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Women take the stage at O’Cannabiz 2019


May 16, 2019
By Tamar Atik
Ten female leaders took to the stage for the Women in Weed panel at O'Cannabiz 2019.

There is currently a diversity problem, especially at the board level, Lisa Campbell, chief executive officer of Lifford Cannabis Solutions, told the room at the exclusive Women in Weed session on April 26 at O’Cannabiz 2019 where Grow Opportunity was in attendance.

Ten women, each an influencer in her own right, shared their views on what women have accomplished so far in the cannabis industry, and what works still needs to be done.

“Everyone in this room should be uplifting other women in the industry, even if it’s a competitor of yours,” said Brianna Martyn, co-founder and director of operations of Starbuds.

The ladies also mentioned to keep in mind the men who are uplifting women and remembering to work together to create a diverse industry.

“Men shouldn’t be sitting at a table and making decisions for women,” said Jenna Valleriani, post doctoral fellow at the BC Centre on Substance Abuse.

“Give everybody a chance, but you don’t have to work with people who do not collaborate. Implement a strict no-a****** policy,” Valleriani said to a room filled with applause.

The first step to reach women is having women at the decision-making table, she added.

“There’s a simple way to not have an all-male board. Don’t have an all-male board,” said Rebecca Brown, founder and president of Crowns.

Creating networks between women is part of that, but we have to call up the men in the industry, Brown noted. Not call out, but call up. “The industry is in need of solutions… I think there is a lot of opportunity for anyone who has a smart take on how the industry can do that.”

“Inclusivity from the top down is what we need to look at,” noted High Society Supper Club’s Reena Rampersad.

In terms of communication and market insights, knowing the regulations is going to be the be-all and end-all for a lot of start-ups, Rampersad said. “Working within the legal framework is a very niche area right now that needs fulfillment.”

Marketers know that women drive sales, said Gill Polard, founder and editor of Her(B) Life, on the current landscape for women in cannabis. “Be aware and look deep into why things are being marketed to women,” she said, adding that “authenticity is key to how women can reach other women and move forward.

Session Takeaway: Women and men need to uplift each other to create a diverse industry with no gender discrimination and women need to claim their role in the space.