March 18, 2022

Female Cannabiz Leaders: Women In The Cannabis Industry

The popularity of cannabis — both marijuana- and hemp-derived varieties — continues to grow year-over-year. Plus, it's enjoying evermore legality in states across the country. This is opening up opportunities for women in the cannabis industry. There are many women-owned cannabis businesses and companies. And, women are changing the cannabis industry.

History Of Women in the Cannabis Industry

It's likely that women have been shaping the cannabis industry before there even was an industry. After all, marijuana and hemp have been cultivated and used medicinally and recreationally for thousands of years. With women often playing key roles in areas such as agriculture, textiles, food procurement, and healing — you know they were making many of the big decisions that have impacted cannabis's life story. 

The legacy of women in the modern-day cannabis industry remains a long, diverse, and ongoing one. In fact, the cannabis sector is home to some of the most prominent female entrepreneurs, researchers, and advocates in the world.

Facts & Figures For Cannafemmes

There’s a paucity of data collected on the diversity of the cannabis industry. However, available info indicates that the number of women in the upper echelons of cannabis power has dropped in the last few years.(1)

Here are some other stats (as of 2021) that researchers and economists have found. They tell you a lot about the sex/gender balance in the cannabis industry.(2,3,4)

  • US cannabis businesses that are women-owned: 19.9%
  • American cannabis businesses with women executives: 22.1% (down from 36.8% in 2019)
  • Types of cannabizzes with the most women in the C suite:
    1. Testing labs (53.9%)
    2. Consumption lounges/events (48.1%)
    3. Wholesale cultivators (40.1%)
    4. Ancillary service providers (39%)
  • Types of cannabizzes with the fewest women:
    1. Investment
    2. Vertical businesses
    3. Ancillary products and tech
  • Biggest barrier to more women starting cannabis companies: Access to capital

Clearly, the cannabis industry — which had been ahead of the mainstream curve in women leadership — is experiencing a demographics shift. The suspected reason for this? Various market forces/realities that favor men and executives from other industries (which are more male dominated at the executive level) entering the cannabis sector.(5)

Why Should Women Be In The Cannabis Industry Leadership Pool?

This isn’t intended to be a sexist question — everyone brings something wonderful and special to the table! Rather, we wanted to take a moment to highlight a couple of specific ways that the ladyfolk might attract abundance to the cannabis world. After all, women have unique existences and perspectives that can change the cannabis industry.

Women-Owned Cannabis Businesses Boost The Industry

Many women in the cannabis industry are acutely aware of the disparities for consumers and entrepreneurs. Because of this, diversity, equity, and inclusion are often central to their motivations and businesses. Everyone wins when the enterprises and organizations serving a particular market are more equally representative of the constituent stakeholders.

Women-Focused Cannabis Products

Considering that women use cannabis more than men, it may be good that there are products especially designed with gals in mind.(6) And who better to create these cannagoods than other women?

In lock step with other wellness trends, you can expect to see women-focused cannabis products like:

  • Gummies, tinctures, softgels, and topicals for PMS, menstrual, and menopause symptoms
  • Makeup and beauty creams and serums
  • Lubricants, suppositories, and other items for sexual health and wellness
  • Accessories that are sized, colored, etc. with women’s tastes at the core

Natural Nurturers At Work

There’s no scientific evidence that women are kinder, more compassionate, etc. than men.(7) Experts believe that apparent variances in the amount of empathy or caring are probably rooted in cultural differences. Researchers also suggest that men and women may show their concern for others in different ways.(8)

However, in our western society, it’s often perceived that women express their feelings more or in ways that can be easier for others to identify. Plus, studies do indicate that women tend to have a more interactive and collaborative management style.(9) As such, having women guiding cannabis companies may inject a greater sense of empathy and partnership. This is appealing to both cannabis consumers and cannabis business employees.

