As thousands of people light up to celebrate 420 on Wednesday, entrepreneur Jazmin Hupp will celebrate something else — a business milestone.
Three years ago, at a 420 celebration in Colorado, Hupp decided to leave the tech industry to follow her passion and become a cannabis entrepreneur. Hailing from Ashland, Ore., Hupp is the daughter of a jazz musician and an artist (“hippies,” she said) and grew up in a “cannabis-friendly” environment. To rebel, Hupp decided to move to New York and pursue business opportunities.
“Because I wanted to reject what my parents wanted for me, I became an entrepreneur, I became business-focused, I wanted to get those six figures,” she said.
With marijuana, she’s found a way to combine her roots and her entrepreneurial spirit. A cofounder of the for-profit trade organization WomenGrow, Hupp is focused on helping women enter and thrive in the cannabis business. Founded about a year and a half ago, WomenGrow has about 45 chapters in the U.S. and Canada, and holds events throughout the year that attract about 1,200 women.
The idea of cannabis as a business for women may seem like a tough sell to some, given the industry’s male-dominated public persona — the idea that historically pot smokers, and growers, are mainly men. But, if the vision of entrepreneurs like Hupp prove to be true, women, and their buying power as consumers, are key to cracking the glass ceiling of what will likely become a huge industry, built around a cash crop.
“We control the market,” she said. “I know, for sure, the people who are most apt to take advantage of this marketplace is women themselves.”
Women are making headlines as cannabis entrepreneurs. Take Whoopi Goldberg’s line of cannabis products marketed to women for menstrual pain, or Cheryl Shuman, the “cannabis queen of Beverly Hills,” a socialite who sells pot to LA’s wealthy.
While these news reports are recent, women have long played an important role in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana, according to Cal NORML Deputy Director Ellen Komp, who wrote “Tokin’ Women,” a book about famous women who have connections to pot.
From collectives to booth babes
The stereotype of a women in pot is typically one of a submissive employee. In Humboldt County, an area long-known for high-grade marijuana farming, the impression is often that men are in charge.
“When I first moved to Humboldt, it was ‘the men were growing and the women were trimming,’” Komp said. Women growers simply weren’t visible.