[Canniseur: While there are definitely women working in the cannabis market, more are needed. Cannabis is the first ‘new’ industry where women can make their mark. While there is plenty of sex discrimination (plus race and sexual orientation), women have a better opportunity to lead the way where gender is secondary to getting the job done. Let’s make sure salaries are commiserate with skill and not gender, as well.]
Women are firmly established in many cannabis industry leadership positions. Cannabis conferences like Women Grow and The National Women of Cannabis Conference highlight the number of female entrepreneurs in the industry.
Women also make up a large chunk of cannabis users. In a 2017 report from The Cannabis Consumer Coalition of 537 consumers across both legal and prohibition states, women made up a majority of the respondents. With such a large share of cannabis consumption attributed to women, it’s no surprise that women are taking the industry by the horns.
The cannabis industry is fertile ground for female leadership. Anja Charbonneau, editor of the weed magazine Broccoli, puts it this way: “because cannabis is so new as a legal industry, it feels like there’s this opportunity to make women’s voices heard while it’s being built – and that’s pretty much never, ever happened with any other industry.”
This post highlights a few of the women who have dedicated themselves to the production, marketing, and advocacy of cannabis.
Billingsley was an early investor in Colorado’s cannabis industry. She recognized a gap when she could not find software suitable for medical marijuana tracking. She co-founded seed-to-sale cannabis software tracking company MJ Freeway in 2010.
Surviving a hack on their database in 2017, MJ Freeway recently merged with MTech Acquisition to form Akerna. This made them the first cannabis-compliance technology company to trade on NASDAQ.
Billingsley is highly engaged in the cannabis community, and also advocates for women in tech with her One Woman Challenge initiative: “I urge us to focus our energy equally on keeping women in tech careers and inspiring girls to enter tech. Gender parity in the tech industry is about more than workforce diversity. All of us must shape the virtual worlds in which we operate so these worlds are truly expansive, innovative, and disruptive versus hardcoding more of the same.”
Peters struggled for years with her period. She was hospitalized in her early twenties more than once for severe cramping and vomiting. The drugs prescribed for her eventual endometriosis diagnosis had so many side effects that she could not tolerate them.
Her exposure to CBD treatments was a revelation. She founded Moxie Meds to create medical cannabis medicine by women, for women. Her CBD and THC tinctures provide relief from cramps and pain, anxiety, stress, and help balance hormonal cycles.
Nicknamed “Queen of the Desert,” Vilchis was the youngest and first minority female CEO to receive a Nevada cannabis license. Since 2013, her company Premium Produce has cultivated and produced both medical and recreational marijuana.
She got her start through managing physicians in Southern California and became interested in cannabis due to its potential to reduce the burden on Americans’ health bills. She is a strong advocate for cannabis as a treatment for chronic pain.
Penny is a world-renowned management consultant who took a leap of faith to found her cannabis business consultancy, Budding Solutions, in 2015. They offer project management, license application help, cultivation operation assessments, product and branding and more.
Penny is a cannabis advocate who lobbies for policies on Capitol Hill to normalize cannabis. She coaches her clients to create compliant, successful businesses that positively impact communities across the US. She is also the president of The Minority Cannabis Business Association.
In late 2018, Ontario cannabis producer 48North run by Gordon acquired VanderMarel’s Good & Green. 48North is now the first cannabis company in Canada helmed by two women. The marketing focus for their products focuses on the female health and wellness market.
Alison Gordon is a veteran in Canadian cannabis with a focus on marketing. She was named one of Canada’s Top 10 Marketers by Marketing Magazine. She also sits on the board of directors of the Cannabis Canada Council.
VanderMarel was a registered nurse who recognized the benefits of cannabis as an alternative medicinal treatment. Before launching Good & Green, she was one of the first licensed producers of medical cannabis.
For Women and Weed, There Are Budding Opportunities
These are only a handful of the many women making headlines in cannabis news. Through their ingenuity and passion, more and more women are becoming inspired to start their own marijuana startups.
Are there any notable women in cannabis we missed that deserve a shout out? Let us know in the comments.
