Women Unite At Largest U.S. Marijuana Business Conference

Ron Strider

Well-Known Member
In the sea of men descending on Las Vegas for the nation's largest business conference for legal weed, the gender gap in this burgeoning industry was easy to spot. But female cannabis entrepreneurs and industry workers actively sought out each other during the largest MJBizCon yet and vowed to keep pushing to bring more women into the industry.

After all, noted Lilach Mazor Power, managing partner of The Giving Tree Wellness Center in Phoenix and Mesa, AZ, "This [cannabis] is a female world. We are using female plants."

More than 18,000 cannabis entrepreneurs, investors, and employees of a myriad of service and supply companies gathered over four days to network and learn about the business opportunities and challenges ahead. The sprawling expo featured 678 companies exhibiting everything from child-proof packaging to banking and financial services to marketing to cultivation equipment. While the conference floor was packed with a mostly white and male crowd, top of mind for conference organizers was tackling the issue of diversity.

"This is an industry that has come up from the basement where a lot of bad behavior was allowed to flourish. Getting that behavior out of the industry and being welcoming to women and minorities who can slot right in (to these new jobs) is key," said MJBiz Daily CEO Cassandra Farrington in her opening remarks to attendees of the pre-conference Marijuana Business Crash Course where hundreds of new and potential entrepreneurs and investors spent the day learning the ins and outs of legal cannabis.

Building networks to connect women in the industry underscored gatherings of women throughout the week. At a spirited mixer on the first day of the conference, Kyra Reed, founder of Women Entrepreneurs in Cannabis (WEiC), hosted an enthusiastic group of fifty women at her in-person meet up for the Facebook group she started that boasts more than 2300 members.

"We believe women will have higher rates of success in their businesses if they have access to mentors, a supportive group of peers and the education they need to make good business decisions," said Reed, based in Denver, who is also launching Kadin Academy, a startup bootcamp for female cannabis entrepreneurs.

Over drinks at the nearby Westgate Hotel, the women from around the country chatted about ways they could collaborate. Reed says WEiC is aiming for gender parity among business owners and C-Suite executives. The 2017 Diversity in Cannabis Survey released in October by New Frontier Data and Women Grow suggests that there is momentum. 58% of 1700 workers surveyed reported women in management roles inside their companies and 30% reported working for businesses owned entirely by women.

At MJBizCon's sold-out Women in Cannabis luncheon the following day, speakers highlighted an emerging "tribe" of women business leaders and emphasized the need for all companies to engage women at high levels.

Women staffing dozens of exhibits in the expo seemed to share the optimism that as a new industry, cannabis can offer opportunities for women to advance. Presiding over a pastel colored array of infused cookies and candies, Abby Gould, who runs marketing for the female-founded edibles company, The Good Ship, told me she feels the support of a sisterhood.

"I think there's a really powerful community of women that are building something really special, and binding together much more than I've seen because it's a very intentional community that we're building at the moment. It's super collaborative because the more we raise each other up the more this industry moves forward," she said.


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Full Article: Women Unite At Largest U.S. Marijuana Business Conference
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