The Impact of Women in the Cannabis Industry

the impact of women in the cannabis industry

In recent years, women have been making their mark and reshaping the landscape of the rapidly growing cannabis market.

Women are crucial in advancing the industry, from entrepreneurs and advocates to scientists and medical professionals. In honor of Women’s History Month, we focus on the incredible achievements and contributions of women in the cannabis world.

Let’s get started!

The Rise of Women in the Cannabis Industry

Women’s presence is shaping a more equitable and empowering future for all cannabis consumers. California has been at the forefront of supporting women in the cannabis industry through various initiatives and programs.

To foster inclusivity and diversity, the state recognizes the importance of empowering women entrepreneurs in the cannabis sector and has implemented measures to ensure equal opportunities.

Through informative seminars, certifications, and mentorship opportunities, many states show commitment to fostering gender diversity and inclusivity in the cannabis sector, exemplified by these initiatives, creating an environment where women can thrive and contribute to the growth and innovation of the industry.

Particularly in states like Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, women took leadership roles in new cannabis businesses after its legalization from 2012 to 2014. And many women-owned cannabis businesses reportedly outperform male-led ones.

In Massachusetts, where cannabis consumption is increasing, only 4.7% of cannabis businesses are owned by women compared to 19.3% in other industries. The cannabis industry is considered relatively woman-friendly due to its recent establishment and the absence of established gender norms. 

While over 60% of executives in cannabis product testing laboratories were women in 2015, challenges like limited access to capital for women entrepreneurs persist. According to data analysis expert Giadha DeCarcer, the industry’s novelty presents fewer barriers for women entrepreneurs, fostering a potentially inclusive environment.

Women Owned/Founded Cannabis Companies

In this ever-growing cannabis industry, there are plenty of cannabis companies owned by women. These influential women make strides in cultivation, cannabis PR and media, consultation, and other areas.

Here are some pioneering cannabis brands & companies owned or founded by women:

  • Cannaspire
  • Cann Strategy
  • Etain Health
  • Honeysuckle Magazine
  • House of Puff
  • Poplar
  • Roll-up Life
  • Shinnecock Hemp
  • Garden Society
  • Potli
  • Kiva Confections
  • Proof Extracts
  • Kikoko
  • Thiicc
  • Ceremony
  • Blazy Susan

These women-owned marijuana companies play pivotal roles in shaping the cannabis industry, emphasizing the importance of diversity and representation.

Women Changing the Cannabis World

Here, we focus on amazing women who have made innovative discoveries and impacted cannabis significantly.

Rowshan Reordan, an attorney in Oregon, opened Green Leaf Lab LLC in 2011, the first accredited woman-owned cannabis testing lab in the U.S. Inspired by a friend’s struggle with HIV, Reordan expanded with a second lab in California. Green Leaf Lab’s “Cannalysis” process, trademarked, utilizes trained chemists and standardized testing equipment for accurate cannabis analysis.

Women in Cannabis

Larisa Bolivar, the executive director of the Cannabis Consumer Coalition, has been a vocal advocate for consumer rights in cannabis for two decades. In 2022, she gained recognition for uncovering Colorado’s first list of problematic growers flagged for pesticides. Bolivar highlighted gender inequities in the industry, particularly the dominance of “wealthy white men” hindering clean cannabis markets. 

Dr. Michelle Sexton, Chief Officer of Phytalab in Washington, focused on clean cannabis as a naturopathic doctor. Bethany Sherman, of OG Analytical in Oregon, advocated for clean cannabis but faced controversy in 2017. Sexton, once at the Center for Cannabis and Social Policy, emphasized funding challenges in marijuana research over gender discrimination.

The important women cannabis rights advocates are:

  • Shona Banda
  • Valerie Corral
  • Constance Bumgarner Gee
  • Ann Druyan
  • Greta Gaines
  • Rachel K. Gillette
  • Alison Holcomb
  • Caroline Killeen

Women in Cannabis Science and Medicine

Now, it’s time to focus on three outstanding women who have impacted cannabis science and medicine.

Allyn Howlett holds a Ph.D. and is a pioneer neuropharmacologist, which means she studies medical science dealing with how drugs interact with the body’s nervous system. She is most well-known for her discovery of the CB1 cannabinoid receptor back in 1988. This amazing discovery paved the way for research into the body’s endocannabinoid system and impacted nearly every area of medical science. These days, Howlett teaches at the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at the Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Cecilia Hillard holds a Ph.D. and is the Associate Dean for Research and Director of the Neuroscience Research Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. Her team focuses on researching the pharmacology and biochemistry of cannabinoids and endocannabinoids. Thanks to Hillard, we now understand how cannabinoids regulate our immune system and how endocannabinoids signal the regulation of mood and our response to stress. She has received many awards and honors thanks to her work, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Cannabinoid Research Society.

Heather Bradshaw holds a Ph.D. and is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences at Indiana University in Bloomington. She is the director of the Bradshaw Lab of Lipid Neuroscience where her team focuses on how endocannabinoids and related lipid molecules impact female reproductive neurophysiology. Bradshaw has been a busy woman, publishing over sixty journal articles and she frequently holds lectures at universities and conferences in different areas around the world.

These women have paved the way for modern cannabis science. Thanks to there research and discoveries, more people will have the opportunity to further research cannabis and cannabinoids to find out just how beneficial they can be to our bodies. 

Our hats off to you, ladies!


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