[Canniseur: In theory, I love the idea of corporations banding together to promote good citizenship. Let’s just hope this isn’t a case of smoke & mirrors and they really do support social justice. This industry has a chance to do things differently. However, the pessimist in me doesn’t think a corporate-led program is batting for smaller, independent businesses and disadvantage people. This new association would do well to add community advocate members from outside of the corporate world.]
World’s first responsible cannabis framework released at World Cannabis Congress.
SAINT JOHN, NB, June 18, 2019 /PRNewswire/ – New certification standards will encourage and validate actions by members of the global cannabis industry to advance environmental stewardship, social responsibility and good governance, delegates of the second annual World Cannabis Congress heard today.
The Global Cannabis Partnership (GCP), a collaboration of leaders in the government-sanctioned cannabis industry, released today a corporate social responsibility framework that its 45-member organizations have agreed to adhere to, establishing a standard for the new and rapidly growing cannabis industry worldwide.
“We’re building an industry for the future,” said the GCP’s Executive Director Kim Wilson. “It’s one thing to have a legal license to operate; earning and keeping a social license is another story. We have a long road ahead of us, but today’s announcement is an important step in the right direction.”
The world’s first Responsible Cannabis Framework (RCF) seeks to positively influence the industry’s impacts on the environment and society, and aims to support GCP members in continually improving their corporate performance over time.
Using best practices from within and outside the industry, the RCF goes beyond minimum compliance with all relevant and applicable laws, articulating expectations of members for evaluating, developing, implementing, measuring and disclosing their environmental, social and governance initiatives.
“The RCF was developed through extensive research and consultation with a variety of stakeholders,” said Rick Petersen, one of the world’s experts in corporate responsibility and author of the Framework. “We knew that we could rely on the experience of other industries, while at the same time coming up with the right steps to meet the challenges in our specific sector.”
Members have all agreed to the Framework’s four guiding principles – responsibility, collaboration, transparency and continuous improvement – and have up to a year to complete work necessary to apply for one of four certification categories. Minimum requirements include, among others, minimizing greenhouse gas emissions; promoting responsible use, and reinforcing ethical conduct. The formal certification process was developed by EY and member applications will be submitted to an independent evaluation panel.
The GCP expects members to make improvements when Framework standards are not met and to develop mechanisms to ensure ongoing compliance and continuous improvement.
“The industry is responding positively to the work we’re doing,” Wilson said. “Whether they are CEOs, regulators, new entrants to the space or consumers, all recognize that by working together we’re in a unique position to set a new bar for socially responsible practices.”
Click here to read the Responsible Cannabis Framework.
GCP-Responsible-Cannabis-Framework Fact Sheet
About the Global Cannabis Partnership:
Founded by Revolution Strategy, the Global Cannabis Partnership (GCP) is a not-for-profit collaboration of leaders in the government-sanctioned cannabis industry. With representation from government, private-sector and affiliate organizations, the GCP is creating an international standard for the safe and responsible production, distribution and consumption of legal cannabis. For more information, visit globalcannabispartnership.com
[Canniseur: Do you know where your edibles came from? Are they made in a safe food production facility? This is a growing concern for the edible cannabis industry. Our edible production has to be monitored and people absolutely must be trained in safe food handling practices.]
To reinforce the ideas in the article, Sanitation Starting Points: More Than Sweeping the Floors and Wiping Down the Table, the main goal of sanitation is to produce safe food and to keep consumers healthy and safe from foodborne illness. With the cannabis industry growing rapidly, cannabis reaches a larger, wider audience. This population includes consumers most vulnerable to foodborne illness such as people with immunocompromised systems, the elderly, the pregnant, or the young. These consumers, and all consumers, need and deserve safe cannabis products every experience.
Sanitation is not an innate characteristic; rather, sanitation is a trained skill. To carry out proper sanitation, training on proper sanitation practices needs to be provided. Every cannabis food manufacturing facility should require and value a written sanitation program. However, a written program naturally needs to be carried out by people. Hiring experienced experts may be one solution and developing non-specialists into an effective team is an alternative solution. Note that it takes every member of the team, even those without “sanitation” in their title, to carry out an effective sanitation program.
