Women Making & Changing Cannabis History
Women in the Cannabis Industry
Women have played a major role in the cannabis industry and are strong participants in cannabis rights and legalization. There are many different aspects of the cannabis industry that women take part in. In a 2015 article titled “Women in Weed: How Legal Marijuana Could Be the First Billion-Dollar Industry Not Dominated by Men”, Newsweek covers just exactly how women were getting involved in the industry. They shared stories of women-owned weed farms, companies, and dispensaries. Also, female healthcare providers pushing for medical cannabis use and lawyers working with businesses to help aid in legalization. The article purports that women are helping to show cannabis in a new light, making it more commonplace. There has since been research to back up the positive impacts women are having in the world of cannabis.
A 2020 paper examined two legal adult-use cannabis states and found that higher gender diversity in city councils meant that they were less likely to opt-out of cannabis operations. Additionally, the paper found that female involvement in the cannabis industry positively impacted retail sales.
Some Prominent Women Changing & Forging the Cannabis Way
Here are a few women who stand out to us as important figures in the world of cannabis:
Dr. Sula Benet
Did you know that hemp may have been referenced in the bible? Research done by anthropologist Dr. Sula Benet suggests that certain words referring to hemp were translated to speak of reeds instead. In her essay from 1975, she explains that a root word “kan” from Hebrew can be used for both hemp and reed. The word “kaneh bosom” was often translated to “calamus” or “aromatic reed”. Additionally, “kaneh bosm” has been combined to say “kanabos” or “kannabus” which sound very similar to the word “cannabis”. Because of vague terms and mistranslations, it is possible that cannabis was used during biblical times for rituals and in medicine. In the same essay, Dr. Benet details how cannabis has been used in cultures all around the world for millennia. This is important information to remember during a time where the plant is often vilified.
Mary Jane Rathbun
Also known as “Brownie Mary”, Mary Jane Rathbun is known for baking and distributing thousands of cannabis-infused brownies to AIDS patients during her time as a hospital volunteer in the midst of the AIDS epidemic. Rathbun had a history of activism and affectionately referred to her patients as “her kids”. Rathbun helped lobby for cannabis legislation including the 1996 California Proposition 215.
Allison Margolin is a criminal defense attorney who works heavily in cannabis law and has been practicing since 2002. In a conversation with The Marijuana Times, Margolin explains her passion for ending the war on drugs and how she has felt that way from a young age. She follows in her parents footsteps as they are both criminal defense attorneys as well. Inspiration to work with cannabis law came from her father who started the Los Angeles chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. She was accepted to Harvard with her application essay about legalizing all drugs. Margolin is highly regarded by her peers for her work as an attorney.
Kate Miller was featured in a 2021 article from Forbes highlighting 8 prominent women in the cannabis industry. Miller is cofounder and CEO of the brand Miss Grass. She has a long background in cannabis as she started out as a medical marijuana budtender in 2008 in California. She is passionate about helping people and has seen medical marijuana change the lives of many patients.
Future for Women in Cannabis
The future of the cannabis industry seems dependent on both female owned businesses and female consumers. A July 2021 article from NBC News describes how young women have become a big part of the cannabis market.
In 2020, cannabis sales grew 46 percent overall. The group with the fastest growth during that time was Gen-Z women (those born 1997 or later) at 151 percent growth. This means that products are more and more geared towards women, with consistency, clever packaging and convenient products being big draws for them as consumers.
A Rolling Stone magazine article from January 2022 echoes that women are driving the cannabis industry. Women take charge of some of the biggest companies in the cannabis world. However, the percentage of female executives in cannabis companies is down to 22 percent, this is lower than the average in the country for mainstream business of 30 percent. Back in 2019, the percentage of women in cannabis executive roles was 36.8 percent. This means that 2022 may be a defining year for women in cannabis. Hopefully, women will continue to grow in the cannabis industry as they have for many years already.
A few of our favorite Wisconsin owned and women owned businesses we love include Canna Infuzions, and Cannastillery; both companies are dedicated to changing the stigmas and normalizing cannabis.
Here at Happy Trails, we have strong women on our team too, a few of which are featured on our website. You can read about their experiences with cannabis and how they incorporate the plant into their daily routines on our homepage.
My name is Amber. I am a cannabinoid consultant and columnist for Happy Trails. I have a Bachelor of Science in Biology. I enjoy learning about things I have passion for, and my family lovingly calls me a “human encyclopedia”. Read more about Amber here.
Benet, S. (1975). EARLY DIFFUSION AND FOLK USES OF HEMP (V. Rubin & L. Comitas, Eds.). Cannabis and Culture, 39-49.
Camors, C., Chavez, S. L., & Romi, A. M. (2020, February 5). The cannabis industry within the USA: the influence of gender on cannabis policy and sales. Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, 11(6). https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/SAMPJ-12-2018-0330/full/html
Lidz, G. (2015, August 20). Women in Weed: How Legal Marijuana Could Be the First Billion-Dollar Industry Not Dominated by Men. Newsweek. https://www.newsweek.com/2015/08/28/women-weed-how-legal-marijuana-could-be-first-billion-dollar-industry-not-364249.html
Mattio, R., & Mattio's, R. (2022, January 13). Why 2022 Will Be a Defining Year for Female Leadership in Cannabis. Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 9, 2022, from https://www.rollingstone.com/culture-council/articles/defining-year-female-leadership-in-cannabis-1282687/