How Big Pot Is Wooing Women

The marijuana industry is working to win them over, one business suit at a time.

Not safe for children.
National Journal
Lucia Graves
Aug. 6, 2014, 1 a.m.

Think of your ste­reo­typ­ic­al marijuana user — it’s prob­ably a man. What you’ve ima­gined isn’t wrong. While roughly half of men ad­mit to hav­ing tried marijuana, only a third of wo­men say the same. But the dis­par­ity high­lights a prob­lem for the marijuana in­dustry: They’re leav­ing half the pop­u­la­tion’s money on the table.

One way they’re com­batting it is by help­ing more wo­men achieve seni­or po­s­i­tions with­in the in­dustry.

In her 2013 re­search pa­per on gender-dy­nam­ics in the marijuana in­dustry in North­ern Cali­for­nia, so­ci­olo­gist Kar­en Au­gust ob­served something rather re­mark­able. “Nearly all” of the busi­ness trans­ac­tions in the year she spent ob­serving were made by men, where­as wo­men were much more likely to be in­volved in trim­ming plants and mak­ing ed­ibles and selling knick-knacks. (Among her il­lus­trat­ive an­ec­dotes was a Craigslist ad of­fer­ing ex­tra pay for wo­men who’d trim top­less.) Au­gust con­cluded: “Rarely are wo­men en­cour­aged to set up and main­tain their own op­er­a­tions.”

That may be chan­ging. At least, if Jane West, the own­er of Ed­ible Events Co. and founder of Wo­men Grow has any­thing to say about it.

West’s new or­gan­iz­a­tion seeks to ment­or fe­male busi­ness ex­ec­ut­ives in the emer­ging can­nabis in­dustry, sta­ging monthly events and edu­ca­tion­al sym­posi­ums around the coun­try. “I was ob­serving that wo­men wer­en’t equally in po­s­i­tions of power in the in­dustry,” West told Na­tion­al Journ­al on Tues­day. “There are a lot of eager young pro­fes­sion­als and so little in­form­a­tion about who enters it.”

That’s a shame for wo­men, from a strictly fin­an­cial stand­point. In the first four months of 2014, Col­or­ado marijuana stores saw more than $200 mil­lion in sales, and that was be­fore the state’s re­cre­ation­al pot in­dustry began a trans­form­a­tion in Ju­ly ex­pec­ted to cre­ate hun­dreds of new pot busi­nesses: In­dustry new­comers can now ap­ply for re­cre­ation­al busi­ness li­censes (pre­vi­ously only own­ers of ex­ist­ing med­ic­al shops could ap­ply). The num­ber of jobs in the state’s weed in­dustry is cur­rently es­tim­ated at between 7,500 and 10,000, ac­cord­ing to Mi­chael El­li­ott, the ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or of the Marijuana In­dustry Group.

Na­tion­ally, the leg­al marijuana mar­ket was es­tim­ated to be worth $1.53 bil­lion in 2013, ac­cord­ing to a re­port from Ar­cView Mar­ket Re­search, an in­vestor group spe­cial­iz­ing in the marijuana in­dustry. And in five years, factor­ing in re­cre­ation­al leg­al­iz­a­tion in at least Col­or­ado and Wash­ing­ton states, it will be worth $10.2 bil­lion, ac­cord­ing to the same re­port.

Those num­bers are not lost on the or­gan­izers of Wo­men Grow. The goals of the group are threefold: To rebrand pot as an in­dustry that’s fe­male-friendly; to foster fe­male lead­er­ship at the highest levels; and to per­suade more wo­men to buy can­nabis and par­ti­cip­ate in con­sumer cul­ture. Out­reach for the later in­cludes pot-themed spa and yoga re­treats, up­scale culin­ary events and art soir­ees. The group’s in­aug­ur­al net­work­ing event will be held in Den­ver on Aug. 14.

One of the ways West is hop­ing to reach wo­men is through rebrand­ing. “When you think of the word to de­scribe a great wine or a lux­ury item you think of words like ‘clas­sic,’ ‘styl­ish’ and ‘cos­mo­pol­it­an,’ ” West said. She wants to re­define weed to bet­ter fit that bill, and there’s good reas­on to think she’ll suc­ceed.

