Some folks are surprised that there are already groups serving minorities within the cannabis industry since it’s fairly new. In truth, this industry is already quite large and I agree with predictions that it will grow $35 Billion industry in sales over the next 20 years. (For comparison alcohol retail sales in 2012 were $197.8 billion.)

The Industry’s Survival Depends on Greed Not Screwing This Up

LittileKatieChewing Tobacco

Source: Duke Library

The Cannabis industry is in a volatile stage where a few bad actors could retard the progress towards creating a national regulated market. 80 years of anti-marijuana propaganda, started by William Randolph Hearst, is a daily struggle to overcome. We cannot afford to have an industry that puts greed ahead of health and safety. I’m generalizing of course, but women tend to make community- and family-oriented choices. Having women involved in the cannabis industry is just one more check on us not making the mistakes alcohol and tobacco industries did in the past.

The National Cannabis Industry Association, a founding member of Women Grow, features this education for newcomers to the industry at their events and their Code of Conduct emphasizes professionalism.

The opposition says we’re the next big tobacco industry in the making. Diverse teams show that we look and think nothing like big tobacco did and never will.

Diverse Teams Create an Industry That Serves Diverse Customers


Source: Julie’s Baked Goods

Some early companies were focused on their most loyal customers: people who like to smoke frequently. Some of their customers had serious medical conditions, some didn’t, but many ended up focusing on potency to serve those loyal clients. Today, with over half of Americans living in a state with some form of legal cannabis, the market is much broader than we thought. Newcomers, women, seniors, and athletes are just some of the new groups we’re serving now. These new customers need new products. The fastest way to create those products is to include people from those groups in your business.

Julie’s Baked Goods, a founding member of Women Grow, creates healthy cannabis-infused edibles. Founded by a mom with celiac disease, she was one of the first to create edibles that would not appeal to children. Her products are a favorite among patients with digestive challenges and healthy adults.

The oppositions says we’re only out to get everyone high. Let’s show them we’re in the industry for so many more reasons (and getting high is safer than getting drunk).  

Companies with Female Leadership Outperform Others

I was taking clients on a tour of top dispensaries in Denver and suddenly realized that the majority of stops we were about to make had female owners (3D Cannabis Center, The Farm, Good Chemistry, Mindful and LiveGreen Cannabis). Even though few dispensaries are owned by women, those dispensaries are often the ones that differentiate themselves in training, selection, or environment in my experience. Don’t believe my anecdotal experience in Denver, let’s get the big numbers in here.

Catalyst studies the financial performance of Fortune 500 companies based on the gender diversity of their board of directors. Here’s what their study found:

  • Return on Equity: On average, companies with the highest percentages of women board directors outperformed those with the least by 53 percent.
  • Return on Sales: On average, companies with the highest percentages of women board directors outperformed those with the least by 42 percent.
  • Return on Invested Capital: On average, companies with the highest percentages of women board directors outperformed those with the least by 66 percent.

Diversity Goes Far Beyond Just Gender Diversity

Empowering women in cannabis is just the first challenge for Women Grow. We have this chance to create a new American industry that we can all be a part of (instead of spending decades trying to change it after it’s already been built). I hope you’ll join us for an event near you because we have a lot to do together.