Despite Donald Trump’s Election Day win that put most of the country into a tailspin, cannabis supporters had one to celebrate this year. Eight states legalized marijuana for medicinal or recreational use. But as Trump’s win proved true in politics, the cannabis industry, too, is riddled with powerful white men —even if they aren’t the ones who deserve all the credit.
Women – from researchers studying the benefits of cannabis over opiates, to award-winning chefs cooking up the most delicious edibles on the planet, to those who are facing massive jail time for activism and legalization efforts—are the true heroes of the cannabis industry.
It’s time to recognize that.
To celebrate “Women in Weed” we spoke to a few of the 15 of the most powerful and influential women in the cannabis industry.
Cannabis as Alternative Medicine
Dr. Lakisha Jenkins has a doctorate in naturopathy, is a member of the American Herbalist Guild, and is a master herbalist, and founding board member of the California Cannabis Industry Association.
Beyond helping write the legalization laws that just passed in the state of California, Dr. Jenkins can take 500 varieties of herbs and marry them with cannabis to treat whatever ails you.
If you love cannabis and natural medicine, she’s someone you want to know.
Unfortunately, despite the abundance of healing Dr. Jenkins gives back to the world, she went through great loss to get where she is today. “My oldest daughter Kiona was diagnosed with two different types of brain tumors in 2002 when she was eight years old, and I questioned whether chemotherapy and radiation was the right course of action for treatment for her,” explains Dr. Jenkins.
“I was informed that the State of California knows what’s better for my daughter than I do and that if I did anything different than conventional treatment, then I’d be acting outside of medical advice and that I would be a threat to her. Unfortunately, I was forced to accept, but while she was going through chemotherapy and radiation, I started researching and studying for my doctorate, and figuring out other holistic alternatives.”
Kiona passed away in January 2006, 12 days shy of her twelfth birthday. Dr. Jenkins now practices in her honor, going back to her roots and using ancestral healing techniques.
“My family is from the Mississippi band of Choctaw Indians, so we have Native American lineage and my grandfather is a native healer,” she explains. “I just went back to my native roots and just researched.”
Along with her work as a healer, Dr. Jenkins strives to create room for minorities in the cannabis industry that is too often dominated by white men due to financial advantages and their inherent privilege.
“There’s a privilege that is associated with being a white male in this country, you don’t have that same type of fear that other minority groups or other people do and you’re more in a position to take a risk in jumping into this industry,” explains Dr. Jenkins, who has also been a part of the Minority Business Council for three years.
Her advice to women and other minorities looking to break through?
“Be fearless and strong in your conviction. Know what you stand for and know what you are trying to accomplish and don’t let anything get in your way. Surround yourself with other like-minded people who can be your support system and your tribe and then educate yourself, because education is going to be what’s going to help you persevere.”
She stated, “because people are going to challenge you all the time. But if you can come back with those challenges with hard evidence and experience, and really speak to the level of professionalism that this industry is going to command, you’ll be taken seriously.”
Laws that Linger
An unfortunate aspect of the cannabis industry is that due to lingering federal laws and constantly evolving local ones, if you work with marijuana, you’ll likely need a lawyer at some point. That’s where Rachel Gillette comes in; a powerful attorney who has been working with the regulated cannabis industry since 2010. Her areas of practice include corporate licensing compliance, tax law for marijuana businesses, and pretty much anything related to the operations of cannabis businesses regulated by the state of Colorado.
“I’ve always been an advocate for the legalization of marijuana.”
Gillette states, “So in 2010, when I saw the state of Colorado was going to be regulating, being the first state in the nation to do so, I decided to quit my job and to start my own practice which focused on the representation of these newly-formed business enterprises.”
At the time, Gillette was taking a major risk since few larger firms were ready to take on cannabis clients. However, Gillette’s instincts and boldness paid off and she staked her claim in what is now a booming industry.
Gillette says her favorite part the job is that marijuana law is constantly evolving “We’re doing something that has never been done before, so there’s a lot of opportunities to blaze the trail, so to speak, no pun intended,” she explains.
Not to mention, working to help victims of America’s War On Drugs: “We’ve had 40 years of a failed drug war, our fathers, our brothers, our children are incarcerated at alarming rates unfortunately for minority populations, and disproportional rates for minority populations, and as women, we shouldn’t stand for that anymore.”
While California cannabis users celebrate their state’s recent marijuana legalization accomplishment, (nice Hollyweed sign), Lynne Lyman’s work is just getting started. She’s the California state director of the non-profit organization Drug Policy Alliance, “the leading organization advancing drug policies grounded in science, compassion, health, and human rights.”
