Cannabis is becoming a bigger and bigger part of everyday life. The stigma associated with weed is slowly going away as a new ‘industry’ is being born in front of our eyes.
A brand new industry that legal cannabis is, means that the opportunity is open to anyone, regardless of age or gender.
What many people don’t know about the budding cannabis industry is that 6% more women hold leadership roles in legal cannabis businesses than in traditional businesses in the US.
Yes, that’s right. The huge repertoire of products that are being created in the legal cannabis field is influenced by women decision makers more than other marketplaces.
It is not an easy industry though. Successful entrepreneurs in the legal cannabis space have to navigate the ever-changing legal restrictions and overcome major challenges, like not being able to have a bank account type of challenges.
Let’s take a look at 20 courageous women who are taking the lead and influence how the legal cannabis market is taking shape in the US and beyond.
1. Nancy Whiteman
Ms. Whiteman is the co-founder of Wana Brands, the top producer of cannabis edibles in Colorado. In addition to her successful business ventures, the “Queen of Legal Weed” works to promote sustainability in the cannabis industry to ensure that businesses benefiting from cannabis legalization have stability going forward.
2. Dr. Cristina Sanchez
Dr. Cristina Sanchez has devoted her career to researching the effects of cannabis on the proliferation of cancer cells. Her research examines both cannabis and cancer cells on a molecular level to determine how cannabis can best be used to prevent tumor growth, particularly in breast cancer patients.
3. Dr. Lakisha Jenkins
Dr. Jenkins is a powerhouse in the world of alternative therapies. Her work focuses on finding the best ways to incorporate cannabis into other herbal therapies to promote overall health and wellness. She has also founded nonprofits dedicated to health and wellness. Her work is vital to showing the world how cannabis can be part of a natural, healthful lifestyle.
4. Rachel Gillette
If a woman in cannabis on this list is facing a legal issue, Rachel Gillette is the person to call. One of the first attorneys to dedicate her career to issues surrounding cannabis, she has helped countless businesses and entrepreneurs through her legal practice and advocacy on behalf of the industry.
5. Rosa Cazares
At the age of 28, Rosa Cazares is one of the youngest on this list of influential women in cannabis. She is the CEO of La Mota, one of the largest dispensary chains in Oregon. Ms. Cazares is also making a name for herself as an advocate for equality in the industry: an impressive 80% of the employees at La Mota are female.
6. Dr. Raquel Peyraube
Many people still view cannabis as a dangerous drug, demonizing those who use it. Dr. Raquel Peyraube, a specialist in drug pathology, works to change that perception by educating the public about how cannabis can be used safely and effectively, separating it from dangerous illegal drugs.
7. Giadha Aguirre de Carcer
These days, businesses need big data to stay competitive. That’s where Giadha Aguirre de Carcer comes in. She is the leading big data analyst and reporter for the cannabis industry. Her work is global, spanning 68 countries around the world to give cannabis businesses an edge in the global market.
8. Emily Paxhia
The cannabis industry has the potential to be profitable for a lot of people, and Emily Paxhia is helping them navigate those murky waters. Her market research and consulting focused on the cannabis industry is vital to keeping the market afloat in a time of great uncertainty.
9. Cynthia Salarizadeh
Public image is important to any industry, and Cynthia Salarizadeh is leading the way for cannabis. Her work as the Founder and CEO of the cannabis newswire AxisWire navigates the tricky world of public relations for an industry that is still working towards legitimacy. Cynthia is also the Founder and President of House of Saka as well as the co-founder of Green Market Media. Without a doubt, she is the most trusted name in cannabis PR.
10. Shaleen Title
In addition to being an influential woman in cannabis, Shaleen Title is one of the most powerful people in Boston. Her role as a member of the Cannabis Control Commission is focused on getting more people of color and women working in the cannabis industry and contributing to drug policy reform.
11. Jeannette Ward Horton
Despite significant progress, cannabis is still illegal in many places. Advocates like Jeannette Ward Horton are working to change that. She champions legalization in the south, dedicated to being a voice for minorities who have disproportionately been the victims of harsh drug laws.
12. Jessica Billingsley
Cannabis is becoming a big business, and Jessica Billingsley’s work is essential to keeping those businesses running. She is the co-founder and CEO of MJ Freeway, a company providing business-management software to cannabis retailers around the world.
13. Jill Ellsworth
With the introduction of state regulations, cannabis cultivators and infused product manufacturers are searching for solutions to ensure their product meets new standards. Jill Ellsworth is helping them do just that. As the founder and CEO of Willow Industries, she has introduced an ozone-based technology that produces a cleaner, safer product while maintaining a plant’s medicinal properties.
14. Vivien Azer
While many news reports on cannabis paint the drug in a negative light, Vivien Azer strives to give the industry validity. She was the first Wall Street analyst to dedicate herself to covering cannabis, giving the industry a much-needed boost in positive global press.
15. Kristi Knoblich Palmer
Edibles are one of the most popular forms of cannabis. Kristi Knoblich Palmer, as the co-founder of Kiva Confections, strives to make edibles safe and consistent. She also helps the industry grow as a founding board member of the California Cannabis Manufacturing Association and serves as the Board President for the California Cannabis Industry Association.
16. AC Braddock
For many cannabis products, the plant needs to be processed before it can be used. As the CEO of Eden Labs, AC Braddock works to create distillation and extraction systems that can be used in numerous cannabis-based industries to create products such as oils and nutraceuticals.
17. Dr. Suzanne Sisley
Cannabis has been lauded for its mental health benefits, thanks in no small part to researchers like Dr. Suzanne Sisley. She is currently working with some prestigious partners on the first-ever study to determine how veterans suffering from PTSD can benefit from cannabis.
18. Leigh Coulter
A lot goes into making cannabis a marketable product, such as Leigh Coulter’s work as the president of GGS Structures Inc. Her company is one of the leading worldwide producers of greenhouse technology, working closely with cannabis growers to improve cultivation techniques and boost production.
19. Kristi Kelly
Kristi Kelly has made a name for herself as the executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group, Colorado’s largest cannabis trade association. Her work has helped the cannabis industry take a big step towards being recognized as a legitimate and powerful business market.
20. Noelle Skodzinski
Good press is important for any industry, especially one fighting for legitimacy. As the editorial director for Cannabis Business Times, Ms. Skodzinski is at the forefront of the battle. She helped make the publication an important brand and continues to work tirelessly to earn cannabis a place in the mainstream.