Women in Cannabis
As we celebrate International Women’s month, we want to take the opportunity to shine the light on a few women who have made – or are currently making – a positive impact in the cannabis community.
Although the cannabis industry has entered a new era where more states continue to legalize the medical and recreational use of cannabis, there still seems to be a gender parity issue. This seems to be especially true the higher up you go in the organizational structure. Fortunately, there are many up and coming cannabis companies across the country that are owned and led by women. Bloom and Wondergrove are examples of that.
Did you know that all your cannabis comes from a female plant? Female plants produce the flower buds that you know and love, while male plants produce pollen sacs that are used for seed production.
These women are doing great work to help shatter the glass ceiling that has existed in the industry for so long, and helping women around the world feel comfortable enjoying the benefits of cannabis.
Before we do so, let’s quickly go over some statistics to help illustrate the gender disparity issue in the cannabis industry.
Percentage of Women in the Cannabis C-Suite
According to a report put together by MJBizDaily – the percentage of executive positions held by women in the cannabis industry were trending in the right direction ahead of the pandemic.
In 2017, women made up a little more than a quarter of executives in the industry, 26.9% to be exact. Then in 2019, that number jumped to 36.8%. But, then COVID-19 disrupted that upward trend. In 2021 the number of women in the executive suite dropped to 22.1% and only increased to 23.1% in 2022 – according to the study conducted by MJBizDaily.
Why the drop?
The last few years have seen many more states legalize the medical or recreational use of cannabis. As a result, the cannabis industry has become more attractive for large corporations that may or may not have had an interest in cannabis before this.
One example is the 154-year old company Scotts Miracle-Gro which is known for its lawn and garden supplies, like Weed and Feed. Scott’s has recently entered the cannabis space by getting involved in the sale of hydroponics, lighting, and other supplies required for growing cannabis.
One theory about why the representation of women in executive positions has fallen recently is that as large corporations that have been around for some time enter the cannabis industry, some could bring their dated business structures – dominated by men at the top – with them.
This is why we feel it is so important to bring awareness to the issue, and to shine the light on women who are helping to move the numbers back in the right direction. We will also talk about women who have simply made the world a better place through their involvement with cannabis.
Let’s start by taking a step back in history.
A List of Ladies Impacting Cannabis
Mary Jane Rathbun – Brownie Mary
The first woman on our list is Mary Jane Rathbun. Mary Jane was an early advocate for medical cannabis in the state of California during the 1960s and 70s. Mary Jane Rathbun worked alongside Dennis Peron in lobbying for the legalization of medical marijuana in California.
Her efforts helped pass San Francisco’s Proposition P and Proposition 215. Prop P, for Peron, became the first medical marijuana initiative. It allowed the California state government to restore the use of medical cannabis in the city of San Francisco.
Prop 215 allowed patients with a doctor’s recommendation to possess and cultivate cannabis for personal medical use.
Providing Much Needed Relief to AIDs Patients
In addition to being known as a cannabis rights activist, Mary Jane Rathbun might be best known for what she did during her time as a volunteer at San Francisco General Hospital in the early 1980s.
Mary became known for baking and passing out cannabis infused brownies to AIDS patients to help provide them with some relief to some of the side effects associated with certain medications and treatment options.
At the time, patients dealing with nausea or loss of appetite were being given Marinol, a prescription drug containing THC. Unfortunately, many would end up vomiting their medicine. This is where Brownie Mary would help provide patients with much needed relief.
Mary Jane did not start out baking her brownies to give away.
Before she volunteered at the hospital, she sold her cannabis brownies for a profit. Mary would bake about 50 brownies a day and would advertise them on local bulletin boards calling them “magically delicious.”
Mary Jane ended up getting caught by an undercover police officer and arrested. As part of her punishment, she had to complete 500 hours of community service. Mary completed some of her community service at a place called the Shanti Project, which is a support group for people with HIV or AIDS.
During this time she noticed that cannabis helped some of the patients deal with something known as wasting syndrome. She noticed the same was true for Cancer patients. This is when Mary Jane started providing her brownies to patients free of charge.