“We always say November 8th wasn’t the end, it was the beginning,” she explains. “That’s true with most laws; often policymakers forget to think about the implementation piece and sometimes that’s the most important piece, because if you pass a law and it doesn’t get implemented, then it’s as if it didn’t pass.”
Along with working to fund cannabis research, Lyman’s biggest passion is making marijuana and marijuana-advocacy communities more inclusive, especially by creating space for those were a vital part of the cannabis industry before it was sanctioned by mainstream society.
“You’re walking in today to this whole nice legal world where everybody can wear a name tag that says they’re with some cannabis association, whereas five years ago even, people were still doing federal time for having a dispensary,” Lyman explains.
“The advice I give to all of the people who come into the cannabis industry is understand the history.
She adds, “here’s the sense that people are just waltzing in as if it’s just any other industry. I want to discourage that and remind that a lot of people have died, people have been incarcerated, they’ve had their families destroyed. Making sure you’re a good neighbor, and you’re working with the community that you are based in.”
Lyman says that while we see often see white men as the faces of legal marijuana businesses, that doesn’t mean they’re the ones who laid the groundwork for legalization in the first place. “One thing that has been true historically in the cannabis movement is that it’s been men’s faces at the forefront and yet it’s been a lot of women doing the behind-the-scenes work,” explains Lyman.
“I’m in room after room saying it cannot be all white men in the industry. You have to find a way to expand and let other people in. That’s a policy priority for DPA.”
Coming Out of the Dark
You may remember Charlo Greene from when she went viral for quitting her job as a reporter on television while outing herself as the founder of Alaska Cannabis Club. Now living in Los Angeles, Greene says, “I’m Charlo “Fuck it, I quit” Greene, and I’m credited with the legalization of marijuana in Alaska.” An exceptional entrepreneur, she’s also behind NewCannabisTimes.com and the founder of Go Greene, a cannabis diversity summit series.
“I use my connections to pull in as many community leaders of color to come in and share their knowledge, experience and expertise with people that really need a leg up in this industry, and make it mean something for them and their communities,” says Greene. “I think a lot of the work that I’m doing is overlooked because I am a woman and because I am a person of color.”
Greene’s success has come with a heavy price that proves the War on Drugs in far from over. “I’m facing 54 years for creating the Alaska Cannabis Club, so in the meantime, it’s dreary that my life could be over this year,” she explains. “But if I stop doing what I know I am here to do, which is share these amazing stories and activate people, then the state has already won.”
Greene adds that she didn’t quit her job as a reporter because she hated it, but because she knew there was work to be done in marijuana advocacy.
“There was a community of people that needed someone to be bold and I knew that was me. So I’m gonna continue what I’m doing, just on my own terms with The Weed Show.”
Her next court appearance is January 11, 2017, and she’s assembled a top-notch legal team and is feeling hopeful, yet knows both America and the cannabis industry still have insurmountable work to do. “It will be interesting when they try to drag up club members that literally credit the [Alaska Cannabis Club] for saving their lives. I think the state of Alaska will be on trial just as much as they’re putting me on trial.”
Female Plants Healing Women by Women
Moxie Meds, a CBD-rich line of cannabis tinctures, is medicine for women, by women. Available in a variety of combinations to heal what ails you—from anxiety to PTSD to menstrual cramps and pain—Moxie Meds grows their CBD-rich flowers following organic standards to create what is known as FECO (full extract cannabis oil), using organic ethanol to extract the cannabinoids and terpenes.
“We add organic basil extract (which contains beta-caryophyllene) and lab grade, U.S. made, naturally extracted beta-caryophyllene (BCP) as well. We also add organic strawberry extract for flavor balancing – doesn’t taste overwhelmingly like strawberry, it just balances out the plant and BCP flavor profile,” explains Jessica Peters, President of Moxie Meds.
“We need women to help bring cannabis medicine to the next level for the sake of patients everywhere.”
She says the favorite part of her work is without a doubt assisting patients, from veterans whose PTSD is diminished with treatment, to elderly patients who now live happier and healthier without chronic pain, to women who are no longer feeling stuck without options to address their reproductive concerns.
“Women have always been healers throughout history and this (female) plant represents what I personally consider the fastest moving area of science and medicine,” says Peters. “We need women to help bring cannabis medicine to the next level for the sake of patients everywhere.”
Originally posted 2017-02-18 23:10:38.