There are, by now, many women working in the ranks of the cannabis industry everywhere. In the international space, they come from literally every walk of life and profession before they “graduated” to cannabis – and in some cases are starting their career working in the space. They are also increasingly taking their places as some of the most integral cogs of the wheel – even if they are still in short supply at the top of companies and on boards.
Like many of the men who work in this fascinating vertical, these green goddesses are usually adept at hopping countries as well as adapting to the still evolving challenges of the industry and on a global basis.
Here is an introduction to five of them.
Green Goddesses of the International Cannabis Space
Isabel Alber is a Spanish native who now lives in the UK. She is a regulatory specialist as well as a patient. “I first met the cannabis industry in Denver in 2017, looking for help with my migraines,” she said. “I was so fascinated by the quality, labelling and packaging of the cannabis products, that I decided to pivot my 25 years international experience working with food companies in regulatory compliance to help cannabis start-ups remotely.”
She is currently involved in several projects, including those trying to bridge the UK-Europe divide caused by Brexit.
“The industry is crying for international regulatory harmonization, and ISO standards for flower, vaping hardware and ingredients,” she said.
Hana Hallaj is based (primarily) between Lebanon and Dubai and works as an investment facilitator. “Basically, I support investors in many ways to set up and initiate their cannabis investments,” as she describes her professional activities.
“My focus and experience are in Africa and Europe. I was approached by someone over three years ago in Greece with a business plan for an indoor cultivation project. He asked me to review it and check if some of the investors that I work with could be interested in investing with them. I was intrigued on the spot and the more I dove into the industry the more I saw interest and potential.”
Among other clients, Hallaj is currently working with a South African cannabis cultivator to find distributors in Germany and the EU. She loves her work simply because every territory brings a new set of problems she must solve. “Different countries have different challenges,” she said. “Unclear and unharmonized regulation, immature environment and infrastructure are some examples.”
When asked about what she hopes will happen in the industry if not for her career, she is quick to answer. “Primarily, that more cannabis and cannabinoids research go into the development of medical, health and wellness applications as we are still in the early stages of adoption. Of course, I aspire and hope that more approved medical cannabis can be prevalent to patients globally.”
Tseli Khiba is a young cannabis lawyer in Lesotho, Africa. She is a cannabis consultant, providing legal advice to companies, advocacy organizations and even individuals operating in the cannabis industry. She is also, almost by definition, an activist, legislative drafter, YouTuber, and amateur grower.
Khiba explained her entry into the industry this way to High Times. “In the beginning, I was assigned to a cannabis-related project during the course of my work. I started doing more research and learned more about the uses of the plant, the reasoning (or lack thereof) of its prohibition, and the vast opportunities and potential of the industry. What I found resonated with values, passion, and interests.”
Khiba believes that the future of cannabis in Africa is exciting, but not without its challenges. “I think that more countries will open up to medical cannabis and industrial hemp,” she said. “Unfortunately, the adult/recreational use of cannabis is still a thorny subject and may take a little longer to embrace.”
She hopes to “see more African countries decriminalizing cannabis. “The current approach is untenable as it perpetuates negative stereotypes about cannabis and leaves those without issued licenses or permits vulnerable to continued harassment by enforcement officers,” she said. “I would like to see the business becoming more inclusive, integrating traditional African knowledge and methods, and ensuring patient access to cannabis-based medicine.”
Lana Korneva is the co-founder, managing director and CEO of Drapalin Pharmaceuticals – a German cannabis speciality distributor based in Munich. She was born in the Ukraine but has lived in Germany for most of her adult life.
Professionally, before cannabis, she obtained a degree in economics and worked in the financial industry for ten years including as a senior asset manager. “Medical cannabis as a therapy helps a large number of patients in Germany and demonstrably improves their quality of life,” she said.
“I want to contribute to the stronger establishment of cannabis as a form of therapy in Germany. Together with my team, we work with full commitment to facilitate patient access to high quality medicinal cannabis in the form of flowers and extracts. Through our training and information events, we bring the knowledge of medicinal cannabis closer to the professional community and hereby aim to achieve a better understanding of this form of therapy among physicians and pharmacists.”
Rebecca Tucker is an American expat who journeyed with her husband, Gary, an extraction expert, from the west coast of the US to the British Channel island of Guernsey, located between the UK and France. “I joined the cannabis industry after suffering a military injury and was no longer able to work in healthcare as a Critical Care Respiratory Therapist. Cannabis changed my life significantly and I now work as the Chief Compliance Officer for The House of Green Limited,” she said.
Tucker’s career in the industry started in the packaging department of a (state) licensed cannabis company. “This eventually led to my husband and I starting our own cannabis company in California,” she said. “We were recently introduced to the founder of The House of Green and now we are here on the beautiful island of Guernsey in the Channel Islands.”
Her hopes and dreams for the future? “I would like to be at the forefront of patient studies furthering the research and medicinal aspect of cannabis.”