Yesterday, California’s Bloom Farms announced a plan to erase gender disparity among its lists of cannabis producers, pledging to source half of its marijuana supply from woman farmers by the end of 2020. The move, announced in a Nov. 13 statement, comes in response to growing concerns that the cannabis industry is not taking the necessary steps needed to become gender equitable.
Business analyses show an increasingly dramatic divide between men and women in terms of who’s making money off of legal weed. One study by Marijuana Business Daily found that the percentage of women at the executive level in the cannabis industry fell from 36 percent in 2015 to 27 percent in 2017. Recent revelations also show that the largest North American marijuana companies are dominated by men. Furthermore, the appearance of high profile sexual misconduct allegations have called into question the commitment of certain industry leaders support of female leadership.
“We’ve seen increasing sexism, sexual misconduct, and discrimination in the industry and there should be no place for that kind of behavior,” said Michael Ray, Bloom Farms’ CEO, in an AP press release. “Bloom Farms wants to ensure an opportunity gap isn’t created for talented and diverse business owners who have been essential to the California cannabis community for many years.”
The statement goes on to say that Bloom is in the process of identifying and securing supply agreements with a number of California cannabis farms owned or operated by women. The company intends to introduce the gender equity goal to its operations in Nevada and other states, too. No data has been released on the current breakdown of gender among its cannabis suppliers.
This is not the first time Bloom Farms has publicly announced plans to insert do-gooder protocol into its modus operandi. Since its inception in 2014, Bloom has dubbed itself a “mission-driven company,” a designation that so far, has translated into supporting California and Nevada food banks. For every product sold — including the firm’s rose gold vapor pens and an array of flower strains — the company donates a meal to a food bank around the state. To date, their one-to-one business model is said to have donated nearly 1.4 million plates to the homeless.
From the company’s perspective, the blossoming cannabis industry has an opportunity to set a standard for gender equity, among other positive societal frameworks. “The cannabis industry should be a transformative force in many aspects of society as it expands across the country,” says Sallyann Nichols, president of distribution, “from urban and rural renewal to state and local finances to creating opportunity for a wide range of entrepreneurs.”
Bloom isn’t the only company concerned about equal career opportunities in the cannabis industry. The Massachusetts state government announced earlier this year that it would conduct a study to examine gender and racial inequities in the industry. Various organizations have been established to foster the careers of women in cannabis, including Denver’s Women Grow and state-based networks like Illinois Women in Cannabis. Madrone Stewart’s Feminist Weed Farmer is another example of published projects that have been recently made available with the aim of diversifying the face of those growing our cannabis.