The cannabis industry is rapidly evolving. It is, pun intended, flowering into a full-fledged business sector. And women are at the forefront of this budding industry on several fronts. Let’s get a better understanding of the impact of women in the cannabis industry. We’ll discuss the evolution of the marijuana industry before sharing the hard numbers on women in leadership in this novel area.
Cannabis has gone from an illicit drug to a hot new industry. This has occurred in the United States because it has become legal for medicinal use in many states, and it is legal for recreational use in nine states and Washington D.C. Canada has gone further, legalizing marijuana on a federal level.
This has allowed cannabis to go from an illegal product sold on street corners to being sold in retail storefronts. High end dispensaries sell designer mixes and artisanal pipes. The mostly-legal status of the product has led to full-fledged branding via logoed T-shirts and streetwear.
The “Green Economy” or “Green Rush” is unusual for the role women play in it. Because it is a new industry, it isn’t dominated by companies led by men, creating an even playing field for women entering into it.
Green Growth Brands explains that women are key to cannabis, both as consumers and executives. Female executives are particularly well prepared for this industry, because they’re the ones who fully understand “experiential retailing”. Women executives from a variety of retail brands are moving into the cannabis industry to craft brands that bring the same all-encompassing identity and selling technique to cannabis. They are then able to sell to people in-store, online and through social media “tribes”.
Women are already starting to take over the beauty, health and wellness industries. These women moving into the cannabis industry are able to promote cannabis as one more product in that niche, making it acceptable to new users. As someone helps a green brand grow, they either move up in the organization or end up high up in a larger, more influential firm.
Another reason why women are so key to the cannabis industry is because they dominate the life sciences. This means that women are disproportionately involved in cannabis chemistry, though they’ve long been advocates for improved quality of the drug.
In 2015, women held an incredibly high 36% of executive positions in the U.S. cannabis industry. In comparison, women hold only 23% of executive level positions nationwide. As the marijuana business has corporatized, the number of women in the C-suite fell to 27% in 2018, but that’s still higher than the national average. Women’s dominance in the life sciences, though, explains why they hold 63% of high level positions in testing labs.
The cannabis industry has provided a unique opportunity for women to stand out and profit from this literally green revolution. And the experience they bring from retail, marketing and the life sciences has allowed many to rise to the top.