Sanitation is a part of the Food and Drug Administration’s Code of Federal Regulations on current Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) in manufacturing, packing or holding human food (21 CFR 110). Sanitation starts at the beginning of a food manufacturing process; even before we are ready to work, there are microorganisms, or microbes, present on the work surfaces. What are microbes? At a very basic level, the effects of microbes can be categorized into the good, the bad, and the ugly. The beneficial effects are when microbes are used to produce cheese, beer or yogurt. On the other hand, microbes can have undesirable effects that spoil food, altering the quality aspects such as taste or visual appeal. The last category are microbes that have consequences such as illness, organ failure and even death.In a food manufacturing facility, minimizing microbes at the beginning of the process increases the chance of producing safe food.
Proper sanitation training allows cannabis food manufacturing facilities to maintain a clean environment to prevent foodborne illness from affecting human health. Sanitation training can be as basic or as complex as the company and its processes; as such, sanitation training must evolve alongside the company’s growth. Here are five key talking points to cover in a basic sanitation training program for any facility.
Provide the “why” of sanitation. While Simon Sinek’s TEDx talk “Start with why” is geared more towards leadership, the essential message that “Whether individuals or organizations, we follow those who lead not because we have to, but because we want to.” Merely paying someone to complete a task will not always yield the same results as inspiring someone to care about their work. Providing examples of the importance of sanitation in keeping people healthy and safe will impart a deeper motivation for all to practice proper sanitation. An entertaining illustration for the “why” is to share that scientists at the University of Arizona found that cellphones can carry ten times more bacteria than toilet seats!
Define cleaning and sanitizing. Cleaning does not equal sanitizing. Cleaning merely removes visible soil from a surface while sanitizing reduces the number of microorganisms on the clean surface to safe levels. For an effective sanitation system, first clean then sanitize all utensils and food-contact surfaces of equipment before use (FDA Food Code 2017 4-7).
Explain from the ground up. Instead of jumping into the training of cleaning a specific piece of equipment, start training with the foundational aspects of food safety. For example, a basic instruction on microbiology and microorganisms will lay down the foundation for all future training. Understanding that FATTOM (the acronym for food, acidity, temperature, time, oxygen and moisture) are the variables that any microorganism needs to grow supplies people with the tools to understand how to prevent microorganisms from growing. Furthermore, explaining the basics such as the common foodborne illnesses can reinforce the “why” of sanitation.
PPE for all employees at every stage of processing is essential
Inform about the principles of chemistry and chemicals. A basic introduction to chemicals and the pH scale can go a long way in having the knowledge to prevent mixing incompatible chemicals, prevent damaging surfaces, or prevent hurting people. Additionally, proper concentration (i.e. dilution) is key in the effectiveness of the cleaning chemicals.
Ensure the training is relevant and applicable to your company. Direct proper sanitation practices with a strong master sanitation schedule and ensure accountability with daily, weekly, monthly and annual logs. Develop sanitation standard operating procedures (SSOPs), maintain safety data sheets (SDS’s) and dispense proper protective equipment (PPE).
Overall, sanitation is everyone’s job. All employees at all levels will benefit from learning about proper sanitation practices. As such, it is beneficial to incorporate sanitation practices into cannabis food manufacturing processes from the beginning. Protect your brand from product rework or recalls and, most importantly, protect your consumers from foodborne illness, by practicing proper sanitation.
[Canniseur: Is this a crock or what? Convenience stores currently co-exist with liquor stores and wine shops all over the U.S. Why would cannabis be any different? Perhaps the ‘expert’ in the article isn’t quite expert enough? Or perhaps, he has an agenda that’s not stated in this story? I don’t know and it really doesn’t matter. This expert says if cannabis was available in a convenience store, it won’t ‘kill’ dispensaries.]
