In 1869, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton formed the National Woman Suffrage Association and traveled around the country, promoting women’s rights. Though both of them passed away before their ultimate goal was realized, they did not campaign in vain: on June 4, 1919 the US deCongress passed the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. Now, nearly a hundred years later, we are on the verge of electing our country’s first female president.
Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton are two examples of women who left the path less arduous for future generations. In today’s world, in all kinds of industries, there are similar women, those unafraid to lead the way. This is also true in the marijuana business: women are certainly making names for themselves (and strains for themselves as well).
In fact, the cannabis industry is quite female-friendly: according to an article in
Marijuana Business Daily, women make up 36 percent of marijuana executives (14 percent higher than other industries)
In certain areas, women are even more prevalent: in testing labs, for instance, they make up over sixty percent of senior leadership.
While cannabis might be more of a gender-equality industry than others, that certainly doesn’t mean there aren’t innovators. In fact, the following ladies are quite literally blazing a trail for female pot lovers everywhere. Do they grow like a girl? Damn right they do.
A microbiologist by trade, Genifer Murray saw her winds of fate shift during a serendipitous meeting with a man at a bar in 2009, Arizona. A conversation that started with microbiology turned into an idea: testing pot for potency the same way scientists validate pharmaceutical drugs. A year later, Murray’s idea came to life when she co-founded CannLabs, a company that tested everything from hash oil to vape pens, from cannabis flowers to edibles, all to assure compliance with state law.
Unfortunately, Murray’s tenure with CannLabs reached its conclusion prematurely: she left under terms described as both “her decision” and “their decision.” Still, her impact on the marijuana industry is anything but vague: she continues to be a trailblazer. And, this time, with a bit more bling. She launched Gems by Gen earlier this year. It’s a cannabis inspired jewelry line she produces with her gemologist father. In other words, it takes “stoned” to a whole new meaning.
Recently named one of Fortune Magazine’s Top 5 Women in the Cannabis Industry, Tahira Rehmatullah is the general manager of Marley Natural, a product line named for the reggae innovator. Rehmatullah describes her company as being about more than just cannabis consumption:
It’s also about medicine, personal freedom, social justice, and education (and economics, of course)
Like it did for recreational marijuana, medicinal marijuana paved the way for Rehmatullah’s involvement: when her grandfather died of cancer, she saw cannabis as a sought-after, marketable product. She is also a brand manager, consultant, and cultivator for Women Grow, a company that connects and empowers future cannabis leaders and current executives. It began in Denver in 2014.
If you’re in Oregon’s marijuana scene, you’ve probably heard of Leah Maurer (just like you know how to light a joint when you’re standing in the pouring rain). Maurer and her husband moved west after the feds seized the grow operation they’d planted in Missouri. Once in Oregon, they set about fighting for change. As a reform activist, the Maurers founded New Approach Oregon (a group that helped get Measure 91 (the recreational marijuana bill) on the ballot).
Now that the measure has passed, Maurer plays other roles in the industry. She co-chairs the Portland chapter of Women Grow; teaches parents how to talk to their kids about pot use in the same way they’d talk about alcohol; and works in public relations as one of the faces of the Oregon weed industry.
Lizette Coppinger also hails from the Beaver State (yes, somewhere a teenage boy is giggling). She co-owns Cannabend, a medical dispensary located in central Oregon, as well as Joint Scullery, a cannabis event company that provides catering services complete with edibles.
Though the product of conservative parents, Coppinger always had a growing interest in becoming a business owner in the cannabis industry. She states that her skills really came together after she joined the ranks of motherhood. It makes sense, being a mom requires time management, multi-tasking, and listening to endless utterances of “I’m so hungry.”
Once upon a time, Madeline Martinez was a correctional officer in California sitting in a front row seat to the devastation the war on drugs has had on families. She left her post to fight marijuana prohibition full-time. Since then, she’s become executive director of the Oregon chapter of the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws and a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.
Martinez jumped upon the legalization bandwagon years before it was cool, working with communities all the way back in 1998.
She collected signatures for Measure 67, which led to Oregon legalizing medical marijuana, as well as Measure 91, the recreational bill, before taking the fight to the federal level.
But it’s really her café that has left her most famous. Among Oregonians, anyways.
In 2009, Martinez opened the World Famous Cannabis café, a pub-like atmosphere that allowed medical marijuana patients to socialize and smoke. Today, it’s accessible to anyone who’s over 21 – recreational or medicinal users. Instead of going for the booze, people come for the high. It also has live music, bingo, and, most likely, wonderful people-watching opportunities.
With so many women in this powerful, up-and-coming industry, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton must be proud. Somewhere, they’re smiling. And, who knows, maybe they’re even passing a bong.