Susan Squibb was a pioneer in the cannabis movement. She fought for women to have a seat at the table even before cannabis was legal, and now she celebrates women in the industry every year by hosting a Mother's High Tea on Mother's Day weekend. This year's gathering starts at 1 p.m. Friday, May 12, at the McNichols Building. Here are five reasons we're excited about the event:
1. Speakers from across the industry and across the country
This year, Squibb has outdone herself: She’s welcoming women coming from across the country to share their perspective on the ever-growing industry.
Diane Czarkowski will be representing Colorado; she's a founding partner of Canna Advisors and a founding benefactor of Women Grow. Sonia Espinosa, co-founder of Cannabis Cultural Association and Massachusetts Recreational Consumer Council, is coming from Boston. San Francisco's Nina Parks is the CEO of Mirage Medicinal and co-founder of Supernova Women. And Ah Warner, from Seattle, is the CEO of Cannabis Basics and founder of Women of Weed, a private social club.
"It's exciting. This is the first time we have so many speakers coming from different states, and that was part of my objective — to have women from all over the country to really emphasize how much the cannabis business and the advocacy circles are expanding," Squibb says. "This is a reminder of how much we've grown in such a short amount of time."
2. Children (and men) are welcome
Unlike most other cannabis events, this one’s family-friendly. "What makes this unique is children are welcome," Squibb says.
Because of the 21+ laws for the industry, many parents who work at marijuana-related businesses can’t take their children to work, so Squibb hopes this is a chance for people to bring their kids to a cannabis event and engage with other industry members in a smoke-free, kid-friendly environment.
Men are also welcome to attend, but they must follow the “dapper” dress code.
3. Encouraging empowerment
In the early days of the industry, women were portrayed as sex objects. They paraded around trade shows with marijuana-leaf pasties on their nipples and took photos with CEOs and other businessmen. But now women have taken the industry back. Instead of demanding a seat at the table, they’ve built their own.
Fortune reports that women make up about a quarter of leadership roles in business today and account for less than 5 percent of CEO positions. That isn't the case with cannabis: Women hold about 36 percent of leadership roles in the marijuana industry.
When there's an industry event, women are not seen as eye candy or assumed to be someone's date. Women are active players and respected by their male counterparts because of the insane amount of work it takes to run a successful cannabis business.
Squibb was one of the first women to lead the way, and with this event, she continues to connect women within the industry and celebrate the progress that women have found in the cannabis industry.
There are few places where you can find women from all over the country collaborating and discussing the issues of their profession at the same table. Squibb looks forward to introducing her speakers. "I'm really excited about [them]. They're a collection of women who are...community organizers in their own cities, so it's really exciting to have this kind of engagement and women coming together for this," she says.
4. Celebrate five years of progress for women in cannabis
The Mother's High Tea was started in 2011 by women who fought for legalization. In those early days, women had a seat at the table, but women were also depicted as hyper-sexualized. "In the same development of the industry, there was a lot of visual imagery, like the sexy nurses and sort of this objectification of women," Squibb says. "I really wanted to have an event that was about the normalcy of women and who we are as people, not as objects, so that was a lot of the inspiration for the tea."
Because this is a tea, Squibb is encouraging everyone to wear gloves along with their best tea-time attire. She also suggests that guests use the code TeaTime10 for a discount on tickets.
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