Cannabusiness has attracted women in other states, where they have stepped up as leaders in the industry. Could Ohio women follow suit?
“I see a lot of women who either hold high title positions or are coming together to take lead in this industry,” Alyssa Baker, the deputy director for the central Ohio chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), said.
Ohio’s fledgling medical marijuana program is expected to be fully operational by September 2018. While women’s impact on the state’s industry has yet to be seen, Baker said women will be a “huge presence,” both in Ohio and nationwide.
A survey conducted by Marijuana Business Daily in 2015 found women made up a greater share of leadership in the cannabis industry than they did in others. For example, the report found that women held about 36% of leadership positions in the industry as a whole.
Women made up about 63% of high-level positions in testing labs and 50% of high-level positions at infused products and processing companies, according to Marijuana Business Daily’s survey.
However, women remain underrepresented in other areas of the industry. They held 28% of executive-level positions in investment, for example.
The application period for medical marijuana cultivators closed in June. Baker said she looked over the list of applicants and was disappointed to see few women. However, she said their leadership presence doesn’t necessarily have to come through with cultivation facilities.
According to Baker, the emerging industry may draw women in because it presents a number of new opportunities.
Gia Morón, the director of communications for Women Grow, said there is “great potential” in cultivation and ancillary services. Ancillary services providers don’t directly deal with cannabis like growers and dispensaries do. Rather, they provide other kinds of assistance, such as consulting, packaging, security, and equipment.
Women Grow, an organization founded in 2014, connects people in the industry and promotes women’s advancement. The organization holds networking events in several locations across the country.
Women Grow used to have a market in Ohio and hopes to have one again. Morón said they have seen some interest and are reviewing applications. Women in areas without a local Women Grow presence can apply to be a market leader and start a new community in their area.
“We think Ohio is a great market for women leaders in the cannabis industry,” Morón said.
Baker predicted that more women will feel comfortable getting involved as the industry becomes normalized and the stigma surrounding marijuana disappears.
Women have also served as a powerful force in the realm of advocacy, Baker added, and she has seen many of them take on leadership roles in that area of the industry.
“There’s a lot of strong women in Ohio who I feel have done a lot of thankless work,” Baker said.