Celebrating the Women of Cannabis
Posted: March 27th, 2023
March is Women’s History Month, and what better way to celebrate than by supporting truly-authentic, women-owned brands? At Garden Society, we’re lucky enough to count ourselves among many women-led cannabis businesses in California. While that list has been growing at a decent pace this past year, there’s still more we can all do to lift up women in every industry. We’re going to share a few ways (and reasons) to do just that, but first, let’s take a trip back in time…
Badass Women of Cannabis History
The legalization and decriminalization of cannabis over the past decade or so may make it seem like a recent issue, but in fact cannabis activism goes back at least a thousand years – and women have been involved from the beginning. Notably, ancient Egyptian women used cannabis’ sister plant, hemp, for pain relief during childbirth and for menstrual cramps. And in the middle ages (read: a time when women’s opinions in medicine were definitely not welcome), the German nun Hildegard von Bingen recommended it for medicinal purposes.
100% of flowering cannabis plants are female
In the 20th century, the cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead (perhaps best known for being outspoken on women’s rights and sexual morality), argued that keeping cannabis illegal while people continued to knock back booze and smoke cartons of cigarettes was the epitome of hypocrisy. And of course today, there are countless fearless female leaders who are “breaking the grass ceiling” and advocating for better (and easier) patient access, including our fearless founder, Erin Gore.
Female Founders Facing Hurdles
Despite the fact that women have been active in cannabis legalization, cannabis testing, and cannabis rights since the earliest days of commercialization, they continue to face gendered obstacles impeding their growth in the industry. Women hold less than a quarter of all executive positions in the industry, and the number of women and people of color in leadership positions in cannabis has declined as we headed into 2021.
We see this trend repeated across industries. Only 22.2% of the businesses in the U.S. are owned by women, and they hold just35% of senior leadership positions – even though they account for half the workforce. Across the board, the reasons ring familiar: Fewer women in senior investment positions, lack of employer support for caregivers, and straight-up gender bias. And let’s not forget the great COVID“ she-cession,” where women were expected to work from home, tackle the vast majority of homeschooling for the kids, and provide care for at-risk elderly relatives.
The Unsung Benefits of Supporting Women
When women are empowered to overcome these barriers, the benefits are vast. Many of these tie directly to a better bottom line for business. For example, women-led companies have better stock price performance, and female leaders improve financial performance metrics in general. Specifically in cannabis, female executives are setting aggressive growth goals, they’re leading innovation in the field, and they have uniquely qualified insight into what appeals to the fastest growing consumers of legal weed (AKA young women).
But more than the financials, women leaders have a positive impact on the people around them. For one, they tend to cultivate healthy workplace cultures for both women and men, focused on improving quality of life as well as diversity, equity and inclusion. Women’s economic empowerment also spills over into their families and communities, creating more stable societies, and companies with women at the helm are more likely to have programs that are socially and environmentally aware.
Promoting Lady Leadership in Cannabis (& Beyond)
One of the top ways that we can support other women in business is by investing in women-owned businesses and by helping make women’s voices heard.At Garden Society, we’ve personally committed to doing just that in the cannabis industry and beyond. We’re a mentor for Eaze Momentum, a cannabis business accelerator designed to support under-represented founders, and we TK the Sad Girls Club, a female-founded non-profit that aims to support and destigmatize mental health support for women of color. We’ve also sponsored events like Blunt Brunch, Women Work F***ing Hard, Pink Sesh, and Flower Hire to support the continued effort to promote women.