Power Moves; Do Women Get Taken Advantage of in Cannabis?

Working for a women owned and operated company I find myself questioning the intent of some of the people we work with. Often I feel as though people, especially men, will try to take advantage of me and the company I work with.

Is this because I’m young? Is this because I’m a woman? Or is it both? Regardless, it’s wrong. Yet it happens over and over. I can count multiple occasions where people have grossly overestimated the cost of something, or have tried to grossly undercut us and our pricing. It’s always amazing to work with brands and companies who see your worth, see what you have to offer and pay you for it no questions asked, because they respect and value you. But how many of those brands truly exist?

I asked around and was astounded by how many women agreed with me but didn’t want to speak about it. So we spoke with two badass women on opposite sides of the industry to hear their experiences, see what they thought, and hear how they make power moves.

Mary Jane Gibson

Writer, Actress, & Host at Weed + Grub

About: Weed + Grub


Spark up and chow down with Mike Glazer and Mary Jane (yes, that’s her real name) as they smoke, snack, and swap tales about cannabis, comedy, sex, cooking, pop culture... basically

everything you already love. Weed + Grub is two friends sharing laughs and stories from their insane lives, and interviewing fascinating guests from all walks of life. Light a joint, grab a bite

and come along.

Have you ever faced sexism in the cannabis industry?

When I took a full-time position as lifestyle editor at High Times, many of my male colleagues were skeptical that I could offer any perspective on cannabis culture. I remember the editorial meeting when I was introduced as the newest staff member. One older male colleague harrumphed, rolled his eyes and asked no one in particular, “What does a lifestyle editor do?” I had to laugh when I was going through old issues of High Times a few days later and found a woman listed on the masthead with that very title all the way back in the ‘70s. There’s always going to be someone trying to make you feel smaller, so they feel big. I just worked my tail off, wrote about things I thought were interesting, and persevered. When I landed an interview with Andy Rosenthal, head of the editorial board at the New York Times, you could hear jaws drop. That same colleague congratulated me. He didn’t roll his eyes quite as much after that, but I still

had to fight to be heard. Now I have my own platform with my podcast Weed+Grub, which I host

with comedian Mike Glazer. I love it more than anything.

Do you ever experience people trying to undercut you or undervalue you and your company?

Any challenges I’ve faced working as a cannabis journalist and podcaster, I’ve faced in other areas of life: fighting to be heard, having to defend my point of view. Things that women encounter all too often. We’re accustomed to having to do our work not only as well as men, but actually better than them: backwards and in high heels, as the saying goes. I choose not to really engage with anyone who questions my worth—if I can, I smile politely and walk away.

Do you ever experience people trying to manipulate you?

I learned a lot about being manipulated from a terrible personal relationship—the silver lining is that now I can see those tactics from a mile away. I’m much stronger for having had that experience, and I can apply what I learned from it in my professional life.

What do you do to stop these things? What’s your power move?

We’re all susceptible to wanting to please others, wanting to be liked. It’s totally normal! The key is, if you feel yourself compromising your principles, or leaning out of your comfort zone, check in with yourself. If it doesn’t feel right, stand up for yourself. Don’t bend to someone who’s just trying to affect your outlook or actions to suit their own. If they don’t respect who you are and what you believe in, they don’t deserve to have you on their team.

Katie Stem

CEO of Peak Extracts

About: Peak Extracts


Woman-owned and operated Peak Extracts was the first adult-use edibles producer licensed in Oregon and currently holds a position as the #2 cannabis chocolate manufacturer in the state. Originally founded in the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program in 2014, Peak Extracts is locally owned and based on principles of quality and integrity. Every Peak product is made using a proprietary in-house Terp-LockTM extraction process that retains the character and effects of the original material. Peak’s hypoallergenic topical salve Rescue Rub is critically acclaimed and based on an exclusive combination of traditional Chinese herbal medicines used to treat inflammation, pain and blunt-force trauma. Peak Extracts’ new vaporizer cartridges feature a focus on CBD, terpenes and CBG and are the only CO2 cartridges available in the market that retain 95% or more of the original terpenes and flavonoids. Peak Extracts’ best-in-class creations are found in more than 150 carefully selected retailers across Oregon. Find Your Peak

Have you ever faced sexism in the cannabis industry?

Yes, all the time. Running an extraction company, we're in the dense overlapping niche of several male-dominated industries: manufacturing, chemistry, business, cannabis and engineering. The general assumption is that we can't possibly run our machines or have any expertise in any of those arenas.

Do you ever experience people trying to undercut you or undervalue you and your company?

Naturally, I couldn't begin to count the number of times our leadership team has been referred to as "the girls" even though we have multiple advanced degrees and an average age of 41. It can sometimes work to our advantage, as people don't expect us to be successful or discerning as we have been, so it's an unintentional sneak attack. On a couple of occasions we have experienced overt sexual harassment, or some direct implications that we should accept less than our worth because we are defenseless and therefore vulnerable to annihilation by some powerful male force.

Do you ever experience people trying to manipulate you?

Lately, this has been most obvious in the context of repeating an unreasonable question or request, hoping to either wear one of us down, or perhaps confuse us or make us forget.

What do you do to stop these things? What’s your power move?

My strategy is to anticipate their expectations and gradually wear them down, like a hypnotist. Typically these people assume that I am stupid, irrational, incompetent, and emotional. Therefore what I keep putting forward is calm, concise, well-reasoned and prepared. Usually it takes several repetitions, but by the end I am usually able to establish a rapport, and convince them that we are driven by similar goals.

Seemingly enough, cannabis is not as different from the other industries as some may believe. We have our issues just like every other industry, but what can make us different is to stand up to those issues. To say no and to shut down the sexism and the disrespect. This plant and this industry allows us a fresh start and a chance to repair the trauma and patterns we see through out the world. The question is, are we going to take that chance? Are you going to make power moves to create a better, more accepting, and inclusive world?

I hope you said yes.