How Women are Making History in the Cannabis Industry

Did you know that women have only been allowed to own a business since 1988? Shocking, right? It seems vastly archaic by current standards. But it was only on October 25th, 1988 — a mere 30 years ago — that The Women’s Business Ownership Act granted women the right to own their own businesses. 

Fast forward to 2021 and you’ll see women in roles spanning all levels from intern to C-Suite executives in a wide range of industries. Overall, women hold an impressive 40% of business ownership, according to a 2018 study sponsored by American Express.

Even with these impressive numbers over a fairly short period of time, for every woman business owner, there are 13 companies run by a man. And, unfortunately, the higher you go up the ladder, the more of a gender gap becomes apparent. 

Women in Cannabis

A relatively new industry emerged with the legalization of cannabis in the United States, opening opportunities for new business and ownership. While women occupy 37% of leadership in the cannabis industry, there are those who worry that the old ways of doing business will creep in and begin to cause those numbers to fluctuate. To help avoid that outcome, women in cannabis have joined forces against the patriarchy. 

Women who make up the membership of these groups and ownership of cannabis business say that they are “kicking ass” but it’s already very apparent that capitol and resources are in short supply for women in the industry. To remain competitive and grow their businesses, that’s something that will need to be corrected going forward and that is the aim on these groups.

The Stigma of Weed

“Stigma has created this idea of the lazy stoner, of people being irresponsible and not productive, but if women can take that back, it shows all the ways cannabis continues to help people,” says Natalie Ginsberg, policy and advocacy manager at the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. Both women and cannabis have a shared reputation for healing. “Women have a history of being caretakers,” says Ginsberg. The medical cannabis movement that grew out of Santa Cruz, California, in the early Nineties was in large part led by women, she points out.

The History of Women in Cannabis

Throughout history, the thread of cannabis and its healing power have been woven into women’s wellness. As far back as the Mesopotamian civilization, Ishtar, the goddess of healing encouraged the use of cannabis as an herbal remedy. Queen Victoria was reported to have used cannabis and Maya Angelou has recalled her experiences in “Gather Together in My Name” — “From a natural stiffness, I melted into a grinning tolerance.” In 2009, Wanda James became the first African American to legally own a cannabis dispensary. 

Hildegard von Bingen was a German nun who lived during the Middle Ages and was later sainted in the Catholic Church, had much to say about medicine in an era when women were expected to stay silent. Von Bingen had a particular interest in herbal medicine and wrote in her health guide Physica that hemp could be used for a variety of treatments, according to Ethan B. Russo’s 2013 book, Cannabis and Cannabinoids: Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Therapeutic Potential. Russo cites von Bingen’s recommendations of applying a healing hemp cloth to soothe wounds and eating hemp to reduce other types of pain, including headaches. 

Our Own “Ganjapreneur

Kathryn Thomas, the owner of The Healing Clinics, is one of the women leading the cannabis industry in Louisiana. From garnering the support of leaders in Louisiana government to educating and informing physicians and potential patients, Kathryn has not stopped pushing for awareness since she opened her clinics in 2018. 

“The stories from our patients are just so compelling. My favorite part is hearing them (their patients) describe their journey.” Thomas explained. She also found out recently she’s not the first cannabis supporter in her family. “My mother recently revealed that my great grandmother, who was a naturalist in the late 1800s and early 1900s, was the healer for her village in Louisiana and the surrounding area. She grew marijuana and compounded it into salve and tinctures to use in her practice. Everything from toothaches to anxiety and female issues she treated with cannabis.”

Women and the Future of the Cannabis Industry

Stiletto stoners, pot princesses, ganja goddesses, cannabis queens. Call them what you will. Women have long been and will likely remain one of the loudest voices for cannabis legalization. Cannabis culture has long benefited from the amazing courage and conviction of its true OG females, who come from all walks of life and serve as growers, dealers, healers, artists, activists, entrepreneurs, and political leaders.

To find out more about medical marijuana and if it could be a treatment option for you, please contact us