High Times recently attended a conference that featured a panel of scientists, physicians, inventors, designers and entrepreneurs—all of whom were women.
The seminar focused on the critical role science plays in the cannabis industry, and while they were at it—the rise of women in the industry.
The event was hosted by Intersection Seattle, a concept and collective that describes itself as the place “where science, wellness, and the cannabis industry meet.”
The conclusion drawn by High Times was that female scientists and developers are leading the charge.
Women Weed Warriors
Take Oregon-based Dr. Janice Knox, who, after nearly four decades as an anesthesiologist, retired and became an expert in cannabis therapeutics and endocannabinology.
“How could I be a physician and not be interested in the endocannabinoid system?” she asked.
Knox teamed up with her husband, Dr. David Knox, as well as both of her physician daughters, Dr. Jessica Knox and Dr. Rachel Knox, to form a cannabis-based practice. Dr. Rachel Knox is also the current medical chair for the Minority Cannabis Business Association.
Research biologist, Jessica Tonani, co-founder and CEO of Verda Bio, a bio-tech company sequencing the cannabis genome, told the conference that she is encouraging legislation to allow cannabis research businesses to operate in Washington State.
“The research that needs to be done on this plant isn’t reinventing the wheel; it’s just doing what we need to do,” said Tonani, who also co-founded Basic Jane.
CEO of Eden Labs AC Braddock agreed.
“This industry will not flourish and move forward unless it’s based on a medical platform,” she said.
Braddock also wants to see a paradigm shift away from the “patriarchal basis of power that has been running our world for thousands of years.”
“Hopefully, what we’re seeing is the last gasp and burnout of an old way of politics and medicine,” Braddock said.
Women Take Leading Roles In The Cannabis Industry
Currently, women fill 36 percent of executive positions in companies that grow, test, sell and market cannabis products. A recent survey by Marijuana Business Daily showed that women own and operate 35 percent of the country’s medical and retail cannabis shops.
Mara Gordon, founder of Aunt Zelda’s and Zelda Therapeutics, got involved as an MMJ patient when testing and dosing information did not exist. This compelled Gordon, formerly a process engineer, to “solve the dosing conundrum.”
Gordon now specializes in developing treatment protocols using bio-pharmaceutical grade cannabis extracts for cancer and other seriously ill patients.
“I created a practice with platforms and medicines that could be understood,” said Gordon, “with testing labs and software to allow doctors to make dosing recommendations.”
Sarah Blankinship, CEO of biotech firm Right Sciences, previously worked in global information security for Microsoft.
“If you’d have told me I was going to end up in the cannabis industry, I would have thought you were smoking too much of what we’re here talking about tonight,” said Blankenship.
April Pride, founder of cannabis lifestyle brand Van der Pop, which was recently purchased by Tokyo Smoke, believes in female marketing techniques and insists women are key in the cannabis space. Van der Pop’s goal is to normalize weed and make it part of an acceptable lifestyle.
Discussing the stigma connected to women’s increasing cannabis use, Pride pointed to reports confirming “nearly half of women who try CBD stop taking pharmaceuticals once they see how effective it is.”
With cannabis expected to bloom into a $50 billion dollar industry by 2026, it is a potential gold mine for anyone with the nerve to get involved. And, everyone knows, if women have anything, it’s nerves of steel.
For this reason, instead of utilizing the usual corporate modus operandi of their male counterparts, women are creating communities and networks to coexist and excel in the industry.
This is the goal of Intersection, which describes itself as a “women-driven events company highlighting women in business in emerging industries,” with a commitment to empower women globally.
As AC Braddock said: “All we have to do is keep backing it and doing what we’re doing, because we’re on the precipice of massive change.”
How could we not be with so many women taking the lead in this industry who are determined to do things differently?