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Cannabis Opportunities for Women

By Nancy Birnbaum

Legal cannabis could be the first billion-dollar industry not dominated by men.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since Women’s Cannabis Business Development was founded. So much has happened, in California and right here in Sonoma County. The biggest change: Cannabis is now legal to consume as an adult and there are more dispensaries getting their permits every day… and, more women-owned companies are blooming.

But as women continue to fight against abuse and inequality in the workplace, let’s take a moment to applaud those who have supported each other or used their platforms and influence to spread the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, for their courage to help all of us come forward to speak our truths.

Fortunately, at least the cannabis industry is more open to women executives than most other industries. As one survey of cannabis professionals found (in 2015); women held leadership roles in 36 percent of those businesses, compared with 22 percent of U.S. companies generally, according to the trade publication Cannabis Business Daily, an Inc. 500 company that was co-founded by two women-- Cassandra Farrington and Anne Holland. Comparatively, Women hold just 4.2 percent of the CEO positions at S&P 500 companies.

“The State of California will collect about one billion dollars in accompanying cannabis taxes,” according to Matt Karnes, industry analyst and managing partner of New York’s GreenWave Advisors.

“Females hold a significantly higher percentage of executive offices relative to the national average. Women comprise 42% of the executive positions at ancillary services companies, for instance, and 35% of medical dispensaries/recreational stores.”

Here’s a breakdown of the different sectors:

In fact, the industry is clearly thriving, when it comes to women.

Along with growth in women-owned businesses, the number of female cannabis users is growing as well, according to research from the California cannabis delivery company, Eaze.

In a report that mines data from the company’s customers in 2016, Eaze found that orders from women made a significant jump in 2016. Eaze offers on-demand medical cannabis delivery in 100 cities across California, including San Francisco and San Jose. They found that one out of three customers on the Eaze platform are women. That’s a jump of 32 percent from last year, when women made up one out of every four customers. They also are increasingly older. The number of Baby Boomers, both males and females born between 1946 and 1964, who buy cannabis from Eaze jumped by 25 percent in 2016. The number of Gen Xers (1965 to 1982) increased 8 percent. Conversely, the number of Millennials (1983-1995) dropped by 3 percent.

“WCBD is all about empowering women, helping them thrive in the legal weed business.”

Last month, Women’s CBD surveyed members on its social media group and found that almost 50 percent of them were between the age of 50 and 59, and most of them have been in the industry for over five years.

Much of the green rush is happening right here in Sonoma County and many women want to be a part of that. That’s how WCBD got started back in December of 2016, when a group of like-minded women in weed, came together to form a women-centric cannabis group.

Women’s CBD is an organization of women (and men) who educate women (and men) about all aspects of Cannabis. Our Mission: to empower each other and help each other thrive.

Women’s CBD holds monthly events here in Sonoma County, dealing with the most important aspects of the industry facing women – Business Development, Professional Networking and Policy + Education.

Always on the agenda – speakers well-known in the industry, both local and on the national stage – offering important information on topics of interest to growers, producers, distributors and even those with ancillary businesses.

It is becoming clear that the impact women will have in the cannabis industry and community will set the stage for an all-inclusive industry. Research clearly shows that women are the decision makers for the majority of purchases and therefore will also directly impact the products and services that we see and create. There are many higher end products directed towards females who consume, like the edibles and tinctures produced by Women’s CBD co-founders The Garden Society and Fiddler’s Greens, both of whom have been garnering a lot of press on the local and national front.

It’s exciting to see this elevation continue and see more companies identify these consumers and market with higher standards. Personally, I feel that setting these higher standards will be the saving grace for all smaller companies and women entrepreneurs in Sonoma County as well struggle to compete in such a crowded space.

Want to be a part of this industry?

It’s an exciting time.

My advice to women entering the industry is to be patient and cautious. Above all, educate yourself! Find other women who are already familiar with the landscape that can be trusted, to help you navigate. Do not rush into partnerships or lock into contracts without full oversight from an attorney. Find an attorney experienced in cannabis business. Women’s CBD can help navigate these confusing waters and offer support and resources.

It’s important that every woman know that there’s a place for you in this industry, and there has never been a better time to find that place.

If you’re thinking about starting a business in the Cannabis Industry – become a member of Women’s Cannabis Business Development, where you can connect with other women who can offer advice and support on every aspect of the industry. It’s a big industry – so the more knowledge you have going in, the better!

Women’s CBD is looking for fellow leaders (#BadAssLadyBosses!).

Are you interested in helping to guide WCBD in 2018?

Find out more at or email: and join the conversation on Facebook @womenscbd.

“Marketing Maven” Nancy Birnbaum is a freelance writer, editor and consultant at her company – Russian River PR, helping clients take their businesses to the next level by leveraging years of experience and much moxie! She is the Executive Director of Women’s Cannabis Business Development. Find out more at

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