Some of the most successful companies in the cannabusiness were founded by women. Check out the stories of three founders who have already made a significant impact on the burgeoning industry.
While it’s certainly not easy to achieve success in the heavily regulated legal marijuana industry, it’s a field that remains highly accessible to savvy entrepreneurs. That’s especially true in Colorado, which unlike other emerging markets doesn’t have a limit on the number of licenses to grow and sell pot.
The result is an industry with a diverse set of business owners, including a significant contingent of women. Data is hard to come by, but anecdotal evidence suggests that it is far more inclusive than tech and many other hot startup fields.
To ensure the continued presence of women, people from the cannabis industry in 2014 founded Women Grow, a Denver-based network that now has 29 chapters across the United States. Women Grow estimates that about 20 percent of cannabis business owners are women, a number higher than tech but one that still needs work. Co-founders Jane West and Jazmin Hupp tell Inc. that while it’s certainly a challenge, gender equality is a much more attainable goal in the marijuana industry compared with what they encountered in the tech startup world.
“The entrenched patterns were so entrenched that I don’t think technology will ever be an equal playing field for women,” says Hupp, who founded female-focused tech media brand Women 2.0 15 years ago. “When we started to get into cannabis, we realized the industry was already an equal battlefield from the beginning. We had an enormous number of women already in the industry.”
From software companies to large grow facilities, women are represented in leadership positions in the cannabis industry like no other, Hupp and West say. “Cannabis has more female entrepreneurs because it’s nascent,” says West, who is also the founder of cannabis-friendly events company Edible Events Co. “We’re working with a blank slate. Most of these companies didn’t exist five years ago, so there isn’t a patriarchy and nepotism like other industries.”
Below, check out three women who are playing pivotal roles in Colorado’s legal weed industry.