Freedom Leaf’s 2017 Canna-Women Impact List: Eight Female Movers and Shakers

Cannabis consultant, Disjointed; owner, Alternative Herbal Health Services
• On being a cannabis consultant for TV shows and movies: “It’s fun and exciting, but representing the industry I love can be stressful. Working on Disjointed required me to be present in the writers’ room to help guide them along, using my 15 years of cannabis-industry experiences. I worked with wardrobe, set designers and the prop department to make sure everything on set felt as authentic as possible. I was on set during rehearsals and tapings to work directly with the cast. It’s so important for the actors to feel comfortable, which is why I had them all spend time inside my real dispensary in West Hollywood.”
• On making the move to recreational sales: “We’re lucky to be located in a very progressive city. West Hollywood gave us a business permit back in 2005, so we’re one of the only four licensed dispensaries in all of Los Angeles. We’re ready for 2018, just in time to celebrate Season 2 of Disjointed on Jan. 12.”
• On women in cannabis: “Sorry boys, the ladies are taking over! Traditionally, men grew and sold cannabis while the women stayed home with the kids. If there was a bust and the man was arrested, the kids still had at least one parent to care for them. Once medical marijuana became widely accepted and legal, more and more women began working as budtenders. Now we’re entrepreneurs, growers and dispensary owners. Not only are women more nurturing, we’re the ones who purchase most of the items for their households. It only makes sense to start marketing to us. We’ve made huge strides in a short amount of time, and I’m so happy to be part of this groundbreaking industry.”
“For decades and decades, we’ve understood that prohibition doesn’t work.”
Executive director, Los Angeles County Office of Cannabis Management
• On achieving equality in cannabis: “Equitable to me means just fair. The policy up until now has been prohibition. For decades and decades, we’ve understood that prohibition doesn’t work. It hasn’t curbed the availability or consumption of cannabis. But, nonetheless, we’ve spent millions and billions of dollars incarcerating people for a plant and substance that now, under California law, is not a drug. As we move forward, we want to make sure that those community members and individuals impacted disproportionately by marijuana prohibition and its enforcement have an opportunity to participate in the legal industry.”
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• On her own cannabis use: “I shy away from the question of whether or not I consume, because for some folks that’s a medical question. When we’re having these conversations, I remind folks that it might not be polite all the time to ask people about their medical history or their medical practices.”
“Cannabis has been used practically since the beginning of history.”
Commissioner, Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission
• On becoming a cannabis activist: “My roommate at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, Danielle Schumacher, wanted to start a chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy. You needed two people to start a chapter, so I said, ‘Fine.’ At one of our first meetings, someone from the ACLU came and said, ‘If you’re black in Illinois, you’re 57 times more likely to be incarcerated for a drug offense.’ That number just blew me away. It became our mission to change that.”
• On her parents: “I would tell them about how, in Indian culture, cannabis has been used practically since the beginning of history.”
• On her government job: “I’m trying to be authentic. I know a lot of people are looking to me. I believe we can make the marijuana industry not just any industry, but a better one, and that we can make this a really open and transparent agency that takes people’s needs into account.”
“I’ve had a prescription for some time for chronic pain. I’ve really become a believer.”
Actress, Disjointed
• On medical marijuana: “I’ve had a prescription for some time for chronic pain. I’ve really become a believer. I find it just as effective, if not more, than other pain relief. Originally, when I was going through breast cancer, my oncologist prescribed some, because my recovery was painful. The marijuana was a tremendous help.”
• On vape pens: “Pot is so much better now. Now they have these vape pens. You control your intake. It’s like: function, not function.”
• On shooting Disjointed: “At the end of the week, after we’ve had the show, you get the new script. I go home, take all my makeup off, climb in bed, get stoned and read the new script. They’re hysterical.”
“The world definitely needs more cannabis journalists who know how to cover the space fairly and accurately.”
Founder, Word on the Tree
• On her career before cannabis: “I covered tech and media, and managed social media for publications. My last full-time job was social editor at Adweek, and before that, I was an editor at Mediabistro. I wasn’t happy with the direction my career was going and decided I wanted to focus on a beat I was passionate about: weed!”
