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Women in Cannabis: The Future is Female

Published On:
February 8, 2023

Read time:
4 Minutes

a woman harvesting cannabis on farmland

Women are no strangers to the weed world. Stoner Janes and female pioneers played important roles in cannabis history—from cultivation and medication, down to its legalization and innovation.

They were also instrumental in shaping the cannabis industry as we know it today. Yet despite their many contributions, women are still under recognized for their contributions.

In this article, we’re looking at the ways women have shaped cannabis culture by recognizing some of the most influential women who changed the way we use cannabis today.

A scientist checking hemp flower

Early Cultivation and Medical Use of Cannabis Was Women-Led

Women led some of the earliest agricultural developments in the ancient world. Unsurprisingly, they were the first to grow and cultivate cannabis for medicinal purposes.

In ancient China, empresses and concubines used cannabis for its pain-relieving properties. Female healers in ancient Egypt were experts in using the plant to relieve various ailments. According to historical records, the female pharaoh Hatshepsut used hemp to deal with menstrual pain.

In Siberia, a 2,500-year-old Siberian princess named Princess Ukok used hemp to help with cancer pain. In pre-Christian Germany, people associated cannabis with Freya—the Norse goddess of love and fertility.

Women Have Been Integral to the Legalization of Cannabis Today

In the 19th and 20th centuries, women in North America and Europe continued to use cannabis for medicinal purposes. Queen Victoria used cannabis oil in tincture form to relieve menstrual pain and American suffragettes used cannabis to ease the symptoms of menstrual cramps.

Many women even advocated for its legalization. In 1969, anthropologist Margaret Mead testified in favour of the legalization of weed.

In her testimony, she said, “It is my considered opinion at present that marihuana is not harmful unless it is taken in enormous and excessive amounts. I believe that we are damaging this country, damaging our law, our whole law enforcement situation…”

Despite these efforts, governmental officials banned cannabis in many countries. Women’s use of the plant was largely forgotten.

 Female cannabis entrepreneur working with laptop in a bright, soft-lit office

The 21st Century Saw Women in the Cannabis Industry Breaking Barriers

Today, women are breaking barriers in the cannabis industry. They are starting businesses, advocating for change, and improving the quality of products.

Women play important roles in testing the safety of cannabis products in the lab. Rowshan Reordan, a licensed attorney from Oregon, opened Oregon’s Green Leaf Labb LLC. It is the first all-women cannabis and hemp testing laboratory in the U.S.

Entrepreneurship is another key area where women have a major influence. Today, women executives either own or co-own 36% of cannabis-related businesses. These businesses include cultivators of different cannabis strains, dispensaries, product manufacturers, and more.

Female CEOs and other high-level roles are drawn to the hemp industry because it is less constrained by gender norms. In fact, women account for more than 60% of executives in cannabis product testing laboratories.

In 2017, women were responsible for starting one in every four cannabis businesses in North America. The cannabis industry today is still male-dominated. However, women have better opportunities here as opposed to other industries.

Diversity in the Cannabis Industry

Women of colour, in particular, have faced significant obstacles in the industry. Historically, they’ve faced a higher level of scrutiny, criminalization, and discrimination compared to any other demographic of cannabis users.

Today, they play a significant role in changing the landscape of the cannabis industry by bringing their unique perspectives and experiences to the table and challenging the status quo. They’re creating businesses that are focused on social equity and sustainability, as well as providing education and resources to their communities.

These women are not only changing the way the industry operates, but they are also paving the way for other women of colour to enter the industry and make their mark. Overall, these contributions are helping to make the cannabis industry more diverse, inclusive, and representative of the communities it serves.

 a woman of colour inspects a container of cannabis

Supporting a Green Future for Women in Cannabis

The cannabis industry is growing at an unprecedented rate, and at the helm of it are women leading the way. They’re starting and running more cannabis businesses than ever before, and are leading the charge in developing new products and technologies in the industry.

It is important to acknowledge the contributions made by women in cannabis. After all, the cannabis sector is only set to grow. A more varied environment is essential to the success of the entire cannabis sector.

Some ways to support women in cannabis include:

True North Cannabis Co. supports the budding growth and development of women in the cannabis industry. With over 46+ stores across Ontario—and counting—we’re always on the lookout for talented budtenders to join our impressive roster.

Check out our careers page to see if we’re hiring in your area!

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