Right now, cannabis can only be legally purchased through dispensaries or online retailers, but that could change if a group representing corner stores across America gets its way. The lobbying arm of the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) is preparing to fight for the ability of their members to sell weed once it becomes federally legal in America, writes Calvin Hughes.
NACS doesn’t have support for federal cannabis policy reform on their official agenda, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want a piece of the pie if the industry is legalized nationwide. And as federal cannabis legalization becomes closer and closer to reality, NACS is hopeful that convenience stores will be able to sell marijuana in the same way they already sell cigarettes and alcohol.
“The idea is that you want to have a level playing field for selling legal products. What we are looking at is, if there is a legal framework, how there could be a situation for those that want to sell. That they will be able to sell it legally,” Jeff Lenard – VP of Strategic Industry Initiatives at NACS – told The Street.
If NACS gets their way, the shift in marijuana retails could have huge ramifications for the cannabis industry as we know it. While big-name chains like CVS have started selling some non-intoxicating cannabis products, the vast majority of marijuana sales still come through local dispensaries. But, if the neighborhood bodegas start selling weed as well, many consumers could be persuaded to spend their money there instead.
“This will kill dispensaries,” said Mark Singleton, owner of Singleton Investments. “And the cannabis industry is either unaware of it or in denial.”
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[Canniseur: This is not surprising given the difficulty in obtaining a medical card in many states. Real medical cannabis patients, who are benefiting from the plant, may be doing themselves a disservice by not staying in the medical part of cannabis in adult use legal markets. Lapsed patients are finding higher prices and a lack of what they need (like Rick Simpson Oil) in the adult-use dispensaries. Patients should go back to medical cannabis dispensaries and states should make it easier to get a medical card.]
Recreational cannabis may be great for creating jobs and keeping folks out of prison, but liberal weed laws may be hurting the people who benefit most from cannabis: the patients.
Recreational marijuana laws lead to a sharp decline in state-registered medical cannabis patients.
A new report from the Associated Press found that when a state legalizes recreational pot, up to half of the state’s registered marijuana patients drop out of the program. Although the reasons for this weren’t clear, the report’s authors suspected it could be due to medical registrations being “the only way to buy marijuana legally” before recreational legalization, ABC News reported.
So, naturally, once a state legalized recreational weed, patients who simply wanted to get lit — and stay out of jail — no longer felt like they needed to buy from their state’s medical market.
Some state medical programs got hit harder than others. For example, Oregon, the most extreme case, saw its medical marijuana registry fall by two-thirds after legalization. The slump triggered a widespread closure of medical pot shops, as Oregon went from 400 medical dispensaries to just two since launching recreational weed sales.
Alaska, Nevada, and Colorado also saw marijuana patients exiting their medical programs shortly after legalization, with drops of 63 percent, 40 percent, and 19 percent, respectively.
California, the US’s largest cannabis market, wasn’t included in the AP’s analysis because the Golden State doesn’t keep data on its marijuana patients. Washington State and Maine were also excluded for the same reason.
And while the media lauds legal cannabis as an economic panacea, the market shift from medical to recreational hasn’t benefited some chronically or debilitatingly ill patients.
“Some of the products that these patients have relied on for consistency — and have used over and over for years — are disappearing off the shelves to market products that have a wider appeal,” David Magone, the director of government affairs at Americans for Safe Access, told ABC News.
The price differences between recreational and medical pot products are negatively impacting patients, too. Severely ill patients, such as those suffering from cancer or AIDS, require large quantities of cannabis to manage their symptoms. In California, an ounce of weed, according to one patient, only cost $35 for medical patients. That same ounce on the recreational market costs $100.
In Oregon, a cancer patient was forced to grow his own weed and make his own cannabis oil, since purchasing the same oil from a recreational pot shop – at $60 a gram, his daily dose – would be unfeasible today.
“Patients have needs. Consumers have wants,” Anthony Taylor, a member of the Oregon Cannabis Commission, told ABC News. “Patients are in crisis right now.”
