The percentage of women in executive roles and with ownership stakes in cannabis companies dropped from 36% to 27% between 2017 and 2018. These numbers have spurred a group of women to work to increase female representation.
For Danielle Schumacher, a shift in female representation in the cannabis industry has been a long time coming. Recalling the first time she attended a cannabis convention, she remembers the feeling of being one of a only a few women in the room.
"That feeling just really stuck with me that this isn't going to last. This is going to shift in my lifetime, and I want to be part of that," she said.
She has since co-founded THC Staffing Group, a recruitment firm that aims to diversify the cannabis work force. But despite the shifts Schumacher says she has seen in the industry, female representation is on the decline, not increasing. The decline of female representation may lie in the normalization of cannabis. As it becomes increasingly mainstream, so too does its business structure—and therefore places more men in senior positions.
Colorado filmmaker Windy Borman says government programs are needed to allocate a certain number of cannabis licenses for women and minorities. Examples of this already exist in states like Massachusetts. She also advocates for training and skill development directed towards women, and says getting women in the industry is the best way to attract more female customers.
"We're not necessarily interested in the largest bong ever built," she said. "We need products that fit into our lifestyle that are more discreet and they're not going to be covered in Jamaican flags and big pot leaves and things like that."
And attracting those to the industry is exactly what Gia Morón hopes to do. Her PR firm now represents Women Grow, a national cannabis networking group.
"Now you're seeing more successful, leading women in this space that are not only making serious inroads, but they're going well beyond the ceiling that's been placed over our heads and saying, 'We're more than this, and we deserve to be at the table'."
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