Notable Women in Cannabis

The list is too long to go into great detail, but here’s a small roundup of green goddesses who’re making names for themselves — and paving the way for others to follow. (And you can find a boatload more with a bit of online searching!)(10)

Commercial Endeavors

These women are pulling rank in both the B2C and B2B arenas.

  • Whitney Beatty
  • Christine De La Rosa
  • Roxanne Dennant
  • Anna Duckworth
  • Jill Ellsworth
  • Jamie Evans
  • Hildi Gerhart
  • Sara Gullickson
  • Brett Heyman
  • Wanda James
  • Lana Korneva
  • Shanel Lindsay
  • Rosie Mattio
  • Kate Miller
  • Sarah Mirsini
  • Rowshan Reordan
  • Kim Rivers
  • Ann Skalski

Education & Activism

This awesome bunch of women is involved in advocacy, outreach, and engagement.

  • Loriel Alegrete
  • Mary Bailey
  • Sarah Gersten
  • Maha Haq
  • Lolita Korneagay
  • Rachel Knox
  • Chanda Macias
  • Leah Maurer
  • Roz McCarthy
  • Gia Morón
  • Sailene Ossman
  • Mary Pryor
  • Mykel Selph

R&D, Regulatory & Finance

So many women are defining the behind-the-scenes of the cannabis industry, too.

  • Priscilla Agoncillo
  • Isabel Alber
  • Jessica Billingsley
  • Catharine Dockery
  • Hana Hallaj
  • Tseli Khiba
  • Emily Paxhia
  • Cristina Sánchez
  • Robyn Tannenbaum
  • Rebecca Tucker

What's Next For Women-Owned Cannabis Companies

Despite the dip in women in charge in the last few years, there’s reason to believe that female leadership will have a resurgence. Here’s why:

  1. There are now several organizations and investment funds geared towards getting women into power positions in the cannabis industry.
  2. Young women are the fastest growing group of cannabis consumers — with sales hiking up 151% each year.(11) It stands to reason that some portion of these people will transition from solely being users to working (and working their way up) in the cannabis industry.
  3. We’re living in an era of conscientious consumers. Many people like supporting businesses — or their leadership team — with which they can identify or that share similar values.
  4. The cannabis industry can’t reach the heights of its potential unless the most brilliant and inspiring people are running the show. And, because women account for a huge chunk of talented and skillful brains and brawn in this country — including them at the head of boardroom table and on the front lines is a must.

Women Changing The Cannabis Industry For The Better

The cannabis industry is growing rapidly. As an industry that’s regarded as more “female friendly” than others, there’s so much room and potential for women leaders.

And, women are leading the charge. They’re creating successful businesses, products, and services and contributing to the national discourse on cannabis in so many ways.

It’ll be exciting to see just how the world of cannabis evolves because of the plethora of smart and savvy women who’re leaving their special imprint on the industry!



  1. Stelton-Holtmeier, J. (2021). Female, minority executives lose ground in marijuana industry, report shows. MJBizDaily.
  2. Potter, N. (2021). Report Shows Decreased Percentage of Women and Minority Executives in Cannabis Industry. High Times.
  3. (2021). Women and Minorities in the Cannabis Industry.
  4. Eason, J. (2021). New Statistics Paint A Poor Picture For Cannabis Industry Equity. The Consumer.
  5. Gelsi, S. (20215). Women and minorities are losing ground in cannabis company executive ranks, study finds. MarketWatch.
  6. Gilbert, N. (2019). From being a banned substance to becoming a billion-dollar industry, cannabis has sure gone a long way.
  7. Parker, K, et al. (2017). On Gender Differences, No Consensus on Nature vs. Nurture. Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Pew Research Center.
  8. Seppala, E. (2013). Are Women More Compassionate than Men? Greater Good.
  9. Javor, A. (2021). A Deeper Look at Professional Women in the Cannabis Industry. Coveteur.
  10. (2022). Women in the cannabis industry. Wikipedia.
  11. Mattio, R. (2022). Why 2022 Will Be a Defining Year for Female Leadership in Cannabis. Rolling Stone.

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