Mary Jane was arrested three times for cannabis related offenses. These arrests, however, brought her national media attention where she became known for helping to alleviate the suffering of those in need and for shining a light on the medicinal potential of cannabis.
Nikki Furrer – A Woman’s Guide to Cannabis
Nikki Furrer is a cannabis lawyer and author of the book, A Woman’s Guide to Cannabis which demystifies the world of weed and helps women navigate the number of options they are faced with when they visit a dispensary.
The book is a handbook written specifically to help women understand the ins and outs of marijuana consumption. It includes more than 20 recipes for things like cannabis-infused brownies, caramel, and even self-care products like a Radiant Glow Serum and Happy Body Bar.
Nikki Furrer is also the Chief Executive Officer of the company, Fluer – which is known for developing strains and cannabis products that focus on improving women’s health.
Before becoming the CEO of Fluer, Nikki owned a popular bookstore called Pudd’nhead Books in Webster Groves, Missouri. She also worked as a budtender and grower in Denver where she helped patients identify the best strains to help relieve their condition. She currently lives in St. Louis, MO – where he have four of our dispensaries!
Robyn Rihanna Fenty – Rihanna
If you tuned in to watch the Kansas City Chiefs win their most recent Super Bowl, then you are definitely familiar with Rihanna and her music. But, did you know that she is also an advocate for marijuana?
Rihanna is from the island of Barbados. Her first hit song was “Pon de Replay”, which she followed up with hits like “Umbrella”, “Disturbia”, and “Diamonds”, just to name a few. Rihanna has also enjoyed success in acting and is also a successful business woman – with many clothing and cosmetics lines which share her last name, Fenty.
In 2010, was banned from a hotel in Barbados after she was reported to have been smoking in her room and set the fire alarm off. The following year, Rihanna released the album Talk That Talk. The album featured a picture of her smoking a blunt.
In 2012, Rihanna participated in a photoshoot in Hawaii where she was pictured smoking a blunt in a pink swimsuit. In 2014, Rihanna was seen wearing a cannabis inspired swimsuit for 4/20. And even though her camp announced that Rihanna would be cutting back on her weed consumption, she was pictured enjoying a blunt at the 2018 Coachella music festival.
Although a lot was made of Rihanna being banned from a hotel in Barbados for smoking pot in her early years, Rihanna is a great example of an influential woman who has been able to openly proclaim her passion for cannabis – while still enjoying high levels of professional success. Rock on Rihanna!
Kate Miller – Miss Grass
Kate Miller’s role as a pioneer in the cannabis industry started during her days studying at the University of Southern California in 2008. During this time, she worked at a medical marijuana dispensary and purchased the domain missgrass.com.
In 2018, she launched Miss Grass with her co-founder, Anna Duckworth. Miss Grass is an online cannabis education platform and CBD shop with the mission of “helping women get good at weed.”
Nicole Stark – Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Bloom and Wondergrove Cannabis
Nicole Stark is the Chief Executive Officer of Wondergrove Cannabis, the parent company of Bloom. Cannabis Done Right. (previously, Bloom Medicinals).
Nicole was an early entrant in the cannabis industry and has guided Bloom through several of the most competitive, state-run vetting and selection processes.
Nicole has been repeatedly recognized for outstanding achievement in the industry—including a Stevie® Award for Woman of the Year – Cannabis Industry.
Bloom was also the recipient of the Women-Owned Business Special Honoree Award from the South Florida Business Journal in 2022. When asked by USA Today what sets Bloom apart, Nicole replied, “For us, cannabis is not about sales – it’s about quality of life.”
Besides USA Today, Nicole has also been featured in the Chicago Tribune, The Marijuana Policy Project, The National Conference of State Legislatures, and Crain’s Chicago Business.
Want to Support a Woman Owned Cannabis Business?
There are so many ways to celebrate and commemorate International Women’s Month. Reading this blog post is just one way. If you want to do more, you can consider supporting women owned businesses in your area.
If you live near a Bloom Dispensary and want to support a woman-led and woman-owned cannabis organization, click below to check out our latest arrivals of cannabis flower and products.
If you don’t live near a Bloom dispensary, you can click here to find Wondergrove Cannabis products near you.