[Canniseur: This makes me see red and not because of the charities that are refusing the donations. Our congress has thus far refused to act on any normalization of cannabis laws so companies who are in the cannabis production and sales space can have legitimate access to the banking system. Congress needs to act. NOW! Our society can’t truly de-stigmatize cannabis consumption until we get to a place where, even if the federal government won’t legalize, we can at least have a normal commerce system.]
Canna Provisions CEO Meg Sanders says charity organizations declined her company’s monetary donations due to a lack of federal guidance on banking.
Cannabis companies eager to give back to their communities may find that charity organizations won’t take their money. This was indeed the case for Meg Sanders, CEO of Canna Provisions, an adult-use dispensary group in Massachusetts.
“There were a few different charities, locally and regionally, that we tried to donate to here in Massachusetts, and they wouldn’t take our money,” Sanders tells Cannabis Business Times. “The fear is that because a lot of them are federally funded, if they take our cannabis money, they might lose their federal funding. … I can’t say I haven’t run into a philosophical issue, as well, that maybe people just don’t believe in this product being available, but mostly it seems that the pushback is around federal funding.”
Although Massachusetts has financial institutions that work with medical and adult-use cannabis businesses, Sanders says that many charity organizations believe accepting donations from the industry is too risky until federal guidance on banking is issued.
“Until we have some type of federal legislation on the books that promotes safe banking—like the SAFE Banking Act, for example—it’s just one of those things where it’s a gray area and it’s too risky,” she says. “I think solving the banking issue goes a long way in creating opportunities for people to take our money.”
Until a solution is found, cannabis businesses looking to donate money to their favorite organizations continue to face pushback, particularly in Massachusetts, Sanders says, where charity is a large part of the state’s cannabis industry. The state requires cannabis business license applicants to outline a plan for positive impact in their community as part of their application, and this plan is reviewed as part of the licensing process.
“A lot of what’s happening in Massachusetts is very charity-based, equity-based, making sure that we’re hitting areas with disproportionate impacts through hiring [and] education,” she says. “That’s part of not just our corporate ethos, but also what the state of Massachusetts’ regulatory body, which is the Cannabis Control Commission, has laid out. Charity and giving has been a big part of our plan, and not just because of that, but because our experience in other states has shown that participating at that level in the community really helps move the needle in terms of acceptance of our products.”
Five organizations have accepted monetary donations from Canna Provisions, Sanders says, and oftentimes, the organizations have asked the company to describe its business and overall mission. Sometimes, she adds, the organizations have even consulted their boards for approval before accepting the donations.
“There are a lot that will take our money, but there are always a couple that won’t, so we have to do a lot of asking before we know exactly,” she says.
While some organizations refused monetary donations from Canna Provisions and other cannabis companies that Sanders has worked for over the years, she says the team has still been able to contribute manpower to various charitable projects, and she has taken advantage of these opportunities when possible.
“We not only write checks, but we spend a lot of time with volunteer hours,” she says. “I can say right now we have over 85 hours in our volunteer bank, as far as what our employees have done, and that’s anything from taking flowers to the assisted living facility on Mother’s Day to give to patients to several … sponsored cleanups of creeks or streets or that kind of thing. … We’ve also volunteered with the chamber of commerce to hang all the beautiful flower baskets for the summer season along the main street in our hometown, and we have several more in the works. It’s just so great for people to meet us and understand we’re great people and a great place to do business and encourage them to support our efforts here in Massachusetts.”
[Canniseur: Oregon is a ‘young’ cannabis market. If the barriers to entry are low enough (as they are in Oregon) any young market will have too many producers and too many outlets. With time and attrition, the best or the most aggressive players, will remain. I can hope it would be the best, but only time will tell that. Maybe they could export cannabis to Canada where there’s is a chronic shortage.]
SALEM, Ore. — Oregon is awash in pot, glutted with so much legal weed that if growth were to stop today, it could take more than six years by one estimate to smoke or eat it all.
Now, the state is looking to curb production.
Five years after voters legalized recreational marijuana, lawmakers are moving to give the Oregon Liquor Control Commission more leeway to deny new pot-growing licenses based on supply and demand.
The bill, which passed the Senate and is now before the House, is aimed not just at reducing the huge surplus but at preventing diversion of unsold legal marijuana into the black market and forestalling a crackdown by federal prosecutors.
“The harsh reality is we have too much product on the market,” said Democratic Gov. Kate Brown, who intends to sign the bill if it wins final passage as expected.
Supply is running twice as high as demand, meaning that the surplus from last year’s harvest alone could amount to roughly 2.3 million pounds of marijuana, by the liquor commission’s figures. That’s the equivalent of over 1 billion joints.
Oregon has one of the highest such imbalances among the 10 states that have legalized recreational marijuana since 2012, in part because it had a big head start in the weed business.
With its moist climate and rich soil, Oregon has a long history of pot growing. When it became legal, many outlaw growers went legitimate, and others jumped into the business, too.
They are now all cultivating weed in a multitude of fields, greenhouses and converted factories, with 1,123 active producer licenses issued by the OLLC over the past three years.
The legislation could be a lifeline to some cannabis businesses that are being squeezed by market forces.
Retail prices in Oregon for legal pot have plummeted from more than $10 per gram in October 2016 to less than $5 last December. At the same time, smaller marijuana businesses are feeling competition from bigger, richer players, some from out of state.
Officials worry that some license holders will become so desperate they will divert their product into the black market rather than see it go unsold.
“We’re a very young industry,” said Margo Lucas, a marijuana grower and vendor in the Willamette Valley who is hoping the measure will give her business breathing room.
She noted that growers can’t seek federal bankruptcy protection — pot is still illegal under federal law, and banks avoid the industry — and that many owners have taken out personal loans to finance their businesses.
“So when we go out of business, we’re going to go down hard,” Lucas said. “Many of us will lose our homes. … You’re going to have a lot of entrepreneurs in this state that are pretty unhappy with the way that this ends if we don’t get some support with this bill.”
Opponents say the proposed law will drive growers who are denied licenses into the illegal market, if they’re not there already.
“This current track seems like a giant step backwards toward prohibition, which has always been a disaster,” Blake Runckel, of Portland, told lawmakers in written testimony.
As of January, Oregon’s recreational pot market had an estimated 6 1/2 years’ worth of supply, according to an OLCC study .
To prevent excess pot that is still in leaf form from spoiling, processors are converting some into concentrates and edible products, which have longer shelf life, OLLC spokesman Mark Pettinger said.
U.S. Justice Department officials have said they won’t interfere in states’ legal marijuana businesses as long as the pot isn’t smuggled into other states and other standards are met. Oregon officials want to let federal authorities know they’re doing everything they can to accomplish that.
The bill to curtail production could “keep the feds off our back,” Rob Bovett, legal counsel for the Association of Oregon Counties, told lawmakers.
Oregon puts no cap on the number of licenses that can be issued. Last June, the OLCC stopped accepting applications so it could process a monthslong backlog. But under current law, it has no specific authority to say no to otherwise qualified applicants, Pettinger said.
The longer-term hope is that the federal government will allow interstate commerce of marijuana, which would provide a major outlet for Oregon’s renowned cannabis.
“We will kind of be like what bourbon is to Kentucky,” said state Sen. Floyd Prozanski.
Follow Andrew Selsky on Twitter at https://twitter.com/andrewselsky
Find complete AP marijuana coverage here: https://apnews.com/Marijuana
[Canniseur: We’re not sure where the statistic 30% of cannabis business are owned or run by women cam from. Most all other sources report about 25% cannabis businesses are women run. Nonetheless, opportunities are clearly available within the industry.]
The Economics of Cannabis & Women-led Businesses panel was held on May 7 at the Green Market Summit in Chicago. Women lead almost 30% of the businesses in cannabis and the opportunities are there. The group of distinguished women reviews the best sectors to build a business and how to obtain the capital for your company to thrive and grow. The moderator was Lori Ferrara, Founder -Treehouse Ventures is joined by Tracy Mason, Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer – Cannacraft, Tahira Rehmatullah, CEO – MTech and Amy Margolis, Founder – The Initiative