The legal marijuana industry in the United States is growing at a phenomenal rate. Medical marijuana is now legal in 23 states and the District of Columbia, and four states (Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington) have passed laws legalizing recreational use. Another 11 states, including California, Nevada and a handful of states in the Northeast, are likely to decriminalize recreational use of cannabis by the end of 2016.
As legal use of marijuana has grown, so too have sales. The industry generated an estimated $5.4 billion in revenue in 2015, up from $1.8 billion in 2013. Recreational retail sales in Colorado alone hit $600 million in 2015.
And because the industry is so new, there are few barriers to entry, says Giadha DeCarcer, CEO of New Frontier, a company that provides data analytics for cannabis firms. What’s more, thanks to entrepreneurs like DeCarcer, the industry is accepting and even promoting the idea of including more women in leadership roles.
In fact, unlike most of the business sector, which is still dominated by men, female entrepreneurs in the marijuana industry have a very good chance of making it to the top. According to figures from Marijuana Business Daily, women hold 36 percent of executive positions in the industry as a whole, 14 percent more than the average across all U.S. industries in 2015. They also hold:
- 63 percent of high-level positions at testing labs
- 48 percent of leadership positions in infused products and processing companies
- 38 percent of senior positions at dispensaries and recreational stores
Legal Marijuana Pioneers
Initially the legal marijuana industry was dominated by men, says Jane West, founder of the professional networking group for women in the marijuana industry, Women Grow. But women quickly recognized the industry’s potential, and interest grew.
West, whose real name is Amy Dannemiller, started her group in 2014 — her first event had 70 attendees. Today, Women Grow has 21,000 newsletter subscribers in 44 cities and 30,000 followers on Instagram. Its first leadership summit was held Feb. 3-5, 2016, in Denver, Colorado, where the group played host to an estimated 1500 female entrepreneurs.
“There is nothing but opportunity for women in this industry. We need to spread the word,” said West, who is also the founder of the cannabis-catering company Edible Eats, in an interview with CNN.
But West and DeCarcer are not the only women entrepreneurs to take the cannabis industry by storm. AC Braddock started her career at Seattle-based Eden Labs, a company that makes cannabis extraction technology, in 2007. Three years later, she was the company CEO. Named one of Seattle’s fastest growing woman-owned firms, Eden Labs is on track to reach $18 million in sales revenue in 2016.
Then there’s Wanda James, an activist and self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur, who, along with her partner and husband Scott Durrah, opened one of the first medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado. Today, she is working to bring legalized marijuana to the island of Jamaica.
Obviously, there is tremendous potential for women to excel in the legal marijuana industry and plenty of room for growth. Nonetheless, entering any new market can be challenging and scary, so it’s a good idea to partner with experts you can trust.
Here at Carmoon Group, we have the experience and knowledge to help you limit your risk. We offer a full suite of business insurance products that can grow with you as your business expands. Give us a call at 516-292-3780 to set up an appointment to talk to an agent: We’re here Monday through Friday from 9 a.m to 6 p.m. Or, if you prefer, request a free 30- minute consultation online and we’ll get back to you within one business day.