Did you know smoke-able cannabis is always a female plant? The male cannabis plant looks pretty dinky by comparison; if you want to grow cannabis, you have to pick out all the male seeds and discard them.
Take what you will from that information, but let’s just say women are essential to cannabis. After all, there are more women CEOs in cannabis than any other industry in the United States! From advocates and lawyers to business owners and authors, check out some of the inspiring women revolutionizing cannabis.
1. Bonita “Bo” Money
Photo credit: Bonita Money
Money got her start in the entertainment industry, working as an actress and casting director. Today, she’s the founder and CEO of Women ABUV Ground, a networking organization for women of color in cannabis, and N.D.I.C.A, National Diversity and Inclusion Cannabis Alliance. She focuses on diversity in the cannabis industry and fights for social justice and equity, helping expedite expungements for cannabis-related offenses.
2. Shanita Penny
Photo credit: Budding Solutions
After having her own 2011 marijuana possession charge expunged, Penny considered herself lucky: she recognized that many others don’t have the same resources. As president of Minority Cannabis Business Association, she advocates for automatic expungement of prior cannabis offenses. She also founded Budding Solutions, a boutique consulting firm that helps cannabis businesses with business planning, competitive strategy, and more.
3. La Wanda Knox
Photo credit: La Wanda Knox
La Wanda is the CEO & Consultant of Make Green Go, which helps cannabis entrepreneurs legitimize their businesses and obtain licenses. She hosts cannabis business workshops and even co-authored a book for cannabis startups with her husband Zachary, a lawyer who sits on a cannabis regulatory board. "I love it when people discover the medicinal benefits of cannabis,” she says. “I also love working with people of color in this industry, because we’re so innovative with our products and services.”
4. Pamela Hadfield
Photo credit: Pamel Hadfield
Pamela co-founded HelloMD, a digital healthcare platform servicing cannabis consumers, with her husband, Mark, after discovering the therapeutic benefits of the plant for herself. She suffered from debilitating migraines and was able to manage her symptoms with CBD. Today, HelloMD is the number-one resource for cannabis health questions. “We have the largest question and answer platform in cannabis,” Hadfield says. “We’ve been called the Quora of cannabis.”
5. Charlo Greene
Photo credit: Charlo Greene
In 2014, Charlo Greene quit her Alaska CBS news anchor job before revealing herself as the owner of the Alaska Cannabis Club — with the now-infamous on-air exclamation, “F**k it, I quit.” Next, she faced 54 years in jail, accused of a felony (selling pot), even though Alaska had already legalized cannabis. (The state had not begun licensing businesses yet). After a two-year battle, she paid a $10,000 fine and walked free. “Because of me, no one will ever again have to face in the state of Alaska what I’m facing there now,” Greene said. Shortly after that, she moved to California to launch a daily talk show, The Weed with Charlo Greene. She also debuted her line of CBD products, and released a book about her fight for legalization titled, “F**k It: A Guide To Letting Go and Living Free.”
6. Tiffany Bowden
Photo credit: Tiffany Bowden
Tiffany Bowden is the co-founder of the Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA), a non-profit dedicated to the needs of minorities in the cannabis industry. Today, she works as a consultant, activist, and diversity specialist. Bowden is also the co-owner of Comfy Tree Enterprises, helping cannabis brands reach their business goals. She is also the owner of Otesha Consulting, a consulting agency that focuses on diversity training and community impact. Her championed cause is advancing mental health for people of color. Few people are as qualified as Bowden in the area of diversity and cannabis. She is a PhDc whose dissertation explores inclusion disparities in the cannabis industry and she continues to be an outspoken advocate for equal representation.
7. Mary Jane Gibson
Photo credit: Kaitlin Culucundis-Parry / Mary Jane Gibson
Mary Jane Gibson was one of the top editors at High Times magazine for over a decade, covering culture, entertainment, and trends. Today, she contributes to Leafly and publications all over the world, covering all things cannabis. She also co-hosts a podcast called “Weed + Grub,” with comedian Mike Glazer. And yes — that is her real name!
8. Jane West
Photo credit: Janewest.com
Dubbed the “Martha Stewart of Marijuana,” Jane West was fired from her day job at CNBC after her bosses came across footage of her holding a vape pen. The turn of events spurred her to found Women Grow, which is now one of the largest networking organizations for women in cannabis today. She’s also the CEO of her own, self-named canna-business. Earlier this year, InStyle magazine named her one of their 2019 badass women “who are changing the world.”
9. Aliza Sherman
Photo credit: Ageist / Aliza Sherman
Cannabis entrepreneur, author, professional speaker, web pioneer — the list goes on and on! Aliza Sherman is the co-founder and CEO of Ellementa, a global women’s cannabis wellness network active in more than 50 cities in the U.S. and Canada. She’s also the author of “Cannabis and CBD for Health and Wellness,” a comprehensive, how-to guide to using cannabis for treating health issues.
10. Lezli Engelking
Photo credit: Lezli Engelking
Lezli Engelking is the founder of the Foundation of Cannabis Unified Standards, a non-profit health and safety organization that fights for quality, safety, and consistency in cannabis products. “I fell in love with the possibilities medicinal cannabis has to positively impact lives,” she tells Chemical & Engineer News. “I also became aware of all of the risks to public health and safety that exist in the industry.” According to Engelking, women thrive in this industry because of their ability to have non-threatening, educational conversations with people who have different opinions. “The cannabis industry has begun to show the world the power of women in the workplace,” she says.