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Dear Women, You Are Needed in the Cannabis Business

An open letter to women in the industry who face harassment, discrimination, and toxic business practices.

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Dear Women in Cannabis,  

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You are necessary in every facet of this growing industry.

While a 2019 survey by MJBizDaily said women held nearly one-third of the senior-level jobs at cannabis companies, the migration of male executives from male-dominated industries now threatens career opportunities for women in an industry once celebrated for its progressiveness.

Unfortunately, this migration included many of the toxic and misogynistic business practices that exist in industries like entertainment and tech, which are notoriously dominated by men.

Harassment exists

To be a female practitioner in cannabis during these transformative years means to have inevitably experienced some level of gender discrimination or even harassment in your role. In fact, according to a survey by Weedmaps, the majority of responders said they experienced harassment in their workplace which can often lead to conflict that impacts performance or exiting the industry altogether.

Earlier this year, I was involved in a situation that had me seriously contemplating a career pivot away from cannabis. But when a colleague asked why I remained, my response was simple and honest: “There’s still too much work to be done.”

Part of this work involves supporting and empowering other female colleagues, but it also means being present and taking action to facilitate the business culture necessary to retain current talent and attract the next generation of trailblazing women in cannabis.  

To those who pledge to stay in, I urge you to prioritize the following:

Communicate often

Promote open and healthy communication with fellow practitioners during both good and bad times.  

It can be easy to communicate with like-minded colleagues when there's good news, but when there’s a problem, a lack of communication can quickly turn a small situation into a conflict that robs all parties of productivity and advancement.

Be willing to reach across the aisle to make amends whether it’s with those who are in the same city, or across the country.

Join a community

Inspire support, empowerment, and collaboration among female practitioners from different legal states.

Social media has made it possible for us to easily establish and grow relationships with cannabis practitioners from all over the world. Although you may not know someone personally, engaging with their content on social media can often create a bond. As women in cannabis, forging these relationships are important for deepening our sense of belonging in an industry that can sometimes feel like a ‘boys club.’   

Take care of yours and others' mental health

Check-in, lead by example, and treat others the way you want to be treated.

The fast-paced, high-stress nature of the cannabis industry can oftentimes be a lot to handle both mentally and emotionally. Reach out to female practitioners in your circle who you feel might be struggling and be mindful of negatively contributing to their emotional state by gaslighting or minimizing their trauma.

For those considering leaving the industry, I challenge you to stay and join the many females in cultivation, compliance, marketing, sales, etc., who are breaking stereotypes and stigmas to help shape it into the industry it has the potential to be.