As marijuana laws change across the country, there’s a group out there making sure women get a seat at the table.
In an upstairs bar in Philadelphia’s Headhouse Square neighborhood in early November, Stephanie Thomas stood in front of a group of roughly two dozen with a simple message.
“This industry is never going to be this small again,” Thomas said.
She was talking about the marijuana industry. And in the state she was standing in, quite simply, there is no industry — at least no legal one.
But as legalization of marijuana moves across the country, Thomas is on the forefront of a movement that is trying to make sure women get in on the ground floor in what they are betting is a sure thing: medical marijuana soon, legalization for recreational users in the not-too-distant future.
“Women are underrepresented in management positions in the majority of industries across the country,” Thomas said.. “But in this industry, the door is wide open for everyone.”
With several states expected to allow medical marijuana or recreational marijuana in coming years, one industry observer, The Arcview Group has predicted that the cannabis industry is expected to group four-fold between 2015 and 2019, to $10.9 billion — a size that is roughly double the U.S vodka market.
Thomas is a co-chair of the Philadelphia chapter of Women Grow, a year-old organization focusing on women in weed that has sprouted 35 chapters across the country, including in Boston and New York.
They see opportunity not just in growing and distributing the plant itself, but in tools for wellness, tech startups, accounting, finance, real estate and accessories – all businesses that don’t involve touching the plant.