• On Word on the Tree: “It’s a daily newsletter and website that delivers everything you need to know about cannabis. My goal is to highlight the best cannabis journalism, with a focus on criminal justice. It’s going well, though it certainly hasn’t been easy. I’m also a freelance journalist and a part-time student. There’s been a proliferation of marijuana media outlets in recent years and mainstream publications have been increasing their cannabis coverage. The world definitely needs more cannabis journalists who know how to cover the space fairly and accurately.”
• On women in cannabis: “The cannabis industry is a great opportunity for women. But I think a lot of the coverage of how the industry is welcoming to women is misguided. Plant-touching sectors like cultivation and extraction are very male-dominated and misogynistic. Ancillary sectors like finance and tech bring in sexism from those industries. There have been gains, just don’t come in with the notion that the industry is particularly welcoming to women. For instance, a cannabis company held a party at a strip club in Las Vegas during the Marijuana Business Conference and Expo in November. We still have a ways to go, but the more women in the industry, the better.”
“There’s a lot of space in the industry for people of any gender, as long as you know your stuff and are willing to work hard.”
Creative director, Tikun Olam
• On the work she does: “I’m responsible for branding, packaging and marketing for both web and print, event and display design, and video for a multistate cannabis brand. I’m returning to my entrepreneurial roots and working as an independent agency. I look forward to taking Tikun Olam to the next level while expanding my clientele.”
• On Woman Grow: “We’re evolving. I hope the organization comes out stronger. There’s a lot of space in the industry for people of any gender, as long as you know your stuff and are willing to work hard. That’s what Women Grow encourages. Opportunities are available if you show up and know what you’re doing. The most important thing is to know what you want to do and pursue it with all of your energy. Women have a huge impact. We purchase health products. We’re movers and shakers.”
“Kansas City didn’t have an active NORML chapter, so I decided to start one.”
Executive Director, NORML KC
• On becoming a NORML activist: “I’d been a cannabis supporter for a long time, but I’d never used my voice to make a difference. After losing loved ones to conditions that could’ve been helped by cannabis, I no longer wanted to remain silent. As a woman, I wanted to contribute a female perspective to the cause and also encourage other women to get involved. Kansas City didn’t have an active NORML chapter, so I decided to start one.”
• On decriminalizing cannabis in Kansas City: “A small group of dedicated individuals worked tirelessly to put our decriminalization measure on the ballot. The NORML KC chapter was responsible for writing the language, gathering signatures and building coalitions within the community. By leading the Yes on 5 campaign to an overwhelming 75% victory in April, we showed what a small group of individuals can accomplish with passion and tenacity.”
• On women in cannabis: “Women are truly leading the way in creating a more diverse and sophisticated industry. In the past, cannabis consumption has been viewed as male-dominated. It was lacking a female point of view. Now that there’s a larger legal market in the U.S., more women are coming out and helping to shape this new industry.”
“The marijuana media is a crowded space, but by targeting only the financial news, we set ourselves apart.”
Owner, Green Market Report
• On “We focus on the financial news of the cannabis industry and leave advocacy and political reporting to other sites. Our goal is to be a central hub for the industry by presenting analytics and research from a variety of companies. The marijuana media is a crowded space, but by targeting only the financial news, we set ourselves apart.”
• On 2018: “We’ll continue to see industry numbers explode, especially as California begins to record and report hard data on cannabis sales. It will be the year of Cali cannabis. With midterm elections at the end of the year, there could be some improvements in the political landscape.”
• On women in cannabis: “Women got off to a good start in the early years of the industry and then things seemed to slow lately. Perhaps the original female entrepreneurs sold their businesses, or more men started businesses, and that brought the percentages down. Creating their own networks and supporting each other will bring the numbers back up. Women are seeing that by starting these networks, they have a nonjudgmental place to ask questions and get help. We’re stronger together, and by supporting each other we will grow together.”
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