24 of the Most Influential Women in Cannabis
This article is brought to you by Dixie Brands Inc.
The cannabis space wouldn’t be what it is today without a number of female trailblazers paving the way in all sectors of the industry, from activism to politics to entrepreneurship. As an emergent global industry, the cannabis space offers more opportunities for women than other, more established industries, and still, female leadership in cannabis has dropped from 36 to 27 percent as the industry becomes more mainstream. (For context, women occupy 23 percent of leadership positions outside cannabis.) That said, these women have continued to spearhead their efforts toward directing cannabis to be more open and accessible to women and minorities. While no list could adequately cover the efforts of everyone involved, here are 22 of the most influential women in cannabis.
Amanda is a maven of all things marijuana. As vice president of community relations for Flow Kana, and formerly the manager of marijuana law and policy for the Drug Policy Alliance, Amanda also serves as secretary for the International Cannabis Farmer’s Association — a nonprofit that advocates on behalf of sun-grown cannabis cultivators for favorable policies and research. Not only that, Amanda is also on the board of the California Cannabis Tourism in Association, The Mendocino Cannabis Industry Association, and The Initiative, an incubator for women-owned cannabis businesses.
With nearly 20 years’ experience as an attorney and founder of the Oregon Cannabis Association, Amy has dedicated her work to helping women grow and thrive in the cannabis industry. She also founded The Commune, a cannabis-friendly gathering space in Portland, Oregon, and The Initiative, an incubator/accelerator for women in the industry.
As founder of Van Der Pop, a female-focused cannabis lifestyle and accessory brand, April is also releasing a podcast called Of Like Minds, which uses story telling to convey the culture around cannabis. A pioneer in closing the gender gap within the industry, April is a self-described “serial creative entrepreneur.” Having sold Van Der Pop in 2017, she’s continuing to make headway in normalizing, sophisticating, repositioning the plant as an upscale consumer product.
As executive director of Los Angeles’ Department of Cannabis Regulation, Cat has worked tirelessly to lead the world capital of cannabis into a legal future. Before taking the role of LA’s cannabis czar, Cat served as California policy coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance, where she focused on equity in cannabis policy reform.
Not only has the comedian been long out of the closet about her love for cannabis, but Chelsea has also recently partnered with NorCal Cannabis Company, based out of San Francisco, to launch her own line of cannabis. She called her motivation for the line “female-centric,” with the goal of reintroducing women to the marketplace.
Constance was inspired by her struggle with chronic illness to found her own cannabis line, Constance Therapeutics. She had nearly died from pharmaceutical pain medications when she finally tried cannabis to soothe her pain, and soon became fascinated with the science behind medical marijuana.
An award winning journalist, Debra is also CEO and editor-in-chief of Green Market Report, a financial news site following the cannabis industry. An expert on all financial aspects of cannabis, Debra has appeared on Yahoo Finance TV, Cheddar TV, and Bold TV as a thought leader in the space.
Giadha Aguirre de Carcer
As founder and CEO of New Frontier Data, Giadha is an entrepreneur with more than 20 years’ experience in business, management, and strategic development. She comes from a background in banking, technology, data analytics, intelligence collection, and reporting, she is an expert in risk management in emergent, high-growth markets — like cannabis.
A trailblazer in the cannabis women’s movement, Jessica is founder of Cannabis Feminist — a community of women exploring their relationship to the plant — and more recently, she has cofounded Prima, a hemp company focused on wellness and self-care. With a degree from Harvard Business School, Jessica is an expert in business and branding, having worked to reposition cannabis and hemp as tools for health and self-transformation.
A medicine woman, rapper, and founder of Los Angeles-based event series Zen & Kush, Lizzy is a leader of an emergent renaissance, as she puts it, “dedicated to elevating consciousness through plant medicine, art, and radical self-love.” A cannabis advocate, Lizzy promotes healing and self love through all different kinds of plant medicine, from CBD to damiana.
Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno
As executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, Maria is committed to social justice and drug policy reform. Having grown up mostly in Peru, Maria worked at Human Rights Watch researching Colombia and advocating for the decriminalization of drugs, before joining DPA. She is also the author of the narrative non-fiction book There Are No Dead Here: A Story of Murder and Denial in Colombia.
Between running a business, conjuring up new home-cooked delights and DIY crafts, and keeping up a blog with the latest tips and tricks for the busy homemaker, Martha has also partnered with cannabis cultivation company Canopy Growth to develop a line of hemp-derived products. Made with CBD, the new line caters to pets, in order to help them live a healthy, active lifestyle.
