Since states began legalizing recreational marijuana in the U.S. in 2012, the cannabis industry has boomed—and women make up over a third of the leaders in this market. According to a 2019 survey by Marijuana Business Daily, 37 percent of cannabis executives are women, ranking higher than the 21 percent national average of women in executive roles in any business. Although the industry as a whole is still dominated by men, there’s a sizeable amount of pot-loving women who are transforming how the world views weed.
“Women in the cannabis space are incredibly supportive of each other,” says Imelda Walakalvar, co-founder and CEO of cannabis brand Pure Beauty. “It’s inspiring and bolstering to be part of this. At the same time, the conversation and attention that ‘women in weed’ receive does not reflect what is actually happening. Cannabis is still dominated by white men and this does not seem to be improving.”
As more women make waves in the marijuana industry and join forces in an effort to destigmatize the green bud through education, art, culture, and CBD-infused wellness and beauty products, the easier it becomes for female-led cannabis brands to navigate the complexities of this business. And there’s strength in numbers: “My advice is to find allies; having strong and supportive partnerships and relationships in this industry is the key to survival,” Walakalvar says, sharing some wisdom for women who are thinking about entering the cannabis arena. “Look for like-minded people that value the same things as you, in all partnerships, no matter how small.”
In addition to supporting other women in the marijuana industry, there is also a movement to address the inequities and policing around the recreational drug that has targeted marginalized groups. “As cannabis businesses, we have an even greater responsibility given the systemic racism perpetuated by the war on drugs and incarceration policies including the disproportionate rates of incarceration for, specifically, Black and Brown communities,” the Pure Beauty founder states. “It is not only important, but it is our duty as an industry, as well as an opportunity to get it right.” Both race and gender have an impact on individuals’ relationships with cannabis, and many female-led companies, including Walakalvar’s, are working to give women and minorities a safe space and platform in the industry.
L’OFFICIEL shares 12 women-led cannabis companies that are making an impact in the weed space one puff at a time.
Founder of Broccoli magazine, Canadian-born Anja Charbonneau creates a new perspective on weed culture with playful and informed content that touches upon the flower through the exploration of art, culture, and fashion. Alongside Broccoli, Charbonneau’s anti-racist Floret Coalition gathers over 135 businesses in the cannabis market to support and fund equity-focused initiatives serving the Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities—those whose contributions to cannabis culture have been the greatest and yet overly policed by the war on drugs.
Brett Heyman, the mind behind luxury acrylic bag brand Edie Parker, launched a colorful and fun line of high-quality cannabis smoking objects and accessories in 2019. With Edie Parker Flower, Heyman offers a luxurious and eclectic way to entertain at home and to “let the good times roll.”
At only 23 years old, Kati Holland created the cannabis brand Not Pot with a mission to destigmatize the plant, introduce it to the masses with her fruity CBD gummies, and help undo the effects of the crooked criminal justice system. With the Not Pot bail fund, her company supports a self-funded organization that combats mass incarceration that disproportionally targets marginalized communities.
Luxury CBD brand Lord Jones is the brainchild of Cindy Capobianco and her husband. Now widely known for its skincare, the brand actually started with CBD-infused confections, gumdrops, and chocolates. Founded in 2017, Lord Jones has been paving the way in cannabis ever since, becoming the first CBD brand stocked at Sephora.
Artist and prop stylist Jenny Wichman founded Yew Yew in 2017 to help change the narrative and stigma around weed with beautiful resin-filled, glass-blown smokeware and accessories.
With her brand Stevie, style and music maven Courtney Trop makes CBD into a luxurious experience. Currently offering CBD pre-rolls, bath salts, a tincture, and a candle, the offerings are sure to create a chill atmosphere.
Nidhi Lucky Handa
L.A. businesswoman Nidhi Lucky Handa is CEO and founder of the cannabis brand Leune, which quickly made headway thanks to its Instagram aesthetic and “honestly grown” flower. Leune is also passionate about social justice as a member of the Floret Coalition and a partner of the Last Prisoner Project, a coalition working to free those incarcerated for non-violent cannabis charges.
As introduced earlier, Walavalkar is CEO and co-founder of Pure Beauty, an independent cannabis brand approaching the business both aesthetically and with a socially and environmentally conscious mindset. Through sustainable growing practices and partnerships benefitting local Los Angeles community organizations, the brand hopes to bring positive change through cannabis.
Marta Freedman and Charlotte Palermino
Social media savants and two of three women behind Dieux skincare brand, Marta Freedman and Charlotte Palermino are also co-founders of Nice Paper, a weekly newsletter about everything weed-related that aims to fight the stigma against cannabis with education.
Christina Dipaci is an independent, California-based cannabis farmer, CEO, and co-founder of Caliber Farms, under which she created Paradiso Gardens, a brand that celebrates cannabis culture.
Verena von Pfetten
Verena von Pfetten is the business owner and co-founder of Gossamer, a cannabis lifestyle brand and biannual print publication covering travel, design, and culture through a green lens.
Kate Miller and Anna Duckworth
Kate Miller and Anna Duckworth are the founders of Miss Grass. Miss Grass is an online publication and lifestyle shop that aims to educate the world about weed and open up the conversation surrounding cannabis. From articles that share how CBD benefits your health to the coolest weed accessories worth buying, Miller and Duckworth are fighting the negative connotation that surrounds CBD and cannabis.