From retailers and growers to certification gurus and CEO’s, women in the cannabis industry are coming together, speaking out and changing things for the better.

Even in 2015, there are many industries that are still considered boys clubs. While men continue to dominate top leadership positions across the board, the farming and agriculture industries have long lacked significant gender diversity.

There’s one segment of the market, however, that’s breaking the mold. The cannabis industry is brimming with savvy, innovative women who are invested in empowering their peers and leveling the playing field.

“Marijuana was a movement before it was an industry,” says Jaime Lewis, founder and executive chief of Mountain Medicine, a Colorado-based company that produces high-quality marijuana-infused products for medicinal and recreational use.

“The movement attracted a lot of women because of its compassionate side. I’m surrounded by so many women entrepreneurs who came to this industry because of the services we offer people. There are a lot of powerhouses.”

…While many of the industry’s women have battled misconceptions or sexism, like Lewis, they’re tacking these issues head on. Autumn Karcey, for example, is a former medicinal cannabis cultivator and president of Cultivo, an engineering and design firm providing sustainable, cannabis-industry specific solutions. She also happens to be a 5-foot-4 blonde, who says she fights against preconceived notions on a daily basis.

“When I first got into this industry, we weren’t allowed to advertise – it was word of mouth for years,” Karcey explains. “My work stood for itself. You have to be three times smarter and more on-top of things than your male counterparts. Women excel in this industry and take it to a new level.”

…One of the women who is leading the charge on industry standards is Maureen McNamara, a founding member of Women Grow and founder of Cannabis Trainers, a company that offers educational courses and solutions for marijuana industry professionals.

… No matter how many women lead, innovate and support the cannabis industry, the biggest accomplishment isn’t likely to come in the form of a diversity statistic.

“I look forward to the day — and would invite it to be sooner than later — that the conversation about how any men or women are in the industry is irrelevant because it’s known there is balance and diversity,” McNamara says. “The question might shift from ‘What’s it like to be a female entrepreneur in this industry?’ to ‘What’s it like to be a leader in this industry?’ I look forward to the day when there’s no distinction or gender qualifier. That will be exciting.”

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