Women are increasingly entering the marijuana market as business owners and customers, as the legal obstacles are gradually cleared and retail spaces grow in number.
Women Grow, a Denver-based industry network for women in the cannabis market, estimates that about 20% of marijuana business owners in the U.S. are female. (Women-owned companies comprise about 30% of all U.S. businesses, but as the majority are nonprofit, they account for just 4% of overall business revenue, according to a 2014 report by the National Association of Women Business Owners.)
In Colorado, the proportion of women in the medical marijuana patient population has grown to 35% in 2015 from 28.5% in 2009, a trend Cassandra Farrington, chief executive of Marijuana Business Daily, says extends nationwide. Female customers also present an opportunity for the overall marijuana market to expand.
The first ever Women Grow Leadership Summit took place at Cordillera Lodge in the Rocky Mountains in mid-May. Women Grow is dedicated to training—or “cultivating”—women to be leaders of the cannabis industry, a business the Arcview research group has called “the fastest growing industry in the U.S.”
“This is an opportunity right now; it is the fastest-growing industry. It’s moving so fast,” said local yoga instructor Ilana Sochaczewski, who is starting the local Women Grow chapter. “So many people are coming (into the field), and patients are coming out publicly.”
“Women are leaders in the industry,” said Sarah Schrader, who leads the Sonoma chapter of Americans For Safe Access, first formed about a dozen years ago.