. “I hope its authenticity resonates with people who use it.”

Cannabis beauty products continue to be a hot commodity in an ever-expanding world of cannabis that continues to benefit from female voices and leaders.

“With the exception of my husband, who is also my business partner, we are a woman-based company,” she adds. “It feels empowering knowing we are working to fulfill our own wants and needs. As women, one thing we can do in this, and any business, is to literally put ourselves at the forefront of our minds when developing and imagining our products.”

Branching Together the Cannabis Industry

Another company working to promote female leadership in the cannabis space is Women Grow. Their professional networking events across North America bring cannabis professionals together, aiming to connect business partners and cultivate entrepreneurship.

“In this new and emerging industry, we felt it was right for women to get involved and promote female leadership and entrepreneurship,” says Kristina Garcia, CEO of Women Grow.

“More men are recognizing the opportunity here and coming into this space. Finances and tech are typically male-oriented industries, and these are some of the biggest growing components of the cannabis space.”

“Men and women offer a lot of different things,” adds Garcia. “I want to see more women in leadership but that doesn’t mean I want to see men not in leadership. I think everybody has something to offer.”

She stands firm that diversity is key for the industry marching forward. As new products are tailored specifically for women, it would prove to be challenging for these companies to have leadership teams composed completely of men, if they plan on selling and marketing to women.  

“You have to enlist the consumer base that you are targeting, they have to be part of the decision-making team,” she says. “Women are very organized, we tend to think about problems more holistically.”

“In an industry like cannabis where there are a lot of unknowns, risks, and regulations that change every day, a woman can come into this space and say that, ‘this is the product I’m going to create, this is how I’m going to tackle it, this is how I’m going to market it.”

The industry will only benefit from a diverse cast of professionals, including both men and women. The future however will need more women to lead this industry to success.

“I think the cannabis industry is definitely a place for women,” says McKinnon of CCD.

“Society looks at women as the softer of the two sexes, compassionate even. The compassion that women bring to this industry will propel them forward.”