Pot shops in Col­or­ado are in­creas­ingly go­ing gour­met, and, as an art­icle in Mar­ie Claire titled “Stiletto Stone­rs” once ob­served, the wo­men who light up very of­ten come from priv­ilege. One in five of them lived in a house­hold earn­ing more than $75,000 a year, ac­cord­ing to the story, and that was be­fore it was leg­al.

More than half the states  have lib­er­al­ized their pot laws in some way since 2000, either de­crim­in­al­iz­ing the drug, al­low­ing for the dis­tri­bu­tion of med­ic­al marijuana, or, in the cases of Col­or­ado and Wash­ing­ton, leg­al­iz­ing re­cre­ation­al use al­to­geth­er.

Bey­ond be­ing less likely to use, or ad­mit to us­ing, marijuana, wo­men are much less likely to be en­tre­pren­eurs in what could be a mult­i­bil­lion-dol­lar in­dustry. That, West says, is the single biggest thing she wants to change. “We want wo­men to know that there’s a big op­por­tun­ity now,” she said. “And they should get in on it.”

At the na­tion­al level, West has sup­port from the Na­tion­al Can­nabis In­dustry As­so­ci­ation, one of the ini­tial spon­sors of West’s or­gan­iz­a­tion. “It’s def­in­itely a pri­or­ity as far as we’re con­cerned,” NCIA’s Taylor West told Na­tion­al Journ­al, “be­cause it’s an in­dustry where both the cus­tom­er base and the pro­fes­sion­al base are not as evenly di­vided across the genders as they could be.”

It also means mil­lions of new cus­tom­ers for this bur­geon­ing in­dustry.

{{ BIZOBJ (video: 5151) }}

What We're Following See More »
27TH AMENDMENT
Congress Can’t Seem Not to Pay Itself
28 minutes ago
WHY WE CARE

Rep. Dave Young can't even refuse his own paycheck. The Iowa Republican is trying to make a point that if Congress can't pass a budget (it's already missed the April 15 deadline) then it shouldn't be paid. But, he's been informed, the 27th Amendment prohibits him from refusing his own pay. "Young’s efforts to dock his own pay, however, are duck soup compared to his larger goal: docking the pay of every lawmaker when Congress drops the budget ball." His bill to stiff his colleagues has only mustered the support of three of them. Another bill, sponsored by Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), has about three dozen co-sponsors.

Source:
THE QUESTION
How Far Away from Cleveland is the California GOP Staying?
1 hours ago
THE ANSWER

Sixty miles away, in Sandusky, Ohio. "We're pretty bitter about that," said Harmeet Dhillon, vice chairwoman of the California Republican Party. "It sucks to be California, we're like the ugly stepchild. They need us for our cash and our donors, they don't need us for anything else."

ATTORNEY MAY RELEASE THEM ANYWAY
SCOTUS Will Not Allow ‘DC Madam’ Phone Records to Be Released
1 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

Anyone looking forward to seeing some boldfaced names on the client list of the late Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the "DC Madam," will have to wait a little longer. "The Supreme Court announced Monday it would not intervene to allow" the release of her phone records, "despite one of her former attorneys claiming the records are “very relevant” to the presidential election. Though he has repeatedly threatened to release the records if courts do not modify a 2007 restraining order, Montgomery Blair Sibley tells U.S. News he’s not quite sure what he now will do."

Source:
DOWN TO THE WIRE
Sanders Looks to Right the Ship in Indiana
17 hours ago
THE LATEST

Hillary Clinton may have the Democratic nomination sewn up, but Bernie Sanders apparently isn't buying it. Buoyed by a poll showing them in a "virtual tie," Sanders is "holding three rallies on the final day before the state primary and hoping to pull off a win after a tough week of election losses and campaign layoffs." 

Source:
‘SPOOKED’ IN NORTH DAKOTA
Cruz Delegates Having Second Thoughts?
21 hours ago
THE LATEST

As unbound delegates pledged to Ted Cruz watch him "struggle to tread water in a primary increasingly dominated by Trump, many of them, wary of a bitter convention battle that could rend the party at its seams, are rethinking their commitment to the Texas senator."

Source:
×