Two days before Mother's Day, Susan Squibb and her team at 4&20 Blackbirds hosted the fifth annual Mother's High Tea, an event fit for a queen, with beautifully prepared food, a standout group of speakers and such gourmet teas as Ginger Peach, Rose Oolong and Elegant Earl Grey. Neither the teas nor the bite-sized morsels were infused with any cannabis, but there was definitely a buzz in the air.
The Mother’s High Tea was designed to honor women in cannabis, and on May 12, more than a hundred successful women from the industry filled the McNichols Building, along with displays from sponsoring companies including Sensi and THC magazines, Mary's Medicinals, Stillwater Brand, the Hoban Law Group, The Growing Kitchen, Restorative Botanicals and Simply Pure.
Many of the women attending this year's tea are featured in Breaking the Grass Ceiling, a new book that shares the stories behind some of the most influential, barrier-breaking women in cannabis, such as Squibb, Jaime Lewis and Diane Czarkowski. The first 100 attendees received copies of the book.
Lewis, the CEO of Mountain Medicine, was a speaker at the tea; she said she's proud of her female protégées and encouraged others to hire women, too. Then she introduced Czarkowski, a founder of the Boulder-based cannabis-enterprise consulting firm Canna Advisors and also a founding member of the National Cannabis Industry Association and Women Grow, as well as a sustaining member of Americans for Safe Access and Students for Sensible Drug Policy. "I’m here to further advance women and help them with their careers,” Czarkowski said.
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Czarkowski came into cannabis from the high-tech industry, and she outlined the hardships women face as they climb the corporate ladder. "It’s a new industry, a new kind of industry with the potential to be influenced by women," she noted. "We can’t achieve success by ourselves; we need to work together. People I work with want to be leaders in cannabis in their respective states; they are pioneers. Make assets, not enemies...and look for the value within people bringing in expertise from other industries."
Czarkowski concluded with a message of heartfelt gratitude for her mother and son, who were in the audience.
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Another strong voice that afternoon belonged to Sonya Espinosa, co-founder of the Massachusetts Recreational Consumer Council in Boston. Cannabis and undocumented immigrants are similar, she said: They are both commodities with a history of being wrongly stigmatized. “When it comes to cannabis, we want to know the farm it comes from," Espinosa noted. "Not so much with strawberries."
She concluded her talk by urging everyone, in the weeks following Mother’s Day, to pay special attention to the mothers and the families ripped apart by the recent wave of anti-immigration actions by the Trump administration.
The high tea came to an end in plenty of time for people to celebrate a more traditional Mother's Day, and to make plans for returning next year. "If you haven't been yet," Kara Janowsky, owner of Hired Productivity Accounting in Boulder, posted on the event's Facebook page, "you wouldn't know that the Mother's High Tea is a truly unique event dedicated to honoring the mothers, sisters, daughters, and all women who have come before us in the fight for cannabis rights while cultivating community in our beloved industry."