As women become more involved in the political and professional aspects of marijuana, more and more industry professionals are discovering the importance of creating an environment where women can feel comfortable while they reap the benefits of cannabis.
Women Grow, an organization devoted to educating and inspiring women in the marijuana industry, organizes social and professional events to promote healthy business relationships. Their mission is to help expand the female cannabis fan base through a series of women-friendly events like yoga retreats, culinary and art parties and cocktail and cannabis hours.
Even though men have been the vast majority of the cannabis business and consumer image, that now appears to be changing. There more than two dozen influential women in Denver’s marijuana industry, with leadership positions ranging from grow house operators to CEOs of cannabis testing labs and software developers with a keen eye for the business.
Despite the rise of women in the industry, support isn’t coming from all sides.
Julie Dooley, a mom and part owner of Julie and Kate, makes gluten and sugar-free edibles. In an interview with CBS News, she shared that she has felt that she has been a target, at times, and has even been called an “abomination.”
“They’re definitely offended by the cannabis industry and that is me for a moment, they see me as the cannabis industry, but in reality, I’m one of many,” Dooley said.
Currently, men are much more open to revealing a penchant for marijuana than women. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that, even in 2012, men were nearly 50 percent more likely to smoke (or admit to smoking) pot than women.
Jennifer Delfaco, co-founder of Cannabrand, a marketing agency focusing on the booming industry, believes there is a need for professional marketing and design branding. Gone are the days of hygiene-neglected hippies rolling joints in the back of a store. The big players are using America’s love of consumer trends to create loyalty.
“The industry is just beginning. So part of the rebranding of cannabis is really just making the dispensaries more inviting and more welcoming,” Delfaco told NPR.
Marijuana is a big industry and with so many new stores, products are flooding the market and companies are looking to professional imaging and marketing campaigns like those presented by Delfaco to bring in regular consumers as well as customers who are on the fence about marijuana.
“Historically, as soon as women really start to create a [gender] gap, a marijuana measure gets killed,” says Allen St. Pierre, executive director of NORML, in an interview with The Atlantic. “If women get weak-kneed, the men will [also] start to drop.”