Cannabis, An Industry For Women – Advocacy Group

78Women will be the primary consumers of marijuana, and they are building the industry.

That was a forefront message that came out of the sold-out “potpreneurship night” held earlier this week in Runway Incubator, San Francisco. The business event was hosted by the marijuana advocacy group Women Grow, and focused on the role of women in the convergence of the cannabis and tech industries.

Speakers discussed the enormous potential for women to be part of the marijuana industry, as it didn’t have a glass ceiling yet and women could likely be its leading consumers.

Jazmin Hupp, the event’s organizer, cited that one in five females faces depression and one in eight faces breast cancer. In addition, women are already the leading purchasers in the yoga, health foods, and wellness markets. These details make marijuana a new choice for women seeking alternative medication.

Not only will the ladies be a likely primary market, they could also lead the industry itself. According to Dale Sky Jones, who is executive chancellor at the marijuana training center Oaksterdam University, marijuana is an industry that’s “being built by women”. Jones stressed that this is the first business space where women don’t need to break entry to “a good old boys’ network” because “it’s the good old girls” building the industry.

“It’s even a female plant,” Hupp quipped, referring to the fact that only female plants can grow buds.

Hosting organization Women Grow serves as an example of women’s progress in the field, as the group is 10,000 entrepreneurs strong. The event was also successful in attendance, with more than 200 people – mostly women but also some men – turned up and networked. Outside the event’s main room were startups touting marijuana social networks, extraction hardware, “Uber for pot”, a VC for marijuana, and even marijuana for pets.

Though women have a promising role in the cannabis industry, there are still challenges.

For one, marijuana has been historically marketed to men, and women have been less open about purchasing it, said Sabrina Fendrick of the Berkeley Patients Group. This was agreed by Aundre Speciale, who co-founded the Cannabis Buyers Club of Berkeley, pointing out that many of the gender issues around marijuana were due to marketing. Even weed names had an effect, with names like “Cinderella 99” and “island delight” being more preferred by females.

Meanwhile, the conception of cannabis products also has a lack. According to Sue Taylor from the Advisory Commission on Aging, marijuana products aren’t made with considerations for women. For instance, there is a need for more sugar-free cannabis edibles.

Still, there is huge hope for this industry, especially because it has demonstrated rapid growth. According to Troy Dayton, CEO of the marijuana startup investor network ArcView Group, the legal cannabis industry grew from $1.5 billion in 2013 to $2.7 billion in 2014 – a whopping 73%.

He explained that much of the growth came from converting illegal consumers to legal ones as more state laws are favoring marijuana. It also helps that high-profile investors such as Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund and a Pritzker family member gave their support to cannabis companies, espousing the legitimacy of the industry.

With that, Hupp advised that tech entrepreneurs seeking “a rabid customer base” should take an opportunity in the cannabis space.

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