A media expert with a keen eye for catering to “culturally rich and niche audiences through digital and social marketing,” Mary has used her background in communication toward advancing diversity in the cannabis industry. Co-founder of Cannaclusive, she is working toward solving the issue of inclusivity in cannabis and representing minority consumers and industry folk.
Founder of Highly Devoted, this marijuana matchmaker is helping the cannabis community find love. By pairing like minded, sophisticated professionals with a love for cannabis, Molly puts to work her degree in psychology and innate ability to empathize with others. Those who have worked with Molly say her services have helped them find confidence and acceptance for being who they are, as cannabis consumers.
A photographer and creative director working to change the public perception of cannabis, Monica is founder of Sous Weed, using cannabis as an ingredient in gourmet, versatile, and nutrient-rich dishes. She treats the herb as a culinary challenge, as she would with any other ingredient, and is elevating cannabis cuisine along the way.
Ophelia is a designer, photographer, teacher, and entrepreneur, perhaps best known in the cannabis industry for founding Stock Pot Images, a collection of cannabis-related photographs. Moreover, Ophelia is co-founder of Asian Americans for Cannabis and co-founder of Push Mag, working to promote diversity in the cannabis space.
Currently the Director of Field Marketing at Dixie Brands, Rebecca has been a pioneer in the cannabis industry for more than a decade, having founded CannaMixx in Colorado to provide high quality edibles to patients in need. She also managed Dixie Botanicals (publicly traded under the name Medical Marijuana, Inc.) the first and largest retail channel of full-spectrum hemp oil, CBD, and nutraceutical products derived from hemp. In addition to her passion for cannabis, Rebecca has actively participated in music festival promotions, including South Park Music Festival, a three-day music and camping festival in Park County, Colorado, over 4th of July Weekend, 2014. Since then, she’s worked to forge alliances between the cannabis industry and musicians, and in 2016, created the first celebrity-endorsed edible with Sublime w/Rome and Orange Dynamite, a milk chocolate and orange bar.
With the goal of changing the way you eat cannabis edibles, Roxanne co-founded Fruit Slabs — THC-infused snacks made with organic ingredients and fruity, tropical flavoring like mango or grape. Prior to getting into the cannabis space, Roxanne had been traveling often for her full-time job in the fashion industry, and had begun taking Xanax to quell her anxiety attacks. Eventually disillusioned with pharmaceuticals, she turned to cannabis instead to curb her anxiety.
A warrior for social justice and equity in the cannabis industry, Shaleen serves as a commissioner of Massachusetts’ Cannabis Control Commission. She is an award-winning advocate and activist, having been recognized for her efforts to bring more women and people of color into the cannabis industry and the drug reform movement. With a business degree and law degree under her belt, Shaleen is also a founding board member of the Minority Cannabis Business Association, and founder of a female-led recruiting firm.
Terri MacDonald Riedle
As co-founder and president of Civilized, Terri is one of the few women in the cannabis industry who not only leads a C‑suite team driving events, video production and cross-platform digital media, but she also raises capital and steers investor relations. With so few women in the venture capital and private equity world, Terri is a trailblazer in navigating investment with the mission of destigmatizing cannabis through smart, relatable media and experiences.
Serving Hawaii’s second Congressional district in the House of Representatives, Tulsi is the first Samoan American and the first Hindu in Congress. As a leading advocate for marijuana law reform, she is also a sponsor of the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, which would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and allow states to make their own choices about cannabis policy. Moreover, Tulsi has criticized the federal government for standing in the way of cannabis law reform, especially when thousands of Americans have lost their lives to the opioid epidemic.
Wanda is the first African American woman to own a dispensary — Simply Pure in Denver, Colorado. She has also been outspoken on behalf of diversity and accessibility in the cannabis industry, especially with regard to women and minorities. A rabid activist, Wanda frequents government hearings and demonstrations to advocate for social equity, consumers’ rights, social consumption, and sensible cannabis policy.
A pioneer in the cannabis feminist movement, Whoopi launched a line of pot-for-PMS products called Whoopi & Maya with co-founder and herbalist Maya Elisabeth. As one of the first companies to get the conversation started as to how cannabis can help with period discomfort, Whoopi & Maya offers a variety or soothing products like salves, tinctures, and bath soaks.
Serving as what’s essentially the nexus of the cannabis industry, Zoe is the go-to for all things cannabis. A publicity whiz with more than 17 years’ experience, Zoe represents some of the most prominent and influential brands and thought leaders in the industry. In fact, she has worked with hundreds of clients across a variety of industries, orbiting not just cannabis, but also psychedelics, tech, wellness, music, art